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CANTAB40 February 2007

CANTAB40 February 2007 published on

** Please note that this is an archive of the CANTAB publication and contains out-of-date information **


It has been suggested that there should be some sort of fanfare for this, the fortieth issue of Cantab Rambler. I can only say that it is generally well-received, and that the number of people receiving copies by e-mail continues to increase.

The first issue appeared in November 1999, and led with changes to the path network, including developments at Cambourne.  It went on to review the Bedfordshire “Kingfisher Way”, and the Cambridgeshire Pathfinder Long Distance Walk. RA Cambridge Group’s Millennium Project of resurveying all the District’s paths was discussed.  Parish of the Month was Haddenham.  The next Cantabs were in July, September and December 2000, but by 2001, issues were appearing more frequently.

I now generally manage 6 issues per annum, though not necessarily at precisely two month intervals. The  most popular single articles seem to be “Parish of the Month”, although clearly Cantab is a useful forum for notices of path changes and discussion of local issues.

This issue has a “Letter to the Editor” which is fairly unusual.  Do write with news, opinions, and items of rambling importance.  I may have to shorten any lengthy offerings, as four sides of A4 is the ration! Thank you for your continued support.

Janet Moreton

Quotation for the New Year
Reconnect with the natural world. Go for a walk. Get wet.  Dig the earth”
…..Archbishop Rowan Williams

Fifteen Years of Buns!
Cambridge RA Group has a tradition of a yearly “Bun Walk”, held around the New Year period, and which adds a little jollity to what may otherwise be a damp and muddy time of year for walking in the countryside.

The first record I have  is of a “Mince Pie Walk” on 29 Dec.1990, when 8 people braved snow showers, to eat mince pies in the inadequate cover of a copse near Cockayne Hatley. Three years later, when we were still calling it a “Mince Pie” walk, the venue was Barrington, in pouring rain.  The occasion was scheduled as a figure-of-eight, but in the circumstances, the 8 people who turned out opted to do the morning 6 miles only! The leader returned home with a crumbling bundle of residual fragments of mince pie, which were eaten as “pudding” with cream or custard for the next two or three days. Thereafter, the occasion turned into a “Bun Walk”.

On 21 Jan 1995, we record wind and heavy rain for a 7 mile walk at Wicken, with a turnout of 10 people.  On 30 Dec 1995, a figure-of-eight walk at Over was nearly snowed off, the roads being treacherous.  However, the 10 people who braved the weather, voted it a memorable occasion. Some 25 turned out to Swavesey on 28 Dec 1996, for a fine, frosty walk, with the trees decorated in hoar frost.  Fifteen people joined the walk in drizzle at Bassingbourn on 27 Dec 1997 which was combined with Royston RA Group.

From here on numbers joining this (and many other walks of the Group) started to increase.  There were 20 folk on a cold dry day at Rampton on 8 Jan 1999, for a 10 mile walk.  On 8 Jan 2000, 18 set off from Coton, for a walk which included the Cambridge Backs, on what my diary describes as ” a lovely day”, and a grand start to the new Millennium.

The rich fruit cake ran out, and had to be supplemented by chocolate biscuits on 6 Jan 2001, when 59 people signed on for the cold start of the Fen Rivers Way first section from Byron’s Pool to Waterbeach.  We celebrated a 60th birthday on 12 Jan 2002, on “Roger’s Cake Walk”, when 36 people (including two RA members from the South of France) enjoyed a 9 mile walk from Eversden.

By the 18 Jan 2003, Cambridge Group, joined by several other walkers from East Anglia, were part-way through a sectional exploration of the West Anglian Way.  We accomplished the 10 mile length of towpath between Bishops Stortford and Sawbridgeworth in fine weather, and this time did not run out of cake!

Again there was mild weather on 10 Jan 2004 at Linton when 28 people fortified themselves with cake for a 10 mile walk. The turn-out was 17 people on 8 Jan 2005, for an 11 mile walk at Barrington and Shepreth, when the weather remained dry, but the wind was strong enough to almost blow the cake out of our hands. Then last year, on 7 Jan, there were flurries of snow at Newport, when 18 people walked a 10 mile figure of eight loop.

And this year?  Some of you readers will recall this only too well.  There were 22 of us, who on Sat 6 Jan started a 9 mile walk at Burwell and Reach. It rained hard all day, and very understandably, some opted to miss the afternoon. Question – how many wet people and their rucksacs can picnic in the bus shelter at Reach?  (answers on a postcard please).

Seen in “Blacks” – Buy one, get one free!

Letter to the Editor – using buses
From John Andrews, Suffolk., who writes in response to Cantab 39
“I was particularly interested in the piece about buses, as I often try to use them when out and about alone.  They can present problems and I have decided that it’s a bit risky relying on a bus to get you back to where you started from; safer to use the bus on the outward journey, then, if it doesn’t materialise, at least you aren’t stranded!

On one occasion a bus I was depending on to get me back from Fordham to Red Lodge – from where I had walked – simply failed to appear and I had to call a taxi.  At least, I managed to get the bus company to refund the taxi fare.

However, the most memorable experience to date was getting on a bus at Stanton (between Bury St Edmunds and Diss) and asking for a ticket to a village on the route – only to be asked by the driver to tell him where it was, because he had never been that way before!  We did eventually make it – after a few wrong turns, but when I studied the timetable later, I realised that we had completely bypassed two villages where he ought to have called – I wonder how many would-be passengers were/are left in the lurch by this kind of farce?

Further linear walks –
For those of you not discouraged by John’s experiences, (or indeed, by my tales last issue of a missing bus to Saffron Walden), here, by request, is a further walk, “on the buses”.
Impington to Milton Country park
Explorers 225, 226 10 miles
Out  – Citi7, Emmanuel Rd, 09.30;  Back – Citi2, Milton opposite Tesco;  (Cambridge Citi 2, 7 both every 10 minutes)

Alight Impington Village College. Turn right into Butt Lane, and pass the superb parish church on left. Continue along Milton Road to the crossing of Mere Way (the Roman Akeman Street). Note the access land field on the right along the road, which allows one to walk on the adjacent grass.

Turn left (NNE) along the byway, until an access sign at TL 465638. Here, either continue along the byway to Landbeach, or, better, turn left along a signed grassy field-edge, then follow waymarks through attractive young woodland. (Note at one point, the path does an unexpected loop half-back on itself!).  Emerge from the woodland TL 460 649, and follow the track N to TL 461 657, where it joins another track at a T-junction.  Cross the ditch on an earth bridge, and turn right, passing in front of the hedge in front of Rectory Farm (buildings). Turn left (NNE) and right (WSW) at a field boundary. Pass out to the road (S) down an narrow file between trees to the corner of Akeman Street (TL 472 652).  Walk E towards Landbeach Rec., detouring to visit the historic site of the Manor of Brays (display board).  From opposite the village sign, walk the footway of Waterbeach Road. Cross the A10 with care, and continue down the cycleway opposite on a dead-end road. Either visit Waterbeach’s village green (shops, pubs, seats), or take a short-cut opposite across the extensive rec, emerging on a lane between bungalows.

Turn right, passing the parish church, and use the railway level crossing,  Just beyond, turn into the station carpark on the right, and exit diagonally into Cow Hollow Wood. Walk right, and left over a bridge, and follow the path up to Clayhythe Bridge.  Joint the River Cam Towpath on the left.  Walk to Baits Bite Lock.  After resting here on the seats, turn back to Fen Road, which follow over the level crossing.

Find the entrance to Milton Country Park on the left, and follow the paths through to the visitor centre, toilets and exit.  Walk up towards Tesco Supermarket, where find the bus shelter for Citi2 near the roundabout.

“Walks in and Around Shudy Camps”
A new guide by Roger Lemon
This excellent walks book, illustrated with attractive photos of the parish, is produced by the Roger Lemon, the Chairman of the Parish Council, and active representative of the County Council’s Parish Paths Partnership Scheme.  Roger, with the backing of modest funds from Cambs.C.C., has been responsible for transforming the local network of paths in the last few years.

Here we have a set of six well-described local walks of between 1.5 and 4.6 miles, each with a clear route map.  More ambitious walkers can easily combine walks to give a longer circuit. We can vouch for the good state of these paths, but be aware that there are a few cross-field sections.

To obtain your copy, send £2.50 to
Roger Lemon, Brecklands, Main Street, Shudy Camps, Cambridge, CB1 6RA.

And thank you and your team, Roger, for all your hard work!

Parish of the Month – Shudy Camps
Reading the new walks guide, led me to study Shudy Camps in “Archaeology of Cambridgeshire” (Vol.II) by Alison Taylor.
(Publ. Cambs.C.C., 1998)

The location, bordering both Suffolk and Essex, is mostly above 100m, with fields of chalky boulder-clay overlying chalk. The parish was once heavily wooded (as recorded in 1086) but during the C18th there was extensive felling.

A major C7th Anglo-Saxon cemetery was excavated near the Bartlow border in 1933. There were at least 145 burials. Although by then the population would have been Christian, old pagan traditions seem to have lingered, as over half the bodies were accompanied by grave-goods, incl. spears, jewelry, small wooden boxes, spindle whorls and iron shears.

In medieval times, settlement was scattered across the parish, mostly around seven moated sites, such as at Lordship Farm, Barsey Farm, Hanchetts, Shardelowes, Nosterfield Manor, and at Mill Green. All these are still represented by a farm or houses.  By the C16th, there was a hamlet called Rowhedge near the church, and a larger hamlet, Newton, along the village street. The original layout of the latter, before modern development, suggests that it grew up along the verge of an old drove-road.  One of these old houses Bramleys, is a C13th aisled hall.

During the C18th, Sir Marmaduke Dayrell acquired Hanchetts Manor, built a mansion in Shudy Camps Park, felled woodland, and bought up much local land & property (reportedly generating considerable local ill-feeling).  Only the Bridge family at Nosterfield End withstood the engulfment.

Back in 1086, there were at least 22 villagers; this had risen to 85 families by 1279, a population later reduced by the Black Death. By the census of 1801 there were 349 residents; 418 in 1831; then a decline.  In 1996, the population was 300.

The paths  ( see Explorer 210)
There are 20 numbered paths in the parish, all generally in impeccable order. This was not always so.  In a survey of 1982 by Cambridge RA, only 6 of the paths were deemed usable. The only problems to be encountered now are on cross-field sections,  which, are bound to be sticky on the chalky boulderclay in wet conditions, and on which there may sometimes be a delay between cultivation and path reinstatement.

Bp1 is part of the long bridlepath between Cardinals Green, Horseheath, and the Bartlow Road. Fps 2, 3 form an attractive closed loop visiting the edge of the residual Northey Wood from Main St.  Fps 4 & 6 provide a route N from Main St to the road  by Cardinals Farm, and Fp5 from Main St to the same minor road between Shardelows & Mill Green. Fp7 cuts off a road corner across an arable field, when approaching Main St from the water tower. Fp8 gives fine views of the house, when crossing the edge of Shudy Camps Park.  Fp9 from Mill Green, and Fp10 from Priory Farm, meet at a strip of woodland, TL 633 453.  From this junction Bp11  goes N to join Horseheath 19 en route to the A1307, and also goes E to Barsey Farm and on to Nosterfield End.  Fp13 gives an alternative route to the road, by Rumbold’s Chase Farm.  Bp12 is a spur from Bp11 towards Hanchetts Hall.  Fp15 leaves Church Road opposite Glebe House, crosses pastures and continues S as Castle Camps 6.  Fp17 is a path (diverted 1992) leaving Blacksmith’s Lane between new residences and emerging from between gardens, to cross a arable field to Castle Camps Byway 7Fp18 is a second path further W going S across the arable to join this sunken byway.

Fps 16 & 19 start from Goodwoods. Fp16 goes SE towards the border with Haverhill, continuing as Fp20 S along the boundary. Fp19 runs SW towards Castle Camps village.

(I did not forget fp 14 – it was legally extinguished in 1995).

The Walks
Roger Lemon’s book makes this section very easy. Buy the book, and follow the walks!

In the previous issue of Cantab, a walk of 10 miles using public transport was suggested from Haverhill to Linton, which passes through Shudy Camps.

For walks starting in the village, the book recommends no parking sites. I would tentatively suggest roadside parking near the church, but not on Sunday mornings. So starting near St Mary’s Church try Walk 2 (Camps End, Millennium Wood, and Castle Camps Village), extending perhaps further on the complex network of Castle Camps paths.

Or why not start at the village sign on Main Street, and combine Walk 1 (Northey Wood), as a figure-of-eight with Walk 3, from the village sign to Cardinals Green, “The Willows” and Mill Green.

Walk 5 (Barsey Farm and Nosterfield End), and Walk 6 (combining a visit to the churches in both Shudy & Castle Camps) are both delightful walks in themselves, but should one wish to venture further, again it is suggested to extend in the Castle Camps direction, where there are many more paths to explore, without the need for much road walking.

A final point – Castle Camps has a recreation ground with a publicly available parking area.  If visiting both villages, it might be better to park here.

New Approach at Lackford Lakes
Explorer 229, Thetford Forest & The Brecks
Many readers will know Suffolk Naturalists’ Trust reserve beyond Lackford village on the A1101, approached by a track turning off the road at TL 801 702.  However, anyone who has ever attempted to walk here from Lackford along this narrow, busy section of road will know it is fraught with hazard, and thus it has always been difficult to incorporate visiting  the reserve into a larger circular walk, taking in West Stow and the Kings Forest.

There is now a new footpath from beside Lackford Church, giving a fenced, grassy way across fields into the reserve, near the visitor centre and toilets. Within the reserve, there are at least 6 bird hides, and many well-placed seats, giving views across landscaped quarry lakes, and some 2 miles of attractive footpath.

In Winter, plenty of wildfowl attract visitors. Wild flowers are excellent here, too, with an orchid meadow, many species of Breck plants, and I have seen the uncommon Dittander.

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 20p 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 10 pence where sold

Cantab 40  © Janet Moreton, 2007

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