Peterborough lies on the north western edge of the Cambridgeshire Fens where harder rocks, including the limestones used for many of the important buildings in the area such as the Cathedral, form higher land. The river terraces of the River Nene also provide higher ground. The fenland peat reaches to the outskirts and the 5 metre contour extends along the river valley into the heart of the city. GeoPeterborough is our main partner in Peterborough. A Geology Trail around the city was developed by Stamford and District Geological Society some years ago – a shopping trip to Queensgate can be made much more interesting by finding the fossils in its floors and walls!
Cambridgeshire is famous worldwide for its Jurassic fossils. Peterborough Museum is an ideal place to start exploring the history of life in the area as it has excellent examples of locally found Jurassic marine reptiles including Plesiosaurs, Pliosaurs and Ichthyosaurs, and also Leedsichthys, the largest fish known. It also has important archaeological displays tracing human life back to the Middle Palaeolithic (over 200,000 years ago).
The location of the city is due to two factors – the Jurassic limestones that form a harder bedrock, and therefore higher land, on the edge of the lower lying fenland, and the River Nene which still runs through the centre of the city. The Fen Edge Trail leaves the city to the south, passing through Fletton and Stanground and then follows the old course of the River Nene, past Stanground Wash (a Wildlife Trust nature reserve that is part of the Nene Washes), along the base of a high ridge formed by glacial material left after retreat of the glaciers during the Pleistocene Ice Age. The Trail continues up onto the ridge to Farcet and Yaxley and the Fen View Heritage Centre will be opened in summer 2018 in an old chapel in Farcet, from where there are excellent views to the south over the fens. Prior to drainage of the fenland in the 19th century, this was the area of the famous Whittlesey Mere, the second largest lake in southern England. The Yaxley ‘Spine‘ will form part of the Trail and Yaxley is also the home of the Fenland Trust, our main partner in the Fen Edge Trail.
The Trail also extends north from Peterborough Cathedral to the Lincolnshire border not far from Peakirk.
The walks on the Trail from Peterborough to Yaxley will be published in summer 2018. Our current partnerrs helping to develop the Trail here are the Fenland Trust, Farcet Parish Council, GeoPeterborough and the Wildlife Trust BCN.
The Fen Edge Trail as it passes along the Yaxley Spine
The church stands on slightly higher ground underlain by river terrace material (sands and gravels), surrounded by Oxford Clay. The church is built from Lincolnshire limestone with stronger-bedded limestone on the corners. The roof is a modern material that matches stone slates.
Places of interest that will be included on the Trail:
- A Geology Trail in the city
- New Fletton Cemetery
- Stanground Church
- Stanground Sluice and Toll Gate
- Stanground School
- Horsey Bridge
- Old course of the River Nene
- Farcet Fen
- Farcet Church and Cemetery
- Fen View Heritage Centre, Farcet
- Yaxley Church
- Yaxley Cemetery
© Cambridgeshire Geological Society