It’s not every Saturday that you’re set a challenge by a Cheshire Cat with attitude. It’s not every Saturday that you choose to accept. Especially when that Saturday is the prime shopping day pre-Christmas and the forecast is rain. But nevertheless, myself and two friends formed team ‘Arpurrturians’ and set off on a 3 mile ‘moderate’ trail around central London.
We began at the beginning by meeting at the National Portrait Gallery with a sense of anticipation, trepidation and minor apprehension. “Shall we text start?” one friend asked. “Can I go to the toilet first?” asked the other nervously. It was with that same sense of dedication that we went forward on our quest. Organised by Hidden City, the Hunt for the Cheshire Cat comprises of a series of 14 clues delivered by text message. A correct answer is granted the following clue, an incorrect answer with the fear of losing your head, and an ask for help with a 10-minute penalty.
This is no casual jaunt on the weekend, but a focused mission – and one that we took very seriously. It was only a matter of time before we were running down cobbled streets and abandoning umbrellas as they were slowing us down. While there was plenty of time for tea (or wine), we had our time in mind and kept momentum up. We soon lost the other teams that we’d crossed paths with at earlier points on the adventure as we zoomed towards the finish line.
Through galleries and tube stations, book shops and bars our adventure took us from Charing Cross to the Mall and beyond to Waterloo. We were tempted to be led astray, discovered churches, cafes and cocktail bars; continually curiouser and curiouser. There were points when we feared we might be going mad, unable to answer the clues, but then remembered that the best people usually are.
Lovers of the Lewis Carroll books will appreciate some of the finer details that bring the whole experience back to Alice’s magical world, however no prior knowledge of the books is strictly needed. Tumble down the rabbit hole and discover a wonderland within your own city. You won’t be disappointed.
The Hunt for the Cheshire Cat is run by HiddenCity and runs until 5 February. Tickets start from £23 per person and the hunt is suitable for teams of 2 – 5. This experience is designed for adults. Supervised children welcome. On Friday or Saturday if there are under 18s in your party finish the trail by 7.30pm to gain access to the final location. Start location: National Portrait Gallery. Difficulty: Medium. Local knowledge required: None. Price: £23.00pp. For more information and to book please visit the website.