I’ve got an exam in Milton Keynes in the afternoon, so it’d be only a minor diversion for me to come and try to visit this roadside hashpoint. I hope to be there about 10:30.
Failed to turn on the tracklogger on my GPS, but I remembered to get photos at least. This was a quick and easy run, although I did get accosted by a local who saw me hanging around near the wind farm and putting up a sign… I think that after the controversy these epic windmills caused he might have thought that I was putting up a planning notice to erect some more or something. Once I explained what I was doing he seemed happy enough.
Used my new 360° full-panoramic camera to take a picture at the hashpoint; I’ll put a VR-ready version on my website and link it here when I get the chance.
I’d originally planned on heading to 2018-08-23 51 -1 because I anticipated that it’d be on or near my route travelling South along almost the entire length of the 51 -1 graticule, but I didn’t bargain on such a Northerly hashpoint so I’ve changed plans and am now aiming to get to this one some time in the morning (I’m hoping to be in Winchester by lunch).
Wasn’t originally planning to come to this graticule but instead was going to go to the 51 -1 graticule where I live ([2018-08-23 51 -1 see here]): I was going to be driving almost the entire length of 51 -1 on a journey from Oxford to Winchester anyway, so I figured it’d be easy to divert to any hashpoint. But when the Dow numbers came out, it turned out that the hashpoints in this quadrant of the Earth are all in the North-East corner, and so my journey would be in the opposite direction. Oh no! So instead I decided to “overshoot” and go for this graticule instead, and thus (if successful) expand my Minesweeper Achievement level.
Hashpoint deep in woodland in the beautiful South Downs National Park. Parked at The Sustainability Centre (and later made a donation via their website in thanks for the use of their car park despite not using their other facilities) and walked initially through woodland they manage and use for natural burials: this was really cool – I’ve always been a fan of body disposal in a low-environmental-impact, no-permanent-markers kind-of way, so I’m going to look more into what they offer. I was really interested to see that many families had left “named” bird nesting boxes in memory of their loved ones, which is awesome too.
Found geocache GC2X5BJ just outside the burial area and close to a point that gave me a great view across a valley towards the woods in which I believed I’d find the hashpoint.
Had to go some way off track to get to the hashpoint, but discovered a network of old, overgrown, long-abandoned (and not on any map I can find) trails in-between the thicket. In fact, the hashpoint eventually turned out to be on the edge of such a track, which I was able to follow to help me find my way back to a road.
Found a sign pointing to “Droxford”. Oxford is so-named because its location coincides with the most-downstream point on the Thames at which it’s possible to ford the river while driving cattle (i.e. “ox ford”) – incidentally, I’m told, the ford was at the point that Folly Bridge now stands. But what’s the etymology of Droxford, I wonder. What the hell is a drox???
On the way back, diverted by geocache GC5P5KN and found it: this was a great cache with the best-made variant of the particular kind of container it used that I’ve ever seen.
Update: A little research later, it seems that the “ox” in each of Oxford and Droxford have completely different etymological roots! Droxford is derived from an ancient name for the area from some time prior to the Middle Ages: Drocenesforda. “Drocen” means “dry”: the name means “dry ford”. The River Meon, which flows through the area, flows shallow over a chalky bed and is easily forded in many places, as these motorcyclists show. The things you learn!
I’m keen to get to level 2 of the Minesweeper Geohash achievement, and this far-South-of-graticule hashpoint represents an opportunity to achieve that. I’ll be at work during the day, but – energy levels permitting after what’ll have been a long day! – I’ll find a way to get up here and see if I can get to the hashpoint, aiming to arrive probably around 18:30.
It had been a long day at work, but it looked to be a beautiful evening and I promised myself a pub dinner if I made it to the hashpoint, so I set out by car and by foot to East Adderbury, the village nearest to the hashpoint. The village itself is stunning: lots of old stone buildings, a very traditional bridge, and beautiful green spaces. I spotted not one but two candidate pubs (The Red Lion and The Coach & Horses) as I passed through the village, which was a reassuring start, and then pressed on down a lane which quickly became a narrow trail, waving to some cows along the way (why do I always seem to meet cattle on my hashing adventures?).
The trail was full of blackberries so I wasn’t short of a snack, but it soon became clear that it wouldn’t get me any closer than 35m to the hashpoint. I returned to the entrance to the cows’ field and, hopping a stile, crossed it. The cows looked puzzled as I paced around, getting to ground zero, but didn’t object. After shooting the traditional silly grin, I turned tail and headed back into the village and to the Coach & Horses, which proved to be the very essence of a British village pub: a husband and wife couple running it, dogs everywhere, a jar of pickled onions behind the bar, and more beers than you can shake a stick at.
I did enjoy a rather unusual conversation at the bar, though –
Me: Can I get a ham, egg, and chips please. And a pint of bitter shandy.
Barman: One egg or two?
Me: Oh! Two, please.
Barman:(Pause) We haven't got any eggs.
Me: Uhh. Okay; no eggs then.
Barman's wife: We've got one egg.
Barman: We've got one egg.
Me: I'll have one egg, then.
(I go and sit outside; after a while, my meal arrives. There are two eggs.)Barman's wife: I found another egg.
My meeting this afternoon got cancelled and my nearest hashpoint is only 6.5km (4 miles) away from my office. I can get this!
After a productive morning’s work, I was genuinely slightly disappointed that a meeting I was scheduled to have this afternoon had to be rescheduled. But on the other hand… that meant that I could get away with extending my lunch break slightly and getting out to the hashpoint! I’d initially worried that it’d be inaccessibly buried on private land when Google Maps and satellite photography showed it to be deep in a block of cornfields, but OpenStreetMap came to the rescue and showed a public footpath somewhere in the very close vicinity of the target coordinates. And so, jumping aboard my bike, I set out!
600m from the coordinates I ran out of road and switched to the footpath, which I was pleased to discover was in reasonably-good condition: many underused local footpaths are not being very well-maintained at the moment and are often overgrown, but I was even able to bring my bike along this one and into the first field, although I had to push it rather than ride and I soon learned the error of my ways when the terrain got even rougher and I reached a narrow bridge – too narrow for my bike – spanning a dyke and entering the second field. Both fields had recently been cleared of corn, and whatever route the official footpath was supposed to take became rapidly unclear, but that’s probably for the best because I’m pretty sure I wasn’t on it by the time I reached the edge of the next field.
The hashpoint seemed to be along the fence somewhere so I followed it along – waving to some nearby cows – until my phone told me that I was under 3m from the spot. Hurrah! I snapped a panorama photo and started heading back, pausing a few times when I realised that I really, really couldn’t find where I’d left my bike. On the cycle home I passed a Gasometer which, because I’m told they’re super-rare in the USA, I thought I’d snap a picture of for those of you who ‘hash on the other side of the pond to oggle at.
I actually remembered to shoot video of this expedition (well, all within a kilometre of the hashpoint and mostly within the last 350 metres!). It’s mostly just me rambling as I ramble, although there’s (brief) explanation of the Surprise Gasometer for those of you who live in countries where you don’t routinely see these interesting structures:
The nearest road is about 10 minutes cycle from my (Dan Q) house, so I plan to zip out there either overnight (perhaps aiming for a Midnight Geohash?) or early in the morning. If you happen to plan to hit this hashpoint too, though, let me know and I can try to synchronise plans (but I ought to be spending the day studying, so I might not be able to!).
At 2018-08-03 23:02 (BST – local time) I started packing a bag and set out to the hashpoint. Suddenly it didn’t seem like such a good idea as it had in the warm sunlight, earlier: a dark and moonless night isn’t the best time to be cycling along unlit roads. But fully-equipped with lights and supplies, I set out nonetheless. I’d left longer than I needed and had about a quarter of an hour sitting by the side of the road before midnight came and I was able to visit the hashpoint (thereby gaining my Midnight Achievement).
I’m out in Aylesbury today, so I’ll probably swing by the hashpoint late-morning/early afternoon, by car. Hopefully it’s possible to get to it without climbing through any hedges!
I was in Aylesbury this morning for an interview, and I’d discovered last night that a hashpoint had appeared pretty-much right between my home and the place I was visiting. It was off the major roads by a little way, but the day was beautiful and I relished the opportunity to go for an explore, by ZipCar and on foot. And that’s exactly what I got.
After driving through the village of Ford, I came to the end of a road and the beginning of a private driveway, and found a place to park. The locals looked at me strangely as I found my bearings and set off up a bridleway. Suddenly, I realised that the hashpoint was off to my right somewhere, so I hacked my way through some trees to get closer to it. The hashpoint turned out to be pretty-much exactly on the spot of a tree, at the edge of a field. Sadly, the tree was on the otherside of a barbed wire fence, covered in vines, but I was (with some effort) able to lean far over to “touch” the hashpoint-tree, as shown in the photos.
Later, I got stuck in traffic and almost delivered the ZipCar back late, but just barely made it, vacating the car just as the (very prompt) next occupiers turned up. Phew!
A Easter Bank Holiday weekend: what a perfect time for geohashing: and not just because of the warm weather and the fact that you can plan your expedition an extra day in advance, thanks to the exchange closures! No, it’s a great time especially because today’s hashpoint was a mere 300 metres from my house, as the crow flies (though the crow, at least, didn’t have to work his way down to to the bridge over the canal in order to get there).
The hashpoint turned out to be in a gap in the hedge, half-way between down the road connecting a canal bridge to a level crossing. We saw a squirrel.
On the way back, Dan insisted that Ruth (and Annabel, who didn’t get much say in the matter) came with him to find nearby geocaches GC3P0QK and GC3P0RJ on the way back home, before they spent the day out in the sunshine exploring Oxfordshire in general.
To commemorate the second anniversary of the death of my father – a keen hiker and cyclist, who was killed during a hiking accident while training for a trek to the North Pole – I thought the best thing to do would be to strike out somewhere random. And where could be more random than a geohash? This was also my first ever geohashing expedition, although I’d been meaning to do it for a long, long while. And so began the Peter Huntley Memorial Geohashing Expedition!
I cycled from Kidlington, near Oxford (in the next graticule over) via National Cycle Network Route 51, through Bicester and towards Milton Keynes. Early on, I had to ford a river which had broken its banks and flooded the cyclepath (and even saw a minnow swimming across the cycle lane – quite surreal!). Later, I had a minor whoopsie when I stayed on the cycle route too long and ended up in Steeple Claydon, on the wrong side of the Padbury Brook valley, but soon corrected it. I’d anticipated having to hop a fence to get to the hashpoint, but it turned out that the field – which had been left to fallow – didn’t have a fence, and I only needed to walk about thirty paces into it in order to reach the hashpoint.
In memory of my dad, I pulled out a drawing of him and drank a bottle of Guinness (his preferred drink after a long day’s cycle), and began to head back. But disaster struck! Somehow, raptors must have gotten to my bike tyre while I wasn’t paying attention, because it was completely slashed. Being that I was now at the furthest point from home in my planned journey, I pushed it to the nearby village of Hillesden in the hope of finding a shop that might sell me sufficient supplies to repair the puncture, but was without luck. I was now faced with a choice: I could continue pushing it home, and try to get to Bicester (a little over three hours walk away) before the bike shop there shut, or I could turn and walk the wrong way (away from home) towards Buckingham (only about an hour’s walk away), and hope that I’d be able to find supplies there.
I headed for Buckingham, but the students I spoke to when I passed the University campus suggested that there wasn’t a bike shop in town, but suggested a hardware store that might sell a bike pump (I’d since found a patch kit at a corner shop, although it was of course useless without a pump). But while looking for the hardware store, I discovered quite by accident Solstice Cycles, a wonderful little bike shop right in the heart of Buckingham (at the time, Google Maps on my phone had been completely unable to find me a bike shop at all). The man there switched out my inner tube in a jiffy (he agreed that it could well have been a raptor attack that had damaged it), and set me on my way.
Unwilling to add further to my diversion, I took a more-direct route back to Bicester, straight down the A4421, and I’m sure I must have agitated the motorists who weren’t used to seeing cyclists on such a major road. In Bicester, I ate the remains of my packed lunch before getting back onto the cyclepath home.
Total distance travelled: 57.75 miles; mostly cycled, but more than I’d have liked on foot. And a spectacular first geohash.