2010-10-20 52 0
On the edge of a small patch of woodland outside Fornham All Saints, near Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.
Didn't have much time to fit this one in today, as I had an exam (last one!) until 1pm, and needed to be back home by 4:30. So -- drive there, see if it's accessible, go home again.
I picked up a few groceries in town on the way back from my exam, and got home just before 2pm. I did a few small chores that needed doing, loaded a map of the hashpoint into my netbook, put the coordinates into the GPS and was away at 2:57.
It was an easy drive -- turn onto the A14, drive 25 miles, turn off the A14, park. I located the requisite small lane on the edge of the village, and drove up it a little. The track I wanted towards the hashpoint turned out to be a farm drive, with a sign saying that it was private property, with no public access. I left the car out of the way at the end of the track and decided to walk up it towards the woodland, to see if the hash was fenced off or accessible, and perhaps to find someone to ask permission to access it.
Before I'd walked 50 metres, a car turned into the drive. I spoke to the driver, who had his dog and young daughter in the car with him; he wasn't the landowner, but lived in one of the farm cottages. He was friendly and helpful, and told me that some of the land around here was used for game-shooting, so the gamekeeper would be the likely cause of any trouble. If I wanted to ask permission, he said, the farm was about a mile up the track and I should drive up there rather than walk.
I thanked him and went back to the car. He gave me a wave as I passed his cottage on the way up to the farm. At the farm, I stopped the car and approached the first people I saw -- a man standing by a tractor, talking to the occupant of the cab. Again, they weren't the landowners, but they were quite friendly, but firm about the source of trouble and strife being the gamekeeper. It wouldn't, however, be possible for me to talk to the gamekeeper because he wouldn't give me permission anyway.
Sensing that this was a lost cause, I drove back down the track. I stopped as I approached the cottages because a car was blocking the narrow road -- its driver was chatting to the man I'd spoken to earlier. As I came up to them, the man waved and asked if I'd had any luck. No, I said, which prompted both the man -- whose name was Russell -- and the woman in the car to tell me how dreadful the gamekeeper was, even to people who lived in the cottages around the farm. Apparently the land used to have a public right-of-way across it, but someone had had that rescinded since it was hardly ever used. They were sorry that I didn't get permission, and came to the conclusion that what they would do would be just to park the car on the verge and go to the hashpoint anyway, as it was only a couple of hundred metres across the woodland. The gamekeeper lived right at the far end of the farm, they said, so he would be unlikely to be around. And besides, Simon, the landowner, would probably have given me permission anyway. The young daughter came out of the cottage garden and Russell told me -- somewhat proudly -- of the time she had told the gamekeeper what a nasty man he was.
I thanked them both for their help, and both the woman and I drove on. I slowed again as I went past the geohash -- 150 metres was as close as the road went -- but decided not to adopt their suggested park-and-sprint approach. I'd been somewhere new, chatted to some nice local people, and got as close as I could without trespassing, and that's what geohashing is really about. Besides, it was now 3:50 and I needed to be home in a bit over half an hour.
So I left, and drove home again. I didn't get to the hashpoint, but it wasn't an unsuccessful expedition.
| Benjw earned the No trespassing consolation prize