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CANTAB89 – August 2017

CANTAB89 – August 2017 published on

** Please note that this is an archive of the CANTAB publication and contains out-of-date information **


This issue, our “Parish of the Month” lies outside Cambridgeshire, although Ashwell is only just over the county border into Hertfordshire. A glance at Cambridge Group programme confirms that members regularly go further afield, so I hope the enclosed is of interest.
Janet Moreton

Steeple Morden Footpath7
Cantab March 2017 contained an appeal to readers for funds to cover the County Council’s external costs in publishing a Diversion Order for parts of Steeple Morden Footpath 7 and Footpath 14.

Readers will be pleased to learn that over £500 was raised. Contributors included the landowner and tenant farmer, Ramblers’ Cambridge Group Committee and donations made in Steeple Morden post office, and by cheque to the local organiser, Sue Norton. Grateful thanks are sent to all who were involved. It is hoped that the Order will be made this year, and already the County Council has sent out a formal consultation (the first stage in the process) to interested parties.

The situation was an unusual one. The emergence of Footpath 7 on Brook End had been signed by the County Council many years ago, in the “wrong” place, along the field edge path in regular use. The definitive line of the right of way crossed an arable field, reaching the Brook End verge over an unbridged ditch. When the County Council proposed to move the signpost and put in a bridge, local people and ramblers demurred. After negotiations, a solution has been found which is agreeable to all parties.

Early Mass Trespass?
I felt oddly moved, on reading this description of Cambridge local people asserting their access rights on 10 July 1549. The quotation is taken from “The Town of Cambridge” by A Gray, publ. Heffer & Sons, 1925.

“On this day, ‘a hundred persons or more’ met together with drums and proceeded to pull down the fences of an enclosure at Barnwell. Wool had become an important and lucrative export and there was not enough common pasture in Cambridge to accommodate the sheep needed. Landlords began to enclose open arable land for use as pasture, thus depriving many workers of their livelihood, at the same time changing the agricultural and social models of the Middle Ages. The Mayor and the Vice-Chancellor were united in their desire to prevent ‘further mischief”and with difficulty managed to pacify the rioters. A general pardon was later obtained for the offenders, and the Duke of Somerset wrote to the Cambridge authorities recommending gentle dealing, in order that ‘the difference may be tried betwixt the ignorant and the learned, the rude and the taught’. This was in many ways a victory for the workers: they were able to preserve green open spaces in Cambridge for the use of every one in town, not for private profit, and we owe them a debt for ‘restoring common to the commons’.”

Trumpington History Trails
Trumpington Residents’ Association and the Local History Group have, with the aid of Cambridge City Council, recently developed 10 walking and cycling trails around Trumpington and the surrounding area. Printed copies are available free of charge from The Clay Farm Centre and Trumpington Pavilion.

The walks all start from The Green by the shops on Anstey Way, and vary in length from about 1 to 7 miles. Each leaflet is attractively produced, with a wealth of scholarly historic information, a strip map, and route description. No parking suggestions are made, but there is inexpensive parking at the Park and Ride carpark, or gratis at Byrons Pool.

In addition to the walks, each leaflet has 4 panels of relevant information. So the first leaflet covers the Historic Centre of Trumpington, with information panels on: early development of the village; the village after 1800; Cross Hill and War memorial; and The Parish Church.

Other trails lead one into Cambridge (No2), harking back to the turnpike era, and Thomas Hobson, the C17th Cambridge carrier. No3 deals with changes on the S side of Trumpington since the C19th, and the busway cutting on the line of the former Bedford railway. Nos 4 & 5 take one east of the village centre and onto the Clay Farm site, introducing Hobson Square and Hobson Park, then over to Hobson’s Brook and Nine Wells. No 6 gives us the now more familiar routes round Byrons Pool and Trumpington Country Park. No 7, the longest circuit, goes to Hauxton and the Shelfords and No. 8 follows the railway line path to Great Shelford. No.9 goes to Grantchester. The route of No10 includes Addenbrookes’ Art Gallery!

Some of these routes are largely on tarmac, and would be more attractive in Winter when footpaths can be so muddy, or perhaps more suitable for a cyclist. But there is a wealth of information here, and the authors are much to be congratulated.

Icknield Way Association AGM
The Spring issue of the IWA newsletter announces the 2017 AGM at The Pavilion, Ashley near Newmarket, CB8 9DX at 2pm. The guest speaker will be David Rippington, on the history of The Icknield Way.

There will be a morning walk, starting from the hall at 10am. For details, contact Sue Prigg,
tel. 01638 751289

Parish of the Month – Ashwell
OS Explorer Sheets 193, 208

The OS Sheets are inconvenient – a street plan of the village would be helpful, or obtain Ashwell parish’s helpful leaflet from some village shops. There can be few ramblers living in the Cambridge area who have not visited Ashwell, and, in particular, spent time in the dominant and beautiful church. But there are many other well preserved buildings in the village of historic interest. In fact, for the less able, this is a good place to walk perhaps a two miles or less with great enjoyment.

Park considerately in the lanes near the church (but not on a Sunday) or on Lucas Lane opposite the recreation ground (where public toilets are usually open). There are currently several shops, at least 2 pubs in the village, and a café, and teas are available on Summer Sunday afternoons in The Parish Room next to the museum on Swan Street.

History and Points of Interest
The village name comes from The Springs, found in a large railed enclosure off High Street. The three path entrances, stepping stones and attractive setting make it a must for active visitors. The Springs are designated an SSSI, mainly because of the presence of a rare Ice Age flat worm, Crenobia alpina. The spring is the source of the main tributary of the River Cam, the River Rhee. Ashwell in ancient times may have been important on the route of The Icknield Way, whose modern trail proceeds through the back of the village along Ashwell Street. The prehistoric Icknield Way route could have been defended by the Iron Age hill fort Arbury Banks, shown on the map just beyond Ashwell.

Post Norman invasion, records report a regular market and four fairs yearly. The Domesday Book records that “The Abbot of St Peters holds Escewell in Odsey Hundredth”. In 913, Saxon King Egbert had granted Ashwell to the Abbot of Westminster, remaining under his control until the Dissolution of the Monasteries. St Mary’s was begun early C14th, built mainly of clunch and probably incorporating materials from previous structures. The chancel was completed 1368. The tower, 176ft, is the highest in Hertfordshire. Famous graffiti refer to Old St Paul’s cathedral; to the ravages of The Black Death (1350); and to a severe storm (1361). The church is open daily and caters well for its visitors with informative leaflets.

Beyond the east end of the church is The Rectory, described in 1829 as the Mansion House. It is now half its original size, the Elizabethan part having been demolished in the 1920s. Beneath the present Georgian building are clunch foundations of the supposed residence of the old Abbot of Westminster. Further along Hodwell, near the lane to The Springs is a quaint old lock-up.

Numbers of ancient attractive buildings are found about the village. The Chantry House, at the West End, has been inhabited since 1400, and was recorded in 1547, as the home of John Smarte. In the C19th, it became a pub, called “The British Queen”.

Bear House on High St (presently under scaffolding), and Ducklake Farmhouse (on Spring Lane) are Ashwell’s oldest houses.. The moated Westbury Farm, Dixies Farmhouse, Kirby Manor and The Rose and Crown pub in the High St were all built with overhanging twin gables in the C15th. Ashwell Bury, visible from Gardiners Lane, was originally built in the C19th, but in the 1920s was redesigned by Sir Edward Lutyens.

Further afield, Bluegates Farm is a modernised C16th dwelling, once two cottages, with the remains of a moat. Briefly in the late C19th, this was a pub, catering for the coprolite diggers.

Ashwell Museum is an early Tudor town house, built for the Abbot of Westminster in the early C15th, for use as an office in the centre of the Market Place. In later times it became a licensed meeting place for Protestant dissenters. The building was modernised in the 1840s, but by 1929 had deteriorated and was condemned. It was bought by two local youths, who started a collection of bygones. The museum, now scheduled as an ancient monument, is open on Sunday afternoons. Also note a delightful public garden with seats very near the Museum.

Walk suggestions from Ashwell.
(a)Visiting Arbury Banks
From the church, walk generally W through the village to the junction of Hinxton Rd and Newnham Way. Turn S up Partridge Hill, a rough road between tall hedges. Look for a signed gap in the hedge on the right, for a field path leading to Arbory Banks. The monument is not impressive, but the views are good. Continue SW over Ash Hill, and at TL 255 380, turn right (NW) down a farm drive, passing buildings to reach the road, Newnham Way. Turn left along the road to TL 251 382, where take the bridleway NW, then at TL 246 386 turn right over Newnham Hill, to return to Ashwell. (4 miles); stile free. An extension may be made to visit Caldecote old church and the interesting old house at Hinxworth Place. (total distance 6 miles)

(b) A section of the Icknield Way
Hourly trains take one from Cambridge to Ashwell & Morden Station, in the hamlet of Odsey. Turn right (N) out of the and shortly turn left along Station Rd towards Ashwell. There is no footway. However, just before a residential caravan site, turn right on a byway on the line of Shire Balk. This leads to Ashwell Street, one of the routes of The Icknield Way. Turn left (W) along this pleasant byway, into the outskirts of Ashwell. Go through the village, either on the line of The Icknield Way, or along Lucas Lane & High Street. At the end of the village, follow the instructions as in (a) for the path up Partridge Hill. Follow the route of the Icknield Way Trail indicated on Sheet 193, meeting a road, which follow to beyond The Knoll, turning off right at spot height 61m. The IW route goes over Gravelpit Hill, and down into Baldock via the footway of North Rd and to Baldock Station. (8 miles). A longer, but more interesting alternative, pioneered by Lisa Woodburn on a recent Cambridge Group walk, takes a detour along part of Cat Ditch, and visits Park Wood, and the secluded hamlet of Bygrave, and makes the final approach to Baldock Station via the bridleway approaching Laymore Farm.

(c) Towards Guilden Morden
From the church, walk N up Mill St, noting the much-restored old watermill. Continue ahead on a signed path through pasture to meet Northfield Rd. Opposite is a sign indicating the field path NNE to the County boundary. (Ignore a permissive path along the county boundary ditch). Cross the ditch here, and continue in the same direction to the driveway of Cold Harbour Farm. The path reaches the road junction alongside the driveway (not as shown on older maps). For a short walk, take the wide grassy byway opposite, passing Rudery Spring, and turn right onto the IW path along the line of Ashwell St. (see walk (b) Return to Ashwell, 3.5 miles. Several longer routes may be attempted, beyond Cold Harbour’s driveway. A long field path runs North from the road at TL 279 416, leading to Guilden Morden, and thence to Steeple Morden. Both of these parishes have more than 50 numbered rights of way – for the strong and ingenious walker, the possibilities are endless. A convenient return route could be made from Morden Green, to Ashwell Street at Upper Gatley End. A minimum distance for such a circuit from Ashwell might be 8 miles.

(d) A short rural saunter
From the church, follow route (c) past the watermill to Northfield Rd. Here turn left on a permissive path inside the tree belt. Follow this path round the boundary of Elbrook House, to emerge on the side-road just before Bluegates Dairy. Continue to the T-junction, and turn right, away from the village. Pass a seat, and turn left at TL 261 400 on a well-waymarked path leading to a byway at TL 257 397. Follow this shady lane N to TL 256 400, and take the signed route right (W) across a field, to return further up the lane you left 30 minutes ago! Turn right, generally SE, and take lanes back to the village, with the massive tower of the church as a guide. Pass or pause at the Bushel and Strike! (2.5 miles) This route is stile-free.

Cantab Rambler by E-Mail & Post
Cantab now appears some four times a year. A large number of you now receive Cantab by e-mail.

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
Cantab89 © Janet Moreton, 2017.

CANTAB88 – March 2017

CANTAB88 – March 2017 published on

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


Cambs CC seems to have no money these days for footpaths, access etc. Some other organisations and individuals are doing what they can (now and in the past) for the environment and access. A few examples are described.

East Hatley
Explorer 208
With Spring coming on, it is time to visit the old churchyard nature reserve at East Hatley. The good news here is that the conservation charity, “Friends of Friendless Churches” (FOFC) are taking over ownership of St Denis, a grade II listed building, sited in the village at TL 285 505. The original St Denis was built in 1217, to be rebuilt in the C19th by the architect William Butterfield.

The church had been disused for many years, and when we first knew it, the whole building was hidden in ivy. South Cambridgeshire District Council took over its care in 1985, when it was declared redundant by the Church of England, and a few years ago restored the outside of the building, leaving the interior a locked shell, presently a home for bats and cave spiders. [Update 1 March 2023: St Denis church is now open every day from around 8.30 am to dusk. For further information see Hatley Churches. ]

Matthew Saunders, Director of FOFC has outlined plans to make the roof watertight, reglaze the windows and refloor the interior during 2017. The work has been made possible via a £60 000 endowment grant from South Cambs District Council.

St Denis’ Church forms the hub of a knot of footpaths in East Hatley. From the village road, no fewer than 5 signed paths lead out to the main road, or towards New England Farm and Tadlow, or round Buff Wood. Parking is a bit difficult here, though, and is better in Hatley St George, where there are two laybys in front of the extensive rec, TL 283 509.

Hanson – RSPB wetland project
Explorer 225
The Willingham News of November 2016 gives details of new developments on the Ouse Fen. After the latest handover from the quarrying company Hanson, the nature reserve near Needingworth now extends to 218ha. Hanson plans to continue to donate small parcels of land to the reserve, as sand and gravel extraction is completed. By the time the quarrying is finished about 2030, the site may extend to 700ha. Needingworth quarry is the largest in Eastern England, and produces up to 1 M tons of aggregate yearly.

Ouse Fen is already home to several rare wetland species. The article reports the presence of 8 male “booming” bittern, a species once on the point of extinction in Britain around the 1990s. Last Summer 8 young marsh harriers took wing. Great white egrets have been seen in the reedbeds, just beginning to colonise in the UK. The heronry at Berry Fen had 17 nests, and Barleycroft lake site housed nests of 559 pairs of black-headed gulls. (Are they sure there were exactly 559 pairs? Did they count them twice?) Otters and water voles have been recorded on fixed trail cameras.

There are two places to park for access. From Over, drive to Overcote, with parking at TL 363 713 . A walk on the riverbank to the Overcote sluice gives access to the reserve. Or drive on the A1123 between St Ives and Bluntisham. Turn off near the quarry site entrance for visitors parking at TL 348 726.

The Barleycroft Trail, through a quarry landscape of lakes, lagoons and hedges is flattish, with some soft ground in wet weather. 5 miles

The Reedbed Trail is described as more challenging, including steps, slopes and rough ground. 6 miles


Bourne Wood, Landbeach
Explorer 226
This Bourne Wood is not in Bourn, but is named after Cecil Bourne, who was chairman of CPRE in Cambridgeshire for 29 years, until his sudden death in 1990. His family wished to plant a wood in his memory, raising £1040, enhanced by a further £1000 from the Monument Trust. Cambridgeshire County Council provided tools and 2000 native trees and shrubs were planted in 1991.

Today, the trees are quite tall, and already some thinning has been necessary. Park at the village hall, TL 475 651 and walk up Cockfen Lane. A gate on the left gives entry to the Worts Meadow Open Access Area, containing the moats which are all that remain of a medieval manor house. A display board gives interesting details. Continue to the next gate, which opens onto Bourne Wood. Paths and informal tracks give access to the boundary track and inner circular path round this charming little wood.

Continue down Cockfen Lane, which shortly continues as the Roman Road, Akeman Street (eventually reaching Impington under the A14). Turn off right (W) at TL 466 639, to follow signed field boundaries round a circuit of young woodland, planted by the County Council, on County Farms Estate land. The circuit brings one past Rectory Farm, and back onto Cockfen Lane at TL 472 652, via a narrow treelined path from TL 468656.

These two excursions together make perhaps 4 or 5 miles on permissive paths, in a parish which has very few rights of way. And private initiative and generosity were the key to Bourne Wood giving public enjoyment more that 20 years on.

(With acknowledgement to the article by Shirley Fieldhouse, “Cambridgeshire Voice”, CPRE Magazine, Winter 2017)

More on Steeple Morden Fp 7 – An Appeal
Explorer 208
See map and poster at bottom of page
Last issue featured this path, which runs between Hay Street and Brook End. In response to public opinion, Cambridgeshire County Council have agreed to cover the cost of a diversion of part of the path, from the existing definitive route across an arable field, onto the line in current use, around the field edges. However, Steeple Morden parishioners need to raise ca £500 to cover the cost of legal notification. The famer has made a donation and RA Cambridge Group has pledged up to £200. If you are walking that way, a collection box is in Steeple Morden’s post office, or donations may be forwarded to our local contact, Sue Norton, tel. 01763 853130

Alien is threatening the R.Cam !
Explorer 209
Walk past the Grantchester Mill pond, or down the riverside towards Cambridge, and you will see it, lining the waterside in places. It is rather a pretty green plant, with indented circular leaves, and it is called floating pennywort. I have yet to see it flower, but it grows at a prodigious rate, up to 20 cm a day. It threatens fish and invertebrates, and other water plants, potentially chokes drainage, and could impede punts and canoes.

Cambridge News quotes Jean Perraton Chairman of the Cam Valley Forum as saying there had been many attempts at clearance. If only one little piece is left, it can grow again (so mind you don’t inadvertently carry some elsewhere on your boots!). The Cam Conservators believe it is likely that clearance from the river will need to occur annually.

Fleam Dyke:To cut or not to cut?
Explorer 209
Julia Napier writes in the November 2016 issue of the magazine of the Friends of the Roman Road and Fleam Dyke.

The subject of debate is a so-called “radical” solution to the scrub lining the sides of the bank on the Fulbourn end of Fleam Dyke. Great Wilbraham Public Footpath 1 runs along the ridge of The Dyke, from the end of Stonebridge Lane, Fulbourn, to Mutlow Hill, and the tall steps over the A11, to continue into Balsham. This raised spine in a quiet countryside gives some of the best views in the area, as well as opportunities to enjoy chalkland plantlife, butterflies and birdlife not found in the adjacent arable fields.

Some clearance of the Dyke at the Fulbourn end was made over 18 months ago, and was very raw and muddy at first, but the area has recovered. Now however, Heritage England have proposed extensive clearance of the scrub , with re-seeding of the slopes, in order to re-introduce sheep grazing. In Jan-Feb 2017, the fosse or ditch will be cleared to allow machine access. Access windows will be cut upward through the scrub and the upper band of scrub will be cut all the way along, with a plan to remove 80% of the scrub in 2 years. There is also a plan to strip plants and soil from the path on top of the dyke, down to the ditch. (My comment here is that this will make a good path horrible for the duration! Is it legal to destroy the surface of the right of way (other than in an arable field?) Cut surfaces will be treated to prevent regrowth, and areas reseeded with Upright Brome grass and perhaps Sheeps Fescue. The plan is likely to cost £100 000, 80% of which will be paid by Natural England. Historic England may supply the rest.

The article goes on to consider the damage this plan could do to wildlife. The clearance will remove many of the bushes visited by the Green Hairstreak, one of two notable butterflies recorded in regular butterfly counts. The scrub is used by birds, and in any case it was the opinion of some experts that it would return, as has happened on a section of Devils Dyke, cleared some years ago. There is no comment made regarding the effect on the enjoyment of walkers on this very well-used, much loved route. I am sure Julia Napier would appreciate correspondence.

Cantab Rambler by E-Mail & Post
Cantab usually appears about 4 times yearly. A large number of you now receive Cantab by e-mail. If you would like to receive an issue by post, please send a large 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
Cantab88 © Janet Moreton, 2017.

The poster below is put out by Steeple Morden Parish Council


To formalise the current route of Footpath 7 from Hay Street to Brook End.

The County Council have agreed that they are prepared to cover the cost of the alteration to the definitive footpath map for footpath 7, from Hay Street to Brook End.
We need to raise approx. £500 to cover the cost of the legal notification.
We already have a number of pledges, now we are asking all those in the Parish who enjoy the use of the paths to please donate whatever they can to this fund.
A collection box will be in the Post Office or you may make donations to me,
Sue Norton 01763853130

CANTAB87 – December 2016

CANTAB87 – December 2016 published on

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


Pre-Christmas Issue!
Filled with enthusiasm for my subject, this issue is following closely on Cantab 86. So please read it now, before being overcome by seasonal preparations. Good wishes for Christmas & 2017.
Janet Moreton

After pits, moats!
Last month’s article on some old pits and quarries produced a prompt and enthusiastic response. Clearly, readers share my enthusiasm for old pits festooned with rampaging wild flowers and bushes, or sheets of water enlivened with wheeling flocks of birds.

Several people noted other pits which I had not mentioned, this being a matter of space. I could have included Coploe Hill old chalk pit maintained as a nature reserve off Coploe Rd (TL 493 426) above Ickleton, or a former chalk pit in Haslingfield, accessed by a short lane at TL 409 519, both noted for their wild flowers. In Anglesey Abbey grounds, the fish pond not far from the Mill, is described as an old quarry!

However, this issue I intend to move on to examples of another type of interesting ground features, moats. I emphasize the word, “examples”. A leaflet produced by the County Archaeology Dept, ca 1990, suggests there are 340 moats recorded in Cambridgeshire, moats being one of the commonest kinds of medieval remains in today’s landscape. The ones I have selected are primarily in South and East Cambridgeshire, and are visible to the walker, at least from a public footpath or a road. Most have some provenance.

Denny Moat, Swaffham Bulbeck
Explorer 226
Driving from Lode, one enters Swaffham Bulbeck at a bend in the main road. Here is some authorised parking at the corner of the extensive green, TL 555 628. Just at the edge of the car park is a display board, giving the history of Denny Moat, just behind it. In 1910, a Col. Hammond, of Mitchell Hall, sold Denny Close with an ancient 3 acre Elm Plantation to the parish council, who still own it. The woodland is now mixed, and most attractive, covering the moated area, about which one can wander at will on little paths (except in the wettest season, when the moats regain some water!). Denny Moat was linked to two double moats; it is not connected with the history of a former local family; nor is it thought to have surrounded a building

Elsewhere in Swaffham Bulbeck, in the period 1250 – 1350, there were also double moated enclosures, encircling manors at Burgh Hall, Lordship Farm, and Downing College Farm. In the short walk described below, on the footpath in front of Lordship Farm, note the curved linear depressions in front of the old farmhouse.

Leave Denny Moats, and walk across the green, towards Lordship Farm. A kissing gate gives access to a short path leading to Commercial End. Walk down this road towards the old Abbey. Between newer homes, are the old buildings reminding us of the prosperous waterborne trade in the period 1600 to the beginning of WWI. The old warehouses are now impressive residences. At a T-junction, TL 558 633, turn left along the tarmac lane towards Cow Bridge, and either continue on White Droveway, to join the main road back to Swaffham Bulbeck at TL 551 628, or use the footpath starting just beyond Cow Bridge. (2 miles).The walk can be linked to excursions from Anglesey Abbey, or with walks from Swaffham Prior.

Morden Hall, Guilden Morden
Explorer 208
The “Shell” guide says the plastered and many-gabled Morden Hall is one of the best preserved moated sites in the county. The house, off Trap Road, TL 280 437 was built after some destruction in the Peasants Revolt in 1381, and is set within an imposing and attractive moat still 10m wide, and waterfilled.

Parking for a few cars can be found outside the rec fence, opposite the church, TL 280 442. Cross the rec diagonally to a handgate, and walk SSE down the field boundary to a line of trees bordering the moat. Turn left alongside the tree belt, and cross a footbridge into “Tween Towns Wood”, a Woodland Trust reserve bordering part of the moat. Exit the same way, and find a handgate in the tree belt at TL 284 440. The path between fences crosses paddocks containing sheep, goats and sometimes alpacas. There is a good view of Morden Hall, especially in Winter. Emerge on Trap Road, and either turn right and walk back to the church, or make a longer walk using the huge number of signed paths in Guilden Morden.

Abington Pigotts’ Moats
Explorer 208
The Parish is notable for its medieval moated sites. Park in the village near “The Pig and Abbot” and explore. First visit the church (Norman origins, mostly C14th) and go past to the start of the brideway, to pass Manor Farmyard. The (partly) water-filled moat continues alongside the bridleway for some distance.

Originally known as Abington Manor, the property passed from the Bishop of Winchester to the Pigotts family. Described in a late C13th widow’s dowry, it had a fish pond, 6 acre moated site, a walled and moated enclosure and outbuildings. In C14th, the Pigotts built a second house, reusing another moated site N of the church. The house was re-modelled in the C17th, and is romantically gabled. From the church, go along the bridleway and turn left at TL 306 449, and follow the track to Moynes Wood. Here, Moynes Manor once stood in a double sub-rectangular moat, still preserved (but not exciting!). By 1381, this was already described as an empty moated plot of 12.5 acres.

Return directly to the pub (or make a 5 mile circuit via Flecks Lane, Running Ditch, past Shingay South Farm, and using the footpath starting NW of Boys Bridge).

From the pub, go SW down to the road corner, TL 306 443, where take the footpath WSW to Bibles Grove. At the end of the trees, turn left (SE) to Down Hall Farm. This moated site comprises 2 adjoining moated enclosures.

Many will already know the unusual timber-framed jettied gatehouse, at the entrance to the second enclosure, with timbers dating from 1250 to 1380. The existing farmhouse is C19th. (Do not go down the drive!). It is possible to continue a short distance to the signed former watermill (now a house), and to follow a footpath through the garden, giving access to a route to Litlington.

Kirtling Towers and Moat
Explorer 210
The greater part of Kirtling village is owned by the Fairhaven Estate, said to have existed before the 1086 Domesday survey. To visit the towers and moat, park in the village hall carpark (if not in use), pass the village sign, and walk up Saxon Street. Pause to admire both churches. The church of Our Lady and St Phillip (RC) was built 1877. All Saints (C of E) contains the family vault of the North Family, first owners of Kirtling Towers.

Take the footpath past All Saints generally E towards the Upend Road, giving good views of Kirtling Towers. In 1260 a Kirtling Castle was recorded. Later, within the castle’s platform, was built a brick Tudor house, bearing a date 1572. The occupied, turreted gatehouse is all that remains. A medieval moat, once the largest in the county, still surrounds the towers. Although some of it has been drained, the portions to the N & E of the building are still filled with a 60 – 70ft stretch of water. Return to the village sign and carpark. Other attractive routes in the vicinity include a circuit of Lucy Wood and beyond.

Dunmowes Moat, Fulbourn
Explorer 209
In the middle of Fulbourn Fen Nature Reserve is a fine moated site, enclosing the former Dunmowes Manor Hall House. The moat was built in the medieval period. It is 30 ft wide, and up to 10 ft deep, and would originally been deeper, and full of water. There is no entrance, so access to the site must have been by means of a wooden bridge. The moat encloses about an acre, now grass and trees, with fallen tree-trunks, a good place for a picnic. A large stone and timber house stood on the E side of the platform, with further buildings to the N and W. Stone mouldings and fragments of painted window glass were found, suggesting a high status house. Whilst the moat may originally have been defensive, in later times, a moat became a status symbol. Soon after 1750, the house was abandoned in favour of another site on School Lane, Fulbourn.

The site is easily accessible within the nature reserve, with an attractive display board.

Rampton: Giant’s Hill Moat
Explorer 210
The main archaeological attraction in Rampton is Giant’s Hill, the site of a castle started in the mid-C12th, when the throne was contested by Royal cousins, Stephen and Matilda. Meanwhile, Geoffrey de Mandeville, a rogue Essex baron, captured the Isle of Ely and sacked the monks at Ramsey. Stephen ordered a ring of castles to contain the threat. Burwell, Swavesey, Caxton Moats, and Giants Hill survive as known castle sites. Geoffrey de Mandeville was mortally wounded at Burwell, so the castles were never completed.

However, at Rampton there remains a splendid example of the unfinished fortification. The site’s rectangular platform is surrounded by a largely complete moat. The adjacent field shows grassy mounds of deserted house-sites.

The castle site, owned by the County Council, is accessible from a gate in the village, off the main road at TL 430 680, or from the grass field next to the ancient thatched church. A display board gives points of interest. The moat, still water-filled, can be crossed on a board walk, and all parts of the site explored. Later additions include a WWII gun emplacement sited by the Home Guard.

A short walk may be enjoyed on County Council land in woods behind the castle site, or extended to make a circuit along the bank of New Cut, Great North Fen Drove, Archies Bridge, and returning to Rampton along Cow Lane. (4 miles)

Haslingfield Moat
Explorer 209
A moated manor was built by the Scales family and occupied by them in C13th to C15th. In the C16th, Sir Thomas Wendy, physician to Elizabeth I, bought the property. By 1726, the manor was described as “ruinous”, and in 1814 two wings were demolished. The E wing, moat and walled garden remain. The site overlooks the Well Field, a recreation meadow in the centre of Haslingfield, off a lane behind the church. The field boasts a well house, a period bakery, and a replica earth closet. Haslingfield’s present manor’s 3-sided garden moat survives in good condition at the rear of the meadow, fronted by trees and bushes. A brook issues from the moat, fed by internal springs. The moat is, however, rather difficult to see, except in the NW corner of the meadow, where a sign says “Danger, deep water”.

Other points of interest in the locality are the unusual Millennium sundial, on the green, next to the village sign, which shows Elizabeth I on horseback, as when she visited Haslingfield in 1564. Only the chancel walls remain of the original Norman church, the later building having a notable C15th tower. The churchyard has a delightful short nature trail.

Letter to the Editor
‘I notice mentioned “Commissioners Pit,” which is an SSSI for two reasons. The chalk bank is a fossilised coral reef and the best preserved Oxfordian in Cambridge-shire. And also the bottom part of the area is part of The Cam Washes and hence an SSSI for Ornithological reasons. The County Council in its need to keep its coffers filled has sold the pit to a private buyer. I do not yet know who has bought it… But it may not be too late to buy it for the public. I don’t know if it has actually been sold.’
Duncan Mackay

Steeple Morden Footpath 7
Can anyone help the Parish Council and the Ramblers’ Association to claim a section of well-used path as a definitive right of way? The length of path is sign-posted by the County Council, who are now threatening to take the sign away!

The path starts off Hay Street at TL 287 432, and runs to Brook End at TL 290 432. The section in question starts from a gap in the hedge, TL 288 432 and runs along field boundaries as a good grassy path to Brookside.

Please contact the editor.
Janet Moreton

Cantab Rambler by E-Mail & Post
Cantab usually appears about 4 times yearly. A large number of you now receive Cantab by e-mail. If you would like an issue by post, please send a large SAE. Offers of brief articles welcomed..

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
Cantab87 © Janet Moreton, 2016.

CANTAB86 – October 2016

CANTAB86 – October 2016 published on

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


Network Rail’s Level Crossings
Ramblers are very concerned regarding plans by Network Rail to close or divert 130 level crossings in East Anglia, under the Transport and Works Act, 1992.

Some ten percent of these are in South and East Cambs. Taking advice from Ramblers London Office, Lisa Woodburn Chair of Cambridge Group, has made the Ramblers’ Case for South Cambs paths, and Alysoun Hodges the case for East Cambs crossings.

Additionally, Alysoun has discovered that Network Rail has closed Ely Footpaths 17 and 57 (which cross the railway line to Norwich, on either side of the River Lark) without following prescribed legal procedures. A Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) is said to be imminent, but had not been made by the end of September. Alysoun has complained about this unlawful closure to Cambridgeshire County Council, in its role as Highway Authority.

Pits and Holes
Cambridgeshire may be largely flat in a general way, but on a smaller scale, the countryside is enlivened by the presence of quite a number of pits and holes, ranging in size from small holes to huge lakes.

In times past, farmers dug lime pits in the middle of fields, to spread the contents on the land, to improve the tilth. This is the origin of the smallest holes, now often filled with water, and surrounded by a few attractive trees in the middle of a field.

Larger holes were due to quarrying on a larger scale, sometimes for building purposes very close at hand, such as the chalk blocks (clunch) taken to build the church at Orwell, from the adjacent pit, now a nature reserve. Commercial chalk pits, such as at Steeple Morden may still be operational, with public footpaths adjacent. Barrington Fp 11, along the top of a hill above the commercial chalk quarry needed to be legally re-aligned in 2005, because of anxieties regarding the safety of the edge of the quarry (which has now closed).

Quarrying for sand and gravel has been very common in Cambridgeshire, sometimes in the quite recent past, such as at Fen Drayton Lakes, now an important RSPB reserve, and sometimes ongoing. such as at Needingworth/ Overcote and Paxton Pits (both still in use for gravel extraction), and the new sand pit at Sawston. Worked-out commercial sand and gravel pits, which usually fill with water, have been developed as recreational amenities and environmental reserves, sometimes such a concluding phase being written into their planning permission.

In the C19th, shallow quarrying for coprolites occurred over a wide band, from Leighton Buzzard to Burwell, but only in a few cases do the signs of such activity remain. Copralite “cuts” (generally holes filled with water), are quite frequent in the Lode, Stow cum Quy and Horningsea localities.

The biggest “holes” filled with water to become reservoirs such as Graffham Water are not holes at all, but flooding of valleys by creating vast dams. Similarly, Cambourne lakes are of a different nature, as they are really balancing ponds, following the development of a now considerable built-up area. However, both these sites have evolved hand-in-hand with a network of new paths.

Accessible Parish pits (chalk), are to be found at Litlington, Guilden Morden, Harlton, Stapleford, Reach, Little Wilbraham, and elsewhere. The pit at Orwell was a source of superior chalk called “clunch” used as a building stone.

The object this month is to look at examples of “holes” which are publicly accessible, and add interest to a ramble. I certainly do not wish to encourage readers to investigate private or dangerous pits!

Examples of Large Sites
Paxton Pits
The Nature Reserve here operates alongside on-going sand and gravel extraction. The present reserve of 77 ha is set to expand to over 280ha “within the next decade”. Presently available paths include part of the Ouse Valley Way. Well marked routes comprise The Heron Trail (2 miles) and The Meadow Trail (1.5 miles). Attractions include riverside & meadow flora, and excellent birdwatching.

There is a bus service from St Neots to Little Paxton Village.
Facilities on the reserve include visitor centre, toilets, free car park, tea facilities (weekends, holidays), leaflets, and possible hire of motorised boggy for disabled usage. See:

RSPB Fen Drayton Lakes
The RSPB reserve at Fen Drayton Lakes was established in 2007, with the purchase of a privately owned nature reserve, and some adjacent lakes and washland. The previous sand and gravel quarrying had left large deep lakes, sometimes with islands. Birdwatching has been possible here since the 1950s, and over 250 species of birds have been recorded.

There is an impressive network of public rights of way and permissive paths around the lakes, which are best accessed by guided bus from either Cambridge or St Ives. A walk of less than 2 miles along the Busway bridleway from St Ives to the reserve in Summer can reward the keen observer with a list of nearly 100 wildflower species. Also accessible from the lakes is the Ouse Valley Way.

Adjacent to the guided bus stop is a shelter and information point, with free leaflets available. Across the Busway is a free carpark, with WC, both accessible down a short drive. Please be reminded that both the bridleway beside the Guided Busway, and the paths in the reserve are liable to flooding in Winter, occasionally making access impossible. More RSPB info may be found at:

Milton Country Park
The site owes its present appearance to commercial extraction of sand and gravel for house construction and road building between ca 1930 and 1960. However, some 1800 years ago, part of the site had been used for extraction of clay by Romano- British potters! South Cambs District Council acquired the site in 1990, and by 1993 the country park was open to the public. The park is now managed by a commercial concern, with a charge for carparking. Café and WCs are available.

There is quite a complicated network of paths around the pits, and the walking can readily be extended along Fen Road, to join the River Cam towpath.

Examples of Smaller Sites
Guilden Morden
The parish has a typical chalk pit, originally for use of the villagers. It is attractive with wild flowers in Summer, and is best accessed from Ashwell, along Ashwell Street to TL 282 402, then turn SE down Guilden Morden Bp 51, turning left onto a field-edge track at TL 283 398. Pass a Countryside Access Scheme notice, and access the former chalk pit over a stile at TL 284 400, and down a ramp into a riot of shrubs, wildflowers and nettles. This is a place for solitude. A Romano-British cemetery was excavated near the chalk pit in the early C20th, but no signs remain.

The Three Cherry Hinton Pits
Lime Kiln Close Nature Reserve
This is one of three chalk pits available in the locality, accessed at TL 486 562. The reserve was a medieval chalk quarry, and much of the chalk was probably used to make lime mortar for houses in Cherry Hinton and Cambridge. Nature has taken time to reclaim this pit for trees and bushes, with secondary woodland of ash, field maple, and wild cherry.

West Pit, at TL 483 555 off Lime Kiln Hill is an SSSI and a more open habitat, full of wild flowers in Summer – and home to the rare moon carrot.

The newest and largest reserve , East Pit, off Lime Kiln Hill at TL 484 557 is an interesting expanse of bare chalk, rapidly being colonised with interesting flora, and has prehistoric remains, with good information boards.

Orwell Clunch Pit
The village website describes The Clunch Pit as an environmental treasure. The old quarry site of 1.6ha is accessible from High Street, by steps going up beside the church, or from the lane leading to the carpark. A public footpath leads to the top of the pit from the A 603. The Pit has been owned by the Parish Council since 1974, designated as an SSSI in 1985, in recognition of valuable chalk grassland flora and fauna. There was major scrub clearance in 1999, and the pit is now managed by light Summer grazing by sheep, and an annual cutting of brambles.

Coprolite Diggings
Coprolite is the name given to fossilised bones of dinosaurs, found in bands of the chalk belt running across Cambridgeshire and beyond. These deposits were generally rich in inorganic phosphates, a valuable source of fertiliser, before the establishment of modern chemical industries.

The C19th technique of open cast or shallow-pit mining for coprolite generally left land fairly level. The diggings at Parkers Piece have left no trace, although the bumps on Coldham’s Common may well be poor restoration after mining.

In Lode and Stow cum Quy, however, there are some actual water-filled pits, in a pleasant situation. From Lode village by the Millpond, take a footpath N to cross the track of the old railway at TL 530 629, then go E on the wide Lode Byway 15, which continues as a footpath across a field to the waterfilled pit set attractively in trees at TL 521 627. Continue along the path and over a footbridge onto Stow cum Quy Fen, and cross the grass towards the next pit at TL 515 626. This has interesting Spring plants, including the scarce water violet. Exit W, picking up Horningsea Bp 8, with useful parking at TL 498 630.

Steeple Morden Chalk Pit
Here, one can appreciate the effects of quarrying in the making. The Steeple Morden chalk pit has paths going round its perimeter, and one can actually cross a little footbridge over the conveyor belt. The chalk is very pure, and used in applications like pharmaceutical products, toothpaste, and as a filler in car tyres!

From Ashwell Street at Upper Gatley, TL 295 409, take Fp 42 going roughly S uphill. At TL 298 405, fp 42 turns off right, round the bushes at the edge of an arable field. At the field corner, TL 296 404, the path enters the edge of the wood containing the chalk quarry. The path continues round the wood, passing buildings, and crossing a conveyor belt on a bridge and the quarry access road at TL 295 401. Fp 42 exits down the quarry road, but follow fp 43 ahead, still round the edge of the quarry. At TL 300 400, go through a clear gap in the wood, and return N to Ashwell Street on Fp 47, with the wood on the left.

There is a high density of paths in this area, and a longer walk would prove rewarding. There is another large chalk pit near Ashwell & Morden station at Odsey.

Commissioners Pit, near Wicken Fen
This fenland pit is typical of the depressions left following embankment of the nearby fen lodes.

It is best approached from the pub near Upware, “Five Miles from Anywhere, No Hurry”. From the drive to the pub, find the signposted footpath over a bridge and stile, running N through low lying fields. Later, the path bends right and left, and joins a hedged track (Fodder Fen Drove) which passes Commissioners Pit Nature reserve. Descend a flight of steps into the reserve. There is a display board. In 1998, in the unstable bank of the reserve, after rain, I found a bivalve fossil and a fossil scallop, which were identified by my evening class tutor as being from the Jurassic period, 200 Million years old.

Harlton Chalk Pit
This delightful, wooded pit is owned by the Parish Council, which allows free access. Go up Fp 4, which starts at TL 389 523. This wooded lane leads up to the base of the pit. Fp 4 is waymarked through the pit, which has a mostly bare chalk floor, and whose slopes can be very slippery after rain. Ascend by one of a number of trodden routes. The steepest ways are to the left. The longer, easier routes are found by first bearing right. In 2000, the definitive line of Fp 4 was extended to the top of the pit at TL 391 520, from whence a narrow wooded path leads through spurge laurel bushes to join Barrington Fp11 along the top of chapel hill. From here, it is possible to look down on the huge, recently closed commercial chalk pit behind Barrington.

Litlington Chalk Pit
A description of this pit is included as a reminder that not all old pits are attractive. From Royston Road at TL 318 419, a grassy lane, Byway 11, runs WSW from locked gates, with access space each side. The track runs to a patch of open downland, with the remains of an old pit beyond. The right of way terminates at TL 316 417 but regular access continues over a wider area. The pit is also accessible from Ashwell Street. When last seen, it contained some dumped material.
Janet Moreton

Cantab Rambler by E-Mail & Post
Cantab usually appears irregularly about 4 times a year. 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. 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
Cantab86 © Janet Moreton, 2016.

CANTAB85 – June 2016

CANTAB85 – June 2016 published on

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


Focus on Royston, Herts
Royston’s adjacent common, Therfield Heath, is a wonderful open space, with free parking, or easy access from Royston Station. The Heath gives immediate access to the hills beyond, higher than anything in Cambs! Before you go tramping off on these hills to Therfield, Sandon, Kelshall, Barley, Barkway and places beyond, pause to appreciate the riches of Royston.

Around Easter, the nature reserve at the east end of the Heath is well-known for its display of the Pasque flower, the Anemone pulsatilla, together with cowslips and violets, on an isolated spur of bare hillside. White heleborines may be seen in the adjacent woods in May.

Later in the Summer, the main part of the heath is a treasure trove of wild flowers, especially at the west end, in the little dry valleys.

Alfred Kingston wrote a monograph, “The Heath and its Wild Flowers” published originally in 1904, but reprinted by Warren Bros. and Cooke Ltd in 1961. By 1904, the Royston Golf Club had already been formed using part of the Heath in 1892, and had erected “a handsome and commodious club house on the corner nearest the town”, and a public pavilion, near the cricket ground opened by public subscription in 1895. *[See also Cantab 17 – Royston 1900: A year in the life of a small town.]

Kingston lists the flowers which could be seen between June and August, an impressive list, now sadly reduced, so that, for example, I do not think we would now find two of the orchids he quotes – Gymnadenia conopsea (fragrant orchid) or Orchis ustulata (burnt orchid), but Ophris apifera (bee orchids) pop up occasionally in all sorts of places.

Nor has the ground-nesting stone curlew survived the invasion of hundreds of walkers, golfers, kitefliers and dog enthusiasts, but instead we have a fair chance of seeing feathered red kites!

From Kingston’s list of 1904, and with some modern additions, I produce here a restricted list which Roger and I identified on the Heath last Summer, and which might act as an aid to identification, in conjunction with a field guide.

Agrimony (yellow)
Birds-foot trefoil (yellow, touch of red)
Bladder campion (white)
Burnet saxifrage (brown & white)
Candy-tuft (white)
Cathartic flax (white)
Centuary (pink)
Clustered bellflower (deep blue)
Dropwort (white, pale pink)
Forgetmenot (blue)
Greater celandine (yellow)
Ground thistle (purple)
Germander speedwell (bright blue)
Hairbell (pale blue)
Mouse-ear hawkweed (lemon yellow)
Heath spotted orchid (spotted leaves)
Horse-shoe vetch (yellow)
Jack by the hedge (white)
Kidney vetch (yellow)
Ladies bedstraw (yellow)
Milkwort (blue or mauve, purple)
Meadow rue (pale yellow)
Mignonette (cream)
Musk thistle (purple, nodding)
Rock rose (yellow)
Rose madder (pink, very small)
Silver weed (yellow, silver leaves)
Small scabious (lilac)
Squinancywort (mauve or white)
Tall broomrape (brown)
Toadflax (yellow & orange)
Viper’s bugloss (blue & pink)
Welted thistle (purple)
Wild thyme (light purple)
White and red campions
Yellow-wort (yellow!)

Later in the Summer flower:
Autumn Fellwort (purple)
Carline thistle
Meadow Sweet
Rosebay willow herb
Wild chicory

Ramblers sometimes say to us, “How do you know what flowers to expect here?” Perhaps this will help! This is not a comprehensive list and we have not included the common “weeds” of the daisy, dandelion variety. See if you can do better!

Visible Prehistory
As well as being a valuable wildlife haven, the Heath is an important prehistoric site. The oldest feature is a Neolithic long barrow, 6000 years old. Looking north from the long barrow, one can see the route of the Icknield Way, an ancient trade route from the Norfolk coast to SW England. The Heath’s high ground also attracted Bronze Age burials, here as One Hill, Two Hills and Five Hills. The features known as Mile Ditches (parallel to the Therfield Road) are Iron Age, and were probably territorial boundaries.

If the weather turns wet, Royston has inner resources.

The Royston Cave, a bell-shaped chamber cut into the subterranean chalk is unique in Britain. It contains numbers of carvings and symbols, whose origins are uncertain, although it has been claimed to have been associated with the Knights Templar, before their dissolution in 1312. The cave is located in Katherine’s Yard off Melbourn St, near the cross roads in the middle of the town.

The cave is open to visitors by guided tour, 2.30-5pm, Sat, Sun, Bank Holidays between 26 March and 25 Sept, and also Wed in August. Adults £5, Seniors £4.

Royston Museum
The original museum in the town hall, was opened in 1856, but was re-established in 1984 in the Old Congregational Church School, off Lower King Street. There are extensive local archives, pictures, archaeological finds, interpretations of Royston Cave, The Royston tapestry, and much else.

The museum is open all year, 10 – 4.45 pm, Wed, Thu and Sat, and also 2 – 4.45 Sun, Easter – 30 Sept. Admission gratis. Donations appreciated.

The parish church is set in attractive municipal gardens in the town. It is part of the old Norman priory, with a Victorian chancel.

Long Distance Paths
Royston is, of course, a hub of Long Distance Paths.

The Icknield Way Path is a 110mile trail, linking the Ridgeway Path to the Peddars Way. Together these routes take strands of the ancient Icknield Way trade route which crossed England from Norfolk to Dorset. Royston lies squarely on the route of this popular path. We have the 5th edition of the walkers’ guide, obtainable from the Icknield Way Association. See:

The next long distance path is an unusual one. The Hertfordshire Chain Walk consists of 15 linked circular walks through rural East Hertfordshire, and published for the East Herts Footpath Society . The edition we have was published by Castlemead publications, Ware. The route passes through Therfield, narrowly skirting Royston!

The Hertfordshire Way is a magnificent 166 mile route, covering, as the name suggests, most of the County. This was very much a Royston walkers’ initiative, with the first section or “leg” going from Royston to Wallington. The guidebook, edited by Bert Richardson of RA Royston Group, is published for the Friends of the Hertfordshire Way by Castlemead publications. See:
Janet & Roger Moreton

Mill Road Cemetery, Cambridge
Nick Ballard writes in praise of our city cemetery in the RSPB magazine. Mill Road is “a closed cemetery, with no burials since 1955. Over eight acres harbour a surprising variety of animals and plants. My species list includes more than 110 plants and grasses (excluding trees and shrubs); 42 birds; at least 9 mammals including two species of bat, weasel and dormouse; 23 species of butterfly and plenty of lichens and other diptera. The Diocese of Ely must be praised for their management, along with the Friends Group which promotes the value of the site.”

The main entrance is off Mill Road, opposite the “Sally Ann” charity shop, and using all the paths, it is possible to make a walk of nearly a mile. Alternatively, one can make a short cut to Gwydir Street or Norfolk Street.

Essex Coast Path
The entire length of the Essex Coast Path has been opened, making the longest coastal walk in an English County, including large numbers of creeks and estuaries.

Essex RA are justly proud of their new path, and announced the imminent official opening in the September edition of the Essex Area Update. Peter Caton has written a book, “Essex Coast Walk”, available on Amazon. Maps and photos illustrate the text with details of ports, towns and villages along the route, nature reserves and points of interest, as well as the history of the coast.

Watching our words! A Footpath:
What do we mean by a Footpath?
In Britain, a footpath –
is a path for people to walk along,
is a walkers’ path, especially in the countryside,
is a narrow path for walkers only,
is a path for pedestrians alongside a road,
is a pavement,
is a term in geology meaning a horizontal expanse of bare rock or cemented pieces.

When using the term “footpath”, perhaps we should watch our step!

Try “Footway” for a made-up path alongside a road. “Public Footpath” or “Public Right of Way” (PROW) for a countryside path. However, “PROW” does not define the usage of the way – it needs to be qualified as a footpath, bridleway, byway, cycleway, road or whatever. And a road may be private, and yet have public footpath rights.

The term “pavement” is also fraught with difficulty. A pavement is a surface that is paved over. Pavements are part of the Highway. When they run alongside a county road, they do not have any separate legal existence.

A highway engineer regards the term “pavement” as referring to the whole paved area, so the footway alongside may or may not be classed as pavement depending on whether it is surfaced.

Finally, use “Sidewalk” for a footway if you go to the USA!

Letter to the Editor, County Summits. (See Cantab 84)
“Hello Janet & Roger.
Back in 2001 there was an article in the Cambridge Evening News about the highest village in the county, which they gave as Great and Little Chishill equal at 475ft. This provoked several items of correspondence and I wrote saying Great Chishill was highest, but didn’t know exactly where, but thought it was off any road. I then consulted OS who eventually came back with the very accurate grid reference of TL 42738 38546 and a map with a nice star in the middle of a road. This turned out to be Hall Lane Great Chishill.

Just a few months later I obtained the book ECHOES which was published in 2000 and describes walks to all of the county summits in the country. In that book several of the local summits are different from those you have quoted from Paddy Dillon’s book.. In the acknowledgements the author thanks the OS for their support of the project, so presumably they supplied heights and references. It seems to me that over the years OS have revised heights as they are able to use more sophisticated methods of surveying.”
John & Tessa Capes, 23 Feb. 2016

Hoffer Brook project
South Cambs District magazine describes improvements made to the Hoffer Brook between Foxton and Newton, where it runs beside a public footpath. Fallen trees have been cleared, and tree thinning and scrub clearance will let in more light. The water quality is good, and a fish survey is being mounted. It is hoped the brook will in future be less prone to flooding.
The first phase of the work on the brook was funded through the Cam and Ely Ouse Catchment Partnership, and a band of volunteers teamed up with the Wildlife Trust. The local landowners, Richard Barnes of Foxton and David Watson of Thriplow Farms helped with machinery and access for the works.

Cantab Rambler by E-Mail & Post
Cantab usually appears some 4 times per annum.. 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. 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
Cantab85 © Janet Moreton, 2016.

CANTAB84 – March 2016

CANTAB84 – March 2016 published on

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


Why not Sawston?
Cantab Rambler goes back to 1999, and a majority of issues include a “Parish of the Month”, as I have been told this is a popular feature.

So why not Sawston – the biggest village in terms of population (but not, in land area, the biggest parish) in South Cambs? It is because I have been daunted by the task of describing the many inner village paths through the housing, and partly because I felt that many readers will know Sawston very well already. However, I hope the following may be of interest, and contain something new for you.
Janet Moreton
N.B. You can look up a previous “parish of the month” under cantab-rambler, on Cambridge RA Group’s website,

Parish of the Month – Sawston
Sawston is quite a small parish of 770 ha. Most of the parish is situated on fairly flat chalk soils to the east of the bypass, which separates it from its water meadows by the R Cam, and Whittlesford beyond. The village, however, is the largest old-established parish in South Cambs [Cambourne looks set to have a population of around 10 000, but it does comprise 3 villages!], with a shopping centre and facilities sufficiently large and varied to accord it the status of a small town.

Like most of the villages of the Cam valley, there are traces of prehistoric settlement. A Neolithic flint axe was found S of the village, and signs of Neolithic tool production were found on the site of the old vicarage. At least 10 ring ditches, former Bronze Age barrows, are grouped around a former trackway, and a Bronze Age hoard (axes and spears) was found on the Icknield Way. Borough Hill Iron Age fort was located on the W side of the railway, near the present Spicers Works (ca TL472494, not accessible).

The Romans left few traces here. The parish was settled by the Saxons in the C7th, when agricultural patterns were established. An Anglo Saxon burial was found in 1816, when workmen dug gravel from Huckeridge Hill, ca. TL 481503 on the road to Cambridge, finding a sword, a bronze bowl and snake’s head buckle. An Anglo Saxon mill existed at Dernford.

In early times, the places where the river could be forded gave rise to scattered settlements along these routes. The manors of Dernford, Pyratts (on the site of Sawston Hall), and Huntingdon are recorded throughout the Middle Ages. Later in the Middle Ages, the N-S route, on the road between Cambridge and Royston became more important than the E-W routes, with the village cross marking the junction with Church Lane, at TL487492. Linear development occurred along the High Street, consolidated in the C13th, when Pirot, the lord of the manor, planned a village extension in the direction of Cambridge.

As early as C17th, paper making started at Dernford Mill, although a mill had been present here since 956. In the C19th, Towgood had a paper mill, and built homes for his workers. Spicer Brothers purchased the paper mill in 1917.

A Chamois leather works at TL 486489 was established by Hutchings & Harding in the. mid C18th, with later premises dating from the mid C19th. T S Evans of Old Yard Leather Works developed The Spike for housing at the S end of the village. Crampton’s Mineral Waters was another large employer. Thus, by the mid C19th, aided by the coming of the railway, and the introduction of steam power in the paper industry, Sawston was an industrial village, putting behind the poverty of the earlier part of the century, when at times up to a third of the population had been on poor relief following agricultural inclosure in 1802.

Domesday records 3 manors, and a population of 41. The census of 2011 recorded some 7145 residents.

Points of interest
The parish church of St Mary The Virgin is a Norman foundation, dating from the early C12th. Its tower is 600y old, and the nave arches are Norman and Early English. It is usually open.

Nearby are the locked gates of Sawston Hall, unfortunately not open to the public. The hall, the former seat of the Huddleston family for more than 400y, briefly sheltered Mary Tudor in 1553, but was burnt by the mob after her escape. Some of the original building remains. Stone from Cambridge Castle was used in the rebuilding, which is dated in the central quadrangle 1557 and 1584.

Notable old buildings in the village are C16th Ward’s House, and Huntingdon house (typical H-plan manor with cross-wings), and a manorial dovecote in Hammonds Rd.

Sites of Special Scientific Interest
One SSSI lies to the W of the bypass and up to the railway line, being one of few remaining areas of fen carr in the S of Cambridgeshire. The other is Sawston Hall meadows (both inaccessible).

Public Footpaths
Fp1 – Dernford Rd to Lt Shelford boundary
Fp2 – Cambridge Rd to Dernford Rd (fp1)
Fp3 – Hillside to Martindale Way
Fp4 – Baulks (High St) to Crampton Terrace
Fp5 – New Rd to The Baulks
Fp6 – Mill Lane to Common Lane
Fp7 – Mill Lane to join fp 6
Fp8 – The Bull, High St to Common Lane
Fp9 – High St to Whittlesford
Fp10- Catleys Walk, London Rd to fp9
Fp11- Babraham Rd to Church Lane
Fp12- Church Lane by Mile Path to Babraham
Fp13-The Green Rd to Sunderlands Corner
Fp14- Church Lane to Pampisford fp 2
Fp15- Mill Lane rail crossing to Whittlesford
Fp16 No 11 Church Lane to Churchfield Ave
Fp17- High St to Shingay Lane
Fp18- Chestnuts, Mill Lane to The Baulks
Fp19- Mill Lane to West Moor Ave.
Fp20- The Baulks from Crampton Terrace to Mill Lane (continues fp 4)
Fp21- Paddock Way to fp 11
A street plan is essential for following the inner-village paths. Without one, I have become misplaced on more than one occasion in the large housing estates!

Outline walks
Here are a few suggested walks, probably well known already to local readers, taking one outside the village envelope, and with ideas for further extension. They mostly involve a certain amount of road walking, and are thus more suitable for the muddy winter months, which commonly extend into April. I would suggest that an exploration of some of the inner village paths, using a good street plan, is also interesting and worthwhile.

A To Whittlesford & beyond 3, 6 or 10miles
From Sawston carpark (CP) TL 487494, go S down London Rd. Turn off R down signed fp 9, or shortly after along Catleys Walk (fp10). Cross the bypass and the railway, and enter Whittlesford past the Hamilton Kerr Institute (restorations for the Fitzwilliam museum). Cross the large rec towards Whittlesford Churchyard (approached via a residential road, to the R of the pavilion) to use Whittlesford fp 1, becoming Sawston fp15 over a footbridge, cross the railway on the road by Spicers barrier, and then the bypass. Find a “backs of gardens” route, fp 20, leading to the Baulks and so to High St and the CP. This route may readily be extended to include a walk around Whittlesford and the Moor (6 miles), or also paths to Thriplow (10 miles).

B To Dernford and Whittlesford 5 miles
This rather “roady” route takes in the historic Dernford Hamlet. From the CP walk NW up Huckeridge Hill along the footway of Cambridge Rd. Turn left on signed fp 2 (past a flock of sheep?) to the bypass. Cross with care and follow the signed path to Dernford, two arable fields to be negotiated en route. At Dernford House, the path is waymarked through the garden. The start of the continuing Lt Shelford fp 2 is sometimes very damp. Reach the road at Rectory Fm, and turn S on the road to Whittlesford, passing attractive lakes (but take care, no footway). It is a pity there is no route through Spicers land. At TL 466486, take the path SSW then SE through a pretty young plantation on access land in the centre of Whittlesford. On reaching the road, turn left and walk to Whittlesford Guildhall. A snicket at TL 473485 leads to Whittlesford church (usually open via door at rear, also WC). Return by the route described in Walk A.

C To Babraham, 4, 5 or 7miles
From the Sawston CP walk to the parish church, go down Church Lane, and follow “the green road” to across the rec. Cross Babraham Rd, turn R and take a signed path L, Babraham fp 11 to Rowley Lane. Turn R along the lane and follow it to the S end of Babraham. Return immediately on a new /footway cycleway (adjacent to Sawston Rd), or, from the road corner, take a crossfield path to join Sawston fp 12, Mile Rd. (4 miles)

However, from the wall at the S corner of Babraham, it may be desired to walk to the “George” PH for refreshments, and, on the return, visit the “Pocket Park” and the signed route to the Church, in a handsome rural position against the backdrop of Babraham Hall. (total 5 miles)

To extend this route yet further, continue on the path by the R Cam past Babraham Hall, and research buildings and across fields and tree belts, passing a turning R across a footbridge to a path to the A1307. However continue ahead to a substantial bridle bridge marking the next crossing of the Cam. Note the mounting blocks here, following the conversion of Rowley Lane to a bridleway. Turn round here, and walk back down Rowley Lane to join the return route. (total 7 miles)

D To Pampisford 4 miles
From Sawston CP, walk to the parish church, take Church Lane, and turn half right on fp 14, joining Pampisford fp 2 to Pampisford Wych. Go S down this road (no footway), and turn off R on a signed fp through Home Fm. In Pampisford, take a short cut across the rec and visit the church. Follow the road through the village, to the pub on the corner. Turn R along London Road, taking a detour, if desired, to the L, through the yard of the Black Bull, and continuing on fp 6 along the edge of a sports field, before turning R for High St. This walk is not readily extended, except by making various detours on Sawston inner-village paths.

East Anglian County Summits
Here is a suggested project for the Spring
Why not visit the East Anglian County Summits?
Cambridgeshire’s Top, at 146m, is located S of The Hall, Great Chishill, on Landranger 154, TL 427380. From the B1039, a track runs close to the site.
The Top for Essex, 140m is nearby, at TL 433362 in Great Chishill.
Norfolk’s County Top, 102m, is at the accessible Roman Camp, Landranger 133, TG 185415, near Sherringham.
Look for Suffolk’s Top, 128m, off the A143, at Depden, SE of Elm’s Farm. There is no trig point – a GPS might suggest the exact place, (Landranger 155, TL 786558).
Bedfordshire’s Top, 243m, is on the Dunstable Downs, about a mile out of Bedford off the B4541, Landranger 166, SP 008194.
Finally, the highest of them all, the Top for Hertfordshire, 244m is at SP 914091 on Landranger 165 off a minor road 0.5km W of Hastoe, in the Chilterns.
Data from “The County Tops”, Paddy Dillon, 1985.

Cambridge Weather 2015
The Botanic Gardens issued a report of last year’s weather, summarised below.

The year started with some instances of light snow, which quickly disappeared. Rainfall for March, April and June was below average, and there was evidence of the ground cracking on warm days in April. July was a month of extremes, when 35.0degC was recorded on 1 July, and storms brought 87.1mm rain overnight on 23 July, contributing to an unusually high month’s total of 153mm. Numbers of days of high winds occurred, which resulted in temporary closure of the garden. The year finished with a rainfall total of 556mm, almost exactly the average annual rainfall of 557mm.

Elsworth Footpath 2
Problems have arisen recently relating to path usage on and around Elsworth Footpath 2. The path is signed alongside the village school, TL 313637. It passes down a fenced passage, goes round the edge of a small field, over a couple of small bridges, and then goes generally NW towards Pitt Dene Farm. The problem is on this latter section. Walkers have used the available farm track, whereas in fact the right of way follows the field edge on the other side of the ditch, before lighting off across the fields near the site of some former pits. Fairly recently the landowner has taken steps to inhibit the use of the farm track. Do you know this path? Have you walked along the farm track, believing it to be a right of way? RA Cambridge Group have offered to help Elsworth Parish Council assemble some evidence of past usage. Please send any details to me,
Janet –

The Bike-Bus Explorer, Cambridge to Gamlingay on Sundays
Just before going to press, I have heard a rumour that the Bike-Bus Explorer, mentioned in the last issue, is presently discontinued. Please check before making plans to use it.

Cantab Rambler by E-Mail & Post
Cantab usually appears some 4 times per annum.. 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. 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
Cantab84 © Janet Moreton, 2016.

CANTAB83 December 2015

CANTAB83 December 2015 published on

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


Access for all? – Transport
The Christmas/New Year festive season, which regularly throws up 4 or even 5 days almost without public transport, has reminded me of those forcibly confined to barracks (or at least to within walking distance of home), and the state of particularly the bus service, in and around Cambridge. The author lived in a car-free household until the age of 50, and every Christmas, with some valuable free time off work, was deeply frustrated by the inability to go further than her legs would carry her. At that time, this might have been 15 miles or so, but it was still very aggravating!

Within Cambridge, there is, at least on weekdays and out of holiday periods, a reasonable bus service. Certain routes out of Cambridge are well served: City 13 to Linton and Haverhill runs a half hourly service; Bedford, St Neots, Cambourne and Huntingdon are well served, and of course the guided bus provides a wonderful service about every 10 minutes to and from St Ives, and the splendid recreational area provided by the Fenstanston Lakes. And I should mention a special Sunday service to Wimpole and Gamlingay which runs a couple of times a day on Summer Sundays, especially for walkers and cyclists.

But the weekday bus service to Saffron Walden only runs once an hour, and the big village of Balsham has a very poor service. Worse than this, there are places in Cambridgeshire that are lucky to have a couple of buses a day.

On the whole, residents of Cambridge City who want to take a country walk using public transport can do fairly well, so long as they accept there are places not reachable. However, someone living in one of the villages, even if that village has a good bus service, will probably find themselves required to go into Cambridge and out again, to reach the start of a public transport walk in another village. These remarks would apply, similarly, I believe, to those living in villages around, say, Peterborough and Huntingdon.

I do not know what proportion of ramblers living in Cambridgeshire do not have access to a car to get them to the start of a walk. The RA Cambridge Group programme puts on a reasonable number of public transport walks. The programme suggests that offers of lifts are often available for car-start walks. Do people think that the programme has got the proportion bus-/car- start walks correct?

Access for all – The Less Able
There are walkers and walkers. There are those who might be members of The Long Distance Walkers Association, for whom twenty miles in a day might be routine. And there are those for whom two to four miles in the countryside constitutes a pleasant if challenging walk, that, for reasons of strength, age or disability, they are just able to manage.

But where to take such a walk? Each person with a disability is different. Typical problems relate to poor surfaces, steepness of ground, steps, fast roads to cross, and obstacles such as stiles.

Reading the Ordnance Survey Explorer map can be used to give the first selection of a route. Measure the route for the distance, look for points of interest or refreshment, check there are no major obstacles, and no contours close together indicating a steep slope (what in Cambridgeshire?). But the map will not tell us where there are stiles.

In some respects, a walks guide to an unfamiliar area may be more helpful, specifically mentioning the location of stiles, seats along the way, etc. But remember that a year may pass between the path inspection and publication date, and much longer if the guidebook has been languishing on your shelves, or in a library.

The greater the disability, clearly, the greater is the potential access problem. Making the countryside enjoyable and reachable is about more than provision of wheelchair access or specially adapted toilets. Above all, it is about consistency and continuity. There is a huge bridge over the A14 at Hardwick, giving potential power-assisted wheelchair access to the long footpath going to Dry Drayton. But beyond the bridge, further progress on the rough path would be most problematical for such a buggy, and has proved very hard going for someone limping on a stick.

Over the years, improved access for the less able has been the aim of many organisations, such as The Fieldfare Trust, and including The Ramblers’ Association. Both the local RA Cambridge Group and Cambridge Rambling Club have recently been able to assist the County Council and local parishes by providing funds for seats and a stile.

What can ordinary ramblers do? Please report any obstructions, like fallen trees to the County Council. You may be able to struggle past, but others might have to turn back. If leading a walk, I suggest it is helpful to state if the route is stile-free, and give an indication of the pace. Similarly, I appeal to walking guide authors to give details of stiles or other potential difficulties, and to note the presence of seats along a route. Give distances, rather than time for a walk, as a lame person may walk at half the normal pace.
Janet Moreton

Parish of the Month – Cherry Hinton
Since 1934, Cherry Hinton has been part of Cambridge City, so you will not find its boundaries defined on Explorer 209. In times past, it was a separate parish, occupying the West corner of the Flendish Hundred.

The War Ditches, a hillfort 55m in diameter, stood at the top of Limekiln Hill (TL 484 557) where prehistoric activity was concentrated. Late Bronze Age barrows were discovered within the ditches of the chalky fort. The upper layers of the fort reveal late Iron Age pottery. Its single rampart failed to save its inhabitants from massacre ca 50AD. In Roman times, the War Ditches site was reused as a farm of 110AD, including 4 -5 buildings, rebuilt in the C2nd & C3rd, and many Roman coins were found. Roman buildings were also discovered on the site of The Church of the Latterday Saints on Cherry Hinton Road, and, in the north near Church End, a Roman villa was excavated in the 1980s.

Time moved on and the Bronze Age barrows in War Ditches were reused in the C7th as Anglo Saxon burial sites, with grave goods, including a crystal ball, sling, and spear head.

Cherry Hinton used to consist of separate settlements at Church End and Mill End, separated by land prone to flooding. In 2000, a Saxon Church was excavated at Church End, along with a cemetery of over 650 Saxon burials. Mill End had at least one watermill. The village green at Mill End surrounded Giant’s Grave (source of the brook) and stretched north down the present High Street beneath the Unicorn pub. Mill End had Rectory Manor and Netherhall Manor.

By 1066, Hinton was held as a manor by Editha The Fair. Her land was confiscated following the Conquest, and given to Count Alan of Brittany, as part of the honour of Richmond. Eventually, part of the manor passed to the Fitz-Hugh family, and held in direct succession for 350years. There were closely related manors called Uphall Manor and Mallets Manor in Church End, dating from around 1100. All the manors of Cherry Hinton had disappeared by the late 1700s. The marshland between Church End & Mill End was drained after Inclosure in 1810. Other marshes west of the village between Trumpington Drift (Queen Edith’s Way) and Cherry Hinton Brook, were drained 1825 & 1869. Of several streams, the only visible survivor is Cherry Hinton brook, a R Cam tributary, arising SW of the village at Giants Grave. The bridge that carries Daws Lane over the brook, north of Cherry Hinton Hall, was known as White Bridge.

The high quality chalk subsoil made for a thriving clunch and lime burning industry until early 1900s, and the former cement works and its pits have left a considerable impact on the parish.

The short-lived Chesterford to Newmarket railway built in 1847 passed through the SW of the parish. Taken over by the Great Eastern railway in 1851, it closed in 1858. By 1928, traces of the route, now Mamora Road had vanished (although the deep cutting of the railway can been seen crossing Fleam Dyke).

Reliable water supplies have made Cherry Hinton a good site for settlement since prehistoric times. In 1852, Cambridge University and Town Water Co. obtained an Act of Parliament for water to be piped to a high level reservoir at Madingley from the spring-head at Cherry Hinton. The project was completed 1855, with a reservoir on Limekiln Hill and a pumping station on the south side of Fulbourn road. By 1883, demand required two further wells. After a typhoid scare in 1907, the pumping station was replaced by one at Fulbourn. The Waterworks Co handed over the springs to Cambridge City Council in 1941, and the reservoirs have continued to supply the City since.

In 1086, 41 peasants lived in Cherry Hinton; by 1279, there were about 174 tenants; in 1377, 185 people paid the pol tax; and in 1664, there were 60 house-holds. In 1821 the population was 474, going up to 1537 in 1891. This was the start of suburban development, so that by 1901, the population was 2597; by 1921, 4269; and by 1961, 11201. Several suburban roads were laid out between 1889 and 1928 (Mowbray, Perne and Brook roads). In 1938, the Queen Edith’s Way to Coldham’s Lane section was made a ring road. By 1998, there were over 200 streets in the parish, many of them cul de sacs (so don’t go exploring without your street map!).

Afoot in Cherry Hinton
Amidst all the modern housing, it is worth looking for some attractive old buildings in Church End. The present church, St Andrews (in clunch and Barnack stone) dates from ca 1100. Its early English chancel was described by the Pevsner as “best”. At Church End, one timber-framed thatched cottage survives from the C16th. North of the Church, Uphall House is also C16th timber-framed, with a central chimney stack, but was extended in 1830. To the SW, Church Hall Farm has a late C17th 2-storey wing, with an C18th single storey E-W range. On the NE side of High Street, are C17th & C18th houses, and the 2-storey Glebe Cottage, C16th timber framed, remodelled in the C19th.

Nature Reserves
For the outdoor person, the jewels in Cherry Hinton’s crown are the nature reserves, managed by the Wildlife Trust. Limekiln Close, 2.6ha of medieval chalk pit, lies at the foot of Limekiln hill. It consists of chalk grassland, scrub and woodland, and is accessible in 3 places through handgates. Continue a short distance up Limekiln Hill, to come to East Pit, opened as a reserve in 2009, and giving a complete contrast to the wooded Limekiln Close, since it displays cliffs of bare chalk, and bare chalk paths, yearly becoming more colonised by characteristic chalkland species. At the top corner of the pit is an interpretive board for the War Ditches site, and other display boards explain the exposed chalk layers and plant life. Cross the road, and enter the caravan site. Between the driveway and the roadside, a very steep, almost mountain- like path ascends in the trees. Emerge in West Pit, a small reserve known for its superb displays of wild flowers between May and August. A conventional exit through a kissing gate leads onto Limekiln Road. It would be nice to recommend a walk up Limekiln Road & Worts Causeway onto the Via Devana, but neither road has a footway, and both are dangerous.

Cherry Hinton Park and pathways
This is a popular spot for dogwalkers, and the shady trees and pond provide an attractive venue for mothers with young children come to feed the ducks. Out the back of the park, a tarmac footpath leads to the Citi2 bus stop in Walpole Road. A branch path, turning off right behind the park, becomes City Fp 1, following Cherry Hinton Brook past allotments, and emerging at Brookfields, opposite the foot of Mill Road. Also from Brookfields, City Fp2 runs E-W past the former cement works lake & quarry, in a fenced defile, crossing the railway (becoming Fp3) & continuing generally east, still largely contained between fences. Meeting High St near the level crossing, it continues near the railway behind Tesco, acquiring a more open aspect. This route, now in Fulbourn parish continues to join Fulbourn Old Drift, past the Ida Darwin Hospital and giving a quiet route to Fulbourn village.

The Definitive Map for Cambridge City shows a number of other short paths in Cherry Hinton, now largely short-cuts through housing. Other such pedestrian through-ways are shown in the County’s “list of streets”, and are better tracked in a street map or good street atlas, than on OS 292. The unfortunate path City 109/ Teversham 2, was diverted as a footway around the fence of Cambridge airport.

Cantab Rambler by E-Mail & Post
Cantab usually appears some 4 times per annum.. 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, 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
Cantab83 © Janet Moreton, 2015.

CANTAB82 August 2015

CANTAB82 August 2015 published on

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


Old Man River…
Roger & I met recently with Karen Champion, to celebrate the installation of new self-closing and kissing gates along the bank of the Old West River between High Bridge Aldreth and the Haddenham pumping engine and an almost stile-free route on both sides of the river between The Lazy Otter and the Newmarket Road, Stretham. Sadly, there is one stile left on the village side of the river close to Bridge House due to lack of space for a kissing gate. Although a self-closing gate would have fitted, the cattle owner was nervous of the gate being propped open to accommodate fishing gear.

Karen is Cambridgeshire County Council’s Public Rights of Way Officer for the whole of East Cambs District, and this project involved much work liaising with several different landowners along the route. Seen on a fine May morning, with clouds scudding across the landscape, the extensive views from the well-mown river bank were a compelling invitation for a good walk, and the Lazy Otter” on the river bank near Stretham is a good place to appease the appetite so engendered.

We talked about the huge density of paths (over a hundred) in Soham, where a group of volunteers have, over the years, installed very many new bridges and gates. Sadly, this group of volunteers has now disbanded as they have become physically less active.

Karen also deals with path matters in the “paddock belt” of East Cambs, and described recent surface improvements and hedge trimming on Gypsy Lane (byway 10) and bridleway 13 in Dullingham. Other path improvements are in Brinkley, and over the District border in Carlton, South Cambs, in association with Karen’s South Cambs colleague, Peter Gaskin.

Why not take a fresh look at East Cambridgeshire? Cambridge Group’s books, “Walks in East Cambs” and “The Fen Rivers Way” are still in print, and available from Lisa Woodburn, tel 01223 245566.

Karen is keen that walkers report East Cambs faults, using either CCC’s call centre 0345 045 5212, or on-line

I must admit I find filling in these forms on-line time-consuming and tedious, especially with several problems in one parish, repeating details common to all, but do give it a try, as the Highways Department refuses to accept complaints by other written means. This must surely reduce the number of complaints going into the system.

Parish of the Month, Stretham
Explorer 226
This parish, South of Ely, is centred on the crossroads of the A1123 and the A10, the latter generally following the line of the Roman Akeman Street north from Cambridge. The fenland sections of this Roman road are thought to have been submerged from the C4th to the C17th. Its successor, turnpiked in 1763, entered the parish at what is now a layby beside the bridge over the Old West River.

The centre of Stretham, The Market Place, has a little triangle, graced by a stone market cross, which, amazingly, has survived since the early C15th. Many of Stretham’s ancient buildings were destroyed in a disastrous fire of 1844. Dates of rebuilding after the fire can be observed from the dates of houses along Top St. A survivor of the fire, the large red-brick house dated 1770 at Plantation Gate, may give an impression of the type of many properties that were destroyed.

What did survive is the church, dating from ca 1400, with a perpendicular stone spire. The spire & tower are relics of the original structure, following major Victorian renovation Parts of the adjacent rectory date from the C14th.

A converted windmill, with a 4-storey tarred brick tower, at the north end of Stretham, TL 512749, is a local landmark.

Stretham’s rarest feature is the Beam Engine, housed in a pump house on the banks of the Old West River, reached via Green End, and used for fen drainage. Built 1831, the engine powered a 37ft diameter scoop wheel, which lifted water at 124 tons per minute. It was last worked in 1941. There is a typical 3-part engine house, the engine (built by Butterley Co.) placed between the boiler-house and the scoopwheel house. Double piston valves were installed in 1909. This impressive engineering construction is open to the public at advertised times.

Stretham has a good selection of public paths, connecting with Ely, Little Thetford, and Wilburton, and allowing shorter strolls around the village.

Stretham lies on the route of two long distance paths. One of these is:
The Fen Rivers Way, running from Cambridge to Kings Lynn, ca 80 km.
Details are available in a small handbook of the same title, available from RA Cambridge Group (tel 01223 245566).

Other walks in the locality are described in “Walks in East Cambridgeshire”, also available from RA Cambridge Group.

The other long-distance path is:
The Black Fen Waterways Trail
This is a circular walk of 105km, passing Stretham Old Engine, and going through Ely, Littleport, Downham Market, Outwell, March, Chattris, Sutton, and back to Stretham. A leaflet was available in 2001 from The Fens Tourism Group, Spalding tel 01775 762715

(Note that the Black Fen Waterways Trail is not to be confused with the Brown Fen Waterways Trail, a circuit of 107 km, passing through Boston, Fosdyke, Surfleet, Spalding, Croyland, Donnington, and Swyneshead.. Yes, I know these places are in Lincolnshire!)

Back in Stretham, the village has excellent facilities, including a bus service to Ely and Cambridge. In the village, the Red Lion and a fish & chip shop are available to sustain the inner man. Along the riverside, are the Fish & Duck, by Holt Fen Bridge, and The Lazy Otter on the Old West River, just off the A10.

Various short walks are available from the village.

(a) From Chapel St, cross the A1123, go down Green End, turn right towards Fieldside, but turn off left (S) onto Fp 20.
Meet Everitts Drove. Turn left, then right onto Green End, and continue to Stretham Old Engine on Old West River. Return to the village along Green End. (2 miles). Alternatively, continue SW on the N bank of the Old West, to lunch at the Lazy Otter, returning on the other bank to Stretham Old Engine. Cross the river, and walk up Green End, (total 6 miles).

(b) Follow route (a) to Everitts Drove.
Turn SW to the Fruit & Vegetable shop on the A10. Go carefully SW on the A10. Cross with great care to join fp 18 past Red Hill farm to the A1123. Turn right, cross over with care, and turn left onto byway 13. Turn right along Mill Drove, and cross the A10 to re-enter the village near the windmill. (total 5 miles)

(c) From the church, take Chapel St, left into Chapel Lane, left onto Reads St, right into Goose Lane, left on Brook Lane, and right onto Plantation Gate. You should now be at TL 516 746, and the start of Fp4, which will lead you into Little Thetford parish. Detour on the branch path S at TL 529 750 to visit Holt Fen Bridge, (built as a result of much campaigning), or continue into Little Thetford. Return on The Burying Way, signed in Little Thetford.. This track was once used to carry coffins from Little Thetford to Stretham for burial. Little Thetford has its own church these days. (5 miles)

Permissive Paths
I recently received some enquiries about permissive or “permitted” paths, and how to find out about them.

There is no simple answer to this. Cambridgeshire County Council does keep a register of those permissive paths where they have been notified by the landowner, but this does not include all paths not on the Definitive Map, nor is the information readily available, although one may enquire about specific paths.

Some of these paths are registered under Higher Level Stewardship Scheme, and information on these is available on the Internet.

Other paths are quite informal, and are perhaps better called “customary” paths. Some, such as several at Longstowe, are signed “Estate Paths”. Some paths are described in local leaflets put out by a parish council, or perhaps a park owner, and may be available in a local shop, or the erstwhile phone box, as at Guilden Morden. Some parishes have useful and attractive path display boards, which may include information on permissive paths. Indeed, several permissive paths in Cambridgeshire have individual display boards showing routes and path availability, but this degree of information is unusual.

Generally, permissive paths, other than those contracted via the Higher Level Stewardship Scheme for a finite length of time, can be closed to the public at any time, at the whim of the landowner.

A route on the riverside meadows near Fen Ditton was recently closed without notice by Gonville & Caius college, having been available without question for many years.

Some paths, (e.g. Part of the Bedfordshire Greensand Ridge Walk near Northill, or part of The Nature Trail at Lackford, Suffolk) are only open at certain times of year.

Ordnance Survey Explorer sheets do in theory have a category (brown dots) for permissive paths, but very few are indicated on the sheets covering Cambridgeshire.

I sympathise with the gentleman who prompted my putting these thoughts together and agree that one can see waymarks for the start of an unfamiliar permissive path, and have no idea where they may be leading….

Janet Moreton

The Cambridgeshire RA Walking Programme
Going back at least to 1993, Cambs RA has enjoyed a printed walking programme containing the walks of the constituent groups. Over the years, many people have been involved in making this possible, including those who lead walks, the programme secretaries of each Group, the programme co-ordinator, and those getting the material checked and printed, and posted to each group member. Many Groups will remember happy evenings stuffing envelopes when it was their turn to send out the programme, often to the accompaniment of coffee and cake, or perhaps a glass of wine.

Sadly, it seems likely this is to cease. With the exception of East Cambs Group, the groups are continuing to produce their walking programmes, and these will be available on line, as they have been for the last few years. But there will be no co-ordinated printed programme this Autumn.

The reason goes back to the Cambs Area AGM held last Spring, where no-one came forward to be Area Chairman. RA Headquarters have taken the view that without a Chairman, there is no Area organisation, and therefore they will not fund or support a Cambs Area printed programme.

Lisa Woodburn of Cambridge Group has been willing to co-ordinate the set of group programmes, but in absence of funds for posting, it seems very unlikely that the usual booklet of county walks will go out.

It is hoped that RA HQ will pay the groups to circulate their own programmes. Yes, it is possible to view the programmes on the websites, but not everyone has a computer, and if they have a computer, they may not have a printer. The booklet of walks in something received by each member, part of the “togetherness” of the group, giving a more real feeling of community than the membership of the Ramblers’ Association as a whole, valuable as this is. We have sat companionably over our lunch on a Saturday walk, with our programmes open, discussing who will be able to come next Saturday, and who is the new leader in a few weeks’ time… I have a shelf full of old programmes, which have been used on at least two occasions when giving evidence of usage of a disputed path at a public inquiry.

My personal feeling is that RA HQ have treated us shabbily in this matter. Comments are invited.
Janet Moreton

Cantab Rambler by E-Mail & Post
Cantab now appears four times a year. 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. 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
Cantab82 © Janet Moreton, 2015.

CANTAB81 May 2015

CANTAB81 May 2015 published on

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


Time to look further afield
My first item indicates how important is access to local greenspaces, as shown by a recent government survey. If course, we all walk locally, and most ramblers’ group walks keep closer to base in the Winter, with the prospect of short day lengths and possible poor driving conditions. However, with Spring advancing, every year we lift our heads from the muddy puddle in front of us, and say, “time to look further afield”.

Janet Moreton

Government survey shows more people spend time outdoors.
The annual report from the Monitor of Engagement with the Natural Environment reveals that adults in England made 2.9 billion visits to “natural environments” between March 2013 and February 2014, which is the highest number for 5 years.

Some 58% of the population claim to make one or more leisure visit per week to the great outdoors, with green spaces near their homes becoming increasingly important. Some 96% of respondents to the survey agreed that having green spaces close to where they lived was important. Respondents also agreed that being outdoors made them feel “calm and relaxed” and the proportion agreeing that a visit was “refreshing and revitalising” was at its highest in the most recent survey.

Given the huge numbers of people who can be seen driving to visit shops on Sundays, this report is encouraging. I do not have a figure for how many of these people actually go for a walk.

Norfolk Coastpath
Last year, the Secretary of State for DEFRA approved 41 km of new coast path between Sea Paling and Weybourne. Work to implement the new route , including new signs and gates has been taking place since then. Walkers will be given new rights of access to foreshore, beaches, dunes and cliffs, and crucially, the path will be able to “roll back” if land erodes or slips, enabling a replacement route to be put in place quickly, where necessary. This solves longstanding difficulties with maintaining a continuous route along the coast. As well as enabling visitors to enjoy new coastline, improved access will help support local economies, attracting more visitors and increasing associated spending in seaside businesses.

Natural England worked with Norfolk County Council to hold a launch event in Trimingham, attended by the local MP Norman Lamb, who opened the new route officially. The local HM Coastguard teams took part in a sponsored walk of the new section, and raised money for Guide Dogs for the Blind charity.

(Info Essex Area News, January 2015)

Theydon Bois, Essex
I have not seen the large earth mound adjacent to the M11 in Essex, but “Broadleaf” (Woodland Trust’s magazine) of Autumn 2014 reports on this monster modern earthwork.

At two metres high, it is not a competitor of prehistoric Silbury Hill, but nevertheless is startling.

Woodland Trust’s Christina Joachim, and landscape sculpter Richard Harris created the circular earthwork, topped by concentric pathways in bright white chalk.

There are 5 concentric banks to walk on, each higher than the last. Once the earth has settled, individual tree species will be planted by each path, including hazel, hornbeam, lime and birch. In the centre will be a calm space offering shelter from wind and M-way sounds. Grass has been sown, and the trees will be coppiced at intervals to open up views, which stretch to the City of London. The mound is designed to be clearly visible from the adjacent motorway.

Woodland Trust bought the Theydon Bois site in 2006 planted 90ha of new native woodland. DEFRA and Greenarc were planting trees in Essex at the same time, and a co-ordinated effort produced the celebratory artwork.

Has anyone seen this?
Tell us what you think.

Rothschild Way
Andy Mackey kindly supplied the following information on the new Rothschild Way.

“A couple of years ago, Adrian Kempster, Hunts Ramblers Footpaths Officer and a good friend, told me of his idea for a long distance walk to support and raise the profile of Wicken and Woodwalton Fens.

“Adrian is involved with the Great Fen Project. He said he wished to plan a route linking the two. We looked at the map on my PC, and Adrian decided that a small group of Hunts ramblers, with a bit of car shuffling, could walk it in a few stages.

“Adrian thought Rothschild should be the name, as Charles Rothschild had owned, then donated these fens which were the earliest nature reserves in England. Adrian eventually got the approval of the Rothschild family to use the family name. With yet more hard work, Adrian got some waymarker labels designed and made, together with permission from the County Council to fix them to the existing posts. Out we went again, this time with white spirit, glue, hammer, nails and labels, and walked the route again fixing the labels.

“In June 2014, Adrian led a group from Wicken Fen café to Woodwalton Fen, the whole 38 miles in one go. I think they did well, don’t you?

If you fancy walking some or all of it, Google Rothschild Way for details. Good luck and enjoy it!”

Andy Mackey

Editors note:
The historic link between the two reserves is that Charles Rothschild bought part of Wicken Fen in 1899, and Woodwalton Fen in 1910. Rothschild formed the first society in Britain concerned with protecting wildlife habitats in 1912.
For further information on the walk, try

Open Streetmap defines the route with a series of grid references. The route touches on Ramsey, Somersham, Bluntisham and Earith.

Northwest Cambridge
Cambridge residents are aware of the vast site for development in the Northwest sector, said to be the largest capital project in the University’s 800-year history. The first buildings to be completed will be for the University’s first primary school due to open this Autumn, followed by a GP surgery and affordable homes.

The plans include 700 affordable homes to rent by University-attached personnel, and 400 homes for sale, shops and supermarket, an “energy centre”, and of most interest to ramblers, open green space. It is hoped that a considerable amount of new access will be available. Watch this (green) space!

The Icknield Way Association –  an update
The Icknield Way path runs from Ivinghoe Beacon to Knettishall Heath, passing through half-a-dozen eastern counties, including, of course, Cambridgeshire. It is a recognised regional route, and receives some funding, via the relevant Highway Authorities. Guidebooks are available for The Icknield Way Trail, which provides an accessible route for horseriders and cyclists, as well as pedestrians.

The Icknield Way Association produces its own guidebook for walkers, regularly updated, and wardens the route, doing waymarking, minor clearance, and reports problems to the appropriate county.

Members of the IWA look forward to its newsletters – now distributed online, and to the AGM, located at a different point along the route of the Icknield Way each year. The IWA also runs a few walks annually, including select parts of the route in short circuits.

For details of the guidebook, membership. or problems along the route, do contact the Secretary, Sue Prigg,

The 2015 AGM is to be held in Cambridgeshire, at Great Chishill, on Saturday, 3 October.

The Ridgeway National Trail –  an update
The Ridgeway begins where the Icknield Way leaves off – at Ivinghoe Beacon in Buckinghamshire, and sets off through several counties to Avebury.

A press release, dated 1 April 2015 gave details of a new organisation, The Ridgeway Partnership, which will be responsible for the future management, development and promotion of The Ridgeway National Trail.

The Ridgeway Partnership comprises Oxfordshire County Council as the lead partner, the other local authorites through which the Trail passes, Natural England, North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Chilterns Conservation Board, and several organisations representing users. Natural England will continue to provide most of the finance for this and other National Trails. The Partnership is in process of engaging a Ridgeway Officer, who will be the single point of contact for The Ridgeway. The Officer will attract investment, lead on development issues, co-ordinate maintenance, liaise with stakeholders and respond to public enquiries and complaints.

Maintenance of the Ridgeway will continue to rely heavily on the National Trails team and its volunteers. Ian Ritchie, Chairman of The Friends of the Ridgeway, responded to the news. “The partnership represents a great opportunity to bring the delights of the UK’s oldest path to a much greater number of people, pursuing a wide range of activities. It is a wonderful asset so close to large centres of population. The Ridgeway has some spectacular scenery and unparalled prehistoric sites such as the Uffington White Horse and a series of Iron Age Forts along its length. We aim to encourage more people to get out and walk, cycle, ride or drive horses along it, and we want to introduce it to young people and make it accessible for the less mobile and those with disabilities.”

The North Chiltern Trail
A new circular footpath has been created in the North Chilterns.

It will provide a 42 miles (67 km) circular walking route through the Chilterns in parts of Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, including parts of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Starting at Lilley, the route follows the Warden , Galley and Pegsdon Hills, Great Offley, Preston, St Paul’s Warden, Whitwell, Peter’s Green and Breachwood Green.

There are frequent opportunities for refreshment, as well as good views, and archaeological sites.

For more details, see

Last year’s weather…
In 2014, Cambridge weather (as recorded at The University Botanic Garden), was somewhat wetter than average with 618mm of precipitation. The wetter months were January, February, August and November. The heaviest rainfall was recorded on 8 August, when a thunder-storm brought 33.7mm. In March there was a sustained dry period with no rain for 2 weeks. April was dry, and, in September there were 11 continuous days without rain.

Weather readings have been taken continuously in the Botanic Garden since 1904. The annual rainfall in the Cambridge area over the period 1961 – 90 averaged 563mm, which makes the area one of the driest in Western Europe, north of the Pyrenees. There is quite a wide range from year to year. For example:
In 2011 the annual rainfall was 380mm
In 2012 the annual figure was 813mm.
Generally the rain falls fairly evenly throughout the year, with the wettest month by a small margin being August. However, evaporation usually exceeds rainfall in Summer.


Near Cambridge – Magog Down on May Day

Now is the Month of Maying, and how pleasing to see on May Day (the real 1 May, not the Bank Holiday), several bushes of hawthorn or “May” just in full bloom, for its namesake day.

More obviously spectacular are the sheets of cowslips, the best I have ever seen, here, or elsewhere.

Cantab Rambler by E-Mail & Post
Cantab now appears four times a year. 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. 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

Please note new e-mail address
Cantab81 © Janet Moreton, 2015.

CANTAB80 January 2015

CANTAB80 January 2015 published on

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


Welcome to a New Year of Cantab Rambler. A straw poll tells me that “Parish of the Month” is the most popular regular feature, together with up-to-date information on the state of local paths. So this month, we visit Swaffham Bulbeck in East Cambridgeshire, having first heard from Jill Tuffnell, about the work of the Local Access Forum.

Janet Moreton

Cambridgeshire Local Access Forum – Jill Tuffnell writes:
Cambridgeshire Local Access Forum (LAF) is a statutory body established under the Countryside and Rights of Way (CROW) Act 2000 to advise on “the improvement of public access to land in that area for the purposes of open-air recreation and the enjoyment of the area”. Members are volunteers who are recruited and appointed by Cambridgeshire County Council; they are selected to represent a wide range of interests, although they are not formal delegates. I represent walkers; other members represent youth groups, people with disabilities, horse-riders, cyclists, off-road trailbike riders, environment trusts, farmers and local councillors. We currently meet four times a year, although many of us have liaison responsibilities and attend consultation groups and events. The LAF is a statutory consultee on a wide range of issues, including strategic land-use plans, DEFRA plans, highways and other transport proposals and anything else affecting rights of way and public access. We are kept very busy reviewing the implications of the huge amount of development planned around the county.

In recent months the LAF has had presentations on a major programme of new off-road cycleways in Cambridgeshire, many of which also provide safe walking for ramblers. These include the cycleway from Wandlebury to Babraham along the A1307, a cycleway alongside stretches of the A10 and a route alongside the A505 from Whittlesford Station to Abington. We have also discussed rights of way in and around the new town of Northstowe as part of the ‘phase 2’ development plans, suggesting that the road across the former Oakington airfield should be adopted as a bridleway. We also supported the creation of a major ‘green link’ through the heart of the new development. We have considered detailed proposals to remove all level crossings on the East Coast mainline railway, attending a number of presentations on options. Some crossings are to be replaced with bridges or underpasses, but others could be lost completely. The A14 plans are also a big topic and we have discussed the implications for rights of way. There has been particular concern over ‘legacy’ issues – i.e. what happens to truncated RoWs which have been unusable since the current A14 dualling was completed.

We monitor work undertaken by Cambridgeshire County Council that impacts on rights of way and land with public access. This ranges from keeping a close eye on how ‘development gain’ from new planning developments is being spent on improved access to reviewing the budgets of two key groups of Council staff.

The first group maintain the Council’s ‘Definitive Map’. Recently a large piece of work concerned with legally rectifying anomalies between what the Map records and what is actually on the ground has largely been completed and the team is again looking at possible improvements to our rights of way network under a nationwide project termed ‘Lost Highways’. Any action to add paths to our network under this scheme must be completed by 2026. This seems a long way off, but very little has been achieved in the ten years since the project started.

The second group of CCC staff are involved with the day to day maintenance of our rights of way. Although budgets for maintenance work on the ground, including cutting field edge paths (which are the responsibility of the highways authority) and replacing broken signs, bridges etc, are likely to be protected in 2015/16, more staff cuts of at least £50,000 are currently the subject of consultation. If the proposed cuts go through the sole management post will be lost and there will be just 3 rights of way officers covering the entire county. In response, the LAF has expressed its grave concern about these drastic cuts. The detailed knowledge on the ground, which is so critical if our rights of way are to be maintained as ‘fit for purpose’, is under threat. Improving the network would become a pipe-dream.

On a personal note, I have a link role with respect to the National Trust in Cambridgeshire. I have written to the General Managers of both Wimpole and Anglesey Abbey/Wicken Fen with the aim of achieving much greater publicity for – and hence awareness of – permissive paths. I have met with Wicken Fen staff and the website publicity of routes will be improved. I have also met with the General Manager of Wimpole and it is pleasing to report that substantial expenditure is planned to improve the well-used path through the Belts. I have been sent a map of existing and potential permissive paths on the estate for comment. And, although it is unlikely that new rights of way will be created, the Manager is willing to have the agreed permissive path network depicted on OS maps.

Jill Tuffnell, 27 November 2014

Parish of the Month –
Swaffham Bulbeck

History of the village
Like most Cambridgeshire parishes, Swaffham Bulbeck has signs of prehistoric occupation. Prehistoric round barrows and ring ditches have been found at the SE end of the parish, and there is a site of a late Bronze Age settlement on Middle Hill, on the Bulbeck / Prior boundary, TL 576 623 (inaccessible on private land).

The Romans built 4 canals connecting villages on the edge of the chalk to the Cam: these are the lodes at Bottisham, Swaffham Bulbeck, Reach and Burwell. There was a Roman settlement near the site of the Benedictine Abbey at Commercial End.

Swaffham Bulbeck’s name derives from a farm of settlers from Swabia. Then, soon after 1066, the bulk of it became the estate of Hugh de Bolbec. Their house was probably Burgh Hall, TL 556 620, now an attractive Wealden house of c1500 within the remains of a moat up to 15m wide.

At the bottom of Commercial End, at the junction with Cow Lane, peer over the gate to look down the drive at the site of a small Benedictine Priory of nuns, dated about 1300. A vaulted undercroft survives , the walls of clunch and early black flush-flintwork are incorporated in an early Georgian house.

In the main village, the broad aisled church (TL 556 623) is constructed largely of clunch, originally C13th, much being rebuilt in the C14th. There are 36 medieval carved benches.

The vicar of Swaffham Bulbeck, when he went to live there in 1823, wrote that the “marsh miasma” (malaria) was so prevalent among the poor of the village, that it was necessary to keep in hand a constant stock of proper medicine (opium pills) for their relief.

Opposite the church, a C15th house had its open hall divided horizontally in the C16th. North past the turning to Lode, at a corner, Lordship Cottage faces S over a green, with only 2 front buttresses testifying to its C13th date. The green and recreation ground are bordered on one side by a thick belt of trees, with the moats of the original Lordship House. The “Denny Moats” are described in an information board.

In 1766, the drainage of 7000 acres of fenland and low ground between the R. Cam and the uplands of Bottisham and Swaffham Bulbeck was effected by commissioners invested with powers to tax the district, to cut lodes, to erect engines and staunches, and to licence occupants to construct mills. The elaborate drainage system with moats and sluices was used to create lush watermeadows.

Commercial End is as big as the parent village. Swaffham Lode gave access to the fenland waterways, and flourished with transportation of heavy goods from the late C17th. The port is known to have imported wine, timber, salt and coal, and exported grain, flour and malt. In 1821, a New Cut improved the link with the R. Cam via the village lode and the cut ran towards the fen from a large C17th wharf (still partly intact, but on private land).

However, its main development as a fen port was due to Thomas Bowyer, who provided buildings to accommodate a substantial trade in the first part of the C19th. Many of the buildings have been demolished or converted, but several of the rather grand houses remaining have an interesting history. The Merchant’s House, in red/buff brick is late C17th, but was extended in the C19th to provide a counting house, and overlooks the wharf. (TL 557 633). Behind it is a large 2-storey granary (now a private house) dated 1815, with wall anchors in the form of TB. Next door is a 2-storey granary, (C19th). Opposite the Merchant’s House is the former malting’s kiln, with a tiled conical roof, and now an attractive house.

Later, Swaffham Bulbeck had a railway from Mildenhall to Cambridge, of which few signs remain. There was a station at Swaffham Prior, and local people used a pleasant path there, now sadly defunct.

The Parish
Swaffham Bulbeck is a long, thin parish, aligned NW, SE, and awkwardly placed on Explorer 226, and spilling over onto Explorer 209. Do turn up the maps to consider the parish layout. First, inspect Sheet 226. Like several of the fen parishes of East Cambridgeshire, in times past it was essential for each parish to have access to the R. Cam, in this case reached by water along Swaffham Bulbeck Lode, reaching the Cam at Swaffham Lock, by Lode Farm.

The parish boundary runs on the South side of Swaffham Bulbeck Lode. There is a little bulge in the parish boundary for Swaffham Poors Fen. On the North side of the lode, is Swaffham Bulbeck Fen, enclosed by the parish boundary of Swaffham Prior along Whiteway Drove and continuing Rail Drove, all the way to the Ouse near Commissioners’ Farm.

Similarly, all the East Cambs parishes south of the Ouse, Lode-with-Longmeadow, Swaffham Bulbeck, Swaffham Prior, Reach and Burwell have this long narrow format.

Going SE from the village, (as shown on Sheet 209) the parish boundary goes through the grounds of Bottisham Hall, passes Howes Plantation, and follows a wooded strip towards Whiteland Springs. It then meanders (presumably along former field boundaries) to continue beyond the Old Newmarket Road, which would, in times past, have given the parish a share in the maintenance of the major roads to Exning and Newmarket. Returning NW, the parish boundary passes North of New England Farm, and continues in a straight line to cross the B1102 just beyond the turning to Commercial End.

Outline Walks
Parking is available in specified places on the village green. Please park thoughtfully.
(a) Walk along the back of the green (Fp6), and turn into Lordship Farm on Fp5, cutting a corner of the road. Walk through Commercial End, and turn left into Cow Lane and continue to Cow Bridge (seat). At the signpost, turn left along Fp 4, which starts as a grassy field edge, but later crosses a short section of arable field, to reach the footway of the B1102 near Gutter Bridge. Turn left and walk back to the rec. (2 miles)

(b) Enlarge walk (a) by continuing along Cow Lane to the turning to Forty Acre Drove.
Take the signed footpath W on a strip between fields towards Longmeadow Hamlet, part of Lode Parish. Continue on a signed hard path into Lode rec., and take one of several well-signed paths to Anglesey Abbey. Return to Longmeadow, and make a pleasant detour round Cranney Drove and Docking Drove. Return to Cow Bridge, and take Fp 4 to Gutter Bridge. (6 miles)

(c) Take the High St towards Stone Bridge, continuing to a path at TL 549 613. Follow this to Bottisham, find the path between housing to the church, and follow the village road E to the A1303. There is a residual footway, to take you to TL 560 600, where Bp 15 (created 2004) takes you North. For a “clean” Winter’s walk, continue to Swaffham Heath Rd, where turn left to Swaffham Bulbeck. Or turn left at TL 567 612 for a sticky walk to Park End. (6 miles)

(d) Some long bleak winter walks may be had using parts of “The Lodes Way”, and feeder routes, shown in a National Trust leaflet of that title. Circuits involving part of Swaffham Bulbeck are as follows.
(i) From Cow Bridge, go NNW along the E bank of Swaffham Bulbeck Lode, Turn left at White Fen (attractive picnic site). Continue on a newly-made cycleway and down White Fen Droveway, and turn left along Fen Rd into Lode. Return to Swaffham Bulbeck via Longmeadow. (6 miles).
(ii) Alternatively, after resting at the White Fen picnic site, turn right past Slades Farm, and right again on Whiteway Drove to Swaffham Prior. The main road between Swaffham Prior and Bulbeck has a footway (6 miles).

(iii) Clearly, for the strong walker, extensions via Reach, Burwell or Wicken are possible, or a rougher continuation along Swaffham Bulbeck Lode to Swaffham Lock, part of the Fen Rivers Way to River Bank, to return on hard droves to Whiteway Drove and Swaffham Prior & Bulbeck (10 miles upward)

Cantab Rambler by E-Mail & Post
Cantab now appears about 4 times a year. A large number of you receive Cantab by e-mail. If you would like to receive an issue by post, please send a large SAE.

Offers of brief articles will be gratefully received.

Cantab is also available on website:

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
Cantab80 ©
Janet Moreton, 2015