** Please note that this is an archive of the CANTAB publication and contains out-of-date information **
At this time of year the hardiest rambler seeks to consume a warm drink in shelter at lunch and tea-break, away from the biting East Anglian wind.
The rural bus shelter has its uses, ranging from the most primitive, to delightful village shelters, such as the new Millennium Shelter and garden at Wrestlingworth, and the commodious shelter with electric light and roses round the door near Heydon church (very useful for Icknield Way travellers…). Do remember to give precedence to the bona-fide bus traveller!
Most ramblers are also firm friends of the village pub, where nowadays coffee is usually available, as well as the normal range of cold drinks. But provision of pots of tea is rare, as is, sadly, the traditional country tea-room, outside of tourist villages like Grantchester and Thaxted. This issue of Cantab suggests garden centre tea rooms and similar outlets as valuable sources of that essential beverage tea (and other hot drinks), in locations where there is also good walking. They are usually open seven days per week, and, being accustomed to the green-fingered tribe, will not be averse to ramblers’ walking gear (although you may still need boot-covers in the café!).
The list here is quite short – if anyone has other suggestions (including rural cafes, farm-shops and similar outlets) on the route of a good walk, I would be delighted to include it in a future issue.
Tiptoe through the tulips?
Notcutts Garden Centre (formerly Ansells), tel. 01223 860 320 on the outskirts of Horningsea Village is probably already known to many ramblers for its friendly restaurant, serving generous-size hunks of cake! This is well-placed halfway round a circuit from Milton Country Park, emerging from the rear entrance into Fen Road, and turning right to the River Cam Towpath. Follow this to Clayhythe, returning on the Fen Rivers Way route through Horningsea village. After refreshment, cross the river at Baits Bite Lock, to return to the Country Park. (5 – 6 miles).
Alternatively start from Newmarket Road Park & Ride. Take the cycleway from the rear of the parking, cross the line of the old railway, and take a signed path through small fields to Fen Ditton village. Join the riverside from Green End, and at Baits Bite Lock, turn right to Horningsea. The garden centre is the first building reached! Return on the (very muddy) byway via Snouts Corner. Wellies are recommended in Winter for this little-known but quite attractive route close to Cambridge.
Shepreth has two garden centres on the corner of the A10 Dunsbridge Turnpike, with Cambridge Road to Melbourn. Both the Royston Country Homes and Gardens Centre (tel. 01763 260412) and the Phillimore Garden Centre (01763 260537) have cafés. The first is conveniently nearer the junction, and the informal café is very good value.
From Shepreth rail station, take a pleasant permissive path in 2 sections beside Fowlmere Road, running through a narrow band of woodland, planted with Spring bulbs, behind the roadside hedge. Turn right onto the A10, and cross carefully opposite the Motel, to take the cross-field path (reinstated!) to Field Farm. The road leads SE on to a small cemetery, where turn right on a little road to the RSPB reserve. There is a car-park here, where, for a small fee, an alternative start may be made. After visiting the reserve, continue along the quiet road to Mill Farm.Here take a delightful path close to the stream to The “Green Man” on the back road near the A10. (I say “close to the stream” advisedly – although safe, the narrow path would not suit a user with vertigo!). Before re-crossing the A10, divert left to visit one of the garden centres, if not lured away by the nearer attractions of the pub! Cross the A10 and walk down Frog End, diverting on a path to visit the Church, before returning to the station. A longer walk could include Shepreth L Moor Reserve. (5-8 miles)
Waresley Park Garden Centre (tel 01767 650249) on the Gamlingay Road, has a very pleasant licenced restaurant, where one may take afternoon tea, and indeed, more substantial meals. I recall this as a welcome oasis on a hot afternoon! Attractions hereabouts are a visit to Waresley Wood, with its bluebells and oxlips, perhaps emerging on the east side down Dick & Dolls lane, to visit the twin villages of Little Gransden & Great Gransden. Return on the path via Squirrels Grove, and take the wide bridleway to Wildmere Plantation, returning to Waresley on a fairly quiet road. (7 miles).
Coton Orchard Garden Centre (tel. 01954 210234), is not, unfortunately, within the village, but near the A428. It is, however, easily accessible from the village using the footway along Cambridge Road. The tarmac path from Adams Road, Cambridge, crossing the bridge over the M11 to Coton needs no describing, and most readers will also be familiar with the parallel path on Cambridge Preservation Society land which turns off just beyond the footbridge and emerges on Grange Road between the Rugby Football ground and the rear of Clare Hall College. However, a longer walk around Coton, will allow ramblers to investigate paths (presently permissive, but eventually to be added to the Definitive Map) on land the Preservation Society plans* to convert to a new “Farm & Wildlife Reserve”. We look forward to having this new public amenity so close to Cambridge, but understand that improvements will be achieved gradually over a number of years.
* See The Ring, Cambridge Preservation Society, Winter 2003.
Parish of the Month
Great Shelford, South Cambs.
By David Elsom, & Bridget Hodge**
Great Shelford is not the most obvious parish to highlight in a rambling magazine!
There are few footpaths; bridleways; or by-ways, other than those which ease movement within the built up area of the village. For example, Footpath 4 cuts through from Elms Avenue into the High Street [all of 90 metres], saving a walk round two sides of a triangle.
However things are changing, and people may not be aware both of various permissive paths which make longer walks and links to the wider network possible and also impending changes which will improve things still further.
As the West Anglian Way walk demonstrated it is possible to leave Cambridge from Brooklands Avenue along Vicar’s Brook [which becomes Hobsons Conduit]. Turn sharp left just before Long Road, sharp right under the railway bridge, following the old line SW before going sharp left along Cambridge Footpath 47 to cross the railway line at the level crossing carefully en route to Addenbrooke’s Hospital. Once over the railway a permissive path “B” runs down the eastern side of the railway, to turn left into the wooded area around Nine Wells, the source of the Hobsons Conduit, complete with memorial stone.
From the north-eastern edge of Nine Wells, it is possible to walk north-eastward along Footpath 2, which then links to Cambridge Footpath 8 which then joins Granhams Road at the boundary stone. Equally possible is to walk from Nine Wells in a south easterly direction on permissive path “C” passing White Hill Farm to reach Granhams Road. At present to continue into Shelford along the road requires courage. But help is at hand.
[Ramblers have now suggested to the Parish Council that maps showing these possibilities should be posted at strategic points.]
The Parish Council has worked to ensure that there is ‘planning gain’ for the village as a result of a new golf course and ‘leisure resort hotel’ to be built between Granhams Road and Hinton Way . In the foreseeable future, there will be a new permissive path on the western side of Granhams Road from the Granhams Road level crossing to the point where permissive path “C” goes off to the left [NW]. Here the new path will be on the east of Granhams Road, go over the brow of the hill, and round the lethal bend, and drop down the hill towards Babraham Road, almost to the boundary stone where Cambridge Footpath 8 comes from Nine Wells.
Already in existence is a new permissive path from this point across to Hinton Way, near the Shelford Bottom roundabout.Those of you reading this with the benefit of a map or local knowledge, will realise that there is a still a gap before there is easy access to Wandlebury and/or the Magog Down. This is exercising many people: perhaps the day is not too far off…
Even longer term, the soon to be published Great Shelford Village Design Statement will suggest investigating the possibility of opening paths along the Cam between the village and Hauxton [permission may already be sought on an individual basis], and from King’s Mill Lane through to the Wale Recreation ground in Little Shelford.
Meantime, ramblers in the village can at least make use of the walks further afield, described on the village website – www.shelford.org [link local walks—One Man and his Dog!].
**David Elsom is active with the Ramblers’ Association Cambridge Group as a regular walks leader and with a responsibility for scrutinising planning applications in South Cambs. District for the Ramblers’ Association. Bridget Hodge is Chairman of Great Shelford’s Planning Committee. Both were recently (July 2003) involved in producing the “Great Shelford Village Design Statement – Consultation Draft” – an impressive document intended to provide guidance for any development proposals for the village, and produced following extensive local consultation. What is good to see is the interest in not only the history of the village, its buildings & landscape qualities, but also the presence of a section on byways in the village – and the need for more footpaths and cycleways.
Little Shelford initiatives
Neighbouring Little Shelford is also working on path improvements and augmentation. Writing in Cambs. C.C.’s “P3″ Bulletin (the magazine of the parish paths partnership parishes), Peter Dean reports on a new section of made-up path by the riverside at the rear of the recreation ground, “The Wale”. It is hoped to extend this short path across the River Cam into Kingsmill Lane in Little Shelford, and then in a direct line to the primary school. Little Shelford Parish Council are also seeking to have two paths added to the Definitive Map.
One of these leaves The Wale, and turns E through woodland behind Courtyards residential estate, then SW along a track to the junction of High Street and Whittlesford Road. The other starts down the residential road opposite Church Street, continues through allotment gardens, then runs on a track SE to join the dead-end of Footpath 4. If there is anyone who has used either of these paths, please contact Mrs A.Webb (tel. 01223 843964).
Perhaps I should say that any such usage on either of these paths is not likely to have been recent. Visiting the site last month, the woodland on the first route looked very overgrown. On the second claimed route, although both Little Shelford Footpath 4, and the claimed field edge beyond looked used, the new shiny barbed wire strung up between would have discouraged Houdini.
Path changes in Wicken & Soham
The Autumn 2003 “P3” Bulletin also details changes to the Definitive Map in these East Cambs. parishes. When Cambs.County Farms Estate sold off land in 2000, a diversion agreed with the farmer moved one path (Wicken Footpath 27) to a 2m wide grassy field edge, and, at the same time, new field edge bridleways, 4m wide, were created. Footpath 27 runs from Butts Lane to join the new bridleway just N of Hall Farm in Wicken parish. The new bridleways start from Drove Lane (Wicken byway 23) to run both to Bracks Drove and Horsefen Drove (Soham byways 113 & 111 respectively).
Crossing trunk roads and bypasses
The Highways Agency recently announced that it did not, after all, propose “improvements” of the A14 between Brampton & Thrapston. Two extra bridges crossing the road would have been supplied, although several paths would still have been dead-ended or given long diversions.
Mark Westley, writing in Hertfordshire & North Middlesex RA Area Annual Report, comments on bridleways buried beneath bypasses, and other problems. He cites the Sideroad Orders for the Wadesmill bypass. At first, the Highways Agency wished to extinguish an ancient lane which crossed it, but later decided to contruct a tunnel for the benefit of wild deer. Similarly, there was initially no plan to provide a tunnel for St Edmunds College pupils to cross into Puckeridge until it was found a service tunnel was required, so this bypass will open with two more grade-separated crossings than first planned.
Tunnels are more readily provided for animals than for ramblers. Mark Westley recalls that three tunnels were provided in the 1960s for cattle under the improved A602 built across the River Rib, but only now is Herts.C.C. considering making one of them available to walkers. The Fen Causeway in Cambridge has long had a cattle-creep, whereas walkers had to brave the continuous flow of traffic at grade, or wallow through deep mud. Only within the last couple of years, when a cycle route was created, has the tunnel been given a concrete footway, raised above the mud and the seasonal flooding.
Whilst no doubt we should care for our four-footed friends, it gives pause for thought when we realise that, as ramblers, we rank lower than a cow! Or, more correctly, our persons inflict less damage if in collision with a motor vehicle. Perhaps we should get together with the Wildlife Trust and RSPCA to register homo sapiens ambulans as a bona fide creature, in need of care and protection.
Wishing You safe walking in 2004!
West Anglian Way
Did you miss one or more sections of this led walk last winter, or did you enjoy it so much that you would like to explore it again at your leisure? A simple guide (on loose sheets, presented in a waterproof envelope) has been prepared, and will soon be with the printers. A short production run is envisaged, priced to cover costs, so if you would like a copy, it would be helpful to advise (name & address please) in advance.
No name-change here!
This is Issue 22 of Cantab Rambler, and we hasten to assure our readers that a name-change is not envisaged. You may march, jog, trek, tramp, climb, hike, walk, saunter, amble, stroll, limp, hobble or even crawl up the avenue, but we will still call it ramble!
I was asked recently for some back copies of Cantab (which are still on disc) containing the “village of the month” series. It would be possible to prepare an index of the larger articles therein, should there be a demand.
Yet all experience is an arch where through
Gleams that untravelled world whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move…
Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Cantab Rambler by E-Mail & Post
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© Janet Moreton, 2004