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SDGT Midhurst Common - Serpent Trail Traditional Geocache

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Geocaching HQ Admin: We hope you enjoyed exploring South Downs National Park. The South Downs GeoTour has now ended. Thank you to the community for all the great logs, photos, and Favorite Points over the last 6 years. It has been so fun!

Hidden : 05/20/2015
2.5 out of 5
3.5 out of 5

Size: Size:   small (small)

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Geocache Description:

Note the secret code in this cache and find others to earn yourself a geocoin as part of The South Downs GeoTour. Record the codes in the #SDGeoTour passport, downloadable from our website or at SDGT Visitors Welcome.

Post your adventures online using #SDGeoTour

A medium sized container on sunset hill - a great place for watching the sun go down and reflecting on the day.

The Serpent Trail - A 64 mile long path that leads you through the purple heather, green woods and golden valleys of the Sussex greensand hills. The sandy heaths are rare and special places for people and wildlife.


Midhurst common is owned by the Cowdray Estate and managed by The Friends of Midhurst Common, who are a group of local people, whose interest is in preserving and maintaining the common for the recreation and enjoyment of the local Community.

Size: 60.5 hectares or 149.5 acres
Designations: Registered common, Open Access Site


  • Many of our 13 native species of reptiles and amphibians are commonly seen on our heathlands. Midhurst Common has many of them, including common lizards, slow worms and adders.
  • Adders (vipera berus) are the UK’s only venomous snake. Their secretive nature and camouflaged markings mean they often go unnoticed. Mating takes place in April/May and female adders incubate their eggs internally, rather than laying shelled eggs (like the grass snake). Adders 'give birth’ to live young in August or September.
  • Adders feed on small rodents and lizards. As a result their venom is not particularly potent. Though painful, adder bites are rarely fatal. There are only around ten recorded cases of death from adder bite in the last 100 years. Most bites occur when the snake has been disturbed or deliberately antagonised.


On the edge of the common is the Midhurst Brick working. It was famous for the Midhurst whites - a white coloured brick made from finely ground lime and sand. It ran from 1913 to 1985 and was very profitable making £1,000 a week profit in 1938.

On your adventures see if you can discover the ruins of an excavator abandoned in the old Midhurst Whites' pit.

Also crossing the common is the disused railway branch line from Petersfield to Midhurst. It opened in 1860 and closed in 1955. You can still make out the train line across the common.

Midhurst Common is one of over 7,000 Commons in England which in total cover over one million acres. These areas of land are a legacy from the past when commoners worked the land for their day to day survival. Usually commons were areas of land which were not considered of great value. Commoners had rights to either graze and/or cut turf, harvest wood and generally use the land for their day to day needs. These rights were usually attached to properties and farms.


Heathlands occur on infertile land with thin acidic soils. The soils are usually sandy and therefore free-draining so they do not hold water for long. Heaths are often subject to summer droughts. Fires are a constant hazard, particularly as much of the vegetation is very resinous adding to the fire risk.

Heathlands are a man-made habitat, created thousands of years ago by our ancestors to provide firewood, craft materials and grazing for livestock. They are very vulnerable to rapid loss and degradation, especially through neglect. Birch and Scot’s Pine seedlings soon take over and turn areas into woodland because they shade out the underlying heath vegetation.

The wide open landscape is dominated by heather, gorse and grasses which provide a superb habitat for invertebrates (over 5000), ground nesting birds and all six native reptiles. Many internationally rare species can be found on heathland.

95% of lowland heaths have been lost globally. 1,544 ha of lowland heathland can be found in the National Park which represents an important international resource.


Cache placed with kind permission from the Cowdray Estate.

Additional Hints (Decrypt)

ng gur gbc fhafrg uvyy, orfvqr n eubqbqraqeba ohfu haqre yrns yvggre

Decryption Key


(letter above equals below, and vice versa)