September 26 – A Church Micro day around Cambridgeshire

Fen Drayton, Fenstanton, St Ives, Holywell, Needingworth, Bluntisham, Colne, Somersham, and Over

Hello from 1066 – A Medieval Mosaic

It was our intention to visit the church at Holywell first today but even though Swavesey is close geographically, getting there by road is not so easy as the Great River Ouse is in the way. It is a long drive around in either direction so I planned a circular route with Holywell in the middle. Although the plan is usually to concentrate on Church mIcros, today we managed to do some village signs and war memorial caches and even the odd traditional.

First, we went to Fen Drayton which is very nearby and we found a village sign cache, a war memorial multi and a church micro. St Mary the Virgin church was not open so we headed to Fenstanton. where we had two DNFs in a row. We should have gone to the church there but there was no church micro so we didn’t. Lancelot “Capability” Brown, the famous gardener and his wife are buried there.

Next, we went to St Ives which is a lovely town on the Great River Ouse We walked all around the town and had our picnic lunch by the river. In the middle of the bridge which crosses the river is St Ledger’s Chapel which was built about 1415. Tolls were collected her from travellers which provided a valuable income for the monks at Ramsey Abbey. This continued until the dissolution of the monasteries when it became a private residence and later an establishment of dubious reputation. Until the building of the bypass in 1980 St Ives bridge was the only access from the south over The Ouse and into St Ives for almost a thousand years. St Ives has a statue of Oliver Cromwell on Market Hill. It was designed and sculpted by F.W. Pomeroy and it is a grade 2 listed monument.

Finally, we reached Holywell and found a village sign cache and a traditional before arriving at the church. St John the Baptist was a lovely church decorated with green and white flowers including light green carnations and white roses for a wedding. It looked gorgeous. There were eight corbels including one which was a green man. They were all beautifully painted. The church also had a rood screen and a funerary hatchment. The East window was great and depicted King Edmund and King Oswald who were both also saints. Mike could not hone in on the cache at first and I was not keen to help as access seemed to be through knee height nettles. Then a guy with a dog stopped to talk to us which made things difficult and we had to wait for him to walk off before we could turn our minds once more to the cache. We had read in the logs that it was sneaky and we might need water so that gave us a clue as to what we were looking for. This time we went through a memorial garden and approached on the outside of the fence up a path free of nettles. Once again Mike could not find the cache when I saw a rock on the ground in a random position, moved it and there was a hole in the ground with a cache inside. The idea was to fill the container with water so that the container floats to the top. We just used our trusty hook and soon we had signed the log. We gave this cache a favourite point as it was a nice clever cache and it is nice to find ones that have had some effort put into their design.

St John the Baptist at Holwell-cum-Needingworth is famous for its Holy Well or Chalybeate. The well produced mineral spring water containing salts of iron. There are several other natural springs, or chalybeates, along Holywell Front; water seeps out under the gravel bank where it meets the underlying clay. A well-dressing ceremony takes place each year in June, and children from the local primary school are involved in making floral garlands and decorations for the well.

We did two more geocaches nearer along the river to the Old Ferry Boat Inn which is one of the villages main attractions and is one of the scores of pubs claiming to be the oldest pub in the UK, including Ye Olde Fighting Cocks in St Albans which we have also visited. Next, we went to do one of the two village sign caches in Bluntisham. We were surprised to find that this cache was disabled and that so many people had not found it. We definitely found it easily and someone else found it today too. Maybe the CO has replaced the cache and has not yet got around to re-enabling the cache yet. Anyway, it was definitely there and all good to go. St Mary’s church at Bluntisham was unfortunately closed but it did have an amazing painted wooden carving over the door. The art installation was designed by Cecily Marshall of Earith.

At Colne, we visited St Helen’s church where we had to find a bench to get the numbers off it for the multi. Initially, we got the wrong bench but when we found another one the numbers made much better sense and we soon found the cache. We went on to do A Fine Pair which was in a phone box which had been turned into a book exchange. The log was pinned to the noticeboard which we thought was very clever and made a nice change. At Colne, we also did a village sign multi but after walking along a pathway around the side of a field we never found the cache. We were the fourth set of geocachers in a row to log a “did not find”Our last church micro of the day was at St John the Baptist at Somersham. It has a magnificent East stained glass window with Christ in Majesty and a WW2 memorial.

The village sign at Over was different on each side with one side showing the church and the other side showing a windmill. The cache was an easy multi and we soon found the cache. We found a Victorian post box in a wall there. As we headed through the village towards Swavesey we came across another church and despite the fact that there was no church micro we stopped to have a look and we were glad that we did. St Marys had three wonderful East windows, one over the main altar and two in the side chapels. The two chapel windows were designed and made by W.H. Constable, of Cambridge, 1889 and 1885. The reredos behind the altar was a stone frieze with a red velvet curtain beneath it and there was an octagonal font with a wooden cover. But the most exciting find was that there were six misericords, each with rather scary faces. The grotesque outside was equally scary. There was also an early 17th-century seven sided pulpit with vaulted tester and enriched ogee canopy. The rectors of the church dated from Robert de Riseley in 1300.

Outside we found our last cache for the day which was part of the Over and Out Circular trail and was a cool 3D printed container. A good haul for the day with 6 church micro, 4 village signs, a fine pair and five traditionals bringing our total to 6507 and 913 church micros. A lovely day indeed!