A Winners Tale.
Four teams took part in this years Wakefield MAG Annual Treasure Hunt, held on a chilly but dry Sunday on the 23rd September (rearranged from it's traditional July slot). We all gathered at 09:30 at the start point (Grey Horse, Kirkgate) to get our maps and instructions from organiser Sue.
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 17 cryptic clues:
The final destination and finish line was disguised with 'Now you have completed your hunt I am waiting for you with a RED hot cuppa made with water that isn't out of the BECK. Ah, Redbeck transport cafe, on Doncaster Road heading into Wakefield from Nostell Priory funnily enough.
First team to set off about 09:50 was Steve, Justine and Sam,
closely followed by Ian and Terri.
The two Team Meerkats left later, still pondering over the destinations.
We made our way to Outwood and our first question to be answered 'What colliery did the half wheel come from?'. Riding along the main road and lo and behold, there is a huge colliery winding wheel acting as a memorial to those miners from Lofthouse Colliery.
Next destination, Carlton Village. The question at Carlton was 'What picture is on the plaque in the village with the village name on?'. Well, you can hardly miss it, as it's a 5 stalked Rhubarb (right in the heart of the Rhubarb triangle, famous for being the Rhubarb growing capital of the UK - In the heyday of the rhubarb industry, special Rhubarb Express trains ran nightly from Wakefield to bring 200 tons of Yorkshire rhubarb to the Covent Garden market in London - isn't Google a wonderful source of useless information ;-)
We made our way to our 3rd destination at Rothwell and the question 'How much is it to play tennis at Springhead Park?'. We had to walk all the way around the courts until we saw the answer ... on a huge banner ... 'Play tennis here for FREE'. The answer was nothing.
Onwards to Swillington and our next question 'Who did the Parish Council donate the plaque to and for what reason?'. The plaque actually took a bit of finding (even though it is right on the main road) but once found it was dedicated to Gregory Moakes, Devoted councillor for 42 years.
Next stop Garforth and the question 'At this destination, what is the garden dedicated to?'. This actually took some finding, and after a tour through the town centre and even a trip out to Garforth Cliffe Garden Centre, we stopped opposite the Gascoigne Pub for some head scratching .... There isn't a bloody memorial garden in Garforth. Then we looked up and lo and behold, right in front of us was an, ahem, memorial garden ... Doh!!! The garden was newly installed, to commemorate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. No wonder we weren't aware of it, it was literally a few months old. It was right on the main road though and blindingly obvious, if unlike us, you weren't blind !!!
Onto Aberford and question 6 'At the War Memorial what was Lesley Kemp's middle name'. Easily found, again on the main road and it was Richard.
Onto Micklefield now and the question 'From the central point on the Ferrybridge and Boroughbridge Road, how many miles is it to Wetherby?'. Another destination where we rode up and down till we spotted a very obvious mile post where it stated 9¾ miles to Wetherby.
We spotted Ian and Terri coming down the road and our pathetic attempts to send them on a wild goose chase didn't work. We made a quick getaway before they could follow us and onto our next destination of Ledsham.
The question here was 'What is the water trough and tap between?'. A little search of the village found it nestled between 2 houses (Church Farm House and Church Barn).
Next stop Castleford and the Cas Tigers Ground. The question was 'Who is the Memorial Gate dedicated to?'. Easily found and it is Arthur Atkinson - Legendary Rugby League player in the 1920s, '30s and '40s playing at representative level for Great Britain, England, and Yorkshire, and at club level for Castleford, as a Centre.
Arthur Atkinson holds the world record for a goal kick in any form of rugby, he kicked a Penalty from 75 Yards at St. Helens on 29 October 1929, a record that still stands today. Wow, that is superhuman, no wonder the record still stands ... Respect is due !!!
Next stop, Xcape at Freeport in Glasshoughton. The question here was 'How many triangles did you see on the roundabout?'. We went round every roundabout in the whole retail park, several times, including the M62 junction roundabout before we stopped for some serious head scratching. We had a very careful look at the destination clue again to try and make some sense of it ... If you try to escape out the back from a port you may find your answer here ... Mmm, let's try this road ... and lo and behold ... look ... some art work sculpture thingy with ... lots of triangles. We jumped off the bikes trying not to get run over whilst we counted nine.
Onto Ferrybridge and the question 'On the memorial what weapon is on the dates 1914-1918?'. We found the war memorial but it was for the second world war ... however, if you walked around the back, it was dedicated to those killed in WWI and the weapon carved into the stone was a sword.
Onto Knottingley and another war memorial to find as the question was 'My name is A Fisher, what rank did I hold in the war?'. Another difficult to find point at the destination so we had several tours of the main road before we spotted it. Unfortunately, we had got split up by this point with Justine and Sam finding it first and Steve ending up in a less than salubrious council estate, before quickly backtracking and finding the war memorial, by which time Sam and Justine were already waiting for him at Pontefract Castle. Oh, the answer was he was a Sargeant.
The question at Pontefract was 'I was the founder of Pontefract Brass and Iron but what is my name?'. William Bevitt was the answer.
Next to the village of East Hardwick where the question was 'I won an award in 1978, what was it for and how many birds surround my pump?'. We found the pump ... not on the first pass we hasten to add, and the award was the Annual Design Award and there were wooden birds at each of the four corners.
Onto Ackworth now and another several passes through the village before we located the church and could answer the next question 'At St Cuthberts, how old are my gates?'. Well, they were only made in 2007 so they were only 5 years old.
Nearly there now. Our last destination of Nostell Priory and question 16 'My gardens are open in December but what times are they open?'. A quick check at the visitors information centre and it is Wednesday to Sunday, 11am to 4pm.
Back on the bikes to the finish point at Redbeck Cafe. By now it was drizzling lightly but not enough to don the waterproofs.
Amazingly, quite how we did it, but we were first back, even though it had taken us many hours, and we had done several detours and several passes in a good few destinations before we found what we were looking for.
Well, technically we weren't the first team back as Ian and Terri had quit part way round.
Our answers were totted up and we got the full 16 out of 16 right. Hanging around with much needed coffee (and a much needed pee), Team Meerkat 2 headed by Daz were next in but they were also non completer's (it had taken much longer than anticipated so a previously arranged Sunday dinner slot had to be accommodated, necessitating quitting part way through).
Last in was Team Meerkat 1, headed by Mr Meerkat himself, Steve Jones. This team had completed the course but critically got one answer wrong, so we were the winners !!!!
We had the prize giving at the following Wednesday's MAG meeting and the winning team (Steve, Justine & Sam) got a bottle of Champaign and a Harley paper weight as first prize. Team Meerkat 1 got a bottle of wine and the same Harley paper weight as second prize. Team Meerkat 2 got some sweets as the third prize and booby prize (as they were the first to drop out with the least completed answers) was Ian and Terri, who got a model motorbike (as he's obviously not to be trusted with a real one - he might get lost !!!).
It had proved to be a real toughie this year although looking at the destinations and questions in the cold light of day, they weren't actually all that hard / difficult to find and the route was brilliant, taking us to some nice places (Knottingley excepted ;-), 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 Sue, Kelly and James who organised this years Treasure Hunt, researched all the destinations, questions and answers and came up with some stonking cryptic clues.
We could have done with a few more competitors this year but we put this down to the late September slot instead of the usual July (bizarrely enough though, the weather was much better than it had been in July !!!).
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 !!!!