The Harewood Forest Trail in Hampshire is a series of 15 caches on a circular walk around 9 1/2 miles long situated south east of Andover. Actually there are 17 caches but 2 of them are on a spur path and not really part of the circular walk. There are also several other caches that you can pick up along the way, by adapting the route a little I found 5 others. Two of the extras are particularly worthy of a visit for different reasons, so if you do the trail make sure you include GC1KAQY Up in the Woods and GC12BTT Harewood Honeypot two exceptional caches. Overall this is a nice trail especially the part through Harewood Forest which is the 2nd largest in Hampshire. Unfortunately in the northern section the trail passes under the noisy A303 dual carriage way where there was also a bit of fly tipping which spoilt the walk a little bit. Nevertheless, we were soon past them both and soon enjoying the splendid forest.
Strangely the trail started at the 7th cache in the series, but because there wasn’t a bonus it didn’t really make any difference where we started. I was planning to go clockwise around the series but choose to do the multi cache GC1KAQY “Up in the Woods” first as it was only a hundred yards or so in the opposite direction, just in case the final part was on the route I would travel later. The multi was superb, but it wasn’t necessary to make the detour. I then back tracked and headed down the byway to number 7 which was a quick find. It was a nice bright sunny day and I felt I had picked a good day for doing the series. Good old BBC weather looks like they got it right again, oh if only it was to last all day!
It was then a easy walk along the byway to number 8 & 9, surprisingly it wasn’t as muddy here as I thought it would have been following yesterday’s rain. There is a golf course running alongside the length of the track and I could hear the golfers chatting on the other side of the trees and the occasional klink of golf ball being fired off into the distance.
I took a slightly extended route today so that I could pick up three more local caches, GC27E5F Out and about around Andover, The ladies walk, GC2P2ZK Ladies Lookout and GC27CG1 Out and about around Andover, The iron bridge this took me along the Ladies Walk footpath on the outskirts of Andover. Number 10 was very close to the dual carriageway so it was quite noisy here as you would expect. It then started to pour down with rain and I only just got my waterproofs on in time, I wasn’t so impressed with the BBC weather forecast now! The cache however was quickly found and it looked as though the views would be very nice here but I couldn’t see very much.
Pip & I put our heads down and ploughed on through the rain to number 11 then 12, I could tell that Pip wasn’t too impressed. Getting to number 13 required us to find a gap in a hedge leading to a footpath that went under some trees which offered a little bit of shelter. Just after replacing the cache, I spotted 6 deer running across the field into Harewood Forest.
The rain dried up as we headed into the forest and after locating number 14, I took a detour to find GC12BTT Harewood Honeypot, a nice big ammo can cache. I had gone prepared with a spare micro for number 15 following two previous DNF’s and couldn’t believe my luck when I spotted the original cache straight away, sometimes the obvious ones are the hardest to spot.
There seemed to be another opportunity for a detour from here to pick up the spur caches and we started along a track towards them, but in the end we couldn’t reach them because one of our intended paths was blocked by a big “no right of way” sign so we took a nearby path to number 1 and left out the spur caches, perhaps just as well as it started raining again.
At number 2 I could hear what sounded like a wolf, it was very weird, but at number 4 the source of the howling became apparent, it was a bloodhound in the forest kennels. Number 5 took a few minutes to locate, I couldn’t see it where I first looked so hunted around only to find it back at the first spot, as I was putting it back it began to hail, Pip didn’t like it and ran under a tree! By now it was absolutely pouring with rain, Pip was trotting ahead, desperate to get back to the car, at least I had waterproofs on. Thankfully there was no hanging around at number 6, the last in the series and now we could head back to the dry.
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