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CANTAB75 December 2013

CANTAB75 December 2013 published on


When Roger was stricken by a serious stroke in May this year, Cantab was nearly written off. But as Roger is making slow steps towards recovery, the blandishments of kind friends to give Cantab, too, a second lease of life have received attention.

I kept several items of current interest through the Summer, only to find by such time when there were hours or minutes in the day to work on the next edition, many of my notes were dead letters. So this edition contains mostly references to other outdoor concerns that flourish around us, and comes with the hope that walking in Cambridge-shire and the wider East Anglia continues to thrive. In spite of local government cutbacks affecting path maintenance, I am pleased to report on two cycleway / footpath initiatives, which will make passage safer on some sections of a walk obliged to pass along a busy road.

Finally, Roger sends to all who sent him cards and messages of goodwill his grateful thanks, and hopes to make an appearance on some of the shorter walks during 2014.

Janet Moreton

John Muir 1839 – 1914
2014 will be notable not only for the centenary of the commencement of WW1, but also for that of the death of rambler and naturalist, John Muir.

His writings are celebrated both in the United States, where he campaigned for the protection of wild places, and in the UK, especially in Scotland, where the head office of the John Muir Trust is located in Pitlochry.

John Muir was decades ahead of his time in arguing for the intrinsic value of nature, and for the restorative and spiritual effects of experiencing nature and wilderness. He wanted to educate people about the wonders of the natural world and inspire them to experience it for themselves. He campaigned for the protection of wild places.

The John Muir Trust interprets his philosophy in terms of education, with projects for young people, and the new Wild Space visitor centre at Pitlochry. The Trust also works on path restoration schemes in Scotland, the Autumn 2103 journal featuring the success of restoring the popular path up the 1083m conical peak, Schiehallion. Combining with other environment groups, the Trust fights development in Scotland’s wild places.

For more information, see:

Quotation of the Month:
“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread – places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.”

John Muir, writing about Yosemite

The Downsman – 90 years old
The Society of Sussex Downsman was founded 1923. One of its first successes, in 1925 was to help save the (Sussex) Devil’s Dyke from bungalows! In 1926, the Society fended off development just behind the Seven Sisters. In absence of planning controls, the Society raised £17,000 to buy the land from the developers, and subsequently presented the land to The National Trust. In the 1930s, the Society campaigned against pylons stretched across the Downs. In the current century, the Society campaigned for The South Downs National Park, which finally came into being in March 2010. The Society changed its name to the South Downs Society, and continues to ensure that the unique chalk landscape stays safe.

The South Downs were my first walking territory, and membership of the South Downs Society keeps me in touch with local issues. See

The following gives news of a couple of local planned cycleway / footways alongside busy roads. Whilst no-one would suggest a long walk along here, these will provide walkers with a safer transit from one side path to another.

Swavesey to Buckingham Business Park Cycleway
Cambridgeshire County Council is proposing a new foot and cycleway from Boxworth End to Bucking Way Road in Swavesey. The path will provide a link to Buckingway Business Park and on to Cambridge Services.

The new cycle and footway is estimated to cost £450,000 and is being funded by Cambs C C’s successful bid to the Department for Transport for £4.1m from the Cycle City Ambition Fund.

It is hoped to start construction from April with the path planned to open in June 2014.

Wandlebury to Babraham Research Campus – a footway & cycleway beside the A 1307
There are plans to build a new cycleway and footpath between Wandlebury Country Park and the Babraham Research Campus alongside the A1037. The new path will also link up with the existing cycleway to the Babraham Road Park and Ride site and create a direct route for those travelling into Cambridge.

The new path is to be constructed in two phases: the Wandlebury to Copley Hill section in February-March 2014; and Copley Hill to Babraham in June-July 2014. The path is scheduled to open in August 2014.

The scheme has been developed in partnership with Babraham Research Campus, who is contributing £200,000 towards the new cycle and footpath. Cambs C C is providing £450,000 from their earlier success this year in securing over £4.1million from the Department for Transport’s Cycle City Ambition Fund.

A Walking Guide to the Fulbourn Area
Have you seen this excellent little book? It is published in 2013 by the Fulbourn Forum for Community Action, Fulbourn Village History Society and Fulbourn Village Library.

With such a pedigree, it is not surprising that it is a splendidly produced, interesting guide to the walking in the parish, but not to just the public rights of way, but also the highways, byways, and village corners. If you are already familiar with the local paths, you will still find much that is new in these pages. The text is rich in wildlife information, and particularly strong on historical details of the village, and the photographs of a very high quality.

And the guide does not confine itself to the past. We are introduced to The Fulbourn Life Wall, a monument by Andrew Tanser, made of black Granite from Zimbabwe, in the Windmill Estate. The West side illustrates the early history of “Fugolburna”, the Anglo- Saxon name for the village,on the East side we are brought up-to-date with the more modern history of “Fulbourn”.

The guide may be obtained from the village library, RRP £4.50.

The Fulbourn Swift Project
This was the title of an illustrated lecture given on 27 November at the St John the Evangelist church hall, Cambridge, under the auspices of The Wildlife Trust.

Rob Mungovan, South Cambs District Council’s Environmental Officer had worked for a period attempting to re-house a large colony of swifts, which formerly had nested in the old twostorey prefabricated buildings of the Windmill Estate. As the old houses were demolished, and the new houses were built, the developers were assisted in providing new nesting sites. A majority of these were within the roof spaces of the new buildings, with only a little access pipe for the birds’ entry giving a clue to their presence. Other boxes were sited on the outside of the new buildings. Some local residents formed a “Swifts Group” and monitored the success of the venture. Some 10 of the new boxes were used in 2011, and 27 in 2012. One of the roads in the estate is named after the swifts, and May to July is recommended for a visit.

n.b. Other parties of swifts nest elsewhere in Fulbourn, such as on the Church and Old Manor. And in the old terraced rows of streets of Petersfield district in Cambridge, swifts may also be found hoovering up insects in the dusk, or circling high in the sky above their nests.

Moves to re-open a footpath from Commercial End to the Former Swaffham Prior station.
The Ramblers’ Association was asked by a local resident to assist in trying to re-open a path which once ran from Commercial End, Swaffham Bulbeck, to the former Swaffham Prior station, located at TL 561 644. The path was set up when the railway was running as a short cut for the people of Swaffham Bulbeck, but fell out of use when the railway closed in 1965. The path could still provide a pleasant country walk from either Swaffham Prior or Swaffham Bulbeck.

An advert was placed in two local magazines, the “Swaffham Crier”, and the “Bulbeck Beacon”. As a result about 20 people wrote in support of the proposals. Anyone else with knowledge of the path who has yet to make contact is invited to do so. A request has been sent to Cambs. C.C., asking them to look into the proposal, and citing the possible availability of funds for local path development projects.

Commercial End, Swaffham Bulbeck
This is not a modern industrial estate, as the name suggests, but a charming part of the old village, whose history goes back a long way.

The adjacent Swaffham Lode is probably of Roman origin, and is known to have been used to transport goods by water in medieval times. Its main development as a C19th fen port was the work of Thomas Bowyer. He erected several warehouses, many of which have been converted into charming houses.

Take a walk along Commercial End, and admire several fine and interesting buildings.

Thatched and pantiled cottages date from 1730. There is a Victorian fire hydrant, and a former malting house 1697 with an attractive shell doorway.

A late C17th merchant’s house overlooks the wharf – it was extended in the early C19th to provide a counting house. Spot a large, former granary, now a house, dated 1815, and with wall-anchors in the form of TB.

Continue past the site of the former Benedictine nunnery, and walk the quiet Fen Lane to Cow Bridge, where there is a seat. Use either a signed footpath beyond on the left, or continue on the road, in both cases, to Swaffham Bulbeck Green, opposite the Three Horseshoes Pub. The ironwork village sign, made locally by Frank Turner of Mitchel Lodge Farm, dates from 1978. (under 2 miles)

Other Swaffham Bulbeck Walks
From Cow Bridge, on Fen Road, take the footpath to Longmeadow, and then make a very pleasant circuit via Docking and Cranney Drove. (3 miles)

This walk may be extended into Lode from Longmeadow, taking a signed tarmac path to Lode recreation ground, and returning from Lode village via Millards Lane. At the end of this residential lane, take the field path back to Longmeadow. (Note the path’s central section may be cultivated). (5 miles)

Parking is not advised in Longmeadow hamlet, where the road is very narrow. It is possible to park in Commercial End, with care, or there is a carpark on the edge of Swaffham Bulbeck Green. Also one can start the walks from Anglesey Abbey, thus making the longest circuit 6 miles.

Cantab Rambler by E-Mail & Post
A large number of you now receive Cantab by e-mail. By hand, 20p is appreciated towards the cost of paper and ink. Offers of brief articles will be gratefully received.

This is a privately produced magazine, and the views expressed are solely those of the editor, or of the author of an individual item. Janet Moreton 01223 356889


Cantab 75 Price 20 pence where sold

© Janet Moreton, 2013

CANTAB73 April 2013

CANTAB73 April 2013 published on


Thurstan Shaw, 1914 – 2013
Professor Charles Thurstan Shaw died on 8 March, aged almost 99. Probably the most distinguished of Cambridge walkers, he was first involved as a member of Cambridge RA Group Committee in the mid-1970s. Following on from this, he was the pioneer of the Icknield Way Long Distance Path, being Chairman of the Icknield Way Association for many years from its inception in 1984, and personally responsible for treading out many miles of track, before an attractive and feasible route was identified.

The first edition of the walkers’ guide to the path, running from Ivinghoe Beacon to Knettishall Heath, appeared in late1984, and Thurstan lived long enough to know of the recently published 6th edition. The route passes through six counties, and joins two National Trails, the Peddars Way in the east, and The Ridgeway Path in the west. It was Thurstan’s ambition to see The Icknield Way also as a National Trail, resolving this anomaly, but up to the present it has only the lower status of a regional route, though as such it still receives preferential treatment in terms of waymarking and maintenance from the relevant county councils.

Thurstan’s work for East Anglian rights of way was a labour of love in retirement. Members of the Icknield Way Association Committee, meeting in Thurstan’s study among ranks of archaeological tomes and journals, were very aware of his distinguished background in studies of prehistory in West Africa, principally in Nigeria and Ghana. Such was the fame and respect accorded in the localities where he worked, that he was made an Ibo tribal chief, and close connections were maintained until the end of his life.

At the Quaker meeting celebrating Thurstan’s life on 17 March were several representatives of the Ibo tribe, amongst his numerous family and friends, who overflowed from the large meeting room, sat on the stairs, and stood in the doorways. In an hour of tributes, very many of us wanted to stand and pay our respects to Thurstan, and to thank him for his kindness and wisdom. I feel privileged to have known him.

Thurstan is survived by his second wife, Pamela, and family of 5 children by his first wife, Ione, and their many descendants.

There is to be an archaeological memorial meeting at Sidney Sussex College in the Autumn. See also the “Times” obituary of 13 March.
Janet Moreton

Parish of the Month, Wimpole.
Explorer 209
Speak of Wimpole, and most of us think of the National Trust property – the hall, the stable block, the restaurant, the gardens and orchards, The Belts, The Park, giving scope for many days of interest and exercise. But Wimpole is also a parish of over 1000ha, bounded by The River Rhee, Ermine Street (or Old North Road) and the Cambridge-Arrington Bridge Road. In 1086, the population was 57, gradually growing to 583 in 1831, before declining steadily to 160 in 1996.

Let us consider the parish before the National Trust took control of the Hall, buildings, and 1200ha of land in 1976.

When a gas compressor station was sited by the A603, as part of the gas pipeline laid across East Anglia in 1994, pottery of the late Iron Age (ca 100BC to 100AD) was found. An archaeological dig revealed 3 circular Iron Age huts of 12 – 13m diameter.

There is evidence of much more Roman occupation. The junction of two major Roman roads at Arrington Bridge, TL 334 486 was the site of a posting station. Construction of a swimming pool at Wimpole Lodge, TL 334 487, revealed foundations of stone and clunch, with much Roman pottery and coins. This is clearly part of an extensive site, for similar finds are known from Wendy, Arrington and Whaddon, meeting at the same cross-roads. Excavations to the N of this site revealed cobbled yards and ditched enclosures that had been paddocks, garden plots and residential sites, used from the late C2nd., and being reorganised three times before the C5th. There was evidence for blacksmithing and leather and bone working, with large numbers of artefacts (hob-nails, two iron heel-plates; door hinges and key; linch-pins; reaping hook; spear; chisel; brooch, pins, knives, buckle, razor, glass and coins). In addition, Roman cremation urns were reported during WWII at TL 342 498, near Cambridge Road Farm.

An unexpected discovery during excavations at Wimpole Lodge, was a C6th Anglo Saxon cemetery. A middle-aged woman was buried with a necklace of amber beads, a bronze brooch and wrist-clasps. Bones of seven other skeletons were recovered, including new-born infants. The Roman site had been abandoned for over a century, but ditches, ruined buildings and Roman roads would still have been in use.

In Medieval Times, Wimpole was a village originally comprising a group of hamlets. The main village was adjacent to the church, but was removed in the mid C17th, when the hall was rebuilt by Sir Francis Chicherley. Two hamlets once existed to the SW (Benhall End, site of the original hall, cleared in the 1730s, when Charles Bridgeman laid out the park), and to the S (Thresham End, cleared C18th). A section of village N of the hall disappeared in the 1750s when Capability Brown extended the grounds. Wratsworth hamlet, was once located in the NE of the parish, near Cobbs Wood Farm, but was cleared in the C19th. during a further landscaping phase.

Thus, preserved in the grassland around the park are the remains of 3 parts of the old village, with streets, house-sites and gardens visible as low banks. The strategic importance of Ermine Street makes it likely that the large mound in the park, 500yd NW of the house was a C12th castle motte. A post-mill stood on it in the C17th. Old roads still survive as slight hollow ways, as do considerable areas of ridge & furrow (although some were inadvertently ploughed up by the National Trust over a decade ago, to great public complaint). There is no Inclosure Award for Wimpole because its open fields had been gradually enclosed by successive owners of the hall before the C19th.

In 1730 two hamlets were displaced to plant a 2mile long avenue of elms (lost to Dutch Elm disease, and replanted in the 1970s with limes) leading to the front of the hall. In 1850, the then owner, Admiral Sir Charles Philip Yorke erected the estate village of New Wimpole on the A603, consisting of 12 semi-detached houses in a Tudoresque style. The village church remains on its original site. Rebuilt by Flitcroft in 1749, but much Victorianised, it retains a C14th N chapel as a mausoleum. One original c14th window was kept. Contents include alabaster tombs, brasses, and a monument to the Earl of Hardwick.

Family histories
From C16th onwards, successive owners had the enthusiasm and capability to buy land at great expense for status and pleasure, rather than agriculture, and in the process depopulating the countryside. Wimpole’s estate started with a manor house, church and settlement around the later site of Wimpole Hall, which was given to Henry Chicheley, Archbishop of Canterbury in the C15th. His descendant, Sir Thomas Chicheley, rebuilt the hall in brick, and replaced the village around the church with gardens. Subsequent owners were the Earl of Radnor and the Duke of Newcastle. The Duke’s daughter married Edward Harley, Earl of Oxford, who employed Charles Bridgeman to change the formal gardens into park land, and include an octagonal water-filled basin near Whaddon. The scholarly Harley collected books and manuscripts, which became the core of the British Library. In debt, in 1739 he sold Wimpole to the Earl of Hardwicke who employed Capability Brown for more enlargement and landscaping, removing another medieval hamlet, and joining Bridgeman’s ponds into a curving lake. These, with his medieval-style folly, remain major landmarks today. In the early C19th. Humphrey Repton introduced newer garden fashions, and in 1850 the then owner, Admiral Yorke, erected New Wimpole Estate Village on the A603. Foreclosure on a mortgage in the late C19th left the estate with the Agar-Robartes family from Llanhydrock in Cornwall, whence much of the Hall’s furnishings were removed. In the 1930s Wimpole was sold to Captain Bembridge, whose widow Elsie, daughter of Rudyard Kipling, was a recluse, and the park sank into benign neglect. In 1976 she left the Hall and 1200ha acres of the park to the National Trust.

The paths in Wimpole
The parish has 9 public rights of way. In addition, there are at least 8 other permissive paths within the Wimpole Estate, and other approved routes or open access across grassland. This makes possible a great variety of walks, within the park and the parish, and onwards into adjacent parishes. It is believed that the NT is about to propose diversions of some of these RoW. RA Cambridge Group will examine such proposals very carefully when it is consulted.

Of the definitive paths, Wimpole Bp 1 starts from TL 339 526, from the corner of the Old Cambridge Road above The Belts, and runs E along the hilltop as part of Mare Way. Beyond the water tanks at the top of the Wimpole Road, TL 352 524, Mare Way continues on both sides of a shallow ditch. On the N side it is Eversden Bp 11, leading to walks in Eversden, and on the S side it is Orwell Bp3, a dead-end which, however, has a side branch, Orwell Fp2 leading down into Orwell village.

Wimpole Fp2 is a short path starting from much the same place as Bp1, passing through a tree belt, and crossing an arable field, to join well-waymarked but muddy paths in Eversden Wood. In late Spring, the woodland rides have bluebells, oxlips, and early purple orchids.

Wimpole Fp3 leaves the minor road opposite Home Farm at TL 342 514, and follows the farm track past Cobbs Wood Farm and uphill past woodland to the multiway junction at the top of the Wimpole Road, joining Orwell Fp4 for the last few metres. Branching off Fp3, just before the bridge, is Wimpole Fp4, waymarked through the yard of a deserted house, over a bridge, and through fields to cross Victoria Drive, then over more fields to reach Orwell., via Orwell Fp1. This is a good all-weather route, and the “Bull in field” sign on stiles is left there whether the bull is present or not.

Wimpole Fp5 is the Wimpole Drive, leading to Arrington, and routes beyond. It is the start of The Clopton Way, going to Gamlingay Cinques. As the path emerges through the decorative gates onto Ermine Street, note that you have already entered Arrington parish. Note, too, the display board, recalling that this part of the park was a hospital in WWII.

On Ermine Street, A 1198, a sign shows the start of Wimpole Fp 6, starting at TL 329 500, a little way beyond The Hardwick Arms. This path crosses arable fields, and the Wimpole Avenue, then another arable field, finally to emerge down the drive of Cambridge Road Farm onto the A603. As far as the Wimpole Avenue, it is part of the Harcamlow Way. In wet conditions, this is a very sticky route.

Wimpole Fp7 leaves Fp6 at TL 337 497, to run S down the Wimpole Avenue, crossing the A603, to reach the Whaddon parish boundary at a bridge over the River Rhee, TL 337 485. From here paths lead to Whaddon, Wendy, or a WWII display board by the A1198 at TL 339 469. Sadly, there is no public path leaving the road opposite this point. However one may walk 600m north along the verge, to pick up Shingay cum Wendy Fp 8 near Road Farm at TL 329 500. This path uses mostly field edges to zig-zag to the hamlet of Wendy.

Note that in damp conditions, it is pleasanter to start this walk in the park, through a gate in the railings at ca TL 338 509, rather than going round by Fp6.

Wimpole Fp8 forms two short sections of footpath within Eversden Wood, where the parishes of Wimpole, Kingston and Eversden form an elaborate patchwork.

From Old Wimpole Road, opposite Kingston Pastures Farm at TL 329 529, Wimpole Fp9 runs S across fields to the A1198. Half-way across, there is a strip of pasture field. This pasture may be accessed from The Belts via a stile at ca TL 331 517, which is not obvious from the path.

The Permissive Paths
The best-known of these is The Belts, a track running in the woodland to the W and N of Wimpole, and part of the County Council’s promoted route, The Wimpole Way. Reaching the Old Wimpole Road at TL 339 524, it is possible to continue immediately opposite in woodland, to join FP 3 above Cobbs Wood Farm, at TL 350521.

The National Trust promotes a route across pasture, and by the Chinese Bridge over lakes to visit The Folly, and emerging on The Old Wimpole Road, a little way N of Home Farm. Alternatively, a return may be made across another portion of the lakes on a causeway. It is a pity that The Folly itself is fenced off, due to safety considerations, and that there are no seats on the hill top, where otherwise a good view could be appreciated in comfort. From The Folly, however, one can go N to follow a ditch to TL 336 524, and join The Belts, not far from the exit onto The Old Wimpole Road.

Users of Wimpole Fp4 as the route to Orwell and beyond, may wish to return another way, using the very attractive Victoria Drive, the old carriageway route, which starts in Orwell on the A603 at TL 359 507, and emerges on The Old Wimpole Road, just opposite the NT drive. It is possible to turn off Victoria Drive at TL 358 508, and follow a path by a hedge to join Orwell Fp2 up Thorn Hill, and onto Mare Way.

Almost opposite the drive to Cobbs Wood Farm (Fp 3), a kissing-gate gives access to a short-cut path across the park, to the carpark and stable block. This path is shown clearly on the 1902 1: 10 000 OS sheet, and again on the First Series 1:25 000 OS sheet as a black dotted line, but it was never registered as a public right of way.

The National Trust promotes these routes, and several other short walks around the grasslands of the park in a leaflet available for a charge.

Cantab Rambler by E-Mail & Post
Cantab usually appears every two months. A large number of you now receive Cantab by e-mail. By hand, 20p is appreciated towards the cost of paper and ink. Offers of brief articles will be gratefully received.

This is a privately produced magazine, and the views expressed are solely those of the editor, or of the author of an individual item. Janet Moreton 01223 356889


Cantab 73   Price 20 pence where sold

© Janet Moreton, 2013

CANTAB72 March 2013

CANTAB72 March 2013 published on


Unintended countryside humour
Ramblers’ Net recently ran a series about odd notices seen in the countryside. Below is a short selection.

(Sign in English seen on a farm gate at Saksun, Faroes, sent in by Brian Reader)

(Isle of Wight private drive with public footpath, also from Brian Reader)

(Seen in Shap by Harry Whitehouse) Presumably small dogs are allowed to leave it open!

I invite readers to send East Anglian quaint or unintendedly humorous notices – or do all our local landowners ensure they say exactly what they mean?

Beyond the Icknield Way The ever popular Icknield Way Guide has gone into its sixth edition, entitled, “The Icknield Way Path – A Walkers’ Guide”. Priced at £10, including post/packing, it is obtainable from

The Icknield Way leads us from Knettishall Heath to Ivinghoe Beacon.Beyond, the Ridgeway Path leads the foot-traveller out of East Anglia, southwards and westwards.

The Friends of the Ridgeway are promoting a new path through Southern England called “The Great Stones Way”.

The route is still under development, but will run for 45 miles/68km from Barbury Castle to Stonehenge and Old Sarum, Wiltshire. Overall, K£88 has been raised for signs and stiles.

The first section to open will be the 14 mile Plain and Avon walk, from Casterley Camp above Upavon, to Amesbury and Stonehenge, via the Avon Valley. The route explores historic landscapes and pretty villages with a good supply of pubs. Grants for improving this section have been made by Plain Action and Tidworth Community Area.

For more information:

Shepreth teashop I have had a recommendation for the “Teacake” teashop in Shepreth. Situated in the centre of the village on 8, Meldreth Road, it features tea, coffee, freshly made cakes, and light lunches. A tea-garden and take-away are available. Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, the teashop is open from 9 to 5 on other weekdays, and 10.30 to 4.30 at weekends.

It is convenient for Shepreth L-moor reserve, the RSPB reserve, and walks to Barrington. Phone 07565 567023 e-mail

Lesser celandine
March is the time for early Spring flowers, so one should find the small celandine, Ranunculus ficaria (a member of the buttercup family) in damp ground, especially in woods, and at the edges of ditches, growing freely all over Britain and Northern Europe. The leaves are heart-shaped, fleshy dark green, and the yellow flowers usually have 8 petals. The flowers shut up before rain, and even in good weather do not open before 9 am. By 5pm, they have already shut up for the night, so time to finish your walk!

Terry Breverton’s “Complete Herbal”, published Quercus, 2011, (ISBN 978 0 85738 336 5) is based on Culpepper’s volume of 1653 and gives details of the herb’s former usage in medicine. The plant contains saponins which are fungicidal, and locally antihaemorrhoidal, and protoanemonin in the fresh plant is antibacterial. The German name, Scharbockskraut, derives from use of the early leaves, which are rich in vitamin C. The Russians call it Chistotel (clean body) as it was brewed and used in baths to help cure dermatitis and other skin irritations.

But I am happy to leave this charming plant beside the path, glad to see the yellow flowers open in Spring sunshine.

Parish of the Month – Madingley
Explorer 209

In Domesday, it is named Madinglei – the wood or clearing of the people of Mada.

A Roman Road from Cambridge passed by Madingley, and occasional Roman coins have been found nearby. Within and outside Madingley Wood , a high point with good views, are low banks of rectangular enclosures, where a trench revealed C1st pottery (late Iron Age or Roman). Excavations close to Madingley Hall at the top of a slope used for medieval settlement, uncovered ditches containing Saxon pottery 800 – 1100 AD.

A double moat near Moor Barns Farm, close to the A428 was probably the site of a grange owned by Barnwell Priory from C12 – C16th.

In the C13th, there were originally two manors. Marhams Manor was centred on the present Manor House, a timber-framed and plastered medieval building, set back from the west side of High Street. Madingley Hall was previously part of Burdeleys Manor and originally belonged to Sheriff Picot. Later, it was bought by the Hynde family, who were restoring the parish to single ownership by the C16th.

The red-brick & stone Madingley Hall was built in 1543 by Sir John Hynde and added to in ca 1590 by Sir Frances Hynde, when material was taken from the demolished St Audrey’s church, Histon . Later, the property was owned by the Cotton family, who extended the park in 1743, when Capability Brown’s landscaping cut the village in two, with the church and some cottages to the south, and the rest of the village to the north. The last baronet at Madingley gambled away the family money in the C19th, and had to earn a living driving a stage coach.

In 1948, Cambridge University bought the village, together with Madingley Hall and some 1200 acres ( 502ha). The University holds study courses in the hall, run by the Dept of Extramural Studies, and this would seem the best opportunity to see the inside of the building.

The parish today
Madingley parish now covers 840ha, following boundary adjustments after construction of the Cambridge bypass. The soil is clay, apart from a strip of chalk marl under the village itself. The small village is centrally placed in the boundaries, having a church, village hall, pub “The Three Horseshoes,” school, but no shop. The population in 1086 was 31; rising to about 450 people in the C13th, but steady at ca 150 people through the C16th – C18th. In 1851, the population had risen to 280, but in 1996, only 220 people resided in the parish, where very little development is allowed.

The parish church, close to the gates of the park, is a fine example of the decorated period, with a C13th nave and a C15th porch. The church contains a Norman font, and a disused bell 600y old, as well as memorials to the Cotton family.

The other building of interest is the windmill, best seen from the A428.

A post-mill had been built here in the late C18th but it fell down in 1909. In the 1930s it was replaced by another post mill, parts of which date from the C16th, and which was brought from Huntingdonshire as a decorative feature. It decayed and lost its sails in the 1970s, but is now repaired.

The American Military Cemetery On the north slope of Madingley Rise is the American War Graves Cemetery and Memorial, currently under restoration. Normally it is accessible from both the A428, and the Cambridge Road, but at present only from the Cambridge Road. Land was given by the Madingley Estate in 1943. Some 9000 dead from WWII are commemorated. From the flag to the chapel, a long wall of Portland stone carries 5000 names of those dead who were never located. The graves of the rest are marked by Italian white marble crosses, fanning out radially down the slope.

The former Brook Pit and Madingley Wood both have wildlife interest. Madingley Wood, SSSI, is the nearest ancient wood to Cambridge, growing predominantly ash & maple. It has been the subject of 340 years of research, and documentation exists from 1210 onwards. John Ray in 1660 recorded 224 kinds of plant. In 1950 some185 species were found. Madingley Wood is fenced round and not open to the public, but can be seen through the fence from Footpath 4.

Adjacent to Madingley Wood, is the University’s new Octo-Centenary Wood, commemorating the University’s 800th anniversary (2009), and opened to the public on Community Outreach Day, 16 Feb 2011. Local schoolchildren took part in the planting of over 15000 trees on 10ha of the University Farm’s former arable land. The wood has been planted with native species e.g. oak, hazel and ash. The planting has been designed to retain views east across to Ely as the trees mature, and several seats are provided. There are information boards, and pedestrian access points at each end, cycle racks, but no parking. There is limited parking off the Cambridge Road at the rear of the American cemetery.

Paths and walking opportunities
There are 4 public rights of way in Madingley parish, giving rather inadequate access to parts of the parish and to through-routes beyond.

Madingley Bridlepath 1 starts from the N side of Dry Drayton Rd at TL 393 611. It runs NE on a grass fieldside track, turns left in front of a ditch, and joins Dry Drayton 12 which goes to the A14 near the crematorium, while a more useful branch continues as Dry Drayton Footpath 13.

Thus it is possible to make a through route from Madingley to Dry Drayton, first taking care along the narrow road out of the village, as far as the start of Bp1.

Madingley Bridlepath 2 starts on Cambridge Road at TL 403 599 almost opposite the Octo-Centenary Wood. It runs NE on a grass track between fields, passes a big black barn and later a small copse to cross the A428 on a concrete bridge. The RoW continues on a stony track, passing through a tunnel to emerge as Girton Bp6 on the slip road of the M11 – A14 junction. As a through route to Girton, this path does not have much going for it. It is possible (but not recommended) to turn right and walk along the verge of the slip road, until opposite Girton Fp4, where the road crossing is very difficult, or a little further along, where crossing is a little easier opposite Girton College. It is also possible to return from here on Girton Fp5, which joins Madingley Fp3, as described below. The proposals to modify the A14 which were discarded by the present government might have improved this dangerous junction for pedestrians.

Madingley Footpath 3 leaves Cambridge Road at TL 410 596, on a signed path dropping down steps to a field-edge and which, after a couple of field-edges, joins Girton fp 5 to emerge on the A14 near the University Farm. Cross the A14 with great care to continue into Girton either along the village road, or on Girton Fp 4.

Madingley Footpath 4 runs from Cambridge Road at TL 404 599 to the A428 between American Cemetery and Madingley Wood, TL 403 594. Although it is fenced in on both sides, the wire fences are not an eye-sore and have wooded views beyond on both sides.

Cross the A428 with care outside the lawns of the American cemetery, to continue into Coton on Coton Fp 2 almost opposite.

Cream Teas in Litlington!
The Crown PH in Litlington has opened a tea lounge, from 9 am to 4 pm, serving breakfasts, tea, coffee, scones etc.

Note that in early Spring, the nearby Ashwell Street gives mostly good clean walking, and the paths in the chalky fields in the locality tend to dry out faster than those on heavier land elsewhere in South Cambridgeshire District.

Cantab Rambler by E-Mail & Post
Cantab appears approximately every two months. A large number of you now receive Cantab by e-mail. By hand, 20p is appreciated towards the cost of paper and ink. If you would like to receive an issue by post, please send a large SAE, and a stamp.

Offers of brief articles will be gratefully received.

This is a privately produced magazine, and the views expressed are solely those of the editor, or of the author of an individual item. Janet Moreton 01223 356889


Cantab 72 Price 20 pence where sold

© Janet Moreton, 2013

CANTAB71 January 2013

CANTAB71 January 2013 published on


Happy New Year! Accept a brief season’s greetings, and an apology that this issue contains no “Parish of the Month”. You may recall that the November issue was completely taken up with Fen Ditton, so that now I have an accumulation of news items best seen before they become too stale.

Good wishes and good walking for 2013. Janet Moreton

The length of a walk
How many times at the end of a pleasant day have I overheard a remark, as follows: “Nice walk – how far did you make it then?” Estimates are made, perhaps, from a finger round the map, pedometer readings, or nowadays with a GPS. The walk’s leader may have originally entered “10 miles” in the programme, only perhaps to have changed the route slightly, over- or under-estimated the route with a piece of cotton round the map, or unwisely trusted one of those little “map-measurer” gadgets with a wheel. My own feeling is that a variation of 10% or so from the stated target distance is absolutely acceptable, but a walk of 14 miles which was supposed to be only 10 might well raise questions, if not outright complaints.

I have recently come across a series of discussions in “Ramblers Net” on the length of the British Coastline, which is relevant to the length of any path or walk. I paraphrase Pete Bland, himself summarising the contributions.

The length of anything depends on the measuring stick in use. Using a thick piece of string on your map, will give one result, but magnify your map and use thin twine and there will be a larger result. Use a GPS on the walk and the result will be different from someone else’s GPS reading. Trace the route with Anquet or Memorymap, and the computers will give yet another estimate. There is no such thing as the “correct distance”. In particular, the length of a walk given by your GPS will depend on: the frequency of position sampling; random errors in the position calculated; and the degree to which the GPS performs automatic smoothing of the data.

The problems associated with measuring coastline length led Benoit Mandlebrot to invent a new branch of mathematics called “Fractals”. The following quotation comes from “Chaos” by James Gleick (ISBN 978-0749386061), in a chapter on “A Geometry of Nature”.

“An observer trying to estimate the length of England’s coastline from a satellite will make a smaller guess than an observer trying to walk its coves and beaches, who will make a smaller guess in turn than a snail negotiating every pebble.

“Common sense suggests that, although these estimates will continue to get larger, they will approach some particular final value, the true length of the coastline. The measurements should converge, in other words. And in fact, if a coastline were some Euclidean shape, such as a circle, this method of summing finer and finer straight line distances would indeed converge. But Mandlebrot found that as the scale of measurement becomes smaller, the measurement of the coastline rises without limit, bays and peninsulas revealing ever smaller sub-bays and sub-peninsulas – at least down to atomic scales, where the process does finally come to an end”.

Shall we go for a four hour walk?

Octavia’s Walk
The National Trust has named a 6 mile circuit at Wicken after Octavia Hill, to mark the 100th anniversary of her death. The NT’s “News from the Fen” of July 2012 outlines events which led to the organisation’s formation.

In 1885, a campaign was started to raise public awareness of changes which the bringing of the railway would precipitate in the Lake District. Octavia Hill collaborated with Robert Hunter and Canon H Rawnsley on this issue, and their collaboration led the formation of The National Trust.

The promoted walk starts from the Wicken Fen Visitor Centre car park. (Note there is a parking charge, which will be refunded if the sum is spent in the visitor centre or its café).

The walk goes along Lodes Way onto Burwell Fen, on land bought by the NT in 2001. It crosses Burwell Lode, and continues south to cross Reach Lode, where walkers turn right along the bank. The route continues to Upware, and returns to the visitor centre via Wicken Lode. My experience of this area suggests that after prolonged rain, wellies would be a good idea.

Love or Hate?
Put this date in your diary for one reason or another. Between 31 August and 2 September 2013, the “Lodestar” festival will occur in Lode Fen, involving (doubtless loud) popular music, theatre, etc. You may wish to purchase tickets for this event online from

Or lovers of the quiet countryside, like me, will record the dates to ensure that on no account will they inadvertently venture near the vicinity.

Village Greens and Commons It is worth noting that the Government has published The Growth and Infrastructure Bill, which, amongst other things, contains changes to the law for registering new town and village greens. The reforms intend to exclude applications to register new greens on land that has actual or applied-for planning permission , or any land for potential development identified in a local or neighbourhood plan.

New commons and village greens are still being registered in Cambridgeshire. For example, there has been an an application to Cambs County Council to register land by Water Lane, Oakington as a common.

The Open Spaces Society has, as one of its prime aims, the protection of commons, greens and other open spaces. In 2011, the Society responded to calls from members for advice on protection and management of at least 62 commons, 28 registered greens, and 44 other open spaces. DEFRA and its Welsh equivalent sought advice on 81 applications for works on, or exchanges of common land. (The Society objected to 27 of these). Many more cases and disputes reached them via consultations from official bodies or were dealt with by the Society’s local correspondents. For more information, see

The RSPB in East Anglia
At Cambridge RA Group’s AGM on 23 November, our speaker was Graham Elliott, the RSPB’s Area Manager for Cambridgeshire and the fens, speaking especially about Fen Drayton Nature Reserve. For those who missed a good talk and slide show, here are some ideas for birdwatching walks, following my visit to another RSPB reserve at Fowlmere.


The Winter and early Spring are especially good times for birdwatching in East Anglia. Recently in the Fowlmere RSPB reserve, a copy of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds’ promotional pamphlet for East Anglia was pressed upon me. I am not an RSPB member. I like birds, but in general can no longer hear their high pitched songs, and have always felt more drawn to a study of flowers or fungi, or other static targets, rather than to a bird someone saw half a minute ago, but which had flown by the time they told me!

However, the list is impressive, with some 20 reserves featured.

Fowlmere Reserve itself is the nearest to Cambridge. Parking and entry are free, but a donation is always appreciated. Similarly, we all enjoy free access to Fen Drayton Lakes reserve, both along public footpaths, and on permissive trails. Indeed, most of us will have known this site before it was acquired by the RSPB, and before access via the Guided Busway from Cambridge or St Ives became so attractive an option. (See Cantab 64)

The next-nearest reserve from Cambridge is the RSPB’s headquarters outside Sandy, Bedfordshore and this again needs no introduction. I featured Sandy as Parish of the Month in Cantab 63 of July, 2011, suggesting various walks based on, or including, the delightful (sandy) walks around the reserve. It should be noted that parking for non-members is currently £4 per vehicle, so it was suggested that walkers park in the town, and use the attractive quiet Stratford Road past the station and cemetery to access the reserve.

How many readers know Lakenheath Fen Reserve, just over the Suffolk border? The RSPB created this wetland only a few years ago, out of arable farmland. Here I was absolutely amazed to see some cranes on one occasion. The reserve is accessible on foot along the Hereward Way, from Brandon, or from Lakenheath. There is a carpark charge for non-members.

The Ouse Washes Reserve is a wonderful sight in Winter. I visited once by coach for an evening floodlit “performance” by the Whooper and Bewick swans. On other occasions, we have walked in on the Hereward Way, only possible when the road bridge is not flooded.

The Nene Washes Reserve is doubtless better known to Peterborough residents, and a wonderful place for waders Access on foot is possible along the Nene Way along the South Barrier Bank some 2 miles from Whittlesea.

Other reserves are further away, and probably more suitable for a weekend break. Suffolk has two coastal reserves, at Minsmere and North Warren, and one at the ancient Wolves Wood, near Hadleigh.

Norfolk RSPB guards little terns at Great Yarmouth, displays huge numbers of waders along the coast at Snettisham, and has a wetland reserve at Titchwell Marsh. There are 3 reserves in the Yare Valley.

Essex RSPB boasts the Stour Estuary, and has a visitor centre at Wat Tyler Country Park, Pitsea.

How can the Ramblers attract and keep new members? What do members of the Ramblers want from the Association?
These are the questions posed at a recent forum attended by Cambridge Group Secretary Jill Tuffnell. The Ramblers CEO Benedict Southworth and Chairman Jonathan Kipling have been holding a series of regional meetings with representatives of local groups and Jill attended the only session covering London, the South East and East of England.

The facts are that Ramblers’ membership nationally has declined in recent years, with many new members failing to renew their subscription for a second year. Does the organisation offer what they need? Can we learn from successful local groups’ experience in terms of maintaining or increasing their numbers?

As a general rule – at least in the London/home counties – it is the groups which have a wide-ranging programme of local walks and trips, a very extensive group website with sections offering downloadable walks and also regularly updated online newsletters which are most successful. Some have been able to attract a regular inflow of new talent to their committees/officers. Success helps to support further success, with sufficient numbers of volunteers coming forward to break tasks down to manageable chunks. For example they have been able to create email lists of members who can readily be contacted. (This may seem easy, but everyone has to be contacted individually to ask for up-to-date details of such addresses and permission to use them!). The Cambridge Group is not so lucky. We rely on a few volunteers doing a lot of work. Our Area no longer functions as a decision-making body, which means more work for Groups. And – with a very successful local Rambling Club providing a wide-ranging programme of walks – we find it particularly challenging to maintain members who are only interested in a Wednesday or Sunday walk! Also in 2011 a number of new Ramblers members may have had their subscription paid by HF Holidays – and their membership may lapse one year on.

The publisher of Cantab has volunteered this slot to ensure the issue is aired amongst local Ramblers’ members. Cambridge Group welcomes any help you may be able to offer us – especially on our Committee, but also in any other role, such as helping with newsletters or developing our website.

Jill Tuffnell

Cantab Rambler by E-Mail & Post
Cantab appears approximately every two months. A large number of you now receive Cantab by e-mail. By hand, 20p is appreciated towards the cost of paper and ink. If you would like to receive an issue by post, please send a large SAE, and a stamp.

Offers of brief articles will be gratefully received.

This is a privately produced magazine, and the views expressed are solely those of the editor, or of the author of an individual item. Janet Moreton 01223 356889


Cantab 71 Price 20 pence where sold © Janet Moreton, 2013.

CANTAB70 November 2012

CANTAB70 November 2012 published on

** Please note that this is an archive of the CANTAB publication and contains out-of-date information **


Only one topic! The whole of this month’s issue is occupied with a parish on Cambridge’s frontier. With the onset of short daylight, I invite you to ramble nearer to home, and notice some new points of interest in a familiar village.

Janet Moreton

Parish of the Month:Fen Ditton
Lying just outside the urban eastern reaches of Cambridge, alongside the Cam, Fen Ditton is strategically placed for a rapid & easy escape into the countryside.

The land and its early occupation The parish lies mainly on chalk, with strips of gravel and alluvium along the river, and an area of gravel to the extreme south of the parish. Much of the present village makes use of its ridge ca 15m above sea level, but almost all of the rest of the parish is at ca 10m, apart from lower areas adjacent to the river, along the attractive water-meadows. Boundaries of the parish include the Cam, Quy Water and a drainage ditch known as Black Ditch.

Evidence of prehistoric occupation of the land is concentrated in fields near these watercourses, where Mesoliths and Neolithic flints occur at the junction of fen and slightly higher land, and several bronze age implements have been found near the fen edge to the north of the parish. However. there have been finds elsewhere including Neolithic polished stone hand-axes in both the Rectory garden and from Biggin Abbey, and a Bronze Age urn cremation at Ditton Meadows.

Fen Ditton and Horningsea parishes form a peninsula of high ground between the river and the fens which was cut off from dry land to the south by the construction of a bank and ditch, called Fleam Dyke. It is not certain when it was built, but early Anglo-Saxons were entombed in the ditch when it was almost filled, suggesting a date earlier than C6th. Elsewhere in East Anglia, dykes date from the Iron Age, and so too may this one. Another suggestion is that it could perhaps have been Roman, although unlike adjacent parishes, there are few remains from the Roman period. Immediately south of the Dyke, a large Middle Iron Age settlement was excavated in 1996. There were ca 300 pits here, containing animal bones and much pottery, hearths, and enclosures.

Fen Ditton is “Dittone”, meaning the village by the (Fleam) Ditch, first so named in a will made ca 950. By the late C13th, “Fen” had been added to differentiate it from Woodditton.

The irregular and peculiar boundary with Horningsea is due to division of the two parishes by the Bishop of Ely in 1412. Previously, although Fen Ditton was a settlement from at least the C10th, it does not seem to have been considered a separate parish, and is not mentioned in the Domesday Book or in the C13th Hundred Rolls. Some of the southern boundary with Cambridge has been adjusted in the C20th . Much of the parish was enclosed in a piecemeal fashion linked to fenland drainage in the C17th and C18th, and the remaining fields were enclosed by the official Award made in 1807.

Recorded Settlement & Development
In the C10th, Ditton was the property of Aelfgar, who left it to his daughter Aethelflaed on condition that it became church property on her death. She left it in her will to the church at Ely, in the late C10th. In the C12th, the land passed to the bishop, rather than to the abbey, and remained in this ownership until 1600, when taken over by the Crown. The Bishops’ C14th house is now known as Biggin Abbey

The original village settlement was mainly a strip running parallel to the river, with the church at the south end. Wharves were built between the Cam and the village, and from these several Fen Ditton merchants were involved in national and international trade. The north end was known as Green End, containing the village green, and was the likely site of the market granted to the Bishop in the late C13th. In the late Middle Ages occupation spread from the riverside to an E – W orientation along the line of the filled-in Fleam Dyke, to make use of higher ground and some of the substantial C17th houses along what is now High Street and High Ditch Road still stand on the flattened bank. No6 High Street “The Walled Cottage” provides a model for local materials using alternate courses of squared clunch and pink gault brick. Musgrave Farmhouse in the High Street is a jettied house of the late C16th, and Honeysuckle Cottage is a fine C17th property on High Ditch Road.

Among the buildings still lining the river, the Hall, south of the church, is a fine example of old red brickwork with shaped gables of ca 1635 – it was constructed on a grand scale round a late medieval timbered house.

The church, with walls of jumbled rubble and clunch has early C14th tracery of the tall chancel, a lofty C15th porch, and tower of 1881 by Pearson. Some authorities consider the chancel’s fine conception (originally 1316-37) has been ruthlessly restored by the Victorians. The rowing-eight weather-vane on the tower celebrates the village’s rowing associations. The Rectory presents a lovely red-brick front to the churchyard, 1711-32. There are two large Black Poplar trees in a paddock below the church, rare examples of Populus nigra v. betulifolia, of which only about 100 are known in the County.

Opposite the church is the short row of Almshouses, built in 1665-6 by a member of the Willys family; rebuilt by Thomas Bailey in 1877, and remodelled in 1968-9 with funds from the Chase Charity.

In isolation outside the village is The Biggin (or Biggin Abbey) which was built originally by Hugh de Northwold, Bishop of Ely in the mid C13th, in a palatial style, and used as a residence & a hunting lodge. It was a place for official business, and for entertaining royalty including Henry III, Edward I, and Edward II. By the mid C14th, the extensive property was in poor condition, and the building that survives was built mainly at that time, when its use had declined to a manor house. It was remodelled in the C17th, with walls of clunch & stone, now covered with concrete! In C17th, it was sold to the Willys family of Eye Hall in Horningsea, and in the mid C18th, it came into ownership of Thomas Panton.

Other important buildings include The Barn, a massive C16th structure now used for public events, but once used for trading and as the village Guildhall. One of the medieval wharves can still be seen between this building and the river, and there was another near The Plough off Green End Road, which was used by coal barges into the C20th.

On the outskirts of the parish is not only the abandoned and partly flattened section of the Fleam Dyke, but also the dismantled railway line, the former LNER (London and North Eastern Railway) that linked Cambridge to a terminus at Mildenhall, with a halt at Fen Ditton. This part of the line was laid in 1884 by the Great Eastern Railway Company, when Mildenhall was still a successful port on the River Lark. The line closed in 1964.

The population in the early C14th comprised 330 adults. In the C16th and C17th there were fewer than 60 families, probably due to loss of trading activities. In 1801 there were still only 337 people recorded in the census. Numbers grew in the C19th, reaching 680 in 1881, possibly augmented by the coprolite diggers active at Green End. The old village street was infilled with new housing in the 1950s, some replacing gaps of houses destroyed in WWII bombing. The population by 1996 had reached 730.

Walking around Fen Ditton
Map – OS Explorer209
The following walks take in many of the features described in the above paragraphs, which are marked by an asterisk. Numbered paths refer to paths in Fen Ditton parish, unless otherwise stated.

Around Fen Ditton’s Historic Sites The walk starts at the Newmarket Road Park-and-Ride carpark, which may be reached from The Grafton Centre in Cambridge using a frequent service. Within the P & R site, follow cycleway arrows to the rear hedge, where an attractive “Bicycle” arch leads out into fields. Turn left and follow the cycleway 50m to the corner. (This point can also be reached from Newmarket Rd, by a signed path starting beside the garage). Fp9 goes across the arable field to a gap in the opposite hedge. Descend steps to the former railway*, and take more steps up the other side. Go through a kissing gate into pasture, and follow waymarks through 3 more kissing gates, emerging into a residential road, and turn right onto High Ditch Road*.

Here, at the junction with High Street and Horningsea Road is the village sign, illustrating the church, an old plough, and a rowing eight. (The sign was being repaired when I visited – look for the new endpiece to the village name, showing a rose, carved in oak by Neil Horne). Down High Street, pass the Ancient Shepherds pub, and note The Walled Cottage, house no.6*, opposite. The Kings Head pub is on the corner of High Street & Church Street, and centrally placed is the village war memorial. Visitors to the church* seem likely to find it locked, but one can readily view The Alms Houses*, The Old Rectory* and the black poplars* from the road. Continue down Church St and Green End, and enter the recreation ground. Fp3 leaves the back of the rec, and runs as a field edge path behind gardens. Fp4 turns off left part-way along between fences. However, continue to the end of fp 3, where it joins Byway 5, then turn left, to Green End termination. (The other end of Byway 5 meets Horningsea Road).

Take Fp6 signed starting in a fenced defile across the field near a restored cottage, then across a meadow, to go under the A14 beside the Cam. Immediately, turn right below the A14, on Fp8 initially between hedges, later, signed across two arable fields The path passes quite close to Biggin Abbey*, which is, however, better seen from Fp6. The path joins Horningsea Fp 1 which leads via Fp7 to Baits Bite Lock. Do not cross the lock (unless seeking to rest on seats in front of the building on the far side), but turn left in front of a tall wooden fence, on Fp6, with a ditch to left. After a section through bushes, one walks beside the Cam. Continue under the A14 viaduct, retracing to Green End*.

Continue ahead to the church, then turn down Fp2, towards the river, passing the Old Manor House*, which unfortunately is not clearly seen from the path. Fp2 enters a kissing gate, and goes through riverside meadows, crossing a bridge over a ditch, and joining a tarmac cycleway. Continue on the cycleway under the railway bridge over the river (beware cyclists!) and thence into Cambridge, along the riverside as far as Saxon Street. Turn left here, and right into Beche Road. Pass the medieval Cellerer’s Chequer, and the old (haunted?) Abbey House opposite. Use the subway to cross Newmarket Road, and return to the Grafton Centre. (7 miles)

In wet weather, (and for much of the Winter) Fp2 through the meadows can be flooded. In this case, start down Fp1, signed down a cycleway opposite the church. Either continue on the (dry) cycleway, which goes under the railway bridge, or branch off to cross the railway on high steps at TL 473 599 , to join the route along Cambridge riverside.

The walk can be extended to about 11 miles, by crossing the Cam at Baits Bite, using the towpath to Clayhythe, where cross the river, and return using the Fen Rivers Way route through Horningsea.

If, in addition, one continues further round the Cambridge riverfront past Jesus Green, The Backs and Coe Fen, a distance of 14 miles might be attained, if not overtaken by the darkness of a winter’s afternoon!

Fen Ditton’s other paths
Fen Ditton has 14 numbered paths on the Definitive Map, but several of these are short sections of longer paths between Teversham and Horningsea or Stow cum Quy, and have been described elsewhere. However, one other circuit is possible using Byway 14 in Fen Ditton.

Low Fen Drove Circuit
Start from Fen Ditton Church*, where there is limited parking. Follow the route described towards Baits Bite Lock, but turn East on the path towards Horningsea. On reaching the road, turn right (South, away from Horningsea) as far as a bus shelter, where cross the road, and follow Low Fen Drove Way (Byway 14) to Snout Corner, passing the site of an old windmill. Veer right to cross the line of the old railway*, continue to Honey Hill, and pass over the A14 to reach High Ditch Road. Turn right to return to Fen Ditton. (Note: Low Fen Droveway can be wet and muddy in Winter). (6 miles)

The Fen Rivers Way This long distance path between Cambridge and the Wash, has a dual route (i.e. on both sides of the river) between Cambridge and Ely. The route on the east bank uses Fps 2, 3, 6 and 7 as it passes through Fen Ditton, and is waymarked accordingly.

Cantab Rambler by E-Mail & Post
Cantab appears approximately every two months. A large number of you now receive Cantab by e-mail. By hand, 20p is appreciated towards the cost of paper and ink. If you would like to receive an issue by post, please send a large SAE, and a stamp.

Offers of brief articles will be gratefully received.

This is a privately produced magazine, and the views expressed are solely those of the editor, or of the author of an individual item. Janet Moreton 01223 356889


Cantab 70 Price 20 pence where sold © Janet Moreton, 2012.

CANTAB69 September 2012

CANTAB69 September 2012 published on

** Please note that this is an archive of the CANTAB publication and contains out-of-date information **


The Summer of the Nettles
Sometimes, they have been 9 feet high, tangled together with bindweed, brambles, or various arable weeds at the edge of a cereal field, making paths impassable.

Last year Cambridgeshire County Council made three cuts on selected field-edge paths, in May, July and again in the Autumn. This year, when weeks of Summer downpours after drought caused the vegetation to reach for the sky, there were only two such cuts, the second starting in September. Through the Summer, Cambridge RA Group advised walkers to wear long trousers, and if necessary to walk in the crop, such as down a spray line. The Highways Act, 1980, in case of an obstructed path, allows one to take the nearest reasonable alternative. The Group has been concerned about accidents: people falling over in the tangled weeds, or taking to the nearest, possibly hazardous road.

The Highways Act also gives the County Council the obligation to maintain public rights of way. This year, Cambs CC claimed there was no money available for more path maintenance. We note that the County cuts 25% of the network, although some of the other paths are maintained by local parishes, landowners, and other agencies. We also note that, after reorganisation, the County Council’s Countryside Services Team is now part of the Highways Department. There still seems to be plenty of money to cut the roadside verges every six weeks!

Some field edge paths are now being cut in September, although several paths which we have reported as being presently impassable, have been refused treatment, on the grounds that they are not on the list for cutting, and there is no money to include them this year.

Whilst everyone knows that local government spending is restricted, we think footpaths and bridleways should receive more priority. Walking is a very inexpensive form of recreation, open to most people, and the cost of maintenance is relatively small.

Now the harvest is in, and the problem is less acute, do not forget your sufferings in July and August. It is no use writing to the rights of way staff at the County Council, who are using all the resources available to them. Please address your concerns to your County Councillor. Do it soon, so that next year, footpaths may have a fairer share of the funding.

Janet Moreton

The Future of England’s Forests
The report of an independent panel on the future of forestry, was issued in July. The panel was set up following the furore over the government’s planned sell off of public forests last year.

Recommendations include
— An adequately funded and staffed public forestry body, free from political intervention.
— Developing and investing in the services which are currently supplied
— Expanding our National Forest Estate
— Retaining GB –wide functions
— Recognising the continuing need for a forest research body.

In response, Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman assured “Our Forests will stay in public hands”.

We hope so.

(Synopsis of an item in “Prospect” Aug 2012).

The Woodland Trust – 40 this year
The Woodland Trust Charity is celebrating its 40th year, since its founding in 1971 by retired agricultural machinery producer Kenneth Watkins. By 1981, the Trust owned 80 woods. After 30 years, it was caring for 1135 woods, and had planted 5 million trees. After 40 years, the Trust cares for 1276 woods, covering 23 580 ha (58 267 acres), and has planted 16 million trees. All the Trust’s woodlands are open freely to walkers and other quiet recreational users on foot.


Parish of the Month –
Thompson, Norfolk
Explorer 229

Walkers of the Peddars Way will have passed through this quiet parish, but may not have left the ancient trail to visit the village. Neither will users of the Pingo Trail, encouraged to use a small carpark off the A1075, have gained any impression of the wider landscape.

Pause a while to learn the history of Thompson, and vary your walks in this quiet area.

The Peddars Way ancient trackway runs NNW from Thompson Water, right across the parish. An old track, perhaps a few thousand years old, formed a basis for the Roman Road, built immediately after the Boudican revolt of AD 61. Although primarily of military importance in Roman times, communities sprung up beside the road. Large quantities of Roman material were found at Brettenham, and there may have been an Iceni/Roman town at Salham Toney.

Thompson is believed to have a Danish origin, at Tumi’s Tun, the homestead of Tumi. Thompson’s most important historical period could be dated 1350 – 1541, at the time of its Collegiate church. St Martin’s Church is claimed to be one of the finest examples of the decorated style in East Anglia, and is usually open for inspection. In 1350, the building was endowed as a Collegiate Church by brothers Thomas and John de Shardelowe. They established a community of 6 monks in a chantry building, the remains of which are still evident in College Farmhouse. After The Dissolution, the college became a manor house and farmhouse. The church was restored by the Lord of the Manor, Robert Futter in 1648, and again facing ruin in 1913, it was restored again by the Rev Kent at Merton, and his friend Duleep Singh.

The College Farmhouse and its very attractive grounds, can be seen from the roadside in the village. The Chequers Inn, an old thatched building, dates from the early C17th. Other points of interest include The Village Sign, unveiled in 1977 to mark the Queen’s Jubilee. Figures of a Roman Soldier, a monk & a goose-girl represent elements of Thompson’s history.

Forestry and Military Danger Areas
The parish is low-lying, with a sandy soil overlying chalk. Agriculture, forestry and military exercises account for the greatest land use.

Thetford Forest dates from 1922, and a substantial proportion of Thompson parish is under conifers. The military took over the Stanford Battle Area before WWII, after trees had been planted, and a proportion of the parish is still a “no-go” area, clearly marked with Ministry of Defence “Danger Area” notices. A glance at the map shows adjacent parishes such as Tottington, with its abandoned St Andrews Church, and Sturston, seemingly entirely within the military fence. Several villages were evacuated at the time, some 1000 persons being displaced. When you visit Thompson, spare a thought for these poor people, almost like latter-day victims of the Highland clearances.

Natural History
Thompson Common is owned by Norfolk Naturalists Trust, and the artificial lake, Thompson Water is part of the reserve. The Common is known particularly for its pingos. Pingos derive from the freeze / thaw cycles of the glaciations during the Devonian period. Each circular pool was originally formed by freezing water on top of a groundwater spring. The repeated addition of ice caused a dome of surface gravels. When the ice melted, the middle of the pingo collapsed to form a hollow. Any sediment which flowed off formed an encircling rampart. Where a pingo is in open grass, it looks attractive with clear water and flowering vegetation. The pools of stagnant water under the trees are a breeding ground for mosquitoes, so insect repellent is a must for Summer visitors.

In late Spring, the reserve is well-known for its interesting plants, including water violet and amphibious yellow-cress growing in the pingos, and Southern fen orchid, and pyramidal orchids flowering in the immediate locality. Some 70 to 80 species of bird are said to nest in the forest area, of which the rarest is the stone curlew, which chooses areas of open ground. Don’t get too hopeful about seeing one of these – they are said to be extremely shy.

Walking opportunities.
The Peddars Way runs from Knettishall Heath to Holme next the Sea, where the path turns east, becoming the Norfolk Coast Path. Thompson is thus about 10 miles north of the start at Knettishall Heath, and a detour east from less than a mile north of Thompson Water at TL 908 961 would take the rambler to Thompson village, which has B & B accommodation:
College Farm 01953 483318

Thatched House 01953 483577
Lands End 01953 488070

Otherwise sections of The Peddars Way can be taken into circular walks, as described below.

The Pingo Trail, 8 miles
Walkers are advised to start the Pingo Trail at a small carpark off the A1075, at TL 940 966. This point is a few hundred yards N beyond the turning to Stow Bedon. A display board for the route describes the track of the old railway which forms one limb of the walk, and the special wildlife of the locality.

Set off SSW down the line of the former track of The Great Eastern Railway in a wooded setting, with shallow pools at intervals on both sides of the track. Duck-boards are provided over the damper areas. Continue on a more open stretch past Crow’s Farm, and back into the woodland as far as Hockham Heath where, at TL 927 925, one meets a minor road, which is followed NW for 400yd, to a junction where The Peddars Way is joined, going NNW along a road that later becomes a byway. Follow this former Roman Road to Thompson Water. At TL 912 950, a waymarked track turns off right through the undergrowth. The path, well signed, winds through the wood, later following beside a watercourse, then emerging into meadows at TL 926 953. It continues NE across the rough grassland, passing a couple of pingos, and reaches a lane at TL 928 956. Follow the fenced lane, which widens, becomes tarmaced and passes Butter’s Lodge. Just before a road junction, a waymark at TL 934 967 indicates a right turn into woodland , which is well-waymarked on a winding route through the woods, scrub and grassland of the reserve, back to the carpark.

Thompson Village circuit. 4 miles.
Drive to Thompson church, where some parking is possible at the rear. Walk through the village, passing the very attractive College Farm. At TL 935 968, turn NW up Drove Lane, which follow to the minor road at TL 927 976. Turn left along Griston Road for 200yd, to return to the church on a public footpath. Perhaps take a rest in the churchyard!
For the next loop, go SW along the road to Pockthorpe Green (which is a wonderful large open common and recreation area) and take the path at TL 923 966, going S from a road junction by the school. At a junction of tracks, turn left on a bridleway, first along a field edge, then across a field to Butter’s Lodge. Turn left and follow the road back to the church.

Thompson to Thompson Water
5 miles
From Thompson Church, take the road SW to Pockthorpe Green, and go to the road junction at TL 919 961, then W on the dead-end road to join the Peddars Way. Turn left to go SSE to the turning to Thompson Water. Pick up the Pingo Trail, (as described above), and return to Butter’s Lodge, and thence by road to Thompson.

Thompson and Merton. 7.5 miles
From Thompson Church, follow quiet roads generally W to the Peddars Way at TL 908 961. Follow this long distance path N to near Merton at TL 901 991.
Here, turn right into Merton village. At TL 908 987, take the bridleway S then E to the B 1110 at TL 913 981. Turn left, then right at a crossroads, and follow the road generally E to a T-junction at TL 924 989.Turn right for nearly a mile, then right again and shortly left at TL 927 976 down Drove Lane. Cut through at TL 933 971, to return straight back to the church.
Note that this route is less scenic, but may be useful to those wishing to walk a section of the Peddars Way as part of a circuit.

Quotation of the Month

Come ye thankful people come,
Raise the song of harvest-home.
All is safely gathered in
Ere the Winter storms begin;

George J Elvey (1816 – 93)

Cantab Rambler by E-Mail & Post
Cantab usually appears every two months. A large number of you now receive Cantab by e-mail. By hand, 20p is appreciated towards the cost of paper and ink. If you would like to receive an issue by post, please send a large SAE, and a stamp.

Offers of brief articles will be gratefully received.

This is a privately produced magazine, and the views expressed are solely those of the editor, or of the author of an individual item.
Janet Moreton 01223 356889


Cantab 69 Price 20 pence where sold
© Janet Moreton, 2012.

CANTAB68 June 2012

CANTAB68 June 2012 published on

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Wind Turbines Wind turbines are in the news, both the land-based and off-shore types. The Ramblers’ Association policy is to consider each case on its merits, putting the burden on local groups for making the decision. Cambridge RA Group supported Linton and Great Chesterford Parish Councils in their successful campaign to prevent the erection of turbines on the ridge of high ground on the parish (and county) border. Important factors in the decision appear not to have been so much any impact on the landscape, but the effect of such structures on aircraft navigation at Stansted, and on rare bats in nearby Hildersham Wood. When a scheme for a group of turbines was put forward on land above Balsham, there was no local campaign, so the Ramblers’ Association made no comment. These tall structures are now being erected, and are very clearly visible from the Fleam Dyke, and the historic Fox Road track.

I have looked into the views of other countryside organisations, and attempt to present the tone of their views below.

Janet Moreton

Council for the Preservation of Rural England, CPRE
In its magazine, “Countryside Voice”, Spring 2012, CPRE publishes a debate between opinions on both sides. One objector (Adrian Snook of Northants) felt that the Government was putting undue emphasis on wind power to solve the UK’s energy problems. He was very upset that 5 wind turbines, 410ft tall were allowed in a rural site, in spite of concerted local opposition. He writes: “Rural communities have grown to perceive the whirling blades as a symbol of oppression”.

On the other hand, Rachel Coxcoon, (Head of Local & Community Empowerment, Centre for Sustainable Energy), cites a CSE report, “Common Concerns about Windpower”. She contends that landscape impact is a subjective challenge that rightly remains at the heart of the debate. She compares objections to that raised by Victorian railway expansion. Ms Coxcoon concludes that community ownership and control are a key to unlocking the acceptance of large-scale renewable energy.

South Downs Society The South Downs Society supports “clean green” energy from wind, but wants to protect the South Downs National Park. Its concerns relate not only to possible wind farms on land, but also those off the South Coast.

Energy giant EON is proposing a new offshore windfarm (the Rampion) in the English Channel within sight of the coast and the South Downs. The 100-200 turbines up to 210m high will be 13 – 23 km out to sea. Electricity will be brought to shore through underground cables between Worthing and Lancing, then carried underground to connect with the national grid near Bolney, Mid-Sussex. It will mean digging a huge trench across the South Downs for the cables. The South Downs Society is pressing EON to bury some existing overhead wires in the trench, and to start the tidying up of the old Shoreham cement works, alongside the trench.

This scheme is still at the consultation stage, but on a recent visit to Wells-next-the-sea, Norfolk, we were able to see the on-going development of another off-shore wind turbine project, which gives insight into the numerous factors involved.

Sheringham Shoal – SCIRA Offshore Energy
When we visited Wells in March, we called at the local office of the company, and obtained publicity material, from which these notes are derived.

By the early Spring, it seems some twenty offshore turbines were already in position, (although they were not visible from the coast at Wells). Offshore wind farms are notable by the tall turbines above the waves, but of equal importance are the subsea components – foundations, cables and associated equipment, and the land-based facilities. Initial preparation works had started on the site of the Sheringham Shoal operations and maintenance facility on the Walsingham estate in Egmere, 3 miles south of Wells. In Wells, we saw the new Outer Harbour in the sand near the lifeboat station, serving the offshore operations, with a fleet of 3 or 4 vessels.

An underwater trencher specially re-engineered for Sheringham seabed conditions was about to begin burying cable between the windfarm and the coast at Weybourne, using a technique tested to have “least impact” on the marine environment.

An offshore community of ca 180 people is living and working in the Greater Wash, on a floating hotel,”Wind Ambition”, a former Mediterranean ferry of 153m, adapted for accommodation. This has minimised boat and road traffic to & from the Wells Outer Harbour, as workers mostly now join/leave the vessel on its monthly visit to Harwich.

I noted, from the handouts, that Sheringham Shoal Community Fund has awarded funds to Bacton on sea Village Hall towards the installation of a 5kw wind turbine to help reduce the hall’s carbon emissions. The 1st Mundsley Air Scout Group was awarded funds towards installation of 20 photovoltaic panels on the roof of the new scout hut. The Sheringham and District Preservation Soc was granted funds to replace the current lighting in the Heritage Centre and Shell Gallery. There was no mention of any objectors…

Suffolk Offshore Wind Farms The Suffolk Wildlife Trust magazine of May 2012 gives a resumé of ongoing proposals for wind farms off the coast of Suffolk, which I venture to summarise.

A “Greater Gabbard” project is already under construction, and I have no further details. A new proposal called the “Galloper” project forms an extension of Greater Gabbard, and consists of a further 140 turbines, so clearly this is a major offshore initiative. The planning application for this development is currently being considered by the Infrastructure Planning Committee, and the decision expected later this year.

A second new proposal, The East Anglian Offshore Windfarm (EAOW) is even larger, and is to be brought forward as six projects. The first of these, East Anglia one, comprising 333 turbines, is expected to be submitted before the end of 2012.

Suffolk Wildlife Trust notes that offshore wind farms have the potential to disturb marine environments, such as birds and mammals, and the sea bed, and also necessarily affect terrestrial environments, as trenches are dug, and cables laid to connect with the national grid.

So it is clear that the environmental lobby of coastal counties has plenty of work on its hands to engage with the planning process to try for the best possible outcomes for the countryside and wildlife.

Breckland Nature Reserves and CountryParks -Explorer 229 Instead of a “Parish of the Month” we explore the Breckland area spanning the Norfolk – Suffolk border. This is the land of the rare stone curlew, whose love of “blasted heath” makes it seriously short of habitat now most of Breckland is under conifers. Here are some ideas for visits, even if many of the sites are more trees than open spaces.

Knettishall Heath
At the beginning of the year, Suffolk Wildlife Trust put out an urgent appeal to buy Knettishall Heath. Thanks to the generosity of its members, and other East Anglian friends, this large reserve (formerly 360acres, now enlarged) was purchased from Suffolk County Council.

Walkers will know the site as the termination of the Icknield Way long distance path, and the start of The Peddars Way. An information site, waymarked circuits, car park, and toilet block were part of the purchase, and RA Cambridge Group sent £50 towards maintenance.

Knettishall has a mix of habitats including areas of heath and chalk grassland. It is one of the best examples in the Brecks of so-called “patterned ground” in the form of vegetation stripes. These were created by repeated freezing/thawing at the end of the last ice age. Interesting plants include: meadow saxifrage; spring sedge; maiden pink; and unusual liverworts. Exmoor ponies are used to keep down young trees and bracken overcoming open habitats. Visit soon!

Lackford Lakes Suffolk Wildlife Trust also owns Lackford Lakes reserve, with a very splendid information centre, car park (small charge), and walks through the reserve to a scattering of about a dozen bird hides overlooking the old quarry lakes. This is also a good site for studying Breckland flowers on the bare sandy areas, varying in size from the tiny Breckland speedwell to the striking pink & blue Vipers Bugloss, often 2 feet high. A permissive footpath runs from Lackford Church to the reserve, so it is possible to walk from Lackford Lakes to West Stow Country Park, without using the dangerous stretch of main road from the approach drive to Lackford Car Park.

Other areas in the Brecks include nature reserves, other than those in the hands of the Suffolk Trust. These include:

Brandon County Park. This attractive area, adjacent to Brandon Park Hotel and rest home, about 2 miles out of Brandon, is surrounded by Forest Enterprise woodland, with access. It is run by Forest Heath District Council, with Suffolk County Council. There is a café and information centre, toilets and parking (small charge). A number of short waymarked walks are available within the park, visiting a walled garden, lake, mausoleum, tree trail etc, and incorporating a nature reserve. Much longer walks are possible, taking in the wider area of forestry on both sides of London Road, and linking with walks around High Lodge.

Thetford Forest Park High Lodge Forest Centre, over the border in Norfolk, is run by Forest Enterprise, from the Forest District Office in Santon Downham. Children’s playgrounds, tree walks, a maze, cycle hire, forest drives, information centre and café make Forest Lodge a “something for everyone” place. But there is plenty of good walking on waymarked tracks. Beware of the kami-kazi cyclists!

Around Santon Downham The Forest District office in Santon Downham is a source of leaflets and information in working hours, and an information board is available in the free car park outside the public toilets. Various waymarked walks are promoted, including nature notes. St Helens Car Park on the other side of the river, gives access to a further range of waymarked forest rides. Grimes Graves (English Heritage) to the north, is mostly about prehistoric flint mining, but with notes on natural history.

Fen Drayton At the end of May, I enjoyed an excellent walk around the Fen Drayton lakes, and along the busway-bridlepath, particularly admiring the huge variety of flowering plants along the busway verges. At the station for the RSPB, one can pick up a plan of the paths around the lakes. In the reserve, I visited the new “Coucher” hide, looking out over Moore Lake (and indicated by a red square on their plan). Here was advertised The Three Tuns pub in Fen Drayton, now open from 10.30 am daily, and serving tea, coffee, cakes etc. (Tel 01954 230 242).

As I was intending to walk into St Ives, and patronise the excellent “Nuts Bistro” café, I did not try the pub, but walk leaders may wish to note it.

Guided Busway Art Those of you who have walked along parts of the guided busway between Cambridge and St Ives will have noted that, in general, it is not provided with seats, other than rather inadequate “shelves” in the ‘bus shelters. Along the route there are, however, occasional short sections of curious brick wall with lettering, at a convenient height for sitting, or resting a rucksack, while consulting the map. On visiting the waiting room at Longstanton, I discovered from a leaflet that these are in fact works of art.

Handmade bricks from Cambridgeshire Tile and Brick Co., Burwell, on a base of Staffordshire Blue bricks, were fashioned by artist Jo Roberts into thought-provoking sculptures. There are 13 little walls along the route, each with a unique lettering. Each wall has specially pressed bricks with a selection of words chosen from suggestions by pupils at local schools, residents, and parish councils. The wet clay was moulded into a brick, and while the clay was drying the words were impressed with wooden Letterpress letters.

Next time I pass, I will not only put on my reading glasses to study progress on the map, I will “read” the walls!

Eversden Nev Fraser is looking for evidence that the old railway line going west from the Comberton road at TL383 544, west of the Lords Bridge Radio Telescope, has been used as a footpath, since the line was closed in 1965. Anyone with information is invited to contact Nev direct on

Cantab Rambler by E-Mail & Post
Cantab usually appears every two months. A large number of you now receive Cantab by e-mail. By hand, 20p is appreciated towards the cost of paper and ink. If you would like to receive an issue by post, please send a large SAE, and a stamp.

Offers of brief articles will be gratefully received.

This is a privately produced magazine, and the views expressed are solely those of the editor, or of the author of an individual item. Janet Moreton 01223 356889


Price20 pence where sold Cantab 68 © Janet Moreton, 2012

CANTAB67 April 2012

CANTAB67 April 2012 published on

** Please note that this is an archive of the CANTAB publication and contains out-of-date information **


Editorial With current political discussion about Toll roads, this month’s article by Ken Hamilton is topical! Then take yourself to South Cambridgeshire’s far east for a Spring exploration of Weston Colville.

The Hauxton and Dunsbridge Turnpike The following interesting piece was received from Ken Hamilton last January, just too late for the February issue. Ken refers to the popular Christmas Eve walk of RA Cambridge Group, attended by 38 walkers.

“Kathy and I recently led a walk from Frog End, on the edge of Shepreth parish, starting from outside the Green Man pub in Dunsbridge Turnpike. I knew there was also a road sign on Shepreth crossroads a mile down the road to Cambridge, and the unusual name induced me to do a little investigating.

Turnpike Trusts were first established in the early 17th century, by private Acts of Parliament which allowed their trustees to exact a toll on road users, in return repairing and maintaining the highways. The Hauxton and Dunbridge Turnpike Trust was created in 1793 on an existing road running from Cambridge to Royston, with two tollhouses – one at Hauxton and the other at Dunsbridge. The road is the present day A10, still marked as Dunsbridge Turnpike on maps and road name signs around Melbourn. Asking people where Dunsbridge was proved unprofitable, and even experienced ramblers had no idea. However, the Dunsbridge Turnpike crosses the River Shep hard by the Dunsbridge Business Park. That this is the site of the original Duns Bridge seems a reasonable inference. There are a few tales about the Trust in the files of The Cambridge Chronicle. One is of the unfortunate accident suffered by Mr Cann, the tollkeeper at Dunsbridge, who one January day in 1810 was badly injured when his gun burst in his hand. He was taken to Addenbrookes Hospital, where his hand was amputated. Further news on his recovery is not forthcoming in the files.

The Trust, along with all other Turnpike Trusts around the country, was wound up in 1873, and the road and all the assets of The Trust were taken over by Cambridgeshire County Council. Toll gates were removed and free access to travellers was now the rule. As might be expected, this was a cause of celebration by all who used the roads (though probably not by the toll-keepers!). Inhabitants of the parishes traversed by the road no longer had to contribute a set number of days labour to maintaining the roads, and landowners were no longer responsible for funding their upkeep.”

Ken writes “I am still seeking information on The Trust. I do know records are held in the Leicestershire County Council archives, and Trust minutes at Cambridgeshire University Library, but if any reader can point me in the direction of more information, I will be extremely grateful”.

Parish of the Month – Weston Colville OS Explorer Maps (209), 210
In the far SE of Cambridgeshire, this long narrow parish stretches nearly 6 miles, adjacent to the Suffolk border at one end, and Six Mile Bottom at the other. Church End is named for the parish church, and has a windmill, and arts centre (formerly a school) whilst a mile away, Weston Green has the Methodist Church, small shop, and The Reading Room (parish hall).

The Essex River Stour rises in Weston Green at a ford and footbridge. Elsewhere are to be found ponds and moats, water being readily retained in the heavy boulder clay soil overlying the chalk.

Like almost every parish in South Cambridgeshire, traces have been found of prehistoric occupation, including two Neolithic axes and Mesolithic worked flints (on the border with West Wratting). Alison Taylor* quotes a possible Bronze Age ring ditch by the west boundary, and finds of early Bronze Age pottery just east of the church. The Roman Age is represented only by small amounts of pottery found in disturbed soil during excavations of a moat. However, early Anglo-Saxon pottery fragments were found in quantity on a high point half-way between Weston Colville and West Wratting, suggesting an early settlement.

Coming to historic times, in the late C10th a manor at Weston was given to the Abbey at Ely. The original manor house of Colvilles was probably sited west of the church, near a fragmentary moat adjacent to the present Weston Colville Hall. Another Anglo-Saxon Manor was Moynes, surrounded by a moat, at a site now known as Mines Farm. There was a daughter site, with a moated manor in Great Coven’s Wood.

Nowadays, Weston Colville is but a small village, with a few houses at Church End, and a modest settlement at Weston Green. In 1086, Domesday records ca 200 people and, up to the C14th, the parish was quite densely populated, after which there was a sharp decline, due to Black Death and famine. In 1377, the population was ca. 155. When a map was made of the parish in 1612, there were only 6 houses near the church, 18 at Weston Green, and more houses than at present scattered along the road between. More exact population census records of 1801 (318) and 1851 (574) plot the modest rise in residents declining to a figure of 430 in 1996, small for a large parish of 1300 ha.

Points of interest On the little triangle of green in front of The Reading Room is an attractive village sign, commemorating the wartime airfield, at the edge of the parish, now restored to farmland.

Turn along Mill Hill to Church End, to pass very soon an attractive landscaped pond, and, nearer Church End, a windmill. The restored church contains interesting brasses. In the churchyard is the base of a C15th cross.

Near Church End, an unsigned track turns off at TL 621 528 to Lower Wood, a Wildlife Trust nature reserve, which can also be accessed from the other end via Bridleway 14. This damp old wood is predominantly ash, which was once coppiced. Flowers include water avens dog’s mercury, oxlip, and bluebell. (Unfortunately Great Covens Wood to the north, and containing ancient moats, is private).

*Alison Taylor – Archaeology of Cambridgeshire, Vol 2. Publ. Cambridgeshire County Council 1998.

The paths of Weston Colville
This parish has no fewer than 24 paths, mostly in quite good order, signed and waymarked.

A small signed carpark is available opposite the Reading Room, Weston Green, at TL 625 523, although presumably its primary purpose is for Reading Room users. Otherwise, some parking may be made considerately alongside the recreation ground. Parking is more difficult at Church End

Paths from Weston Green
From Weston Green, by the Methodist Chapel , Fp 11 is signed on Chapel Road at TL 6233 5224, and leads along a good headland to Wratting Common Road, and thence to paths of West Wratting or West Wickham. An alternative route to West Wratting Common Road is via Fp 12. This starts up a driveway signed “Lakeside”, and “Alberta” at TL 6277 5215. Once behind the gardens, turn left and follow good headland as far as a footbridge & copse at TL 6236 5159, then continue SSW beside trees, then across an arable field to Wratting Common Road.

Starting again in Weston Green, Fp 13 leads across the rec to the end of Horseshoes Lane at TL 6282 5241, where two paths to Willingham Green are available. Bp 14 starts North: the RoW starts so narrowly between hedges, that it is dangerous should you meet a horse. Instead, a permissive footpath is signed running alongside it. Beyond the hedged section, follow the waymarked field-edge path.

Byway 15 crosses the infant R Stour at a ford, with a concrete bridge provided for walkers. Also from near the ford, Fps 16 and 17 run behind the houses.

Still in Weston Green, Fp 18 starts as a narrow way between garden hedges at TL 6278 5215 off Common Road. It continues as a field-edge path, later Fp 20, leading via Cocksedge Farm to Carlton Church.

Also off Common Road, at TL 6282 5210, Fp19 leads over a footbridge to run behind gardens, only to re-emerge onto Common Road a little further SE. Persist down this road to TL 6320 5169, where Fp 21 starts across an arable field, cutting off the corner of a road, on the approach to Carlton Green.

Finally, in this locality, path connoisseurs will appreciate Fp22, (which joins West Wratting fp 16 and West Wickham 20). This meandering path in 3 parishes wanders around the boundary of the former wartime airfield. Used in dry weather, when the crop is still short, this is an amusing exercise. When the author tried the route in June last year, it was perfectly reinstated. Presumably the farmer also has a GPS!

Paths from Weston Colville Church End
From the B1052, just SW of the church, Fp 8 is signed through a kissing gate at TL 6151 5301 into a pasture field, which often contains placid cows. A second kissing gate leads into arable, where the path continues due S, leading through a belt of trees and towards The Grove in West Wratting. A feeder path, Fp 9, starts off Mill Hill Road, beside the windmill at TL 6202 5291, corners the wood at Hill Crofts, and joins Fp8 at TL 6148 5264.

Older maps do not show Fp24, which leaves Fp8 at TL 6144 5239, running ESE in front of the plantation. It continues along a field-edge track to meet Chapel Road at TL 6185 5212, and then continues SW inside the roadside verge to connect with paths leading towards West Wratting.

Returning to Mill Hill, Fp7 starts to the N of the road, signed beside a house driveway at TL 6195 5301. This popular dog-walking path joins the B1052 at TL 6199 5345, at the driveway to Moat House. A branch path, Fp 6, turns off Fp7 at the plank bridge at TL 6202 5312, and returns towards the B1052 nearer the centre of Church End at TL 6179 5325 between two houses.

Opposite this point, Fp5 ‘s signpost at TL 6177 5327 is often obscured in a tall hedge. The path is clear enough, going NW, at first on a grass headland beside a ditch & hedge. Beyond the crossing with Fp10 at TL 6138 5355 there are cross-field sections, sticky on the heavy clay, before attaining Grange Road at TL 6041 5393.

Fp10 is a relatively new addition to the network, and may not be shown as a RoW on old maps. It runs N from the B1052 at TL 6134 5309 on a farm track, to become Carlton Fp22, which joins part of the Icknield Way Path, Carlton 2, at the barn shown on maps as “Cricks Farm”.

The Outliers Those few readers who have been diligently following this exercise on their maps, will wonder what has become of the remaining paths. Because parishes in this Hundred are long and thin, drawn out giving each access to the predecessor of the A11, path numbering is rather obscure.

So Fp2, between Lark Hall, TL 5853 5479 and the minor road at TL 5916 5422 is numbered in Weston Colville. Similarly, the long path, Fp1, from the N end of Fox Road, TL 6011 5456, follows hedges and field boundaries to the outskirts of Six Mile Bottom. Byways 3 and 4 are two short sections of Fox Road which continues S all the way to Balsham.

Byway 23 is a short section of the Old Cambridge Road, which runs westwards from Lark Hall, to meet the A11 close to the Fleam Dyke Crossing.

Did you know?
Some 200 walks are available to be downloaded on the National Trust website. Most popular is The Bath Skyline walk, and the “most challenging” is said to be a 10 mile walk in the Manifold Valley, Derbyshire. Information:

WANTED Reports of usage of a Harlton Path
A (non-public) footpath that has been used for at least 40 years that we know of, was closed in January and the stile removed. It is a short path and goes from the back of Harlton Churchyard to join with public footpath No.1 that goes from Haslingfield Road to Washpit Lane. If you have ever walked this short path from the churchyard, can you please e-mail me on or get in touch with Roger or Janet Moreton. Thank you.

Susan Schofield

Cantab Rambler by E-Mail & Post
Cantab usually appears every two months. A large number of you now receive Cantab by e-mail. By hand, 20p is appreciated towards the cost of paper and ink. If you would like to receive an issue by post, please send a large SAE, and a stamp.

Offers of brief articles will be gratefully received.

This is a privately produced magazine, and the views expressed are solely those of the editor, or of the author of an individual item. Janet Moreton 01223 356889


Cantab 67 – Price 20 pence where sold © Janet Moreton, 2012

CANTAB66 February 2012

CANTAB66 February 2012 published on

** Please note that this is an archive of the CANTAB publication and contains out-of-date information **


It is always good to have feedback from an article (“Outdated Cambridgeshire Walks’ Guides” in the December issue of Cantab Rambler) and we will all be indebted to Roger Wolfe for sharing his reminiscences on the mid-C20th availability of maps and guidebooks for walking in Cambridgeshire and the wider East Anglia. Litlington is this month’s parish, offering relatively dry cross-field walking on chalk soils.

Janet Moreton

Letter to the Editor- Roger Wolfe, 11 Nov. 2011 More on Earlier Guides and Maps
“I was particularly interested in your review of footpath guides, a fascinating and rather neglected aspect of the pleasures of country walking. It’s interesting to speculate what our rambling predecessors got up to and what the East Anglian countryside was like to walk through in the 1930s.

Perhaps the question is partly answered by the ‘Cambridge and District Footpath Map’ published by the Cambridge Preservation Society in 1936. At two inches to the mile it shows a lot of paths and tracks not on the modern definitive map, but also omits quite a few routes now public. The inside cover has some interesting advice, e.g. “Any footpath connecting two spots open to the public is as a rule a public footpath.” Such optimism!

Also from the 1930s is a booklet entitled ‘Rambles in Cambridgeshire’ published by the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) price 6d (2.5p). The county definition is somewhat elastic, ‘Cambs’ extending well into Essex and Suffolk on several walks. What a pity to have been born too late to have enjoyed the 18 mile Mildenhall to Ely ramble making use of the ferry at Barway! (‘Walking tour ticket 2s 8d third class, any day any train from Cambridge’.) It’s interesting that many of the walks featured ventured into Fenland. The average distance of all 14 walks in the booklet is 15.5 miles, so it seems the earlier generation of walkers must have been a pretty tough lot.

The earliest post-WW2 walks booklet I can remember (about 1957) described rambles in the Saffron Walden area, several of which extended into Cambs. The author claimed that the walks could be followed in the opposite direction to that described simply by substituting left for right and right for left! Sadly I don’t have a copy and don’t recall having put this formula to the test.

In the early 1960s I did a series of walk descriptions for the ‘Cambridge Daily News’ as it was then. Each walk was based on public transport in the local area. The paper declined to publish maps for fear of infringing OS copyright and the sub-editors thought nothing of omitting whole paragraphs of crucial description if they needed extra space for other material! As your Cantab comments make clear, in those days it was a challenge to find usable paths for publication.

The inclusion of public rights of way on OS maps in the mid 1960s was of huge significance and I well remember looking at the new, specially produced OS ‘Tourist Map of Cambridge’ (1965, one inch to the mile, ten bob) and seeing for the first time where we could (and could not) walk as of right.

The huge increase in car ownership in the 1960s and consequent decline in rural public transport caused a significant shift in the way that ramblers in Cambs and neighbouring counties experienced the countryside. Point to point walks were replaced by circular routes from convenient (and sometimes not so convenient) car parks. Ironically, walk planners who had previously been limited by the availability of train or bus services are now constrained by finding adequate parking places for group and club outings. However, rising fuel prices, increased parking charges and environmental concerns have caused a small revival of the use of surviving rural rail stations as gateways to the countryside. A series of leaflets has been produced by the Mid Anglia Rail Passengers’ Association (MARPA) describing walks between each of the stations served by trains on the Cambridge to Ipswich line (also Bury St Edmunds to Ely) with a bit of help from local bus services at places like Soham and Fulbourn where intermediate stations have closed. The leaflets can be downloaded from

My, isn’t your rucksack heavy?
This is not usually a comment directed at me, but to Roger, apparently toiling along under a huge load. I have been threatening for some time to make him turn it out, and discover the reason for the bulges, and this is what I found.

The Rucksack weighed empty at 0.70 kg.

Food and drink. A full stainless steel flask of coffee, and a 300ml plastic bottle of water weigh 1.30kg. Food for the day, (biscuits and cheese, fruit, cake, cereal bars) might add up to 0.75kg.

Spare clothing. This is very much a seasonal thing, but taking into account approved outdoor safety standards, assuming one is already wearing a fleece, one might also have with one: waterproof jacket (0.50kg) and overtrousers (0.25kg), waterproof mittens (0.10kg), gaiters (0.20kg), scarf (0.10kg) spare socks (0.10kg), spare woolly (0.25kg), hat (0.10kg).

Accessories. 2 Maps, notebook, pen (0.35kg), GPS (0.10kg), mobile phone (0.10kg), wallet money and keys (0.30kg), first aid kit, comb etc (0.20kg), folding aluminium umbrella (0.20kg), secateurs (0.25kg), small torch (0.20kg), monocular (0.10kg), sit mat (0.10kg), rucksack cover (0.10kg)

I weighed these roughly on the kitchen scales, but accuracy is not important as different varieties of items would vary considerably in weight. A waterproof jacket might vary between 0.30 and 0.75kg, for example.

So the clothing in the rucksack weighs 2.05kg unless it is cold and wet, when you will be carrying it on your person! Roger’s food and drink weighed 1.6kg. This could have been less without the water bottle, or with a smaller flask of coffee. The accessories, individually, mostly weighed about 100g each, but together weighed 2kg. A surprise is how much money and keys weigh one down, and that two Landranger maps weigh 0.25kg.

So the grand total makes 6.35kg (or 14lb). My, isn’t your rucksack heavy?

Parish of the Month – Litlington
Explorer Sheet 208
Location and History. Litlington is one of the parishes on the chalk, with Limlow Hill to the south of the village, rising to 60m. The parish extends south to the A505, one of the lines of the ancient Icknield Way. Ashwell Street (or “Strete”) has a mile of its length in the parish, passing from Steeple Morden to Bassingbourn. This green lane is, like the A505, of prehistoric origin, part of a strand of tracks leading across England from Wessex to East Anglia. To the north of the parish, the little stream “Mill River” separates Litlington from Abington Pigotts. The open fields were enclosed following an award made in 1830, and the Cambs definitive map of 1953 left Litlington with a sparse 10 paths.

It seems that in Roman times, Litlington may have been an important, wealthy settlement, but traces of earlier occupation go back to the Mesolithic Age, with worked flints and 3 axes found on the site of the village. The Bronze Age is heavily represented by 16 former barrows (now only visible as ring ditches, and identified by aerial photography) along the southern route of the Icknield Way. An early Bronze Age dagger was found in the village, and lumps from a bronze Ingot (indicating bronze workings) came from Limlow Hill. On older maps, a tumulus is shown near the summit of Limlow Hill at TL 323 417, almost on the line of fp 9.

Finally, an Iron Age settlement preceded significant Roman sites. On Hill Farm, just N of Ashwell Street, small squarish enclosures showing as very slight banks and depressions may belong to this period. Mile Ditches (3 banks and ditches, crossing the Icknield Way and running through the E edge of Litlington) are defensive earthworks of Iron Age date, and extend from an upstanding round barrow on Therfield Heath, for about 1.5 miles to the Springs at Bassingbourn. The ditches were silted up from Roman times, and were finally levelled in the C19th, but can be seen as massive dark parallel lines in bare soil.

Cambs’ most important Roman cemetery was at Litlington, found during gravel digging in 1821. The then vicar’s wife made drawings from 80 cremations, lying in rows 1m apart. Some urns were in wooden boxes of which the iron nails and bronze lock plates survived. Other burials were accompanied by grave goods, eg handled flagon, storage jar, and samian cup. There were also ca 250 inhumations, with findings of pottery and glass vessels, glass beads, and coins. Nearby was a stone chamber containing a stone coffin, which can now be seen outside the W end of the church. The “Romano-British” burial ground is shown adjacent to Ashwell Street, at TL 314 420, just west of a crossing track.on the 1956 OS 1st series 1:25 000 sheet. Sir Cyril Fox refers to “a walled cemetery in a field known, from time immemorial, as Heaven’s Walls”.

The 1956 map shows the site of a C4th Roman Villa on the SW edge of the village at TL 313 425. The villa was excavated in 1829 and 1881. It measured 100 x 120 m, and contained 30 rooms around a courtyard, hypocaust, bath, and at least 1 mosaic pavement. All records of the excavation were lost. The rectangular layout of the village, together with the evidence of the Roman villa, may indicate that this village originated as a Roman settlement.

Later, the village seems to have developed from 2 settlements, Church End and South End. In the Middle Ages, Dovedale Manor House stood in a moated site at Bury Farm. The rectangular enclosure contained fishponds, fed by Chardle Ditch. Much of the moat has been levelled, and can only be seen as dry depressions in the field. In 1428 the property passed to the Pigotts of Abington Pigotts. The moat of The Bury is shown at TL 312 432, just beyond Bury Farm, north of fp 5, probably in a grassy paddock. Huntingfields Manor House, off Church Street, was first recorded in 1337. The moat around the present house, which dates from the C16th, only survives as a widening of the stream.

The C13th church is of interest and has a medieval pulpit and fine caved oak chancel screen of that period. Inside, there is the stone head of a scold-in-bridle, ca. 1330 as head-stop to a moulded arch in the N arcade. Old bosses in the roof are picked out in gilt .

In the village stands an old brick lock-up in Middle Street, TL 312 428. A small triangular village green at TL 313 426 contains 2 seats, and an attractive village sign.

Pub and shop are located on Church Street.

Walks suggestions from Litlington
Walks are described from the church. There is a little informal parking here on the verge of Litlington Road (avoid Sundays). There is a car-park for the village hall on Meeting Lane, but it would seem best to seek permission.

The main aim is to describe how best to leave / return to Litlington. Extended walks in Bassingbourn were described in Cantab 34, Jan. 2006, and those in Abington Pigotts in Cantab 20, Sept 2003.

Most of these routes involve a proportion of cross-field arable paths on chalky land, generally less sticky than the heavier claylands to the north of Cambridge.

(A) Ashwell Street, Royston and Therfield Heath. 6 miles, or 9 miles with diversions
From the church, walk SSE along Royston Road to Ashwell Street. Fp9 is signed going SE, climbing Limlow Hill, to cross seven arable fields, generally well marked, reaching Bassingbourn Bp16 at TL 334 411. Follow this S carefully over both the railway crossing and the A505 to the Little Chef. Go a little way up the Therfield road, and turn left to walk along the Heath, into Royston. (A detour into the Nature Reserve from TL 337 400 is rewarding). Visit Royston, or turn down at lane at TL349 406 to Green Drift. Cross the railway, continue on a fenced path through the industrial site, cross the bypass, and continue NNW on Bassingbourn fp 18 to Ashwell Street. Turn left, and return to Litlington.

(B) Visiting Bassingbourn and Abington Pigotts. 7 miles
From the church, walk along Church St to Cockhall Lane, and take Fp7 SW to join Ashwell Street. Here turn left along Ashwell Street, crossing Royston Rd, and continue along Ashwell Street to TL 331 426, where a kissing gate gives access to a permissive path going N to Wellhead Springs. Turn right in front of the Springs, and follow the path to South End., Bassingbourn. Continue N over the crossroads to visit Bassingbourn Church, and go beyond Church End to The Mill, TL 326 443. Take the path going SW, then generally W across seven fields to Abington Pigotts. (This sounds formidable, but has recently been re-waymarked: excellent when frozen, or in short young cereal). The Inn is recommended. Take footpaths to Down Hall, TL 315 437. Just beyond, take the signed path through the grounds of the watermill house. Crossing a ditch on a bridge, the path continues as Fp2 in Litlington, reaching the road at TL 309 433. Go S down the road, and turn left on Fp5 past Bury Farm. Continue through paddocks, emerging in Litlington on Meeting Lane. Turn right to inspect the old lockup.

(C) To Upper Gatley and Morden Grange 5 miles. From the church, take Royston Road to Ashwell Street. Turn right (WSW) along this fine green lane, as far as Upper Gatley End. Here turn S on a track towards Morden Grange Plantation. At TL 297 405 it is possible to walk forward to the junction at TL301 400 or, more interestingly, follow around the other side of the plantation next to the concealed chalkpit, passing over a conveyor belt. In either case, walk beyond Morden Grange Farm to TL 313 406, where turn N, and follow the grassy track to young woodland, to emerge on Ashwell Street. At TL 311 417, take Fp7 back to Litlington village. n.b. This is a “clean” walk. (It is possible to extend this route to Ashwell station at Odsey, to give distances up to 10 miles.)

(D)To Abington Pigotts and The Mordens 4 miles, or much more!
Opposite the churchyard on Litlington Road, a signpost points W along Fp3 across an arable field, generally well walked. Mid-field, Fp4 branches off at TL 306 428. Follow Fp4 W into Steeple Morden parish, passing through a belt of trees, and going uphill in an arable field to join a track at TL 311429. Follow the track N, then around bends by a ditch and field edge, to a bridge over Cheney Water at TL 298 435. Turn right on the brookside track towards Down Hall Farm. Take the track N to Bible Grove. Here, either turn right into Abington Pigotts, or left along Bogs Gap Lane to Bogs Gap, Steeple Morden, TL 292 435. Many options are possible for visiting the Mordens from here. The shortest variant involves turning left along the lane to Brook End. At Hillside Farm, TL 292 428, turn E on a track to meet your outward route at a corner, TL 301 429. Turn S on the track to Litlington Road, and return to the church, taking care on this rather busy road.

The Mordens, between them have an excellent network of over 100 paths. A typical circuit from Litlington taking in both villages would give a walk of 8 to 12 miles.

Cantab Rambler by E-Mail & Post
Cantab usually appears every two months. A large number of you now receive Cantab by e-mail. By hand, 20p is appreciated towards the cost of paper and ink. If you would like to receive an issue by post, please send a large SAE, and a stamp.

Offers of brief articles will be gratefully received.

This is a privately produced magazine, and the views expressed are solely those of the editor, or of the author of an individual item. Janet Moreton 01223 356889


Price 20 pence where sold Cantab66 © Janet Moreton, 2012

CANTAB65 December 2011

CANTAB65 December 2011 published on

** Please note that this is an archive of the CANTAB publication and contains out-of-date information **


Good wishes from the Editor for Christmas and the New Year
This winter, may you never be benighted, lose a boot in the mud, or find that your waterproofs have started to leak! May all your (footpath) problems be little ones, but be sure to report them!Janet Moreton

Quotation of the Month “Sprouting up like cockles among the wheat” Ethelred the Unready describing the Danes.(With thanks to Lisa Woodburn)

Parish of the Month – Bedford
OS Explorer Sheet 208
The X5 bus runs from Parkers Piece in Cambridge to Oxford, free for holders of senior bus passes. Forget the well-advertised delights of Christmas shopping in Milton Keynes, but instead catch this half-hourly service as far as Bedford.

A previous ‘Cantab Rambler’ (No 42, July 2007), noted the availability of leaflets on The Bunyan Trail. Leaflets are also produced for the upper reaches of the Ouse Valley Way. Both of these, as well as town guides, and much else are available in the Tourist Information Office, by the Town Hall, off St Pauls Square (tel 01234 215226). Make your way there from the ‘bus station, going south towards the river.

As December is perhaps not the best month for starting a long distance path, why not spend the day exploring places of interest in and around Bedford?

On leaving the TiC, visit the impressive St Pauls Church, opposite. It was here, from “The Wesley Pulpit”, that John Wesley preached the Assize Sermon in 1758, on the theme “We shall all stand before the judgement seat of Christ”. But let us go back a further 100 years, to remember Bedford’s most famous son.

John Bunyan’s Bedford. Bunyan, 1628 -88, lived most of his life in and around Bedford. He was born in Elstow, over the river from Bedford, and followed his father’s trade as a tinker. He was a member of the Parliamentary forces in the Civil War. On returning, he became friends with a pastor, John Gifford, within a simple independent congregation. In 1655, Bunyan moved to St Cuthbert’s Street, Bedford, and discovered a gift for preaching. In 1660, the Monarchy was restored, and the State sought religious uniformity, imprisoning influential nonconformists. Aged 32, Bunyan was imprisoned in the County Gaol, for 12 years. During this time, he wrote books and treatises, including his masterpiece, Pilgrims Progress.

Within Bedford, one can visit the site of Bunyan’s house, noting a plaque on 17 Cuthbert Street. Outside the former County Gaol is a plaque in the pavement. Much more interesting is the Bunyan Meeting House open Tues – Sat, 10 – 4. Bunyan’s statue stands on St Peter’s Green. It is possible to make an in-depth study of the life and work of Bunyan using facilities at the Bedford Central Library, and the County Library. The Bedford Museum is also interesting to students of natural history.

Cross the River Great Ouse, and walk (or catch a local bus) to Elstow, to visit The Abbey Church of St Helena & St Mary, C13th, restored 1880. Elstow Green, Elstow Cottages, and The Moot Hall have display panels which note connections with Bunyan.

A short circuit from Oakley, 6 miles. On arriving at Bedford Bus Station, go to Bay 10 for the half-hourly Service 51. Alight at Oakley Station Road. Visit the church, and take a pleasant footpath by the riverside and Stevington Belt to Stevington, detouring to visit the fine windmill. Take the Ouse Valley Way path to Pavenham, going into the village to admire the fine stone cottages, and perhaps visit the pub. Continue on the waymarked route to Boswell’s Holme. Here, note that there is a permissive path starting from a little bridge over a side ditch, to continue by the riverside in pasture to reach the road at Stafford Bridge. This avoids half-a-mile of road walking. Walk back into Oakley, to find a bus stop at TL 011 540.

Riverside & Priory Country Park. From St Paul’s Church, turn towards the river, and walk east along The Embankment, on a pleasant tree-lined avenue with flowerbeds. The Embankment gives onto a well-signed cycleway /pedestrian route leading to Priory Country Park. Within the park are toilets and a further information centre. It is possible to have an hour or two’s walk around the lake, in the meadows, and along the cycle track to Willington (which leads eventually to Sandy). Returning to Bedford, it is suggested that the Mill Meadows paths on the opposite side of the Great Ouse be used, crossing the river to return to High Street.

Bedford& Milton Keynes Waterways Trust. A display board on the Embankment near the High Street bridge describes the ambitious project of the Bedford & Milton Keynes Waterways Trust to “close the gap” in the canal network and create a new waterway.

The original idea in 1811 came from Samuel Whitbread, a local brewer, who with other businessmen discussed the trade benefits of a link between The Great Ouse and what is now The Grand Union Canal. In 1994, a Bedford resident, Brian Young, founded The Trust, with the aim of implementing Whitbread’s ideas. As well as being a high priority link for the boating fraternity, the towpath of such a canal would provide new walking and cycling routes.

Between 2000 & 2006, British Waterways selected and completed technical studies on one of 9 possible routes. In 2007, planning permission was granted, and Lottery funding was secured for 6km of waterway between Grand Union and Willen Lake / M1. In 2008, planning permission from Stewartby to Wootton was granted, and land was acquired at Wootton in 2009, a new underpass being constructed under the A421 to accommodate the canal.

Here the story on the display board finishes, and one is invited to visit the website for up-to-date news. However, it seems likely that it will be some years before this canal towpath can be part of a guidebook route from Ouse to Severn! See:

The Canal and River Trust. Continuing the general subject of canals, on 6 October 2011, a new charity of the above name was established, to tend 2000 miles of canals and rivers in England and Wales (where it is called Glandwr Cymru).

The now-retiring Chief Executive of the Ramblers’ Association, Tom Franklin, is one of the transition trustees of this new organisation, reflecting the importance of waterway towpaths and riverbanks as part of the walkers’ inheritance.

Flora of Bedfordshire. A new 700pp volume is to be published by Bedfordshire Natural History Society in December at £42.50, prepublication price £35 incl. p/p before December. Cheques should be payable to the above Society, and sent to David Withers, 9 Lammas Way, Ampthill, Beds MK45 2TR

Outdated Cambridgeshire
Walks Guides
Old guide books, like old maps, are often historically fascinating, and can be very valuable as evidence of use of routes not recorded on County Councils’ definitive maps. However, out-of-date guidebooks are often dangerous companions on a walk, unless also possessed of an up-to-date map. Thus one of the guides to the Icknield Way Path unwisely stated beyond Burrough Green, “Turn right at the pink cottage”. Within two years of this having been written, the householder painted his cottage a cream-colour!

Immediately post WWII, I am aware of very few prescriptive walking guides for the Cambridge area. More popular were general descriptive tourist guides, with small sections on walking opportunities. Olive Cook, “Cambridgeshire” (Blackie & Son Ltd, 1955) is typical of this genre.

1970 saw the first publication by Cambridgeshire County Council (CCC) of a set of leaflets “Walks and Rides around Cambridge” intended to be used to guide a walker around a recommended route. Costing 35p, there were 21 folded black / white A4 sheets at a 1:25 000 scale in a green cardboard packet. The routes were 3 to 6 miles long, with possible variants, and included Grantchester, Burwell, Longstanton, Boxworth, Kingston, Shepreth, Whittlesford, Linton and The Wilbrahams. The text gave public transport details, a few nature notes and points of interest. It is enlightening, that, without exception, not a single cross-field path in an arable field is used, for the simple reason that in 1970, hardly one cross-field path over an arable field would have been reinstated. The walks “around Cambridge” go as far away as Woodditton because so many paths were in poor condition that the number of reliable circuits was limited. We have so many more walks now, not because more rights-of-way have been added to the Definitive Map (although there has been a modest number of additions) but because nowadays, a majority of paths are usable, whereas in 1970, the majority were not. For example, on Babraham footpath 11, the bridge over the Cam at TL 499 513 was blown up during a WWII army exercise, and in spite of Ramblers’Association regular protestations, was not replaced until October 1987. Without this bridge, one of CCC’s routes, described in a later leaflet “Walks from the Roman Road – Wandlebury”, 1989 (30p) would not have been possible.

Meanwhile, back in 1970 among local enthusiast groups, The Linton District Amenity Society produced a little booklet, “The Footpaths of Linton District” (2.5p or 6d). Such paths in Linton as were usable were described, as were 4 walks into Hadstock parish. And Cambridge City Council took steps to offer walks guidebooks for the tourist. In 1979, it published “Country Walks around Cambridge”, followed in 1980, by “More Country Walks around Cambridge” (50p). The routes and walks descriptions were sourced by RA Cambridge Group. These walks of 4 – 17 miles are more ambitious and clearly include some cross field routes.

By 1980, most counties were publishing linear recreational walking routes. CCC’s first venture was with “The Wimpole Way”, the 11 mile waymarked route from Cambridge to Wimpole, in a leaflet (1st edition 1980, free, subsequent more colourful editions, 30p).

Meanwhile, Freddie Matthews and Harry Bitten from Essex RA had researched and published details of a “real” long distance path, “The Harcamlow Way” (1980, £1.20) forming a figure-of-eight from Harlow to Cambridge and back. For a few years, walkers joked that Freddie had sat down on Winter evenings and designed the route from his armchair! Certainly, these two hard-bitten Essex walkers pulled no punches – if they wanted to use a path, they put it in the guide, whether passable or not. But over the years, this (and the routes in their many other guides) were sorted out by Essex C.C. and CCC, and the Harcamlow Way is today on our Ordnance Survey sheets as a classic walk.

A guide to the walkers’ route for The Icknield Way, from Ivinghoe Beacon to Knettishall Heath, appeared first in 1984, following a couple of years’ intensive work by a committee of volunteers drawn from all the six counties involved.

Meanwhile, an historian Bruce Galloway completed a two volume survey of Walks in East Anglia, published by the St Edmundsbury Press in 1982. He felt it necessary to offer a disclaimer – “The author has gone to great lengths to ensure that the paths included on the maps in the book are open to public use, and that the route directions are accurate…” Even armed with an OS sheet of an unfamiliar area, walkers could still feel they were stepping out into a potentially hostile unknown.

Then, following a case before the Local Government Ombudsman in 1984, there was an upheaval in CCC, and a separate section was created for Rights of Way as opposed to there being a couple of staff in the Council’s Transportation Department. From that time forward, country walking was actively promoted by CCC.

With an improving path network, Cambridge RA group felt able to produce its first walking guide, “Walks in South Cambridgeshire” 1987 (23 walks of varying length), still in print in later editions, and a source of useful funding to the Group. Four other walks guides have been produced in later years.

Meanwhile, CCC’s Clopton Way leaflet (40p) appeared in 1990, and a number of circular walks were produced in 1989, including Devils Dyke Walks, Quy Fen Walks, Wicken, and several others, all over the county. A free County Council booklet, promoting public transport “Enjoying the Cambridgeshire Countryside” appeared in 1988, 1989, and a third edition in 1992, to be superseded by “Footloose and Carfree” in 1994. Meanwhile, the Council had promoted the local “P3” (Parish Paths Partnership) schemes, in which individual parishes were encouraged to improve their paths, and produce (free) walks leaflets. Such leaflets were produced for several parishes, including Cottenham (1990), Fulbourn, Teversham, The Wilbrahams. The “Beating the Bounds” series (ca 1994) came out in a cheaper monochrome format for e.g. Histon, Kirtling, Ely and many Huntingdon-shire parishes, but were difficult to hear of and obtain unless resident locally.

The Green Belt Project, operating under the aegis of CCC, did site work and produced leaflets price £1.50, with titles “Valley in the Chalk” (Shepreth& Barrington) in 1992; Fulbourn to Balsham (1995); Wilbraham Fen; Hobson’s Brook and Nine Wells.

CCC produced a guide to the Fen Rivers Way in 1995, over the limited route from Cambridge to Ely. This was extended by the Fen Rivers Way Association to Kings Lynn, and subsequent guides covering the whole route were produced by volunteers, a sign of increased liaison with CCC.

By 1995, the floodgates had opened in the bookshops, reflecting the degree of interest in countryside walking, and the realisation by many that pleasant rambling could be had in the flattest of counties. So we have a Cambs & Beds. volume in the Crowood Press “100 Walks” series ,1998 (£8.99), and Pub Walks in Cambridgeshire by G & J Pratt, Countryside Books, 1995. Niche markets have opened, so there are series on “Teashop Walks”, “Walks for Motorists” etc. The publishers of walking guidebooks discovered a profitable business, with only the Internet producing a little cloud on their horizon.

Cantab Rambler by E-Mail & Post
Cantab usually appears every two months. A large number of you now receive Cantab by e-mail. By hand, 20p is appreciated towards the cost of paper and ink. If you would like to receive an issue by post, please send a large SAE, and a stamp.

Offers of brief articles will be gratefully received.

This is a privately produced magazine, and the views expressed are solely those of the editor, or of the author of an individual item. Janet Moreton 01223 356889


Price 20 pence where sold Cantab65 © Janet Moreton, 2011