November 2 -A geocaching day around the Maldon district

Parrot Plant

Hello from 1066 – A Medieval Mosaic

Today we had planned a trip to collect about 15 church micros and then 4 bonuses and a bonus-bonus. I planned an order so that we picked up all the required caches and the required bonus numbers. We thought it might be possible to do it all in one day but what we didn’t realise how busy these roads were going to be. Less busy than around Southend-on-Sea but still busy which does not always work for geocaching which requires a few U-turns! We made a reasonably early start on a beautiful warm day. Many days just lately have been cold or wet but today is lovely so it should not be wasted.

Our first church was St Mary and St Margaret’s in Stow Maries and to our surprise it was open. It was a small country church with a lovely altar frontal with three gilded and painted pictures on it. There was a monumental brass and the pews unusually slope from the centre aisle to the outside. I wonder if you slide from one end when you sit on them. The multi require you to collect 9 numbers and put them into the following equation.

  • North: ((A – B) + (E x F)) x D – G
  • East: (A x (J – H)) – ((B + C + D + E + G) x F)

North came out fine but East had H=7 and J=7 which gave us a negative number which didn’t make any sense. We looked in a couple of different places, one of them twice despite very difficult places to drive. After an hour we still were not getting anywhere and we had to give up.

Our next church was St Stephens at Cold Norton. This quaint little church was open too. There was a monumental brass of a lady on the wall and lots of large stone corbels on the walls. We quickly collected the numbers and spent ages looking for the cache on church land. We were sure this time that we were in the right place but to our total frustration, we still could not find the cache. We looked and looked. We stopped and had lunch in the sun in the churchyard and then went back to have yet another look. Still, nothing and we had to give up again. We seem to have lost our geocaching mojo. Next, we headed to North Fambridge but the road to the church was completely blocked by a concrete truck. Today is not going according to plan. That’s what you get for making a plan.

So we carried on down the road and found ourselves at the River Crouch. The tide was out which is just as well as we were able to drive right down to the marina. To my great joy there was a geocache 35 metres away so we went to find it and finally, after more than two hours geocaching, we had found a cache! We are making up for lost time. We found another cache up beside the 500-year-old pub ‘The Ferryman’. The small village of North Fambridge was once linked by ferry to its namesake on the opposite bank of the Crouch, and 18th and 19th century Essex smugglers would have regularly used the shortcut to avoid a long detour to the nearest bridging point much further up the river. Today the only reminder of the link between the two villages is the name of the Ferryboat Inn. The white-painted weatherboard 15th century Inn is haunted by the ferryman’s ghost, and smuggler’s tunnels used to run to Blue Farm and Smugglers’ cottage nearby.

The truck had gone when we got back to the church and we found yet another church open. Holy Trinity was a nice little church with a great window and a George III royal coat of arms from 1764.  We collected the numbers and walked down the footpath to find the cache quickly.  Then we noticed a village sign and a sidetracked. Mike dropped me off as parking was a real problem and I went to find both caches without any problems. So after several hours of frustration, we now had five caches all in one little village and one number towards our Bonus caches.

At Latchingdon we found two church micros in quick succession but neither of them yielded any bonus numbers. I had worked out the puzzle for St Michael’s at  Latchingdon but we could not find access to the final. After fiddling about for ages again and driving down to the Althorne railway station where we got another sidetracked cache we gave up on the church micro. When I was logging the cache in the evening I Google Earthed the coordinates and found that I must have put the wrong coordinates into the GPS. I am my own worse enemy some days.

Access to All Saints church in Creaksea is very odd as you have to go down a private road that goes to a manor house. The church is surrounded on two sides by the manors land and on the other two sides by the golf course. We looked for ages for the headstones and in our frustration, we were finding nothing. On the point of giving up Mike finally found both in quick succession and the coordinates were close by and the cache was soon found.

At this point, we decided that we had had enough and started on the drive home but on the way we passed St Andrews in Althorne which was another church micro we had to find. It took us a while to find the seat with the numbers we were looking for as we found a headstone with the same name but not the right dates. It was getting seriously cold by now so we headed down a little-used footpath watching out for the blackberry which often holds onto the ground in two places and is the right height for tripping you up as I found out at Ashridge Park at the weekend when I went sprawling on the ground. A very ungainly sight, I am sure. Still, no harm was done. When we got through the gate at the bottom of the walkway two horses came up to say hello. Exit Stage Left. Neither of us is good with horses after our encounter with a bucking horse in Kent last year so we will never walk into a field with horses. After backtracking we found another walkway at the back of the cemetery which took us to a hidden gate where we found another cache and another number.

So after a day out we found 10 caches of which 5 were church micros, 2 sidetracked, 1 village sign and two traditional and only three bonus numbers that we were after. Still, it was a good start and maybe we will do better next time.