Manifesto for Open Spaces
The Open Spaces Society (OSS), in its Summer 2014 magazine defines its policies in advance of the next General Election in Spring 2015. It is suggested that committed walkers and lovers of green spaces have ready a number of questions to put to their MPs and Candidates, and to be prepared to press them to promote the Open Space’s Action Plan.
The Plan seems full of good ideas (or ideals!) some of which are noted below.
The OSS considers that routes in regular use should be exempt from the 2026 deadline for claiming new public paths, with a commitment to lift this deadline should the new procedures in the Deregulation Bill not prove effective in accelerating and simplifying claims. Highway Authorities must have sufficient funding to carry out their statutory duties with respect to public paths. Grants to landowners should be conditional on all public rights of way on their land being unobstructed.
Space close to homes
Every citizen should have access to good quality open space within 5 minutes walk of home. To this end, there should be clearly defined criteria designating open spaces, e.g. in local plans. There should be a requirement to provide suitable alternative land before a public open space is taken for another purpose. There should be incentives for developers to provide areas of public open space through the planning system, and support for communities to acquire land for public open space.
Where an application has been submitted for a town green or village green, the land should be protected from development until the application has been determined.
County & Unitary Authorities should have a duty to take action against unlawful works on Common Land. And the whole of Part 1 of The Commons Act, 2006 should be implemented in England, so that registers are finally correct after 50years. The OSS would like to see a 20mph speed limit on unfenced roads passing commons.
New Public Footpath at Coton
See Explorer Sheet 208
A public path creation agreement has been signed between Cambridge Past, Present and Future ( PPF formerly the Cambridge Preservation Society), and Cambridgeshire County Council. The Order has been made under the Highways Act 1980 section 25 creating Public Footpath No.10 in Coton, Cambs.
The path has been made possible by the construction of a new footbridge over The Bin Brook, using £36 000 raised by PPF. with generous assistance from various grant-giving bodies. The footbridge was opened with acclaim last June, by Mrs Beryl Smart, rambler, long-time Coton resident, and a dedicated volunteer in the County Council’s Parish Paths Partnership scheme.
Some notes on locating the path might be helpful. From Coton Church, turn along Whitwell Way, passing the school on the right, and a couple of cul de sacs on the left. Turn left down St Peter’s Road, to reach Brookfield Road at a T-junction. Here, turn left, and Fp10 starts in the corner of the cul de sac, at TL 4087 5852. The route goes through a kissing gate, and crosses the Bin Brook on a new foot-bridge, then goes through a second gate into a large meadow. The right of way leaves the field in the diagonally opposite corner, at TL 4106 5831.
However, looking across the field from near the Bin Brook, it is not possible to see the exit on the far side, but on approaching, an obvious route continues east on a grassy lane between hedges, passing the sewage works. At TL 4111 5831, the right of way exits through a gate onto a tarmac lane, a shared access with the sewage works, and meets Grantchester Road at TL 4125 5832.
Opposite, a permissive path leads into Coton Countryside Reserve, and a network of other paths.
From the new bridge over the Bin Brook, it is also possible to turn right in the meadow, following the hedge on the right to the corner at TL 4095 5830. A hand-gate leads to permissive paths circum-navigating a large arable field, part of Rectory Farm, and privately owned, and leading to other permissive paths in The Countryside Reserve.
Parish of the Month – Abingtons
OS Explorer 208
Great and Little Abington face each other across the usually narrow stream of the R Granta. The impression is of a single village, with many very pretty old cottages, interspersed with a couple of small C20th housing estates, and retirement bungalows, and, set apart, the former Land Settlement housing amidst what was once market gardens.
Great Abington has 9 public paths, and Little Abington has 6. Taken together, these paths make only for gentle strolls, were one to stay rigorously within the parishes, but linked with the wider network into Babraham, Hildersham, Linton or into Essex at Great Chesterford, some fine walks are available.
Like much of Cambridgeshire, the Abingtons have evidence of prehistoric occupation, with groups of round barrows built along the main route of the ancient Icknield Way. But there is nothing to see – they were ploughed out in the C20th. Pieces of Bronze Age pottery were found, ploughed into ditches, and occasional sherds of Iron Age pottery connected with an Iron Age cemetery in nearby Pampisford. Roman pottery was found, in two separate sites in Great Abington especially near the church and river.
Part of the Anglo-Saxon Brent Ditch, with very little trace of bank surviving, alas, runs NW from the tongue of chalky boulder clay , stretching W to Abington Park Farm, up to the A11, then across to the wooded park of Pampisford Hall, ending in the springs in Dickman’s Grove.
Walkers love maps, and we are fortunate to have in the Cambridgeshire archives some historic maps of The Abingtons, acquired in 2003. They are an important record of changes in the landscape, land use, and buildings in the village. They may be seen, by appointment, at the County Records Office (R 103/52). I discovered this source from a charming calendar produced in 2004 by the Abington History Group.
Five maps acquired 2003 are:
Plan of the Manor of Little Abington (Norden, 1603); An exact map of the Manor Farm of Abington Hall, (Fallowes, 1716); Plan of the farms at Great Abington belonging to the Executors of John Mortlock (Watford, 1818); Plan of the Parish of Great Abington c. 1800; Plan of the Parish of Little Abington 1803.
Other available maps are: Plan of the River Sluices and New Cut in Little Abington 1719; Plan of a Watercourse and parts adjacent in the Parish of Little Abington, 1837; Map of Clare College Land in Little Abington, 1790.
Taken together, these maps show the growth and redistributions of buildings in the villages, the presence of roads no longer in use, the names of holders of strips in the common fields, up to the time of Inclosure (1803, 1807), the park around Abington Hall, and the changes in watercourses, and major roads.
The whole of the Manor of Great Abington was given to the de Veres. Their manor house was on the site of Abington Hall, 1060 – 1570. The hall was rebuilt in the C15th, sold in the late C17th, and rebuilt 1712 and the park landscaped by Humphrey Repton. A few fine parkland trees survive, in the (now inaccessible) grounds of The Welding Institute, occupant since the mid 1940s.
The N boundary of Little Abington parish is formed by the Cambridge to Colchester Roman Road, known as Worsted Way or The Via Devana. The W boundary of the parish follows one of the strands of the ancient Icknield Way. The original villages were sited on routes which took advantage of river crossings. Two such tracks also crossed old river-edge routes between Cambridge and Linton, on opposite sides of the river. Later shifts of settlement patterns led to building further from the churches, slight earthworks of the two medieval villages being visible near both churches. The park around Abington Hall blocked growth in that direction.
Little Abington village developed along a street at right angles to the river. Over the years, this E – W trading route was replaced by a N – S route, causing C20th traffic problems before a village bypass.
But it is the churches that lead us into recorded history, for Little Abington’s church, at the edge of the park, has 2 doors and a N window of the Anglo Saxon type, although probably dating post-conquest. The building was restored in 1885, but the narrow original Norman S doorway survives. The font has been in use for 700years. The Kempe window, 1901, depicts the adoration of the Magi.
Great Abington’s church has a Norman font with a Jacobean cover, a C13th South arcade and lancet windows. A life-sized knight in Caroline marble, Sir William Halton, lawyer, 1639, leans on his elbow.
Both villages possess clusters of thatched timber framed cottages. Later buildings in Cambridgeshire Cottage Improvement Society’s characteristic “Cottage Gothic” are preserved. On the bend in the High Street, Jeremiah’s Cottage recalls Jeremiah Lagden, a legendary highwayman of the Newmarket Road who lived at Old House, Little Abington.
In 1936, The Land Settlement Association was formed to give unemployed men a chance to begin farming, as here on the edge of Great Abington, which two generations later was sold to the occupiers. Subsequently, the estate roads were dedicated as public footpaths in 1988, following a public inquiry.
More housing had been built in both villages after 1950. From a combined population of 34 in 1086, by 1996, some 1340 people lived in The Abingtons.
The Paths – Little Abington
Byway 1 is a section of the old “Via Devana” Roman Road, from TL 5479 5057 to Worsted Lodge.
Fp2 runs from the Cambridge Road, A1307, at TL 5300 4960, leading N up the field boundary.
It reaches “The Pits” (wooded old chalk diggings to left) to continue as a slight worn track on a grass field-edge then goes across a field to end at Grange Farm Cottage. It is a pity it does not go through to the Roman Road.
Fp3 starts at TL 5210 4970 on the old A11, signed going WNW on a strip across arable, to cross the huge metal bridge over the new A11. It joins Babraham fp 4, making a useful & pleasant through route.
Fp4 starts at a sign at TL 5300 4958 on the A1307. It runs S between garden fences of houses 29 & 31. The path crosses a stile into pasture, and leaves by a squeeze stile the other side, emerging into Church Lane between houses 36 & 36A, not far from the church. Together with Fp6 (below) it makes a pleasant short circuit.
Fp5 starts at TL 5312 4925, on Church Lane on a fenced gravel path behind gardens, with the former scouts camping ground to left. It crosses the R Granta on an attractive bridge (supplied by The Welding Institute), and continues across the recreation ground, with views of Abington Hall across fields to the right. A kissing gate leads to the drive to Great Abington Church, and thence to High Street, having become Great Abington Fp1 at some point on the recreation ground.
Fp6 leaves the A1307 at TL 5293 4959, going S between houses no 31A & 33 to right, as a gravel path between fences. It reaches Bourn Bridge Road at TL 5292 4947, between Weavers Cottage and Meadowside.
The Paths – Great Abington
Fp1 joins Little Abington Fp5 on the rec, forming a pleasant route between Church Lane & High Street.
Fp2 starts from High Street, adjacent to a ‘bus shelter at TL 5315 4852, entering a rough grass field. Handgates lead in and out of a large garden, continuing beyond SW across a grass field.to emerge on Pampisford Road at TL 5291 4819.
From Pampisford Road, opposite the S end of High Street at TL 5313 4813, Footpath 3 runs S through the former land settlement, at first along a narrow hard path, then along a concrete road. “Chalky Road” between houses and greenhouses. Fp6 & Fp7 turn off right in the private estate. Beyond the housing, the track continues uphill on a hard path, later between arable fields, to meet Fp4 at a T-junction, TL 5276 4610 on the hill crest. This path and fp 4 are the key to routes into Great Chesterford and Linton.
Fp4 starts at the junction with Great Chesterford Fp 1 (Essex) at TL 5236 4579, crosses the county boundary ditch by a culvert The path runs NNE with ditch & hedge to left, reaching a corner by the buildings of Abington Park Farm, TL 5246 4613. Here the path turns right (ESE) on a 3m wide concrete farm road. It soon passes Park Farm Cottages on left, and continues to the junction with Fp 3 turning off left at TL 5276 4610. Fp 4 continues ca. ESE on a grass track, later, passing a young wood on right. The path reaches a crossing ditch & culvert by Hildersham Wood at TL 5329 4587 to continue as Hildersham Fp 11. A continuation gives access to paths to Linton & Great Chesterford.
Fps 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 were added to the Definitive Map in 1988, and are all paths in the former land settlement estate, very suitable for a dry-shod Winter walk.
Fp5 is Cutting Rd, leaving Pampisford Rd by the phone box, TL 5267 4821. Fp6 is North Rd, leaving the old A11 at TL 5174 4835, & Fp7 is South Rd, leaving the old A11 at TL 5157 4777.
Fp8 is a narrow footpath between trees, going S between Cutting Rd and South Rd , and Fp9 is a narrow path alongside garden fences from North Rd, TL 5194 4825 going S to South Rd at TL 5184 4759.
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Cantab79 © Janet Moreton, 2014