** Please note that this is an archive of the CANTAB publication and contains out-of-date information **
Further Afield At this time of year, if not on holiday, one thinks of longer days out, and perhaps of going further afield. So July’s “Parish of the Month” is Sandy, Bedfordshire, some 20 miles from Cambridge. As it is not in Cambs, my usual handy reference books were not appropriate, and I resorted to the computer encyclopaedia “Encarta”, only to find the sole entry for “Sandy” related to its namesake in Utah. Perhaps we won’t go that far!
New Right of Way in Toft On 31 March 2011, Cambridgeshire County Council entered into an agreement with the landowner under Highways Act 1980, section 25 (6), to create a new public footpath. A notice of the making of this agreement was published in the Cambridge News on 13 April.
The new footpath, 2m wide, starts from the Comberton Road, Toft, B1046 at TL 3707 5597 and runs S to join Toft Footpath 16 at TL 3713 5563., along the fenced boundary of the Cambridge Meridian Golf Course.
The path allows a new short circuit to be made from Toft Church, down a green lane, across the golf course on Footpath 16, along the new path, and returning to Toft along the footway of the B1046.
New Right of Way in Cambourne Cambourne Footpath 5 must be one of the shortest paths ever created! It joins the Cambourne perimeter bridleway to Caxton Footpath 15, using a bridge to cross a small ditch, at TL 314588.
There was quite a saga in relation to this path, as an adjacent landowner on Caxton fp15 objected to its creation, saying that there would be a huge influx of extra walkers, as previously Caxton fp15 has been a dead end. His objections centred on disturbance to fishing lakes, and his household, but these were over-ruled by the Secretary of State, and the Order was confirmed on 27 April 2011. RA Cambridge Group, Cambourne and Bourn Parish Councils had all supported the Order.
Those interested can read the inspector’s decision letter on: planningportal.gov.uk/uploads/pins/row/documents/fps_e0535_6_8.pdf
This is one of the oldest surviving windmills in England, and since 1932 has been owned by Cambridge Past, Present and Future (formerly The Cambridge Preservation Society). The mill is a Scheduled Ancient Monument.
It originally dated from ca. 1636, but Carter’s “History of Cambridgeshire” of 1753 records that the mill blew down in 1741, suggesting that the present structure is a replacement, using the older timbers. Later improvements to the machinery have been made, including some cast-iron gearing. Nevertheless this presents a useful and attractive picture of an early mill.
Public Open Days are on Sundays 31 July, 28 August, 25 September, from 2 – 4.30pm. However, the outside of the mill in its fenced enclosure can be visited at any time, and there is an interesting display board.
Why not park at Cambourne, and make for the perimeter path via the footpath starting from Tithe Way. Follow the path past Whomping Willow Lake, turn right on the perimeter path, cross the new footbridge, and walk to the mill via the new Footpath 5, and Caxton FP 15.
After admiring the mill, cross the road, and go down to Bourn Brook. At the waterside turn left along Bourn Footpath 3, which takes the walker to the rear of a cottage garden. Cross the stile, and go through the garden to Caxton End. Admire the fords, and turn left up the road to return to Cambourne using Bourn Footpath 2.
CPRE CPRE is the Campaign to Protect Rural England, a charity of which Bill Bryson is currently president.
Bill’s special interest has been in the control of litter, and to this end, CPRE has suggested a deposit scheme on drinks containers, which could give a boost to charities, as well as cleaning up the countryside. A survey reported in CPRE’s Summer Magazine suggests that more than half of the public surveyed supported a 15p deposit. This would be, of course, a return to the 1940s/50s, when kids could supplement their pocket money by returning Dad’s beer bottles to the off-licence for 1d each.
Also in the Summer issue is a very serious look at new government proposals affecting the planning system.
Proposals include: -scrapping targets encouraging developers to build a proportion of housing on “brownfield” sites, instead of on undeveloped “greenfield” countryside.
- establishing a new presumption in planning rules that “sustainable” development projects will be approved.
- piloting a scheme for auctioning public sector land with planning permission.
CPRE fear these outline proposals could have damaging effects on green belt land, and AONBs. And what about the future of Cambridgeshire’s County Farms Estate?
Parish of the Month – Sandy
OS Explorer 208
The town, with a population exceeding 10 000, has all services, including places to shop or visit a café after your walk. I am indebted to the Information Centre off Cambridge Road, (also accessible from the town car park) with its helpful staff, and many useful leaflets.
Walks are described as starting from the large town car park (CP), which has toilets. However, the CP may often be full, so park considerately in nearby Cambridge Road or other side streets.
There is evidence of settlement from the Iron Age, and the ancient hill fort “Caesar’s Camp” (pre-Roman) overlooks the town. From AD43, a thriving Roman town grew up beside the Potton Road, on the site of the present cemetery. Large numbers of Roman remains have been found, some of which are on display in the Town Council Offices on Cambridge Road. Sandye Place Academy (behind the church) is thought to be the site of a Danish Camp, built to protect the Danelaw in 886.
The Domesday Book refers to Sandeia, derived from Old English Sandieg (a sand-island). It records the town held by Eudo Fitzhurbert (aka Eudo the Dapifer, William the Conqueror’s High Steward).
The town’s most famous son is Captain Sir William Peel, 1824 – 58, third son of the Prime Minister, Sir Robert Peel. William Peel was awarded the Victoria Cross for 3 separate acts of bravery. He built the Lodge, now the RSPB gatehouse, and financed the building of the Sandy – Potton Railway. One of the inns in the town is named in his honour.
Features of the town include:
St Swithun’s built of sandstone in the C14th, and restored 1858 . The church contains Sir William Peel’s statue, and other memorials to the Peel family.
The Railway. GNR reached Sandy in 1850, the date of the station buildings. The line which connected Sandy & Potton, built by Sir William Peel in 1857, was closed in 1967.
Sandye Place is a Georgian Manor, built on the remains of a medieval stone house, and now a school.
The Pinnacle is a 300ft outcrop of the Greensand Ridge, with Caesar’s Camp behind.
RSPB Gatehouse & Lodge. The gatehouse was designed by Sir William Peel in 1851 and named Swiss Cottage. In 1870, Arthur Wellesley built an Elizabethan style house in Sandy Warren parkland, which consists of oak/birch woodland, with scattered conifers and restored heathland. The Lodge has been the RSPB’s headquarters since 1961.
Riddy Local Nature Reserve is owned by Sandy Town Council, is managed as a public open space and for nature conservation.
Walks from Sandy Town Sandy Town / RSPB reserve walks (6 to 8 miles) From the Town CP, it is possible to walk to the rear of the reserve in 2 miles. Start via a path from the closed end of Cambridge road, beside the railway. Cross Potton Road near the station, go down the quiet Stratford Road and along the continuing bridleway to the back gate of the reserve at TL 192 476.
Then walk N through the reserve on the bridleway, emerging by the gatehouse. The direct return route is down the footway beside the Potton Road, although it is much pleasanter to walk on a path parallel to the road, inside the reserve (part of The Captain Peel Walk), emerging half way back to Sandy. On the return trip, detour to visit Caesar’s Camp, turning up a path by a sewage works at TL 178 491. The circuit is perhaps 6 miles.
However, although formerly use of paths other than the bridleway within the RSPB reserve was subject to a charge for non-members, this no longer appears to be the case. Instead, there is now a car-park charge, presently £4. Thus it is possible to extend the walk most pleasantly within the reserve to stretch the 6 miles to near 8 miles, visiting the old quarry (lots of steps), Galley Hill (old Hill Fort), the Memorial Garden, Plantation Pond etc, and of course the shop (with tea machine) and adjacent toilets. Various useful leaflets are available, and walkers may wish to make a donation. The pamphlet for The Old Quarry has a useful exposition on the formation of the Lower Greensand, and The Captain Peel Walk leaflet gives the full history of the Great Northern Railway in Sandy.
The Sandy – Blunham Circuit, 7 miles This walk, from the town CP, visits Riddy Local Nature reserve, before walking North beside the R Ivel. The route visits South Mills, Blunham (a Domesday Mill Site, now a corrugated cardboard factory). In Blunham, the C11th sandstone church dedicated to St Edmund, was restored in 1862 by Rattee & Kett. Walkers may also visit the pub in Park Lane. The section of the return route along the track of an old railway, now a cycleway, and under the A1 along Cottage Road is rather dull. Beyond Sunderland Road and under the railway, is a more agreeable section past Low Farm. Continue along Hasell Hedge Roman Road, and the quiet Sand Lane, to return past Caesar’s Camp to Sandy Town.
Biggleswade Common walks, 6 miles Reach a junction of bridleways on the South boundary of the RSPB reserve at TL 192 476. (This is 2 miles from the Town CP either via the quiet Stratford Road, or via the footway of the B1042 and the bridleway through the RSPB reserve). Go S on waymarked paths on Biggleswade Common, crossing a dismantled railway, and continue to Furzenhall Farm. The hard track from the farm turns briefly W then S, then W again to a railway level crossing. TL 191 459. Follow the path round the N of Shortmead House, and enter a narrow strip of Common, which follow to the Mecanno Bridge by the A6001. Detour to Biggleswade Market Place which has refreshment opportunities. Return to Mecanno bridge, and walk N upriver in the Common. After the 3rd plantation (opposite Manor Farm) turn E for a bridge over a stream, and make for a cattle creep under the railway. Cross a ditch, and go N with the railway, turning E alongside a ditch on the Common. At a T-junction, turn N over the dismantled railway and back to the start. (4 miles as described, plus 2 miles each way from Sandy CP). Note that the Common is often wet in Winter, at which time it would be advisable to do the above walk in reverse, lest the cattle creep be flooded.
Longer walks on Biggleswade Common are available, circling behind the hospital.
Sandy – Everton Circuit. 9 miles From Sandy Town CP, go up Cambridge Road, cross the railway, and continue on Sand Lane. At TL 183 493, take the signed route into meadows, leading to the old Roman Road, Hasell Hedge. Continue N for 3 miles, crossing Templeford Road, and detouring to Gibraltar Farm Barn to see relics of WWII espionage exploits. At TL194 528, turn right (NE) zig-zagging past Hares Home Wood, uphill by Woodbury Sinks (damp!), and joining the Greensand Ridge Walk in Woodbury Park. Go S to Everton (C12th St Mary’s Church, pub), and take Potton Road SE to Ashmore Farm. Here turn S on the bridleway towards Deepdale. At the junction near the TV mast, turn NW for half-mile , then SW along Long Riding. Cross Potton road, into the RSPB reserve (shop, toilets). Walk S on the bridleway through the reserve, turn W outside the boundary to the hamlet of Stratford, and return to Sandy Town along the quiet Stratford Road.
It is possible to extend this walk to ca 11 miles by continuing along Hasell Hedge Roman Road to TL 198 541, then turning E past Gilrags to Tetworth.
For a shorter walk, turn off Hasell Hedge at TL 190 514, take the signed path by the hedge, then through a steep meadow into Everton, perhaps pausing on the well-sited seat at the top of the meadow. Turn right (S) on the road, for 100m, and cross to use a permissive farm track opposite. This meets a cross-field path at TL 202 505. Follow this RoW back to Everton Road, at its junction with the bridle- way at Sandy Heath. Follow Long Riding back to the RSPB gatehouse, and return via the Sandy Warren bridleway and Stratford Road. (7 miles)
The Greensand Ridge Walk The prominent line of attractive and often wooded hills across Bedfordshire comprises the Greensand Ridge. The long-distance walk of that name runs for 40 miles between Leighton Buzzard and Gamlingay, passing through Sandy. Either side of Sandy are sections from Gamlingay (ca. 6 miles), and Haynes (7.5 miles). A set of leaflets describing the route is available from TICs throughout Bedfordshire. Inspection of the OS sheet shows it is easy to make an attractive circuit using the Sandy – Gamlingay section (cf the Sandy Everton walk described above), but making an interesting circuit in the Hayes direction requires more initiative, especially on the flat arable land between Northill and Beeston, the latter place providing the only pedestrian crossing of the A1.
Bedford to Sandy, linear, ca 9 miles
Public transport facilitates this walk from Bedford Bus Station, via riverside, and the cycleway along the track of the old railway. From Blunham, it is more attractive to take the path by the R Ivel. The central part of the route lacks interest.
Using Level Crossings Safely Following consultations in 2010, The Office of Rail Regulation produced a guide for users of level crossings.. The booklet was produced because it was felt that the existing guidance in the Highway Code was inadequate. The information can be downloaded from the ORR’s website www.rail-reg.gov.uk/server/show/nav.1134
Cambs’ path network has dozens of level crossings, including paths which cross the main lines with 125mph expresses. Walks leaders might like to look at the official advice
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Price 20 pence where sold Cantab 63 © Janet Moreton, 2011.