** Please note that this is an archive of the CANTAB publication and contains out-of-date information **
This month we have an article by John Andrews, contrasting walking in Eastern Germany with that in his native Suffolk. It first appeared in Suffolk Ramblers’ Area News, and is reproduced by kind permission. Suffolk is not alone in suffering from perpetual inadequacies in its path maintenance budget – most East Anglian Highway Authorities suffer the same stringencies. If every rambler wrote to their County Councillor complaining of inadequate funds for path upkeep, perhaps we would make an impact!
Looking back to the Summer, there is a report on a “package” holiday in Austria, and we discuss the Ramblers’ Association policy of excluding advertising by companies other than Ramblers Holidays.
Following the popularity of the “Paston Way” article, I have further church walks for you this month, this time in Bedfordshire. Note, however, that these churches will not be open on Sundays in the Winter, so go and visit them soon!
Finally, there is an update on recent path changes in South Cambridgeshire.
Just a dream ?
“I had this amazing experience. I was walking in beautiful countryside where there were footpaths to take me anywhere I wanted to go – to every town or village around or in whatever direction I chose. All along the paths – at every junction – were signs telling me where each path leads to and how far or how long it takes to get there. It was all so comfortable too; never any doubts about whether I was trespassing or obstacles in the way and not a single nettle to make my journey unpleasant or impossible.
So easy to get about from one area to another one too. Buses, trains and even, where the river was big enough, boats were in regular and frequent supply – with bus stops at the ends of lots of the footpaths. For the happy walker a car was quite superfluous. When I was hungry or thirsty a pub or cafe seemed to appear almost magically, even out in the countryside miles away from habitations – halfway up a mountain it was no surprise to find a place of refreshment.
No wonder that I was not alone in this paradise ! The paths were alive with people of every age and variety – families, groups of teenagers and pensioners. It was all so safe and welcoming too, so it seemed quite natural to find – more than once – a young mother with a toddler in a pushchair – miles from anywhere. Did I find `Private’ notices all over the place ? Scarcely ever, but, if so, then accompanied by helpful advice explaining that the path only led to a house or was in some way or other of no use to the general public. `Keep Out’ signs? Not a one did I behold.
At this point in the story – usually – comes the punch line “ and then I woke up !” But this was not a dream and every word of it was true – true of the part of eastern Germany, close to the Czech border, where I have just been on holiday. I know the Germans have always been passionate about walking – the German word is ‘wandering’, which seems so much more descriptive of the habit, but should there be such a vast gulf between what one finds there and our normal experiences of walking in Suffolk ? In my part of the County and in the height of summer, if I am lucky enough to find a path to take me where I want to go, then – 10 to 1 that it will be a nightmare journey and that I will return home scratched, stung and exhausted by the unequal battle against head-high vegetation and a selection of the nastiest species to be found. If a bus back would help – or a cooling drink would ease the pain – what chance of that ?
Must this be so ? Clearly it need not be. Are we setting our sights high enough ? Can the Suffolk County ‘Rights of Way Improvement Plan’ start to bring about the huge cultural change that it would require ? Is it pure, misguided fantasy to hope that our decision makers, the guardians of the public purse, might actually have the vision to believe that – as the experts all now say – a good recreational network is a major factor in sustaining the rural economy ?
At present we are suffering the consequences of the very opposite – a slashing of the County Council’s rights of way maintenance budget that is leaving walkers in frustration all over Suffolk as our paths succumb to the natural growth which, in the worst case, compels people to turn back and/or much more disturbingly, to escape from the impenetrable jungle of the footpath by taking to the nearest road.
Perhaps we should invite some of our Councillors to come along with us – first into the Suffolk countryside in June – and then to Germany ?”
Austria with “Waymark”
In July, four members of RA Cambridge Group spent a most enjoyable week at Trins, in the Austrian Tirol, organised by the walking company “Waymark”. There were 2 leaders, daily providing alternative walks options for 23 people, so that on average there were about a dozen people in each party. Their “grade 2” walks could be accomplished by all our readers. The “grade 3” (perhaps equivalent to Ramblers Holidays “grade C”) would be suitable for those of you who not only walk 10 (East Anglian) miles each Saturday, but are also capable of a morning’s sustained, and sometimes steep, uphill effort!
Blessed with good weather, we had two walks direct from the village, situated at 1214m, ascending Blaser (2241m) on the first day, and Padaster (2301m) on a later occasion. One day, a chairlift took us up to 2000m, allowing a ridge walk on 3 delightful green peaks to the south of the village. Otherwise, a short bus ride gave us access to walking above the Obernberg Valley, and onto the high frontier ridge with Italy, (reaching 2166m), during which our guide regaled us with tales of guerilla warfare in the last century. Other walks took us from Obertal to the Tribulaun Hut under the cliffs of Gschnitzer (where some of us learnt to kick steps across slanting old glassy snow). Once, we hired a minibus to Obern in the Stubai Alps, for views of more inspiring, snow-covered peaks.
This was a holiday for really spectacular views of snow-covered alps and glaciers, wonderful wildflowers, plenty of mountain huts for a comfortable refreshment break, and, above all, a really well-organised set-up, with knowledgeable, considerate leaders. The friendly hotel has been patronised by Waymark for 25 years, and provided a perfect background, from its ample breakfasts to free afternoon tea & cakes, and 4-course evening meals. On arrival, one found a little paper heart on the pillow “Herzlich Willkommen”.
It is not my normal policy to report on commercial package holidays (and no, I haven’t been paid) but I felt regret at our leader’s comment that “Waymark” was not allowed to advertise in Ramblers’ Association publications. Whilst I am aware of the RA’s close ties with “Ramblers Holidays”, and am a regular customer of the latter, I feel personally that it is in the interest of walkers that they should be aware of the options, and, ultimately in the interests of each walking company that they should thrive on competition. Waymark Holidays are slightly more expensive than Ramblers, but offer smaller parties, and a walk every day.
For more details of Waymark Holidays, their Brochure Line is 01753 534126, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
The week at Trins cost £485, including Lufthansa flights from Heathrow, and most local travel. We can also recommend a slightly easier holiday at Wildschönau in the Kitzbühler Alps, which we enjoyed two years ago.
Legal changes to the path network November 2003 – May 2005
The following changes have been confirmed by the County or District Councils in South Cambs., during the last 18 months:
Part of Barrington fp 11 along the top of the Barrington chalk pit, has been moved northwards by a few metres, to take the path a safe distance away from the crumbling edge of the quarry (confirmed February 2005). A new path has been cut out through the trees, and nicely surfaced with wood-chips.
Bartlow fp 6 (from Ashdon Road at TL 585 451 to Bartlow church) was finally confirmed as a public footpath in February 2004, and a minor diversion, avoiding a building that had been put up after the RA’s original claim, was confirmed in January 2005.
Part of Bourn fp 2, from the Caxton Road going north through Cambourne, has been diverted round the edge of a newly-dug balancing lake (confirmed November 2003). A diversion taking another part of the path a little further away from the existing property Oak Dene (which is becoming surrounded by the new Cambourne development) has been agreed by the RA, but not yet enacted. Yet another diversion will be needed, round another balancing lake, but we are still waiting for details of this; meanwhile a temporary diversion is in operation, while the lake is being dug.
Bourn fp 21, from Alms Hill at TL 325 568, going east towards Caldecote was opened up by Cambs. CC during 2003, and a minor diversion was confirmed in November 2003 to take the path round an existing building. (A parallel footpath runs across the meadow on the south side of Bourn Brook.)
Caxton br 5 (part of the Crow Dene bridleway) now goes through a tunnel under the new Caxton Bypass road, and a diversion order was made to alter the line slightly, and to reduce the width of the section under the tunnel, from the original 30 ft.
On Comberton fp 5 (from Barton Road at TL 385 563, to Swaynes Lane at TL 385 561) a minor diversion round an extended garden plot was confirmed in May 2004.
Gamlingay fp 7 (f rom Potton Road at TL 217 512 to Everton Road at TL 211 512) was diverted a few metres to the south at the Everton Road end, to take the path out of a private garden (confirmed May 2005).
In Girton, in February 2004 a new fp 15 was created, running SE along a track from the end of Wellbrook Way, TL 426 613, to end in rough ground at TL 430 610.
Graveley fp 7 was diverted between TL 263 631 and TL 264 632, taking the path north along a farm-track, then east along a field-edge instead of diagonally across a field. At the same time, Yelling fp 5 between TL 263 626 and TL 263 631 was moved from the east side of the hedge, onto a farm track on the west side, and Yelling fp 6 was moved from a diagonal, cross-field route, to run directly down the field from fp 5 at TL 263 628 (confirmed August 2004).
Horningsea fp 6, from Clayhithe Road at TL 497 629 going E towards Quy Fen, was diverted to follow a field-edge track between TL 498 629 and TL 502 628 (the continuing path being already on the field-edge – confirmed November 2003).
Over fp 6, running S from High Street west of The Admiral Vernon PH at TL 375 706, was diverted to run along the east side of the pub (confirmed March 2004).
South Bedfordshire’s Church Trails
South Bedfordshire District Council produces a couple of free leaflets: “Dunstable and the Southern Parishes” and “Toddington and the Northern Parishes”, promoting some of the attractive churches in the District.
The leaflets, free from tourist offices, give details of several churches which will be open between 2 and 5 pm on the first Sunday of each month, between April and September, during which time tea & coffee will be available for visitors. Service of Sunday lunch at a local hostelry (with useful ‘phone numbers) is noted in each case, as are local attractions. The churches are fairly well spaced, and it seems likely that the information is intended primarily for touring motorists, but each church, or perhaps two churches could form a focus for a Sunday walk.
The Dunstable leaflet mentions not only the impressive Priory Church of St Peter, Dunstable (open all week), but also the Roman Catholic Dunstable St Mary’s, Our Lady Immaculate. Designed between 1961 & 1964 by Desmond Williams & Associates, it is a circular building with brick walls & an aluminium roof, with much internal carved wood & stained glass.
Eaton Bray St Mary the Virgin is an early C13th village church, enlarged in the C15th.
Totternhoe St Giles is an embattled C14th church on C12th foundations, boasting its original carved roof.
The second leaflet takes its title from Toddington, with the dedication to St George of England. This C13th church is built of Totternhoe stone, with a 90ft central tower. The wooden roof has carved angels, and there are beautiful exterior sculptures of animals.
Hartington St Mary the Virgin is a grade 1 listed early C14th church with a fine arcade. There is an unusual John Bunyan altar and Pilgrims Progress stained glass.
Chalgrave all Saints is a C13th building within a ring of chestnut trees in very pleasant surroundings. It is renowned for its C13th wall paintings.
Sundon St Mary’s is another C13th grade 1 listed building, with a C15th rood screen, and 3 rows of ancient pews.
Barton Le Clay St Nicholas rests at the foot of Barton Hills, offering splendid walking opportunities (preferably before a large Sunday lunch!). Parts of the building date from 1180, and the font may be earlier. The exterior has very fine knapped flint work.. Within are interesting carvings in wood and stone at roof level and in the sanctuary a rare example of Easter Sepulchre. (Here and at Dunstable, we are advised that baptisms may occur around 3pm on some Sundays).
OS Landranger Sheets 166, 165 and 153 will be helpful for walking in this locality. Rights of way are generally well-signposted, and in fair condition. If travelling by car from Cambridge to this area, avoid Baldock, while the bypass is under construction!
Cantab Rambler by E-Mail & Post: Issue 32.
Cantab usually appears every two months. A large number of you now receive Cantab by e-mail. By hand, 10p 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 10p stamp.
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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
Issue 32; Price 10 pence where sold
© Janet Moreton, 2005.