A Winners Tale.
Five teams took part in this years Wakefield MAG Annual Treasure Hunt, held on a rainy Sunday on the 17th July. We all gathered at 09:30 at the start point (Grey Horse, Kirkgate) to get our maps and instructions.
First task was to work out the locations and then the best route to get to them all. The locations had to be derived from the following 10 cryptic clues:
With our destinations worked out, we decided on the most logical route to avoid doubling back on ourselves wherever possible, then set off at 09:50. Team Mark & Sally, the first to set off were already long gone.
The first place we arrived at was Sandal Castle (clue 2). The question here was "This duke was mortally wounded in what year?". The answer was 1460, when Richard Duke of York was killed by Lancastrian forces in the War of the Roses. Very educational these Treasure Hunts !!!
We made our way to Wintersett and a large park, wildlife reserve and fishing lakes (clue 6). The question here was "How old was Charles when he died?". The answer was relatively easy to find, being on the main signage in the car park. Charles lived from 1782 to 1865, and hence was 83 when he died (a jolly good innings for the time).
We then made our way to Felkirk church (clue 4). The question here was "Mary, Mary quite contrary sat under a tree, what would be me and my husbands combined ages be" After a lengthy tour of the graveyard we did indeed find the gravestone of Mary Hayton and her husband, not quite under a tree but near one. We worked out the combined ages (152, as they were both 76 when they died). Unfortunately, as it transpires, we had the wrong gravestone, as we didn't quite look hard enough in that graveyard ...... Doh !!!
We now made our way to Featherstone (clue 5). We were looking for a monument "set into the floor beneath the arch, from a miners struggle to a massacre". We found the war memorial which was dedicated to the 880 local men, many of them miners, who lost their lives in the Great War. And the Great War was indeed a massacre. There was an arch in the monument, beneath which was a drinking fountain, so we chose that as our answer. Unfortunately, that was also wrong, as we had failed to find the actual miners memorial in the High Street.
Particularly noteworthy however is the brand new War Memorial & Gardens in Featherstone, dedicated to those who lost their lives in World War I & II. This was only completed last year, and there cant be many new war memorials around the country being built for WWI & WWII, very nice to see.
We then made our way to Ackworth (clue 3), to hunt out the ball and pinnacle, where we had to combine the miles to get the total. Found it ... The ball and pinnacle we were looking for was not the stone cross but one of those old fashioned West Riding County Council road signs, so we added the mileage total for the destinations on the direction marker (making sure we walked all around it to get them all).
Our next stop was Pontefract (clue 9), where we made our way to the castle. The clue was "This Saxon church its floor still sits , between the castle and the cathedral it still lays". Easily found (between the castle remains and the church funnily enough), are the ruins of an ancient Anglo Saxon church. Our question was "between which centuries was this church built", easily answered from the plaque: 8th & 10th centuries. We were definitely on a roll now.
Onwards to Carlton (clue 10) where the clues relating to rhubarb were easily found as the village signs show 5 leaves of rhubarb. Our answer was to count the number of this vegetable on each sign. Taking into account all 5 signs relating to all the roads into the village took our answer to 25, and not 5 (we were well and truly getting the hang of this by now).
From Cartlton, we tracked back towards Wakefield and Wrenthorpe (clue 8). The Oil and Pot clue became immediately obvious when we stumbled across The New Pot Oil public house. We were looking for the numbers on the back. After walking several times around the pub we found a commemorative plaque (erected in 2005) relating to the site of old potteries, back in 1679 (17th Century).
It was more on the side of the pub than the back, so we hedged our bets by noting the telephone number of the pub on another sign. After writing down every number we could possibly find we were fairly certain we had the right one(s). However, what we had failed to observe was another commemorative plaque, with the right answer on it, nicely obscured by a car !!!! Ever so slightly tricky was this years Treasure Hunt !!!
We then made decided to hit Wakefield Town Hall, prior to our last stop which would have been the mining museum. However, we hit the one way system all wrong (its all changed recently, thats our excuse !!!) so rather than ride round and round in circles, decided to head out of town to the mining museum first, then hit the town hall on our way back to base.
Our question at the National Coal Mining museum (clue 1) was "numbers with no meaning will total the answer". Pretty obscure until we found in the entrance, a Museum Development Supporters board, containing lots of names marked by numbered tokens (the ones the miners took down with them at the beginning of each shift, thus enabling all miners to be counted in and counted back out again). And, lo and behold, there were some gaps where the numbered tokens had no corresponding supporter, hence, no meaning !!!! Brilliant, another correct answer.
Onwards now to our last port of call, Wakefield Town Hall (clue 7). The question was to count the birds on the outside wall. Wakefield Town Hall is a pretty impressive Victorian building, with lots of ornate stone carvings, which if you look very carefully, contain a number of birds. After a bit of careful counting we managed to find 14, so back to our HQ to have our scores tallied up.
We were neither the first, nor the last back. After around 30 minutes, all teams and competitors had returned to base and the scores were being calculated. The final scores were based on several criteria including:
With the scores on the doors, it was time for the grand prize giving. Cue drum roll for:
First place: Team Steve, Justine, Toby & Sonny. Amazingly we had come first, despite getting several answers wrong. A case of Stella Artois for our achievement, shared between the four of us
Second Place: Team Mark & Sally. A very close second and to this very day, they still claim they were robbed of first place !!!! However, the case of Carling softened the blow of not winning somewhat
Third Place: Team MT. A bizarre third place given that they had abandoned their last couple of destinations, and given up before the end !!!!! A case of Skol was a most welcome (and unexpected) prize
Fourth Place: Team Martin. Pretty decent achievement for a team of one, on a bike that refuses to start unless it gets a quick squirt of Easy Start down its plug hole (Oooh Er Missus)
Fifth & last Place: Team Neville & Co. A good few wrong answers resulted in last place and the booby prize of a four pack of quality ASDA Smart Price Lager (96p for 4 !!!)
We all agreed that this years Treasure Hunt had probably been the best ever. The destinations and clues certainly weren't obvious and had to be carefully worked out. The run took us to some nice places along nice roads, generally covering 70 odd miles over a period of several hours. We all learnt something new about our local area and it certainly had been the Thinking Riders Rideout !!!
A huge thanks has to go to Macca & Lisa, who organised this years Treasure Hunt, researched all the destinations, questions and answers and came up with some stonking cryptic clues. We will be hosting another Treasure Hunt in July next year, so if you are up for a most grey matter challenging rideout, you could do a lot worse than joining us !!!!