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CANTAB60 January 2011

CANTAB60 January 2011 published on

** Please note that this is an archive of the CANTAB publication and contains out-of-date information **


Success in Suffolk
The following is a passage from Ramblers’ Volunteer News, and we congratulate John Andrews on his latest success, the culmination of many years of unrelenting work.

“Today (18 Nov. 2010) is a minor ‘red letter’ day for Suffolk Ramblers and rights of way users.  About 35 years ago, having noticed a large black hole in the Suffolk Definitive Map, where the three large Breckland parishes of Elveden, Euston and Barnham appeared to have not a single right of way between them, I set about discovering why this was.

“The answer that quickly became obvious was that virtually the whole area – and much of the land in the surrounding parishes which were scarcely better served, was the property of two wealthy and influential men: the Earl of Iveagh (family name Guiness!) and the Duke of Grafton.  Searches of important C18th and C19th documents soon revealed powerful evidence of a network of historic public routes criss-crossing the area in former times, many of those tracks still in use by the occupants of those estates and their workers, but zealously guarded against  ‘intruders’.

“An unsurprising subsequent discovery was that, such was still the feudal stranglehold of the Estate owners, that great care had been taken to prevent local people from claiming that their villages had any rights of way when the County Council came calling in the early 1950s as it set about the first investigation under the 1949 Act.

“When I presented the Estate representatives with the documentary evidence, I was in effect told to go away and do my worst: they would fight me all the way and their lawyers would make sure that my efforts would come to nothing.  The situation is now dramatically different because of the addition of a significant number of historic ‘byways’ to the map of the area following a succession of public inquiries during the 1990s.

“Probably the most important of these routes was the 7 mile, still unmetalled length of ancient Icknield Way between The River Lark at Lackford and the Norfolk boundary on the outskirts of Thetford.  In 1991-3 the majority of this route was added to the Definitive Map after local public inquiries, but an inspector refused to confirm the Order for a 500 metre length in the centre of the route which had been destroyed in the creation of a large arable field.

“After a long period spent in fighting the refusal of Suffolk CC to make a further Order based on new evidence and in appealing against that rejection, a new Order was published in June 2008. Finally, nearly 2½ years later and following a lengthy 2-stage public inquiry, the Order has been confirmed.

“One key aspect of the inquiry was determining the width of this long-lost section of the Way.  The inspector has concluded that the width is still as shown on the early large-scale OS maps.  Consequently, across a tract of more or less featureless arable land the landowner will now be faced with the task of reinstating a Byway Open to All Traffic which has a width as great as 43 metres in places”

John Andrews

Happy New Year – and good walking weather?
Here we are, back to January, and probably with the usual dose of mud underfoot. The boulder clay determines the unpleasant, clinging nature of our local mud – a few miles into Suffolk on sand, we would be less sensitive to the amount of moisture in the ground.

Of course, apart from springs and overflowing ditches, and run-off from fields, most wetness underfoot is directly attributable to rainfall.  And in East Anglia, we are actually quite fortunate.  The average rainfall between 1970 and 2000 in Cambridge was 557mm.  Compare this with Oxford, which has 646mm.

As we found in December, a sharp frost on the fields makes for pleasant walking, on a crisp bright day.  East Anglia has a more “continental” climate than the west, with minimum temperatures in January generally between 5degC and 8degC.

But what about the cold east winds, with rather few trees to provide shelter?  In 1909, Thomas McKenny Hughes, the Woodwardian Professor of Geology, expressed in print*To the native of a mountainous country our hills are mere rising ground, but everything is relative, and they are our Alps…with nothing higher, eastwards, between us and the Ural mountains”  This statement seems to have caught the public imagination, and strengthens the urge to spend the Winter in long woolly whatsits next to the skin…

But modern technology, in the form of NASA’s Shuttle Radar Topography Mission, could provide data to examine the straight path between Cambridge & the Urals, and it was found that in fact,there was plenty of high land in between, for example in Germany, where there are hills at least four times higher than the Gogs.

However, Cambridge in Winter (average 2.8degC ) is seemingly colder than Shetland, where the mean winter temperature is 3.9degC.

For daily weather predictions, Radio Cambridgeshire does a good job with the “half-hour forecasts”, but for what we actually had, a chart in the Botanic Gardens shows the temperature, and precipitation for the previous day. The site: will give an update on atmospheric pressure, rainfall, windspeed, and temperature. Or try “Iceni Weather” in Royston.

Meanwhile, remember the boot-scraping knife, and the umbrella.

Happy New Year and Happy Walking!

Janet Moreton

* Quotation and some of the data extracted from an article by Bea Perks, in the Magazine CAM, Michaelmas 2010.

DEFRA Cutbacks
DEFRA announced in November that Natural England will no longer be able to pay annual grants to farmers and landowners for providing permissive footpaths and bridleways under agri-environment schemes.  This will affect new applications, not existing Countryside Stewardship Schemes (CSS).  However, it will have effects on such agreements when they reach the end of their term.  Capital payments for kissing gates and footbridges etc will still be available under Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) agreements, but not the annual payment for maintaining permissive routes.

Who Owns Britain?
Country Life of 10 November had a feature by Kevin Cahill, author of “Who Owns Britain”.  Some of his figures are thought-provoking..

The total land area in the UK (including Scotland and Northern Island) is calculated at 24 million (24 000 000) ha, of which roughly 70% is farmland, 8% is urban or industrial, and 20% is forest, mountain, bog or marsh. MoD land, railway and roads also take up a few percent. Just to put these figures in context, I calculate the average land area of a modest house and garden might be 0.02ha, and a big house with a really large suburban or country garden, say, 0.5ha.

Over ten million (10 000 000) ha of land, or just over 75%, is recorded on land registers in England and Wales. Over one-third of the land area is owned by the Royal Family and aristocracy, of which the Duchy of Cornwall comprises 54 000 ha.  The state owns ca. 6% of the land in the UK

The Forestry Commission presently owns 1 000 000 ha;  The National Trust 242 000 ha; the RSPB (England & Wales) 130 000 ha.

36 000 members of the Country Landowners Association own ca 50% of rural land. Some 550 000 ha are registered common land in England and Wales. Rural Communities own between them some 130 000ha.

In Scotland, huge amounts of land are owned by single landowners,Trusts etc, such as Farquharson of Invercauld, the Countess of Sutherland,  The Duke of Atholl’s Trust; and the Duke of Buccleuch & Queensberry.

Improvements for Fenland Footpaths
“Your Cambridgeshire” of Winter 2010 has the encouraging report that Fenland paths are undergoing major improvements funded by £175 000 of European money.  The money is available via the Fens Adventurers Rural Development Programme.

Improved signs, waymarks, bridges, gates and surfacing are to be provided.  Interpretation boards, leaflets, and websites will promote particular routes.  The project, known as The Green Fens Way is running between August 2010 and March 2013.

Cambs CC’s “Walk of the Month”
A new “Walk of the Month” feature, available at the start of each month, has been launched on CCC’s website:
Follow links to environment, countryside and rights of way.

Themes will include easy access walks; literary walks; and the science of walking.

Countryside Services staff will be at libraries in January with walking, riding and cycling maps to promote regular enjoyment of the countryside

And Other Walks on-line
David Elsom, on Shelford website also provides over 50 descriptions of mostly 3 to 6 mile walks.

Wool Street or Via Devana
Linton Byway 23, or “The Roman Road” could have been renamed “The Slough of Despond” on at least one section, as seen recently.

In December, I was walking the byway between the turning to Balsham along Woodhall Lane at TL 583 488 and the B1052. This is part of the section of the Roman Road which has recently been the subject of a seasonal Traffic Regulation Order (TRO), banning 4-wheel motor vehicles in Winter. Therefore, I thought to find the surface much improved.

Alas, this was not so. There has been some (probably overdue) cutting back of brambles, and trees and bushes lining the route have been most stringently pruned back. Very heavy machinery seems to have been used, and the whole surface of the byway has been reduced to a morass, in which not a blade of grass remains, only a few twigs and small branches scattered about.  Fortunately, the ground was semi-frozen, so I was able to pass, but be warned, this is a path to avoid for some time.

Letter to the Editor
Following last month’s article on solitary walking abroad, James Dow of Bassingbourn writes:
many features such as tracks are marked in the wrong place, perhaps for this reason.  But I found that if I used an altimeter, I could usually work out where I was

Broughton Lock-Up
It looks like a rather solidly built garden shed, with a steep roof and a padlocked door.  Standing on the village green, opposite the church, it would be remarkable only for its position, were it not for the display board, with an historical note.

“The lock-up was probably built around 1840 and is one of only four remaining in the county” (read Huntingdonshire District – there are several in South Cambridgeshire). “Over the years the green has been used for many village events.  It was at the time of the St Ives fair, when an unusual incident occurred during one of the ‘Feasts’ held between the wars.  Stalls and roundabouts had been set out around the lock-up and the celebrations were well underway, when a man arrived on horseback and started smashing up all the stalls.  Mr Edward Melling, parish constable, arrested him and he was put in the lock-up until the police arrived – this was the last time it was used for restraining a felon..

“The Pound was an area enclosed on the same green where all stray animals were kept until they were claimed by their owners who were charged a fee.  The earliest reference to this enclosure comes in 1818 when the lock was repaired at a cost of £2.2s.6d. The Broughton Pinder was the man who impounded these animals, and was, according to a newspaper article, a delightful pinder who always seems so sorry if he is obliged to run-in your straying horse.  He does not demand his bond, which is perhaps 6d a head on all stray cattle, but is willing to accept a liquid composition for his pains.”

Source – “The village of Broughton” by Sue Gillard.

Broughton, 5 miles NW of Huntingdon, is a good place to start a walk. For the ambitious try the Pathfinder Walk of 46 miles  (see Cantab of September 2010).

“Twenty Rambles in Huntingdonshire” by Hunts RA Group gives a circular walk of just over 6 miles, going through Kings Ripton, Abbots Ripton, and passing Wennington Wood and Rectory Farm on the way back to Broughton, with its church and Elizabethan rectory.

On the return, home in on Broughton Church’s fine spire, and sometimes find the church open, to see the medieval wall-paintings over the chancel arch.  The scenes include a Resurrection; a Judgement; and Adam & Eve, before and after they were expelled from the Garden of Eden.  In the roof of the nave is an angelic orchestra, including St Andrew in its choir. Some of the walls are Norman, as is the arcaded font, ca. 1100.

After your walk, there is a pub, The Crown, nearby!

Temporary closure of Cambridge Path
Cambridge City Footpath 2, “the tin path” will be closed for remedial works for 2 months from 10 January 2011, between the footbridge over the railway and Burnside , TL 476 575.

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 an A5 SAE.

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 Cantab 60 © Janet Moreton, 2011

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