Earthcache - Holme Fen Posts

Today I took child #4 (Bobus) up to Holme Fen Posts. This is an earth cache which is a special type of cache. You don't need to sign a physical log; instead you need to visit the site and answer some questions about the local geology and/or geography.

Later, we went took the dog for a walk around Alconbury and found another local cache - In a Hawthorn grove. When we were still far off my smartphone died and I thought we'd have no chance! As the dog still needed walking we took him up to roughly where the cache site would be and after looking around a little actually managed to find the cache in the second place we searched!

There was even a World of Warcraft trading card placed in the cache in April 2008 - so I took that!

Here is what the earthcache page has to say about the Holme Fen Posts ...

"In the early 19th century, the Nature Reserve at Holme Fen used to be the south-east shore of the Whittlesey Mere. In the 18th century, the Mere was said to be the second largest lake in England, but its size and depth had declined by Victorian times. The Mere had long been an important source of food and income for local people as well as being an outstanding place for wildlife. As people became more wealthy in the 18th and 19th centuries it was regularly used for recreation and boating. Due to rising population and potential profit from arable farming, however, all this was to change.

In 1851/2 the mere was drained after years of falling water levels, leaving peat rich arable land that was ideal for crops such as potatoes and wheat.  Originally a team of men led by local landowner William Wells tried draining the land by digging ditches and drains hoping to remove the water via gravity, this was unsuccessful so a revolutionary Appold pump was purchased. This was first seen at the Great Exhibition held in The Crystal Palace at Hyde Park, London, in 1851.  This pump was believed to be able to remove almost 70 tons of water a minute so within weeks the mere was drained.  Therefore the value of the land went up considerably and landowners became richer.

Before draining the Mere, Wells buried a cast iron post in the ground with its base resting on the underlying clay, and the uppermost point at ground level. This was to monitor the shrinkage of the land as the peat beds dried out.  Peat is almost 90% water, therefore when the mere was drained the water within the peat evaporated over time and resulted in the shrinkage of the land. Also, the peat blows away and evaporates to give off carbon dioxide when exposed to the air. All this is known as peat ‘wastage’.

The top of the Fen posts now stands approx 4 metres (15ft) above the ground.  As you stand in front of the posts, you are standing at one of the lowest points in England some 2 metres (7 ft) below sea level."