Peak District Treasure Hunt.  by Mike & Ilma Smith.                   8th June 2003.

   At least the morning started well, a bright sunny day in an idyllic location in the Goyt Valley in the Peak District National Park in Derbyshire, around a couple of miles away from our home where the treasure hunt was destined to end.
   It had been around twenty five years since I last organised a treasure hunt and, as I recall, that had been won by the reigning Motoring News rally champion navigator, Richard Harper. I had forgotten just how much hard work goes into the preparation when I casually volunteered to lay on the event.
Now you don't want to make it too easy, so that everyone gets it right, nor do you want to make it too hard, so everyone gets disillusioned. So we planned a 60 mile trip, circumnavigating Buxton and using as many little used roads as possible, without resorting to Healey breaking cart tracks. The initial route, which seemed straight forward on the OS map, proved to be anything but! The first run required modification after modification in order to avoid some 'white' roads which I would have been reluctant to travel with my vintage tractor. (my other hobby - we all have them don't we?)
   The paucity of suitable clues was of concern, when you are miles from anywhere in the remotest areas of the Peak District, signs can be few and far between, the trick, therefore was to make the clues as cryptic as possible, even if the spotting of the answers was fairly easy.
   We opted for a tulip style navigation, which proved fine for all the entrants, even those who had not used it before. The trouble was that there were so many junctions, seventy in sixty miles, due to the twists and turns of the convoluted route, that it would be too easy to locate the clues between each junction. We chose to keep the clues in order, but not to identify their position between junctions.
   The second, proving run, started with disaster. The council had closed the initial road and it seemed likely that it would be closed for the event. A change of route was called for and duly organised.
   Ironically, on this proving run, the mists came down on the high ground and a junction which we had listed as 'easy to miss' was overshot by us! There was also an error in the mileage which needed correction.
  On this second run, I was keeping an eye open for suitable clues to photograph, and I spotted a derelict tractor at the back of a barn close to the lane in a remote location. An elderly farmer saw me admiring the tractor and asked if I had an interest in these old vehicles. Having told him that I did, he took me to a large barn at the back of his farm where he had stockpiled around a dozen or more and invited me back to spend more time looking them over. He handed me half a dozen free range eggs as I left, telling me that he enjoyed a bit of company.
   The third, and final proving run threw up a few mileage errors, but they were easily fixed.
So here we were on the morning of Sunday 8th June awaiting the starters, and hoping some would turn up and make the effort wothwhile.
  A dozen vehicle arrived, ten of them Healeys, plus two everyday cars. Immediately there was consternation at the 'complexity' of the route and clues.
   "It's in four sectors! That sounds a bit technical!"
   "What does this clue mean? Two pointers to identify this clue." (The sign on a farm gate would show a picture of two pointer dogs above the name!)
   "I'm not bothering with the clues, I'll just drive the route!"
    With mixed feelings and a degree of trepidation they all set off.

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Start Errwood Reservoir.

Another pic at the start.

Tony & Jacky Lyons.

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Denis and Margaret Austin.

Mike & Bernadette Stonier.

Tony & Caroline Curran.

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Stewart & Linda McDonagh.

Ivor & Pam Davies.

John, Karen and Matthew Ridyard.

   The weather held for most of the first half, which took competitors through Wildboarclough and across to the Roaches for a late breakfast. The half way point was in Hartington, where the rains came down in earnest. Ivor and Pam Davies, without the benefit of a hood, decided to head straight for the finish. Their soggy answer sheet bore witness to their difficulties. The fact they had half the points of the winner, having only completed half the course shows how competitive they were.
   It was a blessing in disguise for us, trying to sort out the barbecue, having to move cars out of my garage to accommodate the BBQ, an extra pair of hands was invaluable.
   The Ridyard's had to call it a day early also, son Matthew is cramped in the back of their BJ8 at the best of times, but with the hood up it became too much.
   We all enjoyed a hearty meal, sitting in my workshop watching the rain falling, until, at last the sun came out just in time for prizegiving.
    In third place were the Curran's, Tony and Caroline. In second place, with husband Richard away in Japan was Diane Frisk, ably navigated by son Will.
   And in first place, with their newly acquired BJ8 left in the garage needing mechanical attention, were new members Dave and Gerry Goddard. (Who, it was noted, have volunteered to organise an event for the Northern Centre next season.)
    A chorus of "Tell us the answers, we want to see how your devious mind works!" forced me to explain myself and brought forth a few groans of disbelief when the answers became known.
    Why none guessed the answer to "Quarry that requires our saint to become airborne." when it was obviously a flying dragon on a weathervane, is beyond me.

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Start line up.

First away.

Sun emerges at the finish.

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Ivor & Pam Davies find a little used route

Caroline Curran, third place navigator.

Winners Dave and Gerry Goddard.

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