November 4 – A Church Micro day around the Dengie Peninsula

Burnham-on-Crouch, Southminster, Althorne, Dengie, Tillingham, St Lawrence and Steeple

Hello from 1066 – A Medieval Mosaic

Well, today we decided to have a go at those church micros we were doing on the 2nd and see if we can get more done and possibly even some of the bonus caches. First, we went back to Stow Maries. We have figured out the coordinates and one of the numbers was negative so we had to add to the north coordinates and subtract from the east coordinates but we could not find a track which would get us to the final coordinates. We searched on google earth and then in person and we drove the entire block looking for the way in but nothing. The closest we could get was still 600 metres away and no way in. Days later, I googled a previous finder and they finally gave us the coordinates for the track entrance which looks just like a driveway to a house. On closer inspection, you can see a footpath sign completely hidden in the bushes but suffice to say we never got there as I was not going to be able to convince Mike to have a third trip to the area.

Then we went on to Cold Norton which was another one we had been able to find on the 2nd.

This time we felt we knew better what to look for after reading the previous logs and a spoiler photo. There was nothing wrong with our coordinates so surely we will be able to find the cache this time. We looked and looked and looked and looked. How can it be hidden this well? We were on the verge of giving up when I finally saw it. We could not believe our eyes, how could that have been so hard to see? We had not been able to understand the hint either. We signed the log, collected the number and returned happily to the car. Then suddenly Mike exclaimed that he understood the hint. A little too cryptic for us. The hint was “Titan’s grandson”. I googled it and that was no help. There are two oak trees in this churchyard and the coordinates take you to the big one. The cache container was hanging off a branch of the smaller oak tree in full view. The clue meant to look at the smaller oak tree. Moan! Maybe we should take up cryptic crosswords as t might help us improve our geocaching skills.

Our third challenge from the 2nd was at St Michael’s Latchington. It was a puzzle and I had worked out the correct coordinates but I must have put the wrong numbers into the GPS as when I googled it I got much a better result and so today we went to the right place. It took us ages to cross the road which suddenly turned into the M1 and we had to wait for 34 cars to pass before we could cross and make an easy find and collect the bonus number that we needed.

With two out of three finds made we were feeling a lot more optimistic but at Althorne this was squashed. We visited the village sign to collect the numbers we needed and drove down the road to the final. Parking was not at all easy and the clue was again cryptic and despite looking everywhere we could think of we never found the cache. Mikes interest was waining by now and he was suggesting we go home to watch a movie.

However, we continued on to St Mary’s church at Burnham-on-Crouch which was a lovely church with lots of lovely stained glass windows including the East window which was made in 1874 and the ‘Ascension’ window made in 1881 by Clayton and Bell. The pottery ‘Stations of the Cross’ are also wonderful and each is dedicated to members of the congregation who have passed on. The font is a 12th-century Purbeck marble font with a square bowl on five column supports and the carved Caen stone pulpit is also on marble column as well as marble panels and carved figures in the canopied niches. The multi required us to find two names which are usually on headstones or seats around the churchyard. We found Auger alright but Harvey took some finding. Once we read the description again carefully we had a lightbulb moment and Mike soon found Harvey and his dates scratched onto the wall over a doorway. Once we had the coordinates we soon found the cache and noted the bonus number.

The next four churches at Southminster, Dengie and Tillingham Chapel were not open so quick finds were made and we moved on to the next. However, on the wall of The White Horse Hotel, we saw a brilliant pargeted mural by Ian Warren. Have a look at his ‘work in progress’ page to see an amazing Jungle book work. Ian is an amazing artist! Pargetting is an endangered craft with only 6 – 10 people currently practising the skill. In Tillingham we read about the quaint clapper board houses but had no idea what that referred to. It turns out that it means weatherboard houses which for New Zealanders is a much more usual sight than in the UK. Tillingham is indeed a quaint village with a lovely village sign with different pictures on each side. The church of St Nicholas looked lovely with its multi-stage tower but there was a music concert going on inside. Outside the church, there was a great Remembrance Day display with a black silhouette of a soldier standing in a field of poppies made from the red ends of plastic fizzy bottles and then a row of crosses commemorating the men lost during the WW1. At this church, we were able to complete one of the four bonus caches which was great. By the end of the day we had collected all but three of the numbers we needed to complete all the bonuses but I fear we will not pass this way again. LOL You never know, maybe we will.

At St Lawrence’s church in St Lawrence, we arrived just as lots of other cars began to arrive also for a commemorative service so we were unable to enter the church and even walking around the churchyard was difficult as mourners were also walking around. The saw another Remembrance Day Display, this time including the silhouette of a nurse. We have seen so many of these exhibitions in the last few weeks as nearly every church in the country seems to have displays of all different kinds.

Our last cache of the day was at Steel where we collected the numbers in near dark. We drove to the public footpath and were a little confused about where the footpath ent as while a road seemed to be marked out with fences it had not been walked down for quite a while. Then Mike found a path alongside the fenceline and soon we found the cache. We agree with other geocachers that it looked like we were on private land but England is cross-crossed with public footpaths across the private land so we figure if there is a footpath sign then we are entitled to walk there.

So after a great day of geocaching, we had collected nine church micros and are now up to 985.