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CANTAB52 August 2009

CANTAB52 August 2009 published on

** Please note that this is an archive of the CANTAB publication and contains out-of-date information **


Once again, my faithful readers are missing a Midsummer edition, because I have been away often in sunshine and showers over this period,  and when actually at home, rights of way work has become pressing!  So apologies, and I hope you will find this issue interesting.

I hope to use this space to bring you up-to-date with changes in the South Cambs path network.  Where walking is concerned, knowledge equates to enjoyment of a good walk. Even if you are the proud possessor of the latest OS sheet, it may not inform of the most recent path diversions and other changes.

Happy walking
Janet Moreton

Seasonal Traffic Regulation Orders, (TROs)
Cambridgeshire County Council has, within the last two years, confirmed a whole suite of TROs, affecting numbers of byways in South Cambs. District.

For several years, the RA had complained of the state of byways, churned up by  recreational vehicles, “4x4s”, so that enjoyment by other types of user: horseriders; cyclists; and walkers became impossible.  The County Council over some 10 years has spent quite a lot of money trying to improve these routes, so that they stood up to all-purpose Winter usage, but to no avail.  Consultations went on, mostly through the good offices of the Local Access Forum (LAF), and finally it was decided to apply TROs to a number of byways in the Winter months only.

The Orders have been made, and now confirmed – you may have seen the mud-spattered notices posted in the countryside. Signs have been put up, as have barriers and lockable gates, with a gap at the side to allow access by permitted Winter users.

However, local landowners have been given keys to the barriers, so that they may continue to take their tractors and other farm equipment along the byways all year, so in Winter, you may still find water-filled deep ruts in places. In some cases, the County Council  has not simply relied on the passage of time in a lane undisturbed by anything larger during Winter than a motorcycle (still allowed on a lot of byways in Winter, due to the persuasive arguments of the Trail Riders Fellowship), or the occasional heavy horse!  Money has been spent on improvements to path surfaces, placing of informative display boards, new bridges, and hedge trimming.  In the parishes adjacent to Longstanton, some funding has derived from central government “growth area funding” associated with the Northstowe development.

RA Cambridge Group would like to know how walkers think the new regime is working this Winter, so I would be glad to have details of your experiences.  In particular, can we have reports of any places where vehicles are side-stepping barriers, or breaking them down?

Where are these improvements?
Look for the parish on your map and  identify the byway symbol.  It seems overly complicated to bespatter the text with eight-digit grid references!

If you want to identify path numbers, see:

Balsham 4 – Linton 23 – West Wickham 1
(These are all parts of the Roman Road, known as Wool Street or the Via Devana)

Bourn 1 (The Porters Way was closed to allow remedial work)

Carlton Byways 7, 9 and 12  (i.e. all the byways in the parish), and Weston Colville 15, leading off Carlton 9 towards Weston Green.

Steeple Morden  1 – Guilden Morden  9
(These are both sides of Cobbs Lane, leading N to Tadlow Bridge.  Note that this route was also closed for many months to allow improvements to be made, and may not yet be open, even to pedestrians)

Rampton 5 – Westwick 3 (Cuckoo Lane)

Cottenham 12 (Rampton Drift)

Landbeach 3 – Milton 3 –
Impington 3 (Akeman Street)

Rampton 4 (Reynolds Drove)
Rampton 2  (Pauleys Drove)

Rampton 1 – Willingham 8
(Haven Drove)

Willingham 9 –  Haddenham 22
(Aldreth Causeway)

Also in East Cambs,
Haddenham 15, 29, 30 &
Wilburton 10  (Fen Side)

What byways are not closed to vehicles?
In spite of repeated requests by ramblers, Fox Road north of Balsham remains open to all traffic, all year.  In Winter, this means the chalky surface becomes rutted and muddy, and in places with deep holes filled with water. In spite of its status as part of the Icknield Way Regional Route for walkers and horseriders, no seasonal closures have been applied on this path.

Also part of the Roman Road between the B1052 and the Hildersham – Balsham road  remains open to vehicles.

Confirmed Diversions

OS Pathfinder 209, Bourn fp 14 (TL 325 564 – 325 559).
The path runs from behind Bourn church, across the grass in front of Bourn Hall, passed through the garden of a bungalow, then across an arable field to Fox Road The section through the garden now goes through an adjacent grass field, fenced away from horses.  It will be clearly waymarked.

OS Pathfinder 209 Croydon fp 19   TL 311 492 – 308 486,
The path runs from High St, diagonally SSW across an arable field to a bridge and stile in the opposite corner.  Previously it turned right along a field edge then left by a hedge, to emerge along a short grassy lane to Larkins Road.  The middle section of the path, beyond the arable field has been diverted to run between fences of newly extended gardens.  Note that following RA representations, a condition has been written into the Order that all hedges are to be planted at least 2m away from the footpath to ensure that future growth does not obstruct the path.

Swaffham Prior Fen’s Little Chapel
A place of worship was recorded in Swaffham Prior Fen in the 1830s, but the present building, in the far NW of the parish a mile from Upware, near the River Cam at TL 531687, was built in 1884.

The 1881 census shows that some 130 people lived in Swaffham Prior Fen agricultural community, benefitted by a post-office, shop, and “The Jolly Anglers” inn over the other side of the river.  The chapel was well-supported in the C19th, and well into the C20th, until 1958, when the Methodist Church decided to sell the property. It was bought by Edward Palmer Brand of Ramsey, but regular Sunday services continued until 22 November 1959. The building was conveyed to a group of trustees in 1969, who have cared for it henceforth, as a non-denominational chapel.

Services are held occasionally, but it is best known for the harvest festival  held  at 3 pm on the first Sunday in October. An appeal this year raised £8000 for reslating the roof.

The Saffron Trail
This is a walk of 72 miles, from Southend on Sea to Saffron Walden. Redbridge RA Group has recently revised a booklet by Dave Hitchman, originally published in 2004. It is attractively-produced, with clear sketches and route directions, and I look forward to following it on the ground..  A copy was obtained by post from Roger Young, 16 Windsor Road, Wanstead E11 3QU, cheques to Redbridge Ramblers, for £3.50. It was disappointing that Saffron Walden Tourist Office had not heard of the publication.

A Satisfactory Result
I was recently very pleased to receive a letter from Chris Pagan, a RA volunteer from Ware, Herts.

You may remember that in 2005 you sent me user evidence for part of the Stort towpath near Harlow, which wasn’t recorded on the Definitive Map, and for which I had applied for a modification order, and was appealing against the county council’s decision to refuse to publish one.  Although I hadn’t got enough user-evidence, I had a copy of the promotional leaflet published by British Waterways encouraging people to walk along the Lea & Stort towpaths, and the inspector ruled that the leaflet constituted intention to dedicate a public footpath.  So the modification order was published, and it’s just been confirmed unopposed.

The delay in publishing the order was due to the Definitive Map and OS maps, showing a short length of cul-de-sac footpath apparently along the towpath near Latton Lock.  This had to be investigated first…”

So all’s well that ends well, and congratulations to Chris.

The path, incidently, is part of the West Anglian Way LDP from Cambridge to Cheshunt, copies available for £2.50 from David Elsom, 91 Cambridge Road, Great Shelford, Cambridge, CB 22 5JJ.  Cheques payable to Ramblers’ Association, Cambridge Group, please.

A Reserve with a Bus-Stop
It is not “news” that the RSPB bought Fen Drayton Lakes in 2007, and is keen to attract local people to enjoy the Winter spectacle of thousands of wild birds. Now the Guided Busway is nearing completion, it is time to remind walkers that there will be a “stop” here, especially for the reserve, and, of course, for the extensive  network of paths around the reserve, and to the wider network, to Swavesey, Fen Drayton, Fenstanton, and the Great Ouse Riverside.  And the good news for us wrinklies is that we may use our bus-passes!

Little Chesterford – a new path
I am indebted to Jill Tuffnell for the information that a new, waymarked route through woodlands links Little Chesterford with Little Walden.  I have no information on the status of this route (seemingly on land owned by Chesterford Park), waymarked with yellow arrows and with no observed disclaiming notices.  The following grid references are approximate, as I had failed to carry my GPS when enjoying the bluebell woods last Spring.

Behind the bus stop on the B184 at Little Chesterford, a flight of steps leads up the bank to a gate in the fence, TL 519420.  The path skirts a small fenced enclosure, then goes ENE beside a hedge, parallel to the private road to Chesterford Park.

At TL 527422 it veers NE, passing a small wood, then continues in the same direction up a fenced defile. At TL 529426, it turns E on a farm track, then shortly enters a narrow band of woodland, continuing approx ENE to TL 535427, where the trodden track turns S, still in woodland. At TL 535 424, the route turns E, keeping close to the north edge of woods, to emerge at TL 539 424 on Petts Lane leading to “The Crown” at Little Walden.

We made a pleasant circuit passing Byrds Farm, then visiting Saffron Walden, returning via Catons Lane, and the footpath to Springwell and thus to Little Chesterford.

For notes on walks and points of interest around The Chesterfords, see Cantab Rambler of April 2004.

Stile-free parishes in South Cambs
During the last few years, Cambridgeshire County Council has had a policy to replace stiles with kissing gates, where possible, and funds permitting. The modern gates are generally of a metal type, with a wide “swing” so there is no need to remove rucksacs.

Kate Day, Countryside Access Team leader, is presently compiling a list of “stile-free” parishes in S.Cambs, including:.

Bar Hill;  Bartlow; Childerley;  Croxton;  Eltisley;  Harston;  Hauxton;  Histon;  Ickleton; Impington;  Milton;  Newton; Oakington; Pampisford;  Stapleford; and Teversham.

There are now good numbers of kissing gates in other parishes, but those unable to climb stiles should note there are several instances of a gate into a field, followed by a stile at the other end!  This may be a temporary situation, perhaps because one end of the route is in one parish, and the other end in another parish…

Go & See – Splendid Scarecrows – The Bassingbourn cyclist
Scarecrows are still quite often used in fields of peas, beans, or oilseed crops, as a pleasant relief to passers-by from noisy bird-scarers.  More frequently stuffed figures in old overalls and a flat cap supplement strings of rattling, shiny aluminium foil lids or discarded CDs in allotment gardens and vegetable patches.

The most magnificent scarecrow  we have seen (and apparently on permanent display) is in a private garden fronting the road at North End, Bassingbourn, ca. TL 330449.

A scarecrow in a top hat rides a penny-farthing bicycle!

See this and pleasant countryside on a walk from Bassingbourn, parking alongside the recreation ground off South End.  Walk up past the church, to join a footpath right, giving onto one running N, to turn onto the dead-end road, going W to pass the scarecrow, then to North End.  Continue to Shadbury End, then S and W to try a long, footpath across seven arable fields to Abington Pigotts.  This is a real map-reading challenge, but try it before the fields are too sticky.  In Abington Pigotts, notice the newly painted sign for the “Pig & Abbot” and try its refreshments!  Return past the wonderful gateway at Down Hall Farm and the footpath through the Mill Cottage garden, to reach the road to Littlington.  S along the road, find a path E to The Bury, and thence into Litlington Village.  Make sure you spot The Old Lockup, and find a seat on the village green, by a sign illustrating the former connections with WWII airfields. Walk SSW on a good path to Ashwell Street, and return to Bassingbourn via a permissive path past “The Springs”.  (7 miles)

The route can readily to extended to 10 miles, by continuing from Abington Pigotts along Bogs Gap Lane to Steeple Morden, and returning along Ashwell Street.

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


Cantab 52 – Price 10 pence where sold © Janet Moreton, 2009.

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