** Please note that this is an archive of the CANTAB publication and contains out-of-date information **
Home and Away
At this time of year, many of us will either be on holiday, or avoiding the school holidays, having already taken time away in the Spring, or will be looking forward to an Autumn break.
Many of us seek a holiday in environments unlike what we have at home, so coasts and hills are naturally popular with east Anglians. So this issue has reports of some “private enterprise” holidays away, as well as notes on opportunities and problems at home.
A week in Cumbria, May 2002
Up to a dozen friends once again filled the farm (not all present all the time) at Kilnhill, Bassenthwaite, for a week’s walking, the fourth such visit.
Actually, this year, two of our number broke the mould, and astounded the pedestrians by covering 300 miles of the lanes on their tandem, and delighting us with their travellers’ tales at dinner each evening.
The rest of us managed to discover some new routes to climb, covering 8 to 11 miles per day, and up to 3000ft of ascent.. On the first day, we started from Braithwaite, and climbed the modest peak Outerside, before making a rising traverse up the flanks of Causey Pike, returning over Scar Crags, and descending via Sail Pass and Rigg Beck.
The next morning showed mist on the tops, but we were promised a clearance. This was the only walk direct from the farm, ascending through woods and fields to Orthwaite, and up a long bridleway to Great Calva. On the top, the mist swirled round, and we were only afforded the odd glimpse of Skiddaw opposite. On the steep descent down beside Whitewater Dash, there were many cries of “mind your knees!”.
Saturday, 11 May was breezy, so we settled for a lower top. From Thirlmere, we went up the Wythburn valley past Middle Howe onto Greenup Edge, and tripped across the bogs to Ullscarf, descending past Standing Crag, and into forestry near Dobgill. This was a day when some of us got wet feet, particularly one who was led in a direct line across the bogs by his dog on the end of a long lead.
Sunday was a busy day to attempt Helvellyn, but the weather was perfect. We ascended via Raise Beck to Grisedale Tarn, and up Dollywagon Pike, from the slopes of which we really could see Blackpool Tower. On the summit of Helvellyn we chatted to a Dutch couple who had made the climb in trainers, then hastily moved away from the trig point to make way for further crowds. We descended down the well-reconstructed path to Wythburn church.
On the wet Monday, we skulked around lower paths in Borrowdale, doing a figure-of-eight walk to ensure lunch under cover, and consoling ourselves with a visit to the Dales Barn Centre, and later, to a delightful teashop.
The last day was showery, and the party were happy to go to Borrowdale again, this time to visit Watendlath, Ashness Bridge, and Derwent Water at Lodore and Manesty, before returning to Rosthwaite.
We were grateful for the kindness of our hosts Ken and Heather, who had held over our deposits from the Foot-and-Mouth blighted 2001, and who, once again, gave us such a comfortable and well-fed stay.
Walking in Dumfries and Galloway
Roger and I took a week in early May visiting Newton Stewart for the first time. We were well cared-for and well-fed at The Stables GH, (01671 402157), and enjoyed reasonable weather.
We made two trips to the coast, visiting Mull of Galloway (the most southerly point of Scotland), and the Isle of Whithorn. In both cases, we much enjoyed the cliffs, the Spring flowers, and the mild climate of the coastal strip, which might have been Cornwall in April. Disappointing though, was the inability to do more than a mile or two along the coast without encountering an obstruction. Tourist information (ring 01671 402431 for brochure etc) gives plenty of data on castles, museums, arts & crafts, and boasts of 200 miles of beautiful coast. But it does not say how little of this may be walked. However, there are several places where a 2 or 3 miles circuit or out-and-back is possible.
Inland, there was a short walk by the river at Newton Stewart, but no access to the lush farmland containing the famous “belted galloway” cattle. The main local industry is forestry, so beware the huge logging lorries on the single track roads! The forest authority has created several attractive picnic sites, and has waymarked many circular walks, but the average length seems to be 2 to 4 miles. There were also longer cycle trails – we saw no cyclists or indeed few other walkers in May, but presumably the forests are busier later.
However, we had with us the SMC guide to Corbetts and other hills, and climbed Merrick (a popular tourist mountain, easily accessible from the very beautiful Glen Trool); Cairnsmoor of Fleet, overlooking the Solway; Corserine; Shalloch on Minnoch; and, on the way home, Criffel, combining this with a visit to Sweetheart Abbey. Using the SMC guide was not without hazard – we went to climb Cairnsmore of Carsphairn, North of New Galloway, but found the suggested start, by a farm at Green Well of Scotland, obstructed, and with threatening notices. When using the car park to climb Corserine, we were told by a forest worker or keeper to be back by 5 pm! (In the event, we sufferered an hour’s hail storm on top, and were only too pleased to descend by 3.30pm.). On this occasion, we talked to a couple of very pleasant local walkers, who gave us useful advice for our remaining 3 days holiday.
The other walking opportunity in the area is, of course, The Southern Uplands Way, which we saw in places where it crossed roads. It appears to be reasonably well-waymarked. We think it would be difficult to do circuits based on the long distance path, other than using roads. We would welcome comments from anyone who has walked this route.
We enjoyed our holiday, and there was plenty to do from Newton Stewart in one week. Having “done” the local Corbetts, we would only consider going to the area again to walk the Southern Uplands Way. Other walking opportunities seem rather limited, or not widely advertised.
Janet & Roger Moreton
We have recently used the narrow steep path ascending from the lane behind Newport station, going up beside the chalk pit. The path has a concrete sign, “public bridleway”, but we have enquired, and it is, in fact, a byway, so beware!
On the first occasion, we were passed by three motorcyclists. There is just room in the narrow hedged lane, between the high banks. More recently, on the Jubliee holiday, we had a narrow escape. We descended the path, and had just emerged onto the wide concrete turning circle in front of the quarry entrance, when 2 landrovers passed up, going up. We would not have been able to pass them at all in the nettle & bush lined defile.
The other, temporary problem in the Newport area is a pipeline going across country. There are several paths in the Wicken Bonhunt, and Arkesden areas with 6 months closure notices, starting from 1 May 2000.
Essex 100 Walk, August 2002
The Essex 100 Walk starts this year from Castle Camps in Cambridgeshire (!), on 3 August. Following days start from Hempstead, Thaxstead, Wethersfield, Stebbing, High Roding, Broomfield, Wickham Bishops and Tiptree. A coach, fare £2, runs from the end of the day’s walk at 9.30 sharp. There is also an Essex Mini week’s walk. running simultaneously. The “100 miler” is 9 days at 11 – 12 miles per day, and the mini-walks are 3 – 4 miles.
The Complete Fen Rivers Way accomplished in less than 20 hours!
The following report was sent to the Fen Rivers Way Association on 18 May by Andrew Knights.
“I have just returned from an expedition by Fenland Mountain rescue (Thorney Division), a walking group of friends from Thorney. Thirteen of us left “The Pike and Eel” at 2305h last night, and with the help of our support party, and some friends who joined for part of the way today. Eleven of us (and a dog) completed the 50-and-a-half mile walk without a break. The first of us arrived at 15.20h at Ongar Hill, after 16h 15 min, and the last some 90 minutes later.
The sections of the walk in Cambridgeshire were for the most part very overgrown and made passage very difficult (and our legs and feet very wet) except where cattle were grazing. In particular, we had to walk along the A10 itself to Brandon Creek, where we had breakfast, as the grass on top of the bank was long with no discernable path. Fortunately, it was early in the morning, but the traffic was very fast and very scarey.
By contrast, most of the Norfolk Section was very well tended and a pleasure to walk on. I was disappointed that beyond West Lynn ferry terminus there were no more Fen Rivers Way Signs, only West Coast Path ones, and no mention at all at Ongar Hill on the information board. We had 8 checkpoints with our support team, and your guide book was invaluable.”
Andrew asks if the feat had ever been accomplished before – to which the Fen Rivers Way Group answers, “No, not to our knowledge”. Many congratulations to the Thorney team – who says Fen Tigers don’t make good walkers?
State of the Fen Rivers Way in Cambridgeshire
As a follow-up to the above letter, Duncan Macay, Chairman of FRWA contacted Kate Day, Team Leader of the Rural group at Cambridgeshire County Council. Kate reported that the annual cut of the grass was now underway, part being done by contractors, and part by representatives of the those parishes in the Parish Path Partnership Scheme.
It seems a shame that the path cannot be maintained throughout in good order, when it is clearly so popular. Duncan Mackay intends to press for better maintenance in the future.
The Fen Rivers Way Association – a good job now completed
At a recent Committee meeting of the Fen Rivers Way Association, members took stock of what had been accomplished in half a dozen years,
- to publicise a through route along the rivers Cam and Ouse between Cambridge and Kings Lynn, and beyond
- to obtain support from the Norfolk and Cambridgeshire County Councils, and from many parishes along the route
- to see two major bridges, at Holt Fen Drove, and Cuckoo Bridge near Ely provided
- to assist in the waymarking of the route as far as Kings Lynn
- to extend the route, using the new West Lynn walkway
- to provide a popular guidebook, now in its third edition
- to lead walks along the route, including the popular series of the whole route in sections last year.
The Committee considered with satisfaction what had been achieved, and what remained to be done. Clearly, the guidebook needs to be kept updated, and in print, but the Ramblers’ Association Cambridge Group has agreed to take this over. Otherwise, a watching brief needs to be maintained on the state of the path, as is shown clearly by the reported overgrowth in the preceeding article. Repairs to the waymarking can be carried out by a few people only.
Members of the FRWA were consulted, regarding the continuation of the Association. Many were prepared to remain members, but there were no additional volunteers to serve on the Committee.
Consequently, it was decided to terminate the Fen Rivers Way Association, but a Fen Rivers Way Working Group will continue to provide a watching brief on the route, update the guidebook, and seek to help the promotion of walking beside other East Anglian waterways.
Duncan Mackay, Roger Moreton, Dennis Stephens Janet Moreton
Advance news of The West Anglian Way November 2002 – February 2003
Here is something to look forward to in the coming Winter. Walk a new long distance path with Cambridge, Royston & East Herts Ramblers next Winter. Full details will be in the Ramblers’ Association programmes, out by October. Distances are approx. 10 – 12 miles, with shorter options in some cases.
Meanwhile – Dates for your diary
- Sat.2 Nov. 2002, Cambridge station to Whittlesford station. 11 miles (or to Gt. Shelford, 5 miles).
- Sat.16 Nov. 2002, Whittlesford station to Newport station. 12 miles
- Sat.30 Nov. 2002, Newport station to Bishops Stortford station. 11 miles (or to Stansted station 7 miles)
- Sat.18 Jan. 2003, Bishops Stortford station to Harlow Town station, 10 miles. Janet’s bun walk!
- Sat.8 Feb. 2003, Harlow Town station to Broxbourne station , 11 miles (or short option). Leader Mark Westley.
- Sat.22 Feb. 2003, Broxbourne station to Cheshunt station. 11 miles (or short option). Leader Mark Westley
For further information, tel. 01223 356889. Start times will be fitted to the railway Winter timetable. We hope to have certificates for finishers!
This is a privately produced magazine, and the views expressed are solely those of the editor, or the author of an individual item. Janet Moreton 01223 356889
Price 10 pence where sold
© Janet Moreton, August 2002