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Access for all? – Transport
The Christmas/New Year festive season, which regularly throws up 4 or even 5 days almost without public transport, has reminded me of those forcibly confined to barracks (or at least to within walking distance of home), and the state of particularly the bus service, in and around Cambridge. The author lived in a car-free household until the age of 50, and every Christmas, with some valuable free time off work, was deeply frustrated by the inability to go further than her legs would carry her. At that time, this might have been 15 miles or so, but it was still very aggravating!
Within Cambridge, there is, at least on weekdays and out of holiday periods, a reasonable bus service. Certain routes out of Cambridge are well served: City 13 to Linton and Haverhill runs a half hourly service; Bedford, St Neots, Cambourne and Huntingdon are well served, and of course the guided bus provides a wonderful service about every 10 minutes to and from St Ives, and the splendid recreational area provided by the Fenstanston Lakes. And I should mention a special Sunday service to Wimpole and Gamlingay which runs a couple of times a day on Summer Sundays, especially for walkers and cyclists.
But the weekday bus service to Saffron Walden only runs once an hour, and the big village of Balsham has a very poor service. Worse than this, there are places in Cambridgeshire that are lucky to have a couple of buses a day.
On the whole, residents of Cambridge City who want to take a country walk using public transport can do fairly well, so long as they accept there are places not reachable. However, someone living in one of the villages, even if that village has a good bus service, will probably find themselves required to go into Cambridge and out again, to reach the start of a public transport walk in another village. These remarks would apply, similarly, I believe, to those living in villages around, say, Peterborough and Huntingdon.
I do not know what proportion of ramblers living in Cambridgeshire do not have access to a car to get them to the start of a walk. The RA Cambridge Group programme puts on a reasonable number of public transport walks. The programme suggests that offers of lifts are often available for car-start walks. Do people think that the programme has got the proportion bus-/car- start walks correct?
Access for all – The Less Able
There are walkers and walkers. There are those who might be members of The Long Distance Walkers Association, for whom twenty miles in a day might be routine. And there are those for whom two to four miles in the countryside constitutes a pleasant if challenging walk, that, for reasons of strength, age or disability, they are just able to manage.
But where to take such a walk? Each person with a disability is different. Typical problems relate to poor surfaces, steepness of ground, steps, fast roads to cross, and obstacles such as stiles.
Reading the Ordnance Survey Explorer map can be used to give the first selection of a route. Measure the route for the distance, look for points of interest or refreshment, check there are no major obstacles, and no contours close together indicating a steep slope (what in Cambridgeshire?). But the map will not tell us where there are stiles.
In some respects, a walks guide to an unfamiliar area may be more helpful, specifically mentioning the location of stiles, seats along the way, etc. But remember that a year may pass between the path inspection and publication date, and much longer if the guidebook has been languishing on your shelves, or in a library.
The greater the disability, clearly, the greater is the potential access problem. Making the countryside enjoyable and reachable is about more than provision of wheelchair access or specially adapted toilets. Above all, it is about consistency and continuity. There is a huge bridge over the A14 at Hardwick, giving potential power-assisted wheelchair access to the long footpath going to Dry Drayton. But beyond the bridge, further progress on the rough path would be most problematical for such a buggy, and has proved very hard going for someone limping on a stick.
Over the years, improved access for the less able has been the aim of many organisations, such as The Fieldfare Trust, and including The Ramblers’ Association. Both the local RA Cambridge Group and Cambridge Rambling Club have recently been able to assist the County Council and local parishes by providing funds for seats and a stile.
What can ordinary ramblers do? Please report any obstructions, like fallen trees to the County Council. You may be able to struggle past, but others might have to turn back. If leading a walk, I suggest it is helpful to state if the route is stile-free, and give an indication of the pace. Similarly, I appeal to walking guide authors to give details of stiles or other potential difficulties, and to note the presence of seats along a route. Give distances, rather than time for a walk, as a lame person may walk at half the normal pace.
Parish of the Month – Cherry Hinton
Since 1934, Cherry Hinton has been part of Cambridge City, so you will not find its boundaries defined on Explorer 209. In times past, it was a separate parish, occupying the West corner of the Flendish Hundred.
The War Ditches, a hillfort 55m in diameter, stood at the top of Limekiln Hill (TL 484 557) where prehistoric activity was concentrated. Late Bronze Age barrows were discovered within the ditches of the chalky fort. The upper layers of the fort reveal late Iron Age pottery. Its single rampart failed to save its inhabitants from massacre ca 50AD. In Roman times, the War Ditches site was reused as a farm of 110AD, including 4 -5 buildings, rebuilt in the C2nd & C3rd, and many Roman coins were found. Roman buildings were also discovered on the site of The Church of the Latterday Saints on Cherry Hinton Road, and, in the north near Church End, a Roman villa was excavated in the 1980s.
Time moved on and the Bronze Age barrows in War Ditches were reused in the C7th as Anglo Saxon burial sites, with grave goods, including a crystal ball, sling, and spear head.
Cherry Hinton used to consist of separate settlements at Church End and Mill End, separated by land prone to flooding. In 2000, a Saxon Church was excavated at Church End, along with a cemetery of over 650 Saxon burials. Mill End had at least one watermill. The village green at Mill End surrounded Giant’s Grave (source of the brook) and stretched north down the present High Street beneath the Unicorn pub. Mill End had Rectory Manor and Netherhall Manor.
By 1066, Hinton was held as a manor by Editha The Fair. Her land was confiscated following the Conquest, and given to Count Alan of Brittany, as part of the honour of Richmond. Eventually, part of the manor passed to the Fitz-Hugh family, and held in direct succession for 350years. There were closely related manors called Uphall Manor and Mallets Manor in Church End, dating from around 1100. All the manors of Cherry Hinton had disappeared by the late 1700s. The marshland between Church End & Mill End was drained after Inclosure in 1810. Other marshes west of the village between Trumpington Drift (Queen Edith’s Way) and Cherry Hinton Brook, were drained 1825 & 1869. Of several streams, the only visible survivor is Cherry Hinton brook, a R Cam tributary, arising SW of the village at Giants Grave. The bridge that carries Daws Lane over the brook, north of Cherry Hinton Hall, was known as White Bridge.
The high quality chalk subsoil made for a thriving clunch and lime burning industry until early 1900s, and the former cement works and its pits have left a considerable impact on the parish.
The short-lived Chesterford to Newmarket railway built in 1847 passed through the SW of the parish. Taken over by the Great Eastern railway in 1851, it closed in 1858. By 1928, traces of the route, now Mamora Road had vanished (although the deep cutting of the railway can been seen crossing Fleam Dyke).
Reliable water supplies have made Cherry Hinton a good site for settlement since prehistoric times. In 1852, Cambridge University and Town Water Co. obtained an Act of Parliament for water to be piped to a high level reservoir at Madingley from the spring-head at Cherry Hinton. The project was completed 1855, with a reservoir on Limekiln Hill and a pumping station on the south side of Fulbourn road. By 1883, demand required two further wells. After a typhoid scare in 1907, the pumping station was replaced by one at Fulbourn. The Waterworks Co handed over the springs to Cambridge City Council in 1941, and the reservoirs have continued to supply the City since.
In 1086, 41 peasants lived in Cherry Hinton; by 1279, there were about 174 tenants; in 1377, 185 people paid the pol tax; and in 1664, there were 60 house-holds. In 1821 the population was 474, going up to 1537 in 1891. This was the start of suburban development, so that by 1901, the population was 2597; by 1921, 4269; and by 1961, 11201. Several suburban roads were laid out between 1889 and 1928 (Mowbray, Perne and Brook roads). In 1938, the Queen Edith’s Way to Coldham’s Lane section was made a ring road. By 1998, there were over 200 streets in the parish, many of them cul de sacs (so don’t go exploring without your street map!).
Afoot in Cherry Hinton
Amidst all the modern housing, it is worth looking for some attractive old buildings in Church End. The present church, St Andrews (in clunch and Barnack stone) dates from ca 1100. Its early English chancel was described by the Pevsner as “best”. At Church End, one timber-framed thatched cottage survives from the C16th. North of the Church, Uphall House is also C16th timber-framed, with a central chimney stack, but was extended in 1830. To the SW, Church Hall Farm has a late C17th 2-storey wing, with an C18th single storey E-W range. On the NE side of High Street, are C17th & C18th houses, and the 2-storey Glebe Cottage, C16th timber framed, remodelled in the C19th.
For the outdoor person, the jewels in Cherry Hinton’s crown are the nature reserves, managed by the Wildlife Trust. Limekiln Close, 2.6ha of medieval chalk pit, lies at the foot of Limekiln hill. It consists of chalk grassland, scrub and woodland, and is accessible in 3 places through handgates. Continue a short distance up Limekiln Hill, to come to East Pit, opened as a reserve in 2009, and giving a complete contrast to the wooded Limekiln Close, since it displays cliffs of bare chalk, and bare chalk paths, yearly becoming more colonised by characteristic chalkland species. At the top corner of the pit is an interpretive board for the War Ditches site, and other display boards explain the exposed chalk layers and plant life. Cross the road, and enter the caravan site. Between the driveway and the roadside, a very steep, almost mountain- like path ascends in the trees. Emerge in West Pit, a small reserve known for its superb displays of wild flowers between May and August. A conventional exit through a kissing gate leads onto Limekiln Road. It would be nice to recommend a walk up Limekiln Road & Worts Causeway onto the Via Devana, but neither road has a footway, and both are dangerous.
Cherry Hinton Park and pathways
This is a popular spot for dogwalkers, and the shady trees and pond provide an attractive venue for mothers with young children come to feed the ducks. Out the back of the park, a tarmac footpath leads to the Citi2 bus stop in Walpole Road. A branch path, turning off right behind the park, becomes City Fp 1, following Cherry Hinton Brook past allotments, and emerging at Brookfields, opposite the foot of Mill Road. Also from Brookfields, City Fp2 runs E-W past the former cement works lake & quarry, in a fenced defile, crossing the railway (becoming Fp3) & continuing generally east, still largely contained between fences. Meeting High St near the level crossing, it continues near the railway behind Tesco, acquiring a more open aspect. This route, now in Fulbourn parish continues to join Fulbourn Old Drift, past the Ida Darwin Hospital and giving a quiet route to Fulbourn village.
The Definitive Map for Cambridge City shows a number of other short paths in Cherry Hinton, now largely short-cuts through housing. Other such pedestrian through-ways are shown in the County’s “list of streets”, and are better tracked in a street map or good street atlas, than on OS 292. The unfortunate path City 109/ Teversham 2, was diverted as a footway around the fence of Cambridge airport.
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Janet Moreton 01223 356889
Cantab83 © Janet Moreton, 2015.