** Please note that this is an archive of the CANTAB publication and contains out-of-date information **
Have you ever booked a holiday, well in advance, with a walking company, only to learn, a few days before you were due to make the final payment, that the trip had been cancelled? Doubtless the company offered alternative venues, but no “second choice” ever seems so desirable. Looking through the brochures, it is my view that too many departure dates (sometimes 8 or 10, but frequently more than 4) are offered for each location. It is almost as though the company does not expect to fill all these dates, and expects to shuffle customers around. But by that time, the hapless traveller has booked dental appointments and house painting around the calendar.
One solution is to arrange one’s own walking holidays, which we do invariably in the UK. Only once in 40 years has a hotel or guest house let us down (and that due to illness, when an alternative was promptly arranged). We have also been to France, Austria, Germany, etc under our own steam, but only because one of us has school French and a moderate amount of German, and it is known that excellent walking Germanic maps are obtainable. Elsewhere, I would be more cautious.
Spanish walking maps (particularly the military series) seem unreliable, and one would hesitate to wander in the hills without a word of the language. Away from the “Grands Randonnées” the French countryside’s signposting and waymarking seems distinctly ideosyncratic in places.
Have others been more venturesome, setting out into the wilds without a word of the language, and with maps which hardly measure up to our immaculate Ordnance Survey?
Therfield Heath in Royston
If you have visited Royston recently, you will have observed that the tennis courts on The Heath are being considerably enlarged. It seems the Conservators of Therfield Heath, on behalf of Royston Tennis Club, sought consent for the changes under The Commons Act 2006, section 38.
The Open Spaces Society objected because the proposals included floodlighting, and would “suburbanise the area and destroy the peace and tranquility of the common”, and conflicted with the spirit and letter of the award of 1912 by which the common is regulated. This award allowed for the playing of games, but presumably less formal than the enclosures needed for tennis. There is a right for public access over the whole of The Heath, under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000.
The inspector agreed that the works interfered with public access, but noted that the new courts replaced some that had been there 40 years. She considered “there will be some effect on the public interest in relation to visual intrusion” but concluded that consent should be given.
(Reported in “Open Space”,
Autumn 2010, Vol.29, No.9 pp13-14)
Essex RA Area Secretary speaks on The Olympics in Greater London
Len Banister, the Ramblers Essex Area Hon. Sec., author of guides on walking routes, and member of The Ramblers Greater London Forum, gave a BBC interview last month, in a contribution to BBC London’s “2012 Lives” project. Len was one of a number of people relating how their lives are being affected by the Olympic developments.
Len lives in Waltham Forest, and walks regularly around areas being redeveloped for the 2012 games. At first he was very concerned when paths around the site began to be shut, but he does appreciate that safety is important while works are carried out. The Olympic park will add some 15km of walking routes, including paths beside 5km of restored rivers that have been hidden for many years. Some 250 benches and 3300 seats will ensure that users will never be more than 50m from a seat in the park. Len hoped that the result will not look too “clinical”. “We could lose some of the character of the footpaths we’ve had in the past, so I would ask planners to be very careful not to over-sanitize our walking areas in the future”.
The Old Ferry Boat Inn, Holywell
Some readers may have seen the report in the Cambridge Evening News of 14 Oct. that Greene King, owners of The Old Ferry Boat Inn, Holywell were ordered to pay £10 000 in fines & costs by Huntingdon magistrates. A council inspector had found dirty conditions in the kitchens and rubbish in the yard, after a customer complaint. Since the conviction, the manager had been disciplined, and £30 000 was spent on improving the kitchen.
The Red Cow, Chrishall
This Essex pub, on the route of The Icknield Way Path, is serving coffee & Danish pastries every Friday morning from 9 am – just the job for a morning break!
Parish of the Month – Arrington
OS Explorer Sheets 208, 209
Arrington parish covers 550 ha, its clay soils at 25m above sea level in the south, rising to a chalk escarpment at 80m in the north, bounded by the R Rhee to the south and Ermine St (“The Old North Road”, A1198) to the east.
The land has been occupied for a long time. Some prehistoric worked flints were found near the church. In the north of the parish, a Roman burial was unearthed when a trench was dug for a water-pipe near Ermine Street. A baby with hydrocephalus was exhumed, wrapped in the remains of a pink & blue woollen shawl in a lead-lined coffin, containing replica toys and animals. One’s sympathies for the mother go back nearly 2000y. Just south in Wimpole there was a Roman posting station for travellers, and it is thought that this elaborate burial was non-indigenous.
The village grew along the spring line by the church at the base of the escarpment, with hollow-ways and irregular earthworks indicating the original site. In Domesday the parish is called Aerningtun, meaning “the farm of Earninga’s people” (c.f. Ermine Street). The village shifted later closer Ermine Street, when the Roman Rd once again became important after 1200. The parish church dates from the C13 – 14th.
The parish was enclosed in the C13th and again ca. 1680 when the Crichleys enclosed the village into the Wimpole Estate in which it remained until the latter was broken up between 1891 and 1934.
Arrington bridge is the crossing place of Ermine Street and the R Rhee, well south of the village at TL 334 485. While the modern bridge was under construction, a gravel ford was revealed, in which were found Roman pottery, a knife, a spear, ox-goad and Roman horse-shoes. The ford was the moot or meeting place of the Armingford Hundred in Saxon & Medieval times, although the first mention of a bridge is ca. 1285. In 1663, the road from Ware to Huntingdon was the first in Britain to be made a turnpike and a new bridge was built at Arrington. The C18th milestones record distances to London, Royston & Caxton.
The Domesday population was only 17, but there were 41 households by 1279. There were only 20 families in the late c17th, and only 190 in the census of 1801. By 1996 the parish housed 370 people.
This has always been an agricultural parish, with passing trade along Ermine Street. In the C18th, the Hardwicke Arms had a reputation as one of the best inns on Ermine Street! Go and test its reputation after a good walk!
The path network
There are only 7 public paths. Footpaths 1, 4 and 6 all cross the same pasture field between Ermine Street & Church Lane, a continuation of Fp4 carrying the Clopton Way Path to join Croydon Fp7. Fp3 is part of the Wimpole drive and, like Fp 2, carries part of the Harcamlow Way. Fp2 leaves Ermine Street to the E just S of Wimpole Park. Bp5 leaves Ermine Street to the W to join up with a good network of paths in Croydon and Hatley. And the unfortunate Footpath 7 is a dead-end, which your map will show ends two fields short of Croydon 23.
In more detail…
The paths in the pasture field
Fp1 leaves the Old North Road, A1198 between Wrags Farm and house no 57 (TL 327506), following a short track to a kissing gate, then SSW on a worn track in rough pasture to Church End, where it emerges along a fenced concrete footway between houses 12 & 14 (TL 326505), opposite the start of Fp4..
Fp4 signed “Clopton Way” leaves the closed end of Church End, at TL 326505 up 4 steps to a kissing-gate that leads W across open pasture to a kissing-gate in the hedge at TL 324505. Beyond, the well-used path continues as a field-edge with a tall hedge to right, passing the signed turn-off of Fp7 on the right at TL 322504. Behind the hedge are the buildings of a farm complex curiously like a fortress! The path continues on a good track beside a ditch, ignoring turnings to the farm entrance, and a track at TL 316501 marked “private – no right of way”. The path crosses a wooden bridge to continue along the Clopton Way as Croydon fp 7.
Fp6 leaves Fp4 at TL 324505 to run NNE down the pasture field to a stream, then through a metal kissing gate at TL 325506, and over a wet hollow on duck-boarding The route continues ENE as a narrow worn track through rough pasture, with hedge, fence & ditch to left, to join Fp 1 at TL 327506, by a wooden kissing-gate, near the rear of houses on the A1198.
Part of The Harcamlow Way
This LDP comes along the Wimpole Drive from the Hall as Wimpole Fp 5, along the tarmac driveway, becoming Arrington Fp 3, and emerging through the narrowest of the ornate gates onto Ermine Street.
Here, Harcamlow Way walkers turn left along the footway, passing the Hardwicke Arms (or not!), and where the hedge ends, joining Fp 2.
Fp2 goes through a signed gap in the roadside hedge at TL 329500, It goes ESE across an arable field. At TL 330499, the path reaches a hedge by a waymark post, passes through a gap and over a ditch on a culvert bridge to turn right and continue as Wimpole Fp 6
The only bridleway
Bp5 leaves the A1198 at TL 322522, signed “Public Bridleway Hatley 2½”.The path goes W on 2m wide grass track with woodland edge to right . When the wood ends the track continues with a ditch to left, eventually rounding a field corner to TL 309517, to a wooden bridge and the continuing Croydon Bp3. However, the true line of the RoW cuts the corner, sometimes indicated by waymarks and cross-field reinstatement.
The unfortunate dead-end
Fp7 leaves Fp 4 at TL 322504, a wooden sign,”Public Footpath Dead End ¾”. This well-waymarked interesting path starts through a damp copse on duck boarding. It emerges into a mown grass paddock, passes a new pond on left and continues NW along the field margin, with tall hedge to right then along a field edge up a hilly field for 700m, with open arable to left, & ditch & hedge to right. In the top corner, TL 317510, a waymark post signals a left turn, to follow the field-edge SW for 205m, with a belt of trees to right. The field-edge ahead at TL 315508 is signed “Private keep out” and a waymark post indicates that the path now turns right over a hidden culvert to run for 25m through the strip of woodland, then over a ditch by a waymarked, timber plank bridge The RoW then proceeds NW along a field edge with hedge to right, for 35m to another waymark on the first of a line of trees. After 65m the line of trees ends and the path runs along the division between two fields, as a grass baulk. After 205m, a 1.5m high notice signals “End of footpath – no public right of way“. Ahead is a ploughed field, and two unbridged ditches interrupt the obvious continuation towards the dead-end Croydon Fp 23; to right a good grass track runs NE towards the buildings of Low Barn Farm & Mill Lane.
Efforts continue to seek a solution to this longstanding problem
Some Possible Walks from Arrington
Firstly, it is not easy to park in Arrington itself, and the carpark at Wimpole is suggested. Any walks therefore start off down the Wimpole driveway, emerging through the gates onto Ermine Street.
(a) A short circuit through the pastures.
From Wimpole gates, cross the road, and go up the minor road opposite. Just behind the ‘bus shelter, is a charming public garden, with a few seats.Continue along the road to visit the church, & village sign, which stand on a mound at the entrance to Church Lane. Go up Church Lane, and turn left up some steps onto fp 4 in the pasture. Continue ahead to leave the pasture by a kissing gate, and go SSW along the Clopton Way, still part of Fp4. Turn off on the dead-end Fp7. The end of the path has a small grassy flat area where one could picnic. Return on Fp7, and back to the pasture, which cross on Fp6, emerging on Ermine Street. Pass some attractive almshouses in returning to Wimpole gates. (4 miles inc.Wimpole Drive both ways)
(b)Kingston Pastures Farm, and Manor Farm, Croydon
Park in Wimpole, leave the drive ENE up the minor road, turning left to pass Kingston Pastures Farm, (or use The Belts path to reach the same point). Follow the minor road W to Ermine Street at Round House. Turn S on the verge of Ermine Street & cross to join Arrington Bp 5. Follow its continuation (Croydon Bp3) then turn SSE at TL 303513 to join the concrete track, Croydon Bp6 to Manor Farm. Beyond the farm buildings follow well-waymarked Croydon Fp7, then Arrington Fp 4 back to the pasture field. Emerge in Church Lane, then immediately turn left into the passage, back into the pasture to use Fp1 back to Ermine Street & Wimpole Gates. (8 miles)
(c) A Short circuit S of Wimpole Park.
Leave Wimpole gates, and turn left down Ermine Street. Beyond the last house on the left, turn off on Fp 2 (which soon becomes Wimpole Fp 6). This is initially a cross-field path, and some people, finding it well-nigh impassable in Winter, use the field edge is a non-legal escape route. After 2 fields, cross into Wimpole Avenue, and join the estate paths, one of which leads straight back (due N) to the House. (2.5miles)
Alternatively go S on the Avenue to cross the A603 near the “Lazy Dayz” transport café. Continue S then SE on paths to Whaddon, from whence a substantial circuit can be made back to Wimpole via Orwell. (ca. 10 miles)
(d)The Clopton Way
The Wimpole Drive and Arrington Fp4 form the start of the 12 mile long Clopton Way, which passes through Croydon, the deserted village of Clopton, Tadlow, and ends at a carpark at Gamlingay Cinques. (Marked on OS sheets, leaflet ex Cambs CC)
(e)The Harcamlow Way
Arrington Fps 3 & 2 form a tiny part of the Harcamlow Way, which is a 140 mile long figure-of-eight footpath, centred on Newport, and with extreme points at Cambridge and Harlow. The route was devised 20 years ago. (Marked on OS sheets, and the guidebook may still be available via Essex CC)
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Price 20 pence where sold Cantab 59 © Janet Moreton, 2010