ATH 1999:

Armchair Treasure Hunt 1999

Title: Armchair Treasure Hunt 1999
Setter: Steve Hames
Themes: Time, John Harrison

Hunters' Tales

The Wrong GRO

It was at this point that excitement overcame us. Without further pause for thought and we dashed towards Greenwich Park like children to their stockings on Christmas morn. Sadly the stocking was empty, and Father Christmas had surely ballsed up somewhere?

We have ... acquired an in-depth familiarity with every path, hill, bush and blade of grass in Greenwich Park. Whilst this may yet prove useful in our day to day lives, we realise now that this was of no use whatsoever for this particular treasure hunt. Our endless search for a Red Deer (RD) numbered 31 was in vain, and the strange looks we obtained emerging from the bushes in Greenwich Park with grubby hands and knees could not be compensated for with the satisfaction of treasure. Not only was NAWAS 27 in the wrong place but so were we. How we envied Alex Michola 17, however late he may have been.

We contemplated our false start over a pensive pint in the pub, and concluded that we were at the wrong GRO to start with, and in fact there is not a GRO in Greenwich Park. Our thoughts quickly turned to Herstmonceux and Cambridge. Yet another one to put down to experience we consoled ourselves.

Boxing a Little More Cleverly

On reflection, we decided that Herstmonceux was a more likely starting location, despite the GRO being in Cambridge since 1990 (along with the sundial on page 9). The references to Battle and a number of answers pertaining to Battle, William the Conqueror and Sussex were the deciding factors in our opinion.

We were also aware from solving the Christopher Wren encryptions that there was a "four fold lock", and that this tied in with the trials and tribulations of John Harrison's sea-clocks, where four separate key holders were required on the trial to the West Indies of H4 (due to distrust of the various parties).

Careful study of the instructions on P1 revealed that we would need to unlock the box, and our strong hypothesis was thus that some four digit code would be required to unlock the treasure. Our priority was thus to identify this code. Having looked at a map to find Herstmonceux, and remembering our painful experience at Greenwich Park, we vowed to find the solution before blundering out into the wilds of Sussex.

We were also fortified by the observation that Herstmonceux had 12 letters, the number of pages in the ATH, and we were certain we could find some allusion to each letter on each page, and thus confirm the location of the treasure. We never quite managed this however.

At the eleventh hour, so to speak, we finally plucked up enough courage to make the journey to Herstmonceux, or at least Hugh did. Armed with a plethora of possible four-fold lock 'keys', he felt that one of them must fit.

As it transpired, the delay and uncertainty engendered by our day out in Greenwich, may actually have been to our advantage in an odd kind of way. For when Hugh ope'd the box, he found a note instructing him to subtract 231 from the 'correct' code. We had not seen the web-site amendment at this point, and an earlier visit may have proved unproductive. Once again the shrewd nouse of the tortoise may have again out-witted the faster hare.

From the selection of 'keys' on Hugh's virtual key ring, our first attempt (the Lalla Ward key, 7687 - 231 = 7456) failed. However the second key tried (4393 - 231 = 4162) magically ope'd the secret box. At once a chorus of celestial trumpets could be heard as a band of treasure hunt angels descended from the heavens to congratulate Hugh on our unlikely last minute winner (Hugh had had a healthy and fortifying pub lunch before venturing forth....).

The Time Wasters