Geocaching in Derbyshire…
Tucked away in the Derbyshire hills lies a picturesque village with a history to send chills down your spine. Known as the ‘plague village’ Eyam’s harrowing background plays on your mind as you walk past houses where whole generations of families succumbed to the plague which started in 1665 and raged for over a year claiming the lives of at least 260 villagers.
What makes the story of Eyam so sad is that the villagers readily accepted their fate and closed off the village to stop the spread of the deadly disease to neighbouring towns and villages. Their bravery is truly remarkable and it’s a story that everyone should hear and take pride from.
In essence the Geocaches around Eyam feel like one long multi-cache with little bits of history being offered at nearly every spot. We parked up and made our way over to the first cache at the Hall Hill Troughs said to be one of the first public water supplies in the country.
Taking a clockwise direction around the route we headed up a steep but fairly brief hill towards JUMBER LUMBER. The trek across to the cache was a little precarious due to the amount of mud along the path but we soon found the cache and I left my newly acquired Mr. Frogglesworth TB in there as it was a lovely spot with wonderful views back into Eyam.
Setting off again in an Easterly direction we made our way over to pick up Ladywash, which provided a view of the reservoir on the hill in the distance before we reached our next cache C.O.D. Well fancy that! Located at Mompesson’s Well this cache also gave us another chance to read up on some extra local history. Food and medical supplies were left at the well by people from neighbouring villages during the outbreak of the plague, and to pay for these essential supplies money was left soaked in vinegar by the villagers to keep it sterile to prevent the disease spreading to the kind folk who made the drop offs.
It received the name Mompesson’s well from the Rector of the village, William Mompesson, whose self-effacing decision it had been (along with Thomas Stanley) to quarantine the village off. Their ideas in how to control the spread of this deadly disease saved the lives of countless people and so it’s a nice place to come and spend a moment to reflect on their courage.
Our walk then wound its way back down into the village through some very peaceful woodland where we managed to find our next cache, By the babbling brook. Getting to the cache proved to be quite a tricky descent along a muddy narrow ridge before the path reached the beautiful babbling brook where the cache was soon in hand.
Doubling back up the hill we’d just come down we made our way past a field of beautiful alpacas towards a youth hostel where we found Eyam Stay and pocketed a TB which belonged to a scout group from the Milton Keynes.
Walking back down the hill with a view of the size of Eyam it gave a sense of how easily and quickly the disease would have spread. At the time Eyam had a population of around 350 people (although this figure is contested by various sources) and with an estimated number of deaths being put at 260 you can see how devastating the plague had been to the population of this small village.
Our last two caches centred around the Church, with one being Church Micro 3918, and the other being Saxon, both of which were easy finds. As the Church was open we popped in to read some of the information boards inside the Church which told the whole story of the plague and how it had reached the village.
The nursery rhyme ‘Ring a ring o’ roses’ is often attributed to the Great Plague however this theory has been debunked on several occasions but it is easy to make the link and accredit it to the deadly plague of 1665.
If you’re making the Geocaching trip over this way then I highly recommend popping into both the Eyam Church and the Eyam Museum. There are also some lovely gift shops near the tourist information centre which are worth checking out too.
Until next time…