Pablo's Armchair Treasure Hunt

Armchair Treasure Hunt 1998

Title: Armchair Treasure Hunt 1998
Setter: Brian Mills
Themes: Food, Enid Blyton, Music

Hunters' Tales

The eponymously named road is Hogback Wood Road, though we should maybe mention that when we found the box (Tuesday 22nd December) we did not yet know this, only the literary links to Beaconsfield. With the help of a Beaconsfield map from the local Post Office, we first located Chesterton Green, but there was no apparent path, and we spent a good ten minutes studying the map before an old lady tapped on the window with her stick and asked "Are you lost?"

An obvious path on the Chiltern Hills South map turned out to be a fruitless 15 minute slog through wet clay to the golf course. We then tried Blyton Close and Disraeli Road. Finally, remembering the 'fork right down hill' direction, we parked near Hogback Wood which had a path appearing to fit this description. The stiles, the trees, the birches, everything worked, and led to the crater, which disappointingly was around 100 feet wide and contained dozens of trees. Disappointingly, because at that point we hadn't decoded the last piece of music, so only knew the box was in the crater. However treasure hunters' instinct led us almost straight away to a tree on the far side, which yielded the box. Having now decoded the G&S, I recall a large hummock with a tree on top, which may have been the 'gallows'.

The instructions in the box were written in the style of a Famous Five story, ending with 'Two sinister figures were approaching through the gloom'. Rather too realistic given the remote location, and enough to cause several glances over shoulders while taking ticket number 1 (labelled "Angels on Horseback") and re-burying the box. I don't think we were spotted by anyone, except several hundred passengers on a passing train.

The Malory Towers Old Boys

We did the music, the prime number and the Delia Smith codes. So on Christmas day (well it was more fun than peeling the sprouts or watching the Queen's speech), we headed down to the Hog's Back. It was raining. We found only one stile, a crater, and vast numbers of gallows-like wooden contraptions, presumably related to Hops cultivation, just South of the car park.

This could be a coincidence, a cunning red herring or an act of wishful thinking.

On New Year's Eve (during daylight), we returned to the Hog's Back, as Christmaspie tied the Delia Smith thread in nicely. We also checked a brick silo next to the gallows. There were unmistakable signs of previous diggings at the gallows end.

A few days later we saw the Beaconsfield link and the Hogback Wood. So we went down there after work. It was raining. It was muddy. And especially, it was dark. We couldn't see the fallen trees and we even missed the hollow.

We then had the idea to go to the right place in the day time, so we waited until the weekend. The sun shone, the directions were easy to follow in day time and we found the fourth ticket.

Tom Lehrer described Gilbert and Sullivan as full of words and music and signifying nothing. Seems to sum up the ATH admirably!

The Pirates of Penzance