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CANTAB18 March 2003

CANTAB18 March 2003 published on

** Please note that this is an archive of the CANTAB publication and contains out-of-date information **


West Anglian WayWest Anglian WayNov. 2002 – Feb. 2003

A heron motif is featured on the West Anglian Way Certificate.

The finale of the six walks from Cambridge to Cheshunt was completed on 22 February, on a day which turned out fine and Spring-like after a misty start. Some 45 people walked from Broxbourne to Cheshunt, via Waltham Abbey, ably led by Mark Westley.

During a short lunch-time presentation, in the garden of The Coach & Horses Inn (illustrated left) some 19 walkers received certificates and congratulations for completing the whole 65 mile route. These comprised 9 Cambridgeshire members, 6 East Herts members, 2 from North Herts, and 2 from Royston.

Quite a large proportion of the walk was in Essex where relatively few problems were encountered. However, on the penultimate section, walkers needed to bypass a barbed wire fence obstruction to Footpath 78 across North Cannons golf course at Roydon Mead. Complaints have been passed to Essex County Council about this, the only serious obstruction.

Thanks to all who helped organise, and all who came on this popular joint Cambridge-East Herts Group event.

It is hoped that it will be possible to have The West Anglian Way marked on future Ordnance Survey sheets, and that a leaflet or small booklet will be available in due course. It would be helpful to have feedback on preferred content: an outline leaflet of the route with basic instructions produced cheaply, or a more elaborate booklet with points of interest, illustrations and maps?  As a general point, do users keep walking guidebooks they have used as souvenirs of the route(s), maybe annotated with notes, with a possibility of repeating the traverse, or leading others along it?  Or when a route is completed, is the rain-stained guidebook passed to a friend or consigned to oblivion in the recycling tray?

And how many of the folk present are “addicted” to long distance paths, and veterans of The Icknield Way, The South Downs Way  etc?  Was there anyone for whom this was their first long distance route?


The Meridian Stone near Waltham Abbey.
Photos courtesy Mark Westley.



Parish of the Month –
Great & Little Chishill, South Cambridgeshire.

Landranger 154;  Explorers 209, 194; Pathfinders 1027, 1050

Scenically, geographically, and historically, this parish is amongst the most notable in South Cambridgeshire District, and well worth a prolonged visit.

History of Chishill *(1, 2)
The parishes of Great & Little Chishill were amalgamated into one in 1967, and together cover 1300 hectares, lying across a steep chalk escarpment, rising from 40m at the A505, to a high point of 146m. The open village fields were enclosed in 1818.  In Domesday Book, the name is given as Chishelle, meaning “gravel hill”, and referring to patches of gravel overlying the chalk in higher places. The parish was part of Essex until 1895, when together with Heydon, it was transferred to Cambridgeshire.*(2) The Icknield Way (IW) routes passing through the parish were already important in the Neolithic and Bronze ages, with at least 40 ring-ditches known from the air.  The IW continued in use as a long distance path (LDP) in the Middle Ages, and strip lynchets survive from medieval ploughing on Chishill Down, TL 423 400.  Contemporary use still takes the Icknield Way LDP through Chishill on the old trackway. Great Chishill’s C15th church (with a modern tower) stands on a prominent mound at the village cross-roads. Little Chishill Church stands beside what is now only a hamlet, and is best reached on foot from Great Chishill via the byway running S from May Street at TL 420 384.
 After cresting the hill, the track becomes a sunken lane, descending past the gardens of Little Chishill Manor, to emerge on the Little Chishill road at TL 419 374, almost opposite the church.  A public footpath crosses Little Chishill churchyard and exits between trees over a stile in the rear fence. The right of way crosses a grass field to a stile in a crossing fence, and continues W, across an arable field to a wooden bridge at the county boundary spanning “Water Lane”. A continuing path leads to Shaftenoe End, Herts, whence a return may be made to Chishill via the minor road.(3.5 miles).

Cambridgeshire’s highest point,
146m (480ft) is situated near the county boundary at Great Chishill at TL 427 380, about 400m S of the B1039, where a grassy triangle marks the driveway leading to The Hall (rather hidden in trees).
 From here, a bridleway runs across the arable field towards Building End. Continuing, a good 11 mile walk (*3) can be had via tracks and paths to Langley Church, Duddenhoe End, Chiswick Hall, the isolated Chrishall Church, Chrishall village, and along the line of the Icknield Way Long Distance Path back to Chishill village. Parking for this walk, however, is better in the village itself, where there is a small car park near the telephone box, TL 423 388, close to The Pheasant Inn.

Great Chishill Windmill
Also of interest is the attractive preserved postmill, sited at TL 413 388 outside the village on the B1039 towards Barley. This mill, which last worked in 1951,  was rebuilt in 1819, using timbers from an earlier mill of 1726. The modern restoration has left the sails without shutters and a rather odd skeleton of a fan has been provided. The  mill is, however, complete internally, having 2 pairs of stones, and all-wood gearing except for a cast-iron windshaft (*4). Keys may be obtained from houses in the village.  The mill is maintained by Cambs.C.C., who provide a display board, a small car-park and picnic area. A well-maintained public footpath leads from behind the adjacent garden towards Chishill village centre.  At the crossroads stands the village sign illustrating the mill.

The Parish Pit
Leave the village cross-roads NE, and shortly turn NW down New Road. At TL 423 392, a green metal sign in the hedge indicates a track between gardens, then round a field edge to enter the old parish clunch pit, which is maintained as a nature reserve.

The public footpath through the pit runs generally NE, as a narrow earth track between rampant vegetation to emerge on another footpath at a T-junction, TL 425 393. From here, turn right (uphill) on a narrow path between a stream and hedge, to return to the village. This footpath exits at TL 426 391 onto Heydon Road, Great Chishill, a short walk from the crossroads.

Alternatively, for a longer walk of 4 miles, turn left (downhill). The path at first is a narrow defile, with the trees of the former clunch pit to left, and a stream to right.  Soon, the path opens to fields on the left, with wide views over the Cam Valley. It continues to  New Buildings Farm, then still NW to join the ancient Icknield Way track, by a signpost at TL 410 418.  Turn right along this green lane, between intermittent hedges. The byway along the line of the ancient Icknield Way trackway continues in the parish of Heydon, reaching a marker post at TL 412 420, near a copse. Turn right uphill, now following the line of the Heydon Ditch (an early Anglo-Saxon fortification). At first this is a raised grassy baulk between arable fields.  As it climbs the hill, it becomes a hedged path, later between high banks, and finally emerges between gardens by a footpath signpost with Icknield Way markers on Fowlmere Road, Heydon, at TL 431 405.  Walk S up the footway towards Heydon Church (bombed in 1940, observe the brick restoration) then turn right along the road, passing the King William IV Inn, and the Wood Green Animal Shelter.The former provides food, and visitors & donations are welcome at the latter!

* (1) Archaeology of Cambridgeshire. Vol.1 South West Cambridgeshire by Alison Taylor.  Publ. Cambs.C.C.1997, pp.29 – 30.

* (2) An Atlas of Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire History. Ed. T.Kirby, S. Oosthuizen, Publ.Anglia Polytechnic Univ. 2000.

* (3)Full description – walks in South Cambridgeshire, 2nd. Ed. 1993.Walk 13.  Publ. Cambridge RA Group.

* (4)Batsford Guide to the Industrial Archaeology of East Anglia, by D.Alderton & J.Booker, 1980, pp. 43 -44.

Changes to the Definitive Map in Cambridgeshire
The following information is extracted from Cambs.C.C. Annual Report of Changes to the Definitive Map, as made by Legal Order in the year 1 April 2001 to 31 March 2002.  Some of the new paths have been available on the ground for some time already.

Because of Ordnance Survey copyright restrictions, we are not able to reproduce any maps here, but the following  grid references will allow readers to annotate their maps.

Whittlesey Bridleways 59, 60, 61
Paths near railway: grid refs. TL 291965 to TL 298 966
A section of Fp 41 has been upgraded to Br 59, & a section of Fp 48 upgraded to Br 60.
The bridleways were created by agreement with landowners, Sustrans Ltd., and by upgrading 2 sections of footpath, total length ca. 650m, forming part of a National Cycle Route.

March Footpath 10
Part of footpath 10 between Camargue Drive and Cavalry Park was extinguished as part of housing development.  Grid refs TL 417 955 to TL 417 956.

Grantchester Footpath 12 (part)
A path was created alongside the M11, near its junction with the Barton Road, A603, opposite Haggis Farm.  Grid refs TL 417 562 to TL 420 561.  The footpath was created by Cambs.C.C, by agreement with landowners.

Fenstanton Bridleways 16,17,18,19
Rights of Way have been added to connect two existing subways under the A14.  Grid refs TL 314 684 , TL 317 681

Dry Drayton Footpaths 17, 19
Footpath 17 from behind the church has been re-aligned to follow field boundaries, mostly beside a little stream. Footpath 19 is a new path created by agreement with landowners, to join a point along Fp 17 to Scotland Road, almost opposite Br 18.  Grid refs TL 374 612 to TL 379 613

Willingham Bridleway 12
A new bridleway was created by agreement with landowners, Hanson Quarry Products, running ca 2.9km from West Fen Road, Willingham to No 18 Drove, S of Earith.  It runs roughly parallel to the B1050 ,  generally one field width from the road.  Grid refs. TL 392 745 to TL 395 729

Swaffham Prior Footpath 6
A short section of this path near Pulpit Corner, was diverted by East Cambs.D.C. to Heath Road, as part of a housing development.  Grid refs. TL 374 612 to TL 379 613

Wicken Footpath 28
A short path from Wicken High Street to Back Lane was extinguished, as it appeared to the Authority (East Cambs.D.C.) that it was not needed for public use. (Redit Lane goes through between the two roads a short distance away).  Grid ref TL 568 707

Holywell cum Needingworth Bridleways 17,18 and Footpath 19, and Bluntisham Bridleway 14
Bridleways of ca 1.9km length, and a footpath of ca. 1.3km were created by Cambs.C.C., by agreement with Hanson Quarry Products Ltd., and another landowner. Grid refs. TL 348727 to TL 357 715 (Br) and TL 363 719 (Fp)

(Part of) Ely Footpath 35
A section of Footpath 35, total length ca.65m, was extinguished by Cambs.C.C, as it appeared to the Authority that it was not needed for public use (now being an adopted highway by Jubillee Terrace, off Cutter Lane).  Grid refs. TL 543 798 to TL 544 798

Path News…
Great Chesterford Bridleway Bridge now reopened
Walkers on the Icknield Way were subject to a long detour for some weeks until after Christmas when the bridle bridge was closed over the M11 at TL 502 422, on the long path from Strethall Field to Great Chesterford.  The editor can confirm that the bridge and path are now reopened.  The bridge now has new high-level shuttering, designed to shield horses from the distracting view of the traffic on the M11.

Bourn Footpath 2
This long path runs from Caxton End at TL 317 576 to Broad Way at Great Common Farm, TL 335 593.  As anyone familiar with the locality can imagine, this once pleasant footpath has become entangled with the eastern edge of Cambourne.  Eventually, part of the path will run through a landscaped area and past a lake, then along what we hope will be a green corridor between further housing development. At present “brown” would be a better description than “green”(!), and the developers have proceded to dig out the lake, and block the route before seeking a formal diversion, or even consulting with user groups. A temporary diversion is now in place, only after a local user found “path closed” notices.

Caldecote Bridleway 3
This narrow bridleway, running east from the road at Highfields, TL 351 582, to join Bridleway 4 alongside Hardwick Wood, has for many years been almost unusable by walkers in Winter’s deep mud. The fenced path is defined as a mere 10 ft wide, and in practice is usually less, due to the adjacent hedge. Karen Champion, with Cambs C.C’s Countryside Services Team, reports that work on improving this route has recently been completed.

Fulbourn Footpath 15
The footpath following Caudle Ditch along the Teversham parish boundary to join Little Wilbraham River at TL 518 589 has long been subject to bushy overgrowth.  But Karen Champion of Cambs.C.C. now reports work by 40 servicemen from Waterbeach base have now cleared this valuable and attractive route.

Roger Moreton

Cantab Rambler by E-Mail & Post
Cantab usually appears every two months. A large number of you now receive Cantab by e-mail. By hand, 10p is appreciated towards the cost of paper and ink. If you would like to receive an issue by post, please send a large SAE, and a 10p stamp.

Offers of brief articles will be gratefully received.

This is a privately produced magazine, and the views expressed are solely those of the editor, or of the author of an individual item. Janet Moreton 01223 356889


Price 10 pence where sold © Janet Moreton, 2003

CANTAB17 January 2003

CANTAB17 January 2003 published on

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


West Anglian Way

Nov. 2002 – Feb. 2003
The first 3 walks of the West Anglian Way were a great success, and we look forward to three further walks to Cheshunt. Photographs taken on the walks by Mark Westley are reproduced with kind permission.

“The Tree” at Stapleford, 2 Nov. 2002
“The Tree” at Stapleford, 2 Nov. 2002
Ickleton Recreation Ground, 16 Nov. 2002
Ickleton Recreation Ground, 16 Nov. 2002
Whittlesford Station, 2 Nov. 2002
Whittlesford Station, 2 Nov. 2002


Parish of the Month – Elsworth,
South Cambridgeshire
Elsworth is situated between the A14 and the A428, some 13 miles West of Cambridge. The parish covers 1500 hectares of clay soil, except for an outcrop of limestone to the North of the village.  A height of 65m is reached along the ridgeway of the Cambridge to St Neots road, but the village itself is low lying, and several houses were flooded in 2001. The population was ca. 600 in 1996, but the village has grown modestly in the last few years. Parliamentary Inclosure took place in 1803.  A baker’s dozen of rights of way (including inner-village paths), are mostly in fair order, although in Winter the going is slow on the clay.

Join me for a short walk around the village, then choose a longer walk from those below.

I am starting from Broad End and using the footpath to cross the recreation ground diagonally, to emerge on Smith Street, opposite the Poachers Inn, now owned by the villagers, and welcoming to walkers.  Across the recreation ground to the left are some willow-fringed ponds, the remains of Manorial moats. The Manor House adjacent is on the site of Abbot de Ramsey’s medieval manor.

The village sign, at the junction of Brockley Road and Smith Street relates to village history, showing an ammonite, referring to the local rock outcrop, a shield bearing the arms of the Abbot of Ramsey, a cartwheel for village crafts, and a spray of wheat to symbolise local agriculture.

Go South down Brockley Road, passing The Poachers, and take the second turning on the left, called “Spigot Lane”, between pretty cottages.  This narrows to a footpath, and soon emerges onto Brook Street. Here turn right, following the raised footway beside the brook, with footbridges crossing at intervals.  Where Brook Street turns North, becoming Church Lane, note the signpost and stile for the footpath starting of Walk (A). For the present, continue up Church Lane, and visit the C14th parish church  which contains medieval wooden figures supporting the nave roof, and C15th carved stalls. Go through the churchyard, to emerge on the other side into The Drift, (start of Walk D).  A green metal footpath sign here indicates a fenced alley running behind gardens, round a right angle to meet Boxworth Road. Go down leafy Duncock Lane opposite. Part-way down, on the left, a couple of steps lead up to another fenced alley through to modern housing in Roger’s Close. You need to look carefully to see the next fenced right-of-way opposite leading through to Paddock Row. In the corner, a green metal sign, part-hidden by a hedge, indicates the path where you finish Walk (B). Follow the charming Fardells Lane, with primroses and violets growing at the edge of the woodland in due season. Note the old houses raised well above the lane, for the little brook running beside it floods in heavy rain.  Turn left at the end, and walk back, past the school to the starting point. The path commencing Walks (B) and (C) is signed starting up the fenced side of the school grounds.

Walking opportunities from Elsworth
Maps – Pathfinder 981; Explorer  225;  Landrangers 153, 154.
(A) Knapwell Take the fp S, joining the bp past Lawn Farm to the A428.  Go E along the verge to the roundabout, and take the fp N past Coldharbour to Knapwell. Visit the Church and nature reserve, and return on the fp starting half-way along Knapwell village street to The Drift at Elsworth. (8 miles).

(B) Hilton & Conington Take the fp from beside the school, towards Pitt Dene Farm, then the bp N to Hilton.  Visit village green, turf maze & church. Take the permissive fp from TL 300 660 along track E, then NE to road at TL 316 673, follow road to Conington, visiting The White Swan PH and Church, returning by fp S to Elsworth (8 miles).

(C) Hilton, The Papworths  Follow route (B) to Hilton.  With care, take the busy road S towards New Farm Cottages.  Use fp W to Ermine Street, then signed bp to Papworth St Agnes.  Note old bakehouse and  church with fine flintwork.  Find obscure start by garden, TL 268 643 to long path S to minor road at TL 271 624.  Cross St Ives Road, and take route across fields to Papworth Everard Church. Go down Church Lane to A1198, turn left on footway, and go right up Wood Lane bounding rec. Follow the signed route through new housing N to fp joining farmtrack on high land running  E back to Elsworth. (11 miles).   Note – route finding may be demanding!

(D) Knapwell, Childerley, Lolworth, Boxworth and Conington  From Elsworth take The Drift fp past the church to Knapwell. Take Thorofare Lane, turning S to visit Childerley, spying splendid old house and private chapel. Take bp N to Lolworth, and W to Boxworth, visiting the church, and The Golden Ball PH. Use the long bp NW to Conington, and fp S to Elsworth. (10 miles on good paths).

Magazines for Walkers
As regular subscribers to Cantab Rambler it is assumed that you are an audience that, as well as going walking, enjoys reading about it, and of associated countryside news. When recently gathering some magazines into a tidier heap, it became apparent that there is quite a range of these covering both the national and regional scenes.

Nearly all of you will know The Rambler, official organ of The Ramblers’ Association which appears four times a year.  We are familiar with the thoughtful articles on national issues, news, reports of local Ramblers taking action, listings of events, and articles encouraging the young, less able, underprivileged or minorities to join the RA. I find the letters generally interesting and the guidebook reviews trustworthy.

Country Walking appears monthly in newsagents at £2.95 for a 100 page magazine packed with information.  Many buy this particularly for the pull-out supplement with at least 25 walks per month, nation-wide. Most of these walks are on the shortish side (4 – 8 miles) for the serious walker, with a few up to 11 – 15 miles, but all recommend attractive walking areas, or a less busy approach to a well-frequented locality.  Like The Rambler here are kit reviews, and advice galore, the latter perhaps aimed more at the novice. Do you try the where am I walking competition at the back ? Twice entered, but no success yet!

The Great Outdoors is a similar monthly heavyweight, in terms of pages, but this one is directed at the tougher rambler, venturing on mountains, and  having  a greater emphasis on walking in exotic places.  It is in here that we read of Hamish Brown’s “top 20” Monros – and decided to substitute the criterion of “greatest character” to that of “maximum difficulty”!

More serious reading matter is provided by Footpath Worker, a quarterly bulletin, edited immaculately by Janet Davis of Ramblers’ Association Central Office, and aimed primarily at footpath workers (but available on subscription to other interested parties).  Here we may study complex issues of path orders at public inquiries, court cases,  cases dealt with by the Local Commissioner for Administration (Ombudsman), and sometimes accounts in dry tones of appalling mistreatment of paths, brought before the law.  You will find also local authority matters, government reports, and details of new publications, e.g. the British Standard Stile.

Equally serious and worthy is Open Space, the quarterly magazine of The Open Spaces Society.  (Copies are sold separately to non-members at £3).  Edited by Kate Ashbrook, this treats path issues in a more user-friendly format – with photographs, personalities, and a slightly less academic style.  Open Space deals with commons and access land, but is equally at home fighting for footpaths, bridleways and byways.

But what of the more local magazines? The venerable Southern Rambler covers what a boon the Van Hoogstraten case has been to editors!  One can imagine the commuter perusing his (or her) Southern Rambler instead of the London Evening Standard, although, alas, it does not appear so frequently!

Then we come to the Ramblers’ Association County A4 size bulletins, twice, thrice yearly or quarterly. Comparisons, they say, are odious, but here there is no comparison. “Stile” is edited by Justin Lumley for lucky Hertfordshire Ramblers; it runs to 16 sides, and is distributed to a very substantial membership.  It has everything, including adverts, which no doubt help to pay for its production.  Indeed, one remains puzzled that our Hertfordshire subscribers, already informed by Stile, bother with Cantab Rambler!

Finally, there are the journals of the Icknield Way Association, and that of The Friends of the Hertfordshire Way, designed to support a long distance path and to service far-flung members with information.  The Fen Rivers Way Association Journal produced a modest number of issues to inform and promote the path between Cambridge and Kings Lynn during its inception, and in the course of the sectional walk in 2001, and has now been merged with Cantab Rambler.

Slightly different in emphasis from the above is the fairly new “Friends of the Roman Road and Fleam Dyke”, which produces an intermittent newsletter, packed with historical and nature notes, as well as information on the state of these important Cambridgeshire ancient monuments and trackways. It costs just £5 to be a “friend” and receive a newletter from Julia Napier, Sec., 30a Hinton Ave., Cambridge CB17AS, Tel 01223 213152. Practical help with scrub clearance etc is welcomed but not obligatory!

Do we read all these, with their overlapping stories, and even borrowed articles, looking for variants in presentation or opinion, like a comparison of The Times and The Guardian? I suspect not – we just browse, looking for items of immediate interest.

But thank you for reading Cantab Rambler!

Track the paths on-line
Thanks to the work of Duncan Mackay of Cambridge RA Group’s Committee, there is now electronic access to The Ramblers’ Assoc. Cambridge Group’s Millennium survey of the paths of South Cambridgeshire.

Use, and search for the information by parish.

Stepping back into history
If you think footpaths & bridleways are tediously muddy in Winter, it is always possible for a change to take a walk on the made-up paths in a park, or round the town.  Imagine a time when nearly all roads were unsurfaced, and women wore ankle-length skirts to drag in the ubiquitous horse-muck!

I was recently delighted to be introduced to “Royston 1900: A year in the life of a small market town” by S & J Ralls,  published by The Royston & District Local History Society, 1999, and now reprinted. This book (A4 format, 208pp) includes items from the County Record Office, old photographs, and snippets taken from contemporary editions of The Royston Crow.  We are given a real insight into the lives of residents 100 years ago, and of conditions in this little market town on the Herts/Cambs border at a time when the motor car & the telephone were just appearing, the bicycle becoming popular, and excursions and nature study on Royston Heath becoming not simply a preserve of the leisured and educated classes.

The building now housing Royston Museum in 1900 (reproduced with permission, Royston and District Local History Society).
The building now housing Royston Museum in 1900 (reproduced with permission, Royston and District Local History Society).


Copies are available by post at £10  from David Allard, 8 Chilcourt, Royston, Herts., SG8 9DD, inclusive of postage and packing. (cheques ifo RDLHS) or for £7.95 from Royston Cave Art & Bookshop, 8 Melbourn St., Royston; Royston Museum;  David’s Bookshop, 14 Eastcheap, Letchworth;  Ware Bookshop, 10 Baldock St., Ware;and Sawston Books, 6 Morley’s Place, High St, Sawston.





News of Friends…
Cambridgeshire ramblers will be sorry to learn that Professor Thurstan Shaw, octogenarian President of the Ramblers Association in Cambridgeshire has been unwell this year, with three spells in Addenbrookes’ Hospital.  He is now recuperating for the Winter in Shelford Lodge, 144 Cambridge Road, Great Shelford, and enjoys having news of walkers and their doings.  Thurstan has a world-wide reputation as an archaeologist, but ramblers know him best for his work in founding the Icknield Way Association, and in establishing the Icknield Way as a long distance path. It was his great satisfaction to see the Icknield Way established as a regional route, but his ambition is to see it become a National Trail.

Recuperating at home is Stan Hampton, following a heart bypass operation.  We enjoyed visiting him recently in his bungalow at Wyton, and found him his usual chirpy self. Some 10 weeks after the major op, he is driving again, and now in the “top class” of the physiotherapy sessions at Papworth.  Friends will join with me in sending good wishes, and we will look forward to seeing Stan, (former Treasurer of Cambs RA) on walks in the Spring.

Cambridge RA Group and The Rambling Club are sad to be losing Judy Stoneley, who, with her husband Tony is retiring to the Isle of Wight in 2003.  Judy has been a regular reporter of path problems to Cambs. C.C. Her major contribution to the Cambridge Group’s Millennium Survey of South Cambs, when she assisted the survey of no fewer than 251 paths in 2 years, will be valued in future by those who peruse the volumes of the report deposited at the County Records Office & in Cambridge City Library. Best wishes to both on your retirement and thanks for everything, Judy!

Cantab Rambler by E-Mail & Post
Cantab usually appears every two months. A large number of you now receive Cantab by e-mail. By hand, 10p is appreciated to cover the cost of paper and ink. If you would like to receive an issue by post, please send a large SAE, and a 10p stamp.

Offers of brief articles will be gratefully received.

This is a privately produced magazine, and the views expressed are solely those of the editor, or of the author of an individual item. Janet Moreton 01223 356889


Price 10 pence where sold
© Janet Moreton, 2003

CANTAB16 December 2002

CANTAB16 December 2002 published on

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


Happy Christmas, and . . . .   Good Walking now & in 2003

More about Boots
Last issue’s sad story about cracked up boots must have struck a chord, and I have received several tales of boots that, for one reason or another, failed to make the grade.

The news-sheet of the Cambridge Rambling Club from time-to-time has sad little adverts “For Sale, …boots as new, only worn once“.  Has the seller been obliged to give up serious walking?  Did they prove too large or too small?  Or were they too ferocious to be broken in?

I have been taken aside at a meeting, and shown a pair of heavy-duty boots, worn only on four mountain holidays, with a large slit in the leather at one side, and effectively useless.

On the other hand, not all walkers regard the tendency of uppers to crack with the same horror, it seems.  In a letter from a distant friend, she statesAll my walking boots have cracks across the toes. It is part of the breaking-in process and I would rather have cracks than strata of blisters on the heels which seems to be the alternative.  They let in water, but that doesn’t bother me.  I have two very aged and one fairly aged pair of boots, so some buying and breaking in is going to happen soon...”

Well, let us hope that Santa, or at least the January Sales will come up with perfect footware for all our readers.

The West Anglian Way – off to a good start!
On the 3 November, 40 ramblers left Cambridge station, on the first leg of their route to Cheshunt. Walkers came from the Cambridge area, and from all over Hertfordshire, 4 from London, including one lady here for a few months from Australia. Kate Day, Cambs C.C.Countryside Access Team Leader, accompanied by her little son, Benjamin, had sent us on our way with welcome words of encouragement and support.

The route took us past allotment gardens, along the track of the old Cambridge to Bletchley railway line, and to the monument at Nine Wells, which commemorates the activities of Thomas Hobson and friends, who first brought a water supply to Cambridge. We passed briefly through Shelford, and paused for lunch at The Tree in Stapleford.  So far, the weather had been fine and mild.  But rain in the afternoon, at first a drizzle, gradually increased as we left the fields and Rowley Lane, and traversed Sawston’s recreation ground.  We hastened up Church Lane, and along the High Street, to take to field paths once more to cross the bypass, and make for Whittlesford.  This was not the afternoon to linger on the green for a teabreak, but instead, we hastened to the station for the trains to take us our several ways…

The early mist on Sat. 16 November did not delay the trains, so 42 ramblers were able to set off  promptly at 10 am from Whittlesford Station, under the expert guidance of Gwen and Lawrence Gerhardt.  Crossing the A505 was fortunately fairly easy, due to roadworks, and in future a central refuge here should ease the problem. We walked south through Duxford, passing the redundant church of St Johns, the charming village green, and the church of St. Peters. We continued down the road past the new housing and the chemical works, and over the level crossing and the footbridge over the ford.  The deep water here ensures that little traffic ventures, making this a quiet lane for pedestrians. In Hinxton, we turned off through the grounds of Hinxton Mill (owned by Cambridge Preservation  Society, the mill being open to the public on some Summer Sundays).

A worn grass path led by the swollen river Cam, and then alongside the railway, where Gwen & Lawrence had put in work to clear the path of branches brought down by the October storm debris. Field paths took us to Butchers Lane, Hinxton, and down a passage where  we had to scramble over the debris of a fallen flint wall.  Some of the party took coffee break on the ample seats of the recreation ground, while others repaired to the welcoming  Ickleton Lion.  We continued along Back Lane, and turned into the quiet Coploe Road, which climbs steeply uphill, crossing the M11, and passing a local nature reserve, bright with chalkland flowers in Summer, but bleak now.  As we climbed the hill, gleams of sunshine came through the clearing mist, giving atmospheric views of the high land ahead. The party had left Cambridgeshire for the last time on this walk, and from now on would, for many miles be in Essex’s Uttlesford District.

A picnic lunch was taken in the graveyard of the isolated St Mary’s Church, Strethall. We pressed on swiftly, field paths taking us past St Ann’s Wood, to emerge from a muddy bridleway into Littlebury Green.  Here we crossed the village street straight over onto further good paths leading us over the M11, and down into Wendens Ambo, where there was a brief pause to admire the old church of St Mary the Virgin, with its fine Norman doorway.  Over the recreation ground, we took the lane route to Norton End (avoiding the field path with regular Winter flooding), and took a concrete bridleway south over the hill towards Whiteditch Lane, Newport.  Conversation flagged as we made this steep climb late in the walk!  We made a final uphill across the recreation ground to St Mary’s Church, and at last along Newport High Street, admiring the many splendid old buildings, several of which were once coaching inns.  The station was reached by 3.30 pm, not bad going for a longish walk.  All the future sections are shorter!

The third section of the West Anglian Way will be led by your editor on Saturday 30 November, when walkers will leave Newport Station at 10 am, for a 10 mile walk to Bishops Stortford. Morning coffee break will be held at Rickling Green, and a lunchbreak will be taken at Stansted Mountfichet, where there are several pubs and eating places, and the opportunity for those wanting a shorter walk to leave us at Stansted station.  Note that this is the last of the walks in the series before Christmas.

The fourth section of the Way starts from Bishops Stortford Station on Sat.18 January 2003, starting at 9.40 am from the station forecourt.  Walkers from Cambridge note the earlier train leaving at 9.05.  This is the now traditional bun walk.  For the uninitiated, participants on one Cambridge Group walk every January are offered  a cake or bun as a festive season gesture and to help sustain them against the winter chill!  Do all come along for a 10 mile largely riverside walk to Harlow, and work off all that Christmas sloth.

We look forward to the Fifth Section of the walk, Harlow to Broxbourne, on Saturday 8 February, and the final section to Cheshunt Station, via Waltham Abbey,  on Saturday 22 February. Both of these walks will be expertly led by Mark Westley on his home territory.  There will be certificates for those who have completed all the walks.

Isle of Man Coastal Path
It came as a surprise, on a visit to the Isle of Man a few years ago, to discover that not only did a coastal path exist, but that it extended to 96 miles – an ideal length for a week’s walking.  I returned to the Island in May to tackle the Coastal Path Challenge, as the Raad ny Foillon (path of the seagull) was described by Legs of Man, the company who organised my trip.

Right from the start, variety was the watchword.  The bustling town of Douglas was soon left behind.  Marine Drive, a Victorian-built road now closed to traffic, provided an easy level walk for the first few miles, overlooking splendid rock scenery.  A mixture of road, field and coastal path led to Castletown, passing Ronaldsway Airport, scene of a battle between Scots and Irish in 1275.  The second day featured the Chasms, a rocky area with fissures dropping down 200ft to the sea below, and the Calf of Man, a tiny picturesque island used as a bird sanctuary, finishing at Port Erin after passing literally within inches of nesting seagulls.  The route to Peel involved about 4500 feet of climbing, with three dramatic moorland mountains to scale, but proved less strenuous than I expected.  By contrast, two days with some long stretches of level sandy beach walking were surprisingly tiring.  The final two stretches featured too much road walking, even if we did pass Norman Wisdom’s house, but fine views of a couple of ancient churches were a compensation.  On the last day, a ceremonial tape stretched across Douglas promenade completed the walk, and the Island’s Director of Tourism appeared in person to present us with our certificates over a glass of champagne!

David Harrison

Christmas Presents?
*Out of Date* For up-to-date info see link.
The Ramblers’ Association Cambridge Group offers a selection of reasonably priced walking guides, all available at £4.50 by post from Bernard Hawes, 52 Maids Causeway, Cambridge, CB5 8DD. Cheques should be made payable to “Cambridge Group of the Ramblers’ Association“.

All have sketch maps and drawings, route descriptions, and points of interest. And look at the number of walks you get for your money! Compare these with commercially published guidebooks, typically having only 10 or 12 walks.

Walks in South Cambridgeshire
23 walks from 4 to 20 miles, covering Cambridge, and many of the villages to the west, south and east.  This is the Group’s classic best seller, first published 1987, with regular revisions and new editions since.

Walks in East Cambridgeshire
30 walks from 1.5 to 17 miles, covering the fens near Littleport, Ely, Wicken and Soham, and the horse-stud belt around Newmarket.

Walks on The South Cambridgeshire Borders
28 walks, most with longer or shorter options, giving routes from 4 to 18 miles.  This is the book for readers wishing to venture outside the immediate Cambridge area, as the walks spread over the borders of Bedfordshire, Suffolk, Essex and Hertfordshire.

The Complete Fen Rivers Way – Cambridge to the Wash, and other walks
Formerly marketed by The Fen Rivers Way Association, this popular guide is now in its third edition, covering the Fen Rivers Way,  a linear walk from Cambridge to Kings Lynn and beyond, together with a dozen circular walks based on the Cam & Great Ouse.

The Bramble – Friend or Foe?
The season for blackberrying is past, and only the last, dark, moist remnants now hang at the ends of leafless trailing brambles, threatening to trip the unwary path user.

But who has not enjoyed the September hedgerow harvest straight from the plant in passing, or gathered into the post-prandial lunch box?  Or how many have not set out more purposefully to gather the fruit in pound or kilogramme amounts for blackberry-and-apple pie, crumble, jams, jellies, or for the freezer?

The fruit is very rich in vitamin C. It is possible to make good jam or pip-free jellies using blackberry alone, but a firm set is more easily obtained especially in jellies, by adding strained juices of apple or crab apple.

The bramble, Rubus fruticosus is botanically of the rose family, and is not a single species, but rather a group of up to 400 subspecies, or microspecies, as found in Britain and mainland Europe. Differences between the subspecies depend on factors such as habit (erect or creeping); type, size and colour of prickles; leaf form, colour and hairiness; flower (colour and size); and fruit (number of drupelets). Keeble-Martin, and O.Polunin whose volumes provided this information do not, unfortunately correlate the information with which main subspecies give the pleasantest fruit to eat! In my opinion, however, the average wild berry has a superiour flavour to the cultivated types, although it is generally only about a third of the size.

It is worth being aware that there is a separate species, the dewberry, Rubus caesius, which is similar to the blackberry in appearance, but is not good to eat (although not poisonous). The fruits of this plant have large, grey-bloomed drupelets, which tend to ripen earlier in the year than the blackberry.

Now to consider the Jekyl & Hyde character of the common bramble. The trouble arises when this fast-growing character lurks beside a footpath in a confined space. Walking beside a bramble hedge is unwise in one’s newest Goretex jacket, as the breathability is likely to be enhanced! From a tall hedge, trailers hang down to snag the hair or the woolly hat, or the creeping, low-growing variety send out long low shoots to trip the unwary.  From the plant’s viewpoint, this is a useful means of propagation, as the end of the shoot can root elsewhere in the ground, to form a new plant in the middle of the path.  In the space of a year or two, the path, if not kept trimmed, can become a solid mass of impenetrable bramble, often interspersed with its friend the common stinging nettle.

Following last year’s Foot & Mouth epidemic, and consequent path restrictions and neglect, we have become very aware of the power of the bramble.

From the B1061 at Slugs Green, near the water-tower, south of Dullingham, an attractive path runs west to Underwood Hall, Westley Waterless.  The earlier sections of this path run beside a ditch to right, and are closely fenced to left.  Until this was cleared, the brambles, growing exuberantly in the adjacent ditch completely choked the path.

Recently we walked in Castle Camps, and visited Great Bendysh Wood, emerging on the road near Olmstead Green.  A newly signed and waymarked footpath runs through the grounds of “Meadowside”. As the route exits over a splendid new County Council bridge to give access to the field beyond, we found our way over the bridge totally blocked by brambles, that had encroached from the side, and insinuated their way between the wooden boards.  Without secateurs (and a spare half-hour) we would not have won through!  This had occurred in a mere 18 months.

Brambles conceal waymark posts and  signposts, such as the one (now replaced) for the path beside Shepreth’s lakes, starting on the A10; they hide humps and hollows in the ground; and they cover ground in nature reserves choking out more tender plants…

The only advice I can offer is to carry secateurs as routine, and to report serious encroachments to the County Council – sometimes action is taken before the path is totally blocked!

But I still like blackberry jam!

This is a privately produced magazine, and the views expressed are solely those of the editor, or of the author of an individual item. Janet Moreton 01223 356889


Price 10 pence where sold

© Janet Moreton, December 2002

CANTAB15 October 2002

CANTAB15 October 2002 published on

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


The West Anglian Way November 2002 – February 2003
Come and join Cambridge RA, Royston RA, and East Herts Footpath Society  along a new Long Distance path, The West Anglian Way, from Cambridge to Cheshunt.   It is accessible throughout by railway, and is named after West  Anglian Great Northern, and takes its symbol, the heron, from that of the railway. However, for copyright reasons, note that our heron looks different!

Train timetables are always liable to alteration:  please check nearer the date. There are pubs on the routes of all stages, but we advise people to bring some food. Leaders on walks 1 – 4 are Roger, Janet,  Gwen & Lawrence. The leader for walks 5, 6 is Mark.

1. Sat. 2 November 2002, Cambridge to Whittlesford (11 miles) or  half-day to Shelford (5 miles)
Start from Cambridge Station forecourt at 09.40.  Lunch at Stapleford.
Train from Bishops Stortford arrives Cambridge at 09.37; train from Stevenage at 09.25.  Return trains to Cambridge from Whittlesford at 21 & 57 mins., from Shelford at 01 minutes past each hour; to Bishops Stortford from Whittlesford at 12 & 43 mins., from Shelford at 39 mins. past each hour.

2. Sat. 16 November 2002, Whittlesford to Newport (12 miles) or Ickleton (4.5 miles)
Catch 09.34 train from Cambridge, arriving Whittlesford 09.43, or meet at Whittlesford station (West side) 10.00. Note – No pub at lunchtime (but possible at morning break!)
Train from Bishops Stortford arrives Whittlesford at 09.57. Return trains to Cambridge from Newport at 44 mins. past each hour; to Stortford at 56 mins. past each hour. Bus from Ickleton (School Turn) to Cambridge at 12 mins. past each hour (not passing Whittlesford station!), or self-led to Great Chesterford (for trains to Stortford) at 48 mins. past each hour

3. Sat. 30 November 2002, Newport to Bishops Stortford (11 miles) or half-day to Stansted (7 miles)Catch 09.34 train from Cambridge, arriving Newport 09.56, or meet at Newport station (village side) 10.00.  Lunch at Stansted.
Train from Bishops Stortford arrives Newport 09.44. Return trains to Cambridge from Stortford at 01 & 31 mins. past each hour, from Stansted at 35 mins. past each hour; to Stortford from Stansted at 7 & 35 mins. past each hour.

4. Sat 18 January 2003, Bishops Stortford station to Harlow Town station, 10 miles.
Catch 9.05 train from Cambridge, arrive Bishops Stortford 9.32 to start from station forecourt, 9.40. Lunch at Sawbridgeworth. The Bun Walk! (Short option to Sawbridgeworth)
Return trains to Cambridge from Harlow at 21 and 49 mins past each hour.

5. Sat.8 February 2003, Harlow Town station to Broxbourne station,  10/11 miles.
Catch 9.05 train from Cambridge. Start Harlow Town station forecourt. ( Short option, returning from Roydon at lunchtime). Pubs in Roydon.  Teatime refreshments at Dobbs Weir.  Leader Mark

6. Sat.22 February 2003, Broxbourne station to Cheshunt station, via Waltham Abbey, 10/11 miles (or short option, going direct to Cheshunt, missing out the loop to Waltham Abbey. Catch 9.05 train from Cambridge  Lunch stop at Hayes Hill Farm tearoom or Coach & Horses PH, and tea stop at Waltham Abbey).  Leader Mark

We hope to have certificates for finishers!

For further information, tel. 01223 356889

Kilnhill, Bassenthwaite,Cumbria 7 – 14 May 2003.
New readers of Cantab may not be aware that a small group from Cambridge have made an annual pilgrimage to the Lake District for the last 5 years or so. Once again, we plan to stay at Kilnhill with Ken and Heather Armstrong for a week, (Wed – Wed, leaving Thurs morning).

As previously, we shall aim to do about 9 – 12 miles a day, with a mountain climb if the weather makes this possible. We may  or may not know the particular route, but we do have a good range of maps & guidebooks, and we have visited the Lake District many times in the last 40 years.  We do not deliberately aim for screes, or places with high exposure, but bear in mind that the terrain is often rough & steep. The Lake District is just like that!  We will not do the same walks as previous years, but those who have come on all the holidays may find they are occasionally crossing the tracks of previous routes. We may drive a little further afield in 2003!

We will use OS Outdoor Leisure Series NE & NW Cumbria (yellow covers).  You might also like to have OS Landranger Sheet 98, West Cumbria., showing the guest house Grid Ref. 214 326 at the N end of Bassenthwaite Lake.  A metal walking pole (or two?) is highly recommended, and waterproof overtrousers are essential.

Kiln Hill Barn, Bassenthwaite is a good centre for the Northern Lakes.  In the house there are now 5 double or twin rooms, and 2 singles.  In the annex there is one double and 1 twin. Rates at 2001 were £235 per week bb/em. Parking is in a clean, cobbled yard.  The accommodation is good quality, with some rooms en-suite, all with central heating, and tea-making facilities.There is a hall pay-phone & TV lounge. The food is varied, generous in quantity, and very good. The Armstrongs have re-arranged the accommodation, and this year, all meals are in the house.

Transport – By car, using M6 to Penrith, then A66 Keswick bypass and A591 to Kiln Hill Barn.  It is possible to arrive by public transport.

Interested?  Then please make your own booking: Ken & Heather Armstrong, Kiln Hill Barn, Bassenthwaite, Keswick, Cumbria, CA12 4RG. Tel. 017687 76454…. Please let me know you have done so!

Cracked across at 14 months – or the sad tale of a pair of boots. . .
Readers will know (or at least guess) that your Editor does a lot of walking, something like 50 miles per week in her walking boots. For the sake of both feet and boots, I try to wear a couple of pairs alternate days, so a single pair of my boots might do 1250 miles in a year.  Normally, my boots last about 3 years under these conditions, and are treated with boot wax and the usual tender loving care.

Thus, I was not pleased when a pair of ladies’ Scarpa top-of-the-range size 39s cracked  above the toes after just 14 months, although the soles were in good order.  I returned them to “Open Air”, who were also concerned, and passed them back to the manufacturer.  I was distinctly annoyed when they came back with the comment that I had allowed the leather to dry out.  I have cared for boots for some 40 years, and if other types mostly make the 3000 mile plus mark under my treatment, then so should Scarpa.  My latest are a pair of substantial Meindl, costing a bit short of £100.  I’ll let you know if they are still going strong in 3 years’ time!

Essex 100 Walk,  August 2002
We recently had the pleasure of joining Essex Ramblers’ Association in their annual Essex 100 mile walk, 3 – 11 Aug.. The original idea was the brainchild of Fred Matthews, and we were delighted to see Essex’s grand old man of rambling riding in the support car most days. The route is different every year, and is a way of gathering groups from all over Essex, and of encouraging Essex County Council to put in new bridges, signs, etc, and to remove a few obstructions along the way.  Each walker is given a free prospectus of the route, complete with points of interest passed each day.

This year, the start was in Cambridgeshire, at Castle Camps.  The official opening was performed by Mrs Wendy Silby, Chairman of Cambs. C.C., and the day’s walk was accompanied by Karen Champion, the County Council Footpaths Officer covering South Cambridgeshire District.  Jack Rixon and Alan Hardy represented Castle Camps, and Roger Lemon and his wife came from Shudy Camps.

There were 55 people on the first day,  and we left Cambridgeshire in the late morning sun, to make it over the county border and via the Bumpsteads to Hempstead (12 miles), where we had left the cars in a large farmyard, and from whence a coach had taken us to the start of the day’s walk.

Sun 4 Aug started cloudy, and rain commenced steadily at lunchtime. The walk took 48 people a further 12 miles from Hempstead via Radwinter and Wimbish, and a devious route to Thaxted.  Here, as in subsequent places, the local councillor who opened the day’s walk spoke of the local opposition to the governments proposals to add a further three runways to Stansted airport.  This would swallow-up large sections of Uttlesford, as far south as the Eastons  We were encouraged to write to our MPs.

On Mon 5 Aug, the route took us from Thaxted to Wethersfield, via Great & Little Bardfield, and Finchingfield. (12 miles)  These are all “picture book” villages, but there were heavy downpours all day, and I mostly recall tramping along sodden green lanes under waterproof & umbrella, looking at the sea of umbrellas in front.  The best dressed Essex ramblers in summer rain wear boots with gaiters, shorts covered by Malden & District black dustbin bags, RA  or other T-shirt and large umbrella.  On the way home, it was a lovely afternoon, and Roger & I stopped at Finchingfield, just in time to have a splendid cream tea before the thatched tea-shop closed at 5.30.

Tues 6 Aug was a slightly shorter day, (11 miles), in delightful quiet countryside from Wethersfield to Stebbing, via Great Saling  and Bardfield Saling (with its unusual round-towered church).It was a fine day, but numbers had shrunk to 38, probably due to the conditions on the day before.

On Wed 7 Aug, the 12 mile route took us round some very attractive parts of Dunmow, and by the River Chelmer.  At one point, we all had to cross the A120.  Four people had yellow tabards.  We were lined up at the end of the path, and drilled. Two yellow tabards at the front (one an ex-policemen) advanced into the continuous stream of traffic and put up their hands.  And everything stopped (slight groaning of brakes from lorries down the queue), and we all went across, with some good-tempered waves from motorists.  In 1 km, we had to cross the  workings for the new A120, (where there is to be a pedestrian bridge).  The leader had obtained a permit, and a road-engineer was detailed to see us across the mud-with-puddles. (We don’t know if they feared we would slip or drown in the mud, or hijack a JCB!).  The pleasant engineer took a photo of the lot of us, and said we should do this every week to justify the cost of the footbridge.  We were all thinking “what a satisfactory day” when it started to rain, insidious light rain at first around 3 pm, becoming heavier…  The last sections were across arable fields, 2 recently cultivated, then through a potato field!

Thu 8 Aug, was an easy and delightful day of 11 miles. The route was less convoluted than some of the earlier days, and took us in almost a straight line from High Roding via Pleshey to Broomfield, all on pleasant paths or lanes.  The day was almost dry, with just 3 micro-showers.

Fri 9 Aug. From Broomfield, the walking route took us East of an old airfield, and past an enormous gravel pit – past woodlands and over the A12 on an accommodation bridge to Hatfield Peveril. By then, the 42 people were in their usual state of wetness. It continued raining through the grey afternoon to Wickham Bishops (11 miles).

On Sat 10 Aug, with permission we all parked at the jam factory at Tiptree.  The morning started dry but very humid, and soon there were rumbles of thunder.  By 11 am, 38 people advanced unsteadily across slippery flooded stubble in a thunderstorm, as the rain sluiced down. The day was black, and there was a low moaning between the thunder claps.  Later we learnt that we had been half a mile away from a mini-tornado!  The pub at Little Totham was very tolerant of all these wet people, eating their own sandwiches inside, and leaving mud and water where they made contact!  After lunch the sun came out, and we all steamed, and made it back to Tiptree in good spirits, in spite of an unforeseen detour, adding a mile to the route (13 miles).  We had an excellent tea at the factory, and set off back home, via Braintree as far as Sible Hedingham, only to find the car  was diverted back to Braintree by floods.

Sun 11 Aug. The last day was blessedly only 7 miles to Layer Breton, near the Blackwater Estuary, passing the lovely Layer Marney Towers. The event finished at lunchtime with a barbeque. Some  31 people got their certificates from the Mayor of Colchester, Nigel Chapman, and each walker was given a friendly send-off by the RA Essex Area Chairman, Colin Jacobs.

Congratulations to Essex RA Area on a very well-organised event, which was most enjoyable, in spite of the weather. We met several old friends and made some new ones. We would encourage other people to join another year.  2003’s event will be in May, from Long Melford to Chingford, near Epping Forest.

New Footpath at Stourbridge Common, Cambridge
To walk to Fen Ditton over Stourbridge Common, it has been necessary to go “inland” and cross the railway line by the footbridge with many steps – difficult for some, and impossible for bikes, prams and wheelchairs. This is a confusing and unattractive start to the Fen Rivers Way.  One often meets walkers puzzling over the sign board at the end of Riverside.  Recently a board walk has been constructed under the river railway bridge which makes a much pleasanter walk to Fen Ditton and a good cycle commuting route for those living in that area.

It is also possible to have  a short circular walk around Stourbridge Common using the new boardwalk and the old railway bridge.  Sadly, however, on a recent visit, it was noticed that access to the railway bridge is becoming difficult because of overgrowth through lack of use.  It is hoped that there are no plans to dismantle the bridge.

Bernard Hawes

E-Mail Transmission of Cantab Rambler
Cantab usually appears every two months. Those of you who receive Cantab by e-mail will generally receive it in a compressed “Winzip” form. If you would prefer to have it uncompressed, then please let us know. If you would like to receive an issue by post, a large SAE would be appreciated!

Any comments on content, and 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 the author of an individual item. Janet Moreton 01223 356889


Price 10 pence where sold

© Janet Moreton, October 2002

CANTAB14 August 2002

CANTAB14 August 2002 published on

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


Home and Away
At this time of year, many of us will either be on holiday, or avoiding the school holidays, having already taken time away in the Spring,  or will be looking forward to an Autumn break.

Many of us seek a holiday in environments unlike what we have at home, so coasts and hills are naturally popular with east Anglians.  So this issue has reports of some “private enterprise” holidays away, as well as notes on opportunities and problems at home.

A week in Cumbria, May 2002
Up to a dozen friends once again filled the farm (not all present all the time)  at Kilnhill, Bassenthwaite, for a week’s walking, the fourth such visit.

Actually, this year, two of our number broke the mould, and astounded the pedestrians by covering 300 miles of the lanes on their tandem, and delighting us with their travellers’ tales at dinner each evening.

The rest of us managed to discover some new routes to climb, covering 8 to 11 miles per day, and up to 3000ft of ascent.. On the first day, we started from Braithwaite, and climbed the modest peak Outerside, before making a rising traverse up the flanks of Causey Pike, returning over Scar Crags, and descending  via Sail Pass and Rigg Beck.

The next morning  showed mist on the tops, but we were promised a clearance. This was the only walk direct from the farm, ascending through woods and fields to Orthwaite, and up a long bridleway to Great Calva. On the top, the mist swirled round, and we were only afforded the odd glimpse of Skiddaw opposite.  On the steep descent down beside Whitewater Dash, there were  many cries of “mind your knees!”.

Saturday, 11 May was breezy, so we settled for a lower top. From Thirlmere, we went up the Wythburn valley past Middle Howe onto Greenup Edge, and tripped across the bogs to Ullscarf, descending past Standing Crag, and into forestry near Dobgill.  This was a day when some of us got wet feet, particularly one who was led in a direct line across the bogs by his dog on the end of a long lead.

Sunday was a busy day to attempt Helvellyn, but the weather was perfect.  We ascended via Raise Beck to Grisedale Tarn, and up Dollywagon Pike, from the slopes of which we really could see Blackpool Tower.  On the summit of Helvellyn we chatted to a Dutch couple who had made the climb in trainers, then hastily moved away from the trig point to make way for further crowds.  We descended down the well-reconstructed path to Wythburn church.

On the wet Monday, we skulked around lower paths in Borrowdale, doing a figure-of-eight walk to ensure lunch under cover, and consoling ourselves with a visit to the Dales Barn Centre, and later, to a delightful teashop.

The last day was showery, and the party were happy to go to Borrowdale again, this time to visit Watendlath, Ashness Bridge, and Derwent Water at Lodore and Manesty, before returning  to Rosthwaite.

We were grateful for the kindness of our hosts Ken and Heather, who had held over our deposits from the Foot-and-Mouth blighted 2001, and who, once again, gave us such a comfortable and well-fed stay.

Walking in Dumfries and Galloway
Roger and I took a week in early May visiting Newton Stewart for the first time.  We were well cared-for and well-fed at The Stables GH, (01671 402157), and enjoyed reasonable weather.

We made two trips to the coast, visiting Mull of Galloway (the  most southerly point of Scotland), and the Isle of Whithorn. In both cases, we much enjoyed the cliffs, the Spring flowers, and the mild climate of the coastal strip, which might have been Cornwall in April. Disappointing though, was the inability to do more than a mile or two along the coast without encountering an obstruction. Tourist information (ring 01671 402431 for brochure etc) gives plenty of data on castles, museums, arts & crafts, and boasts of 200 miles of beautiful coast. But it does not say how little of this may be walked. However, there are several places where a 2 or 3 miles circuit or out-and-back is possible.

Inland, there was a short walk by the river at Newton Stewart, but no access to the lush farmland containing the famous “belted galloway” cattle.  The main local industry is forestry, so beware the huge logging lorries on the single track roads!  The forest authority has created several attractive picnic sites, and has waymarked many circular walks, but the average length seems to be 2 to 4 miles. There were also longer cycle trails – we saw no cyclists or indeed few other walkers in May, but presumably the forests are busier later.

However, we had with us the SMC guide to Corbetts and other hills, and climbed Merrick (a popular tourist mountain, easily accessible from the very beautiful Glen Trool); Cairnsmoor of Fleet, overlooking the Solway; Corserine; Shalloch on Minnoch; and, on the way home, Criffel, combining this with a visit to Sweetheart Abbey. Using the SMC guide was not without hazard – we went to climb Cairnsmore of Carsphairn, North of New Galloway, but found the suggested start, by a farm at Green Well of Scotland, obstructed, and with threatening notices.  When using the car park to climb Corserine, we were told by a forest worker or keeper to be back by 5 pm! (In the event, we sufferered an hour’s hail storm on top, and were only too pleased to descend by 3.30pm.).  On this occasion, we talked to a couple of very pleasant local walkers, who gave us useful advice  for our remaining 3 days holiday.

The other walking opportunity in the area is, of course, The Southern Uplands Way, which we saw in places where it crossed roads.  It appears to be reasonably well-waymarked. We think it would be difficult to do circuits based on the long distance path, other than using roads. We would welcome comments from anyone who has walked this route.

We enjoyed our holiday, and there was plenty to do from Newton Stewart in one week.  Having “done” the local Corbetts, we would only consider going to the area again to walk the Southern Uplands Way.  Other walking opportunities seem rather limited, or not widely advertised.

Janet & Roger Moreton

Essex Problems
We have recently used the narrow steep path ascending from the lane behind Newport station, going up beside the chalk pit.  The path has a concrete sign, “public bridleway”, but we have enquired, and it is, in fact, a byway, so beware!

On the first occasion, we were passed by three motorcyclists.  There is just room in the narrow hedged lane, between the high banks. More recently, on the Jubliee holiday, we had a narrow escape.  We descended the path, and had just emerged onto the wide concrete turning circle in front of the quarry entrance, when 2 landrovers passed up, going up. We would not have been able to pass them at all in the nettle & bush lined defile.

The other, temporary problem in the Newport area is a pipeline going across country. There are several paths in the Wicken Bonhunt, and Arkesden areas with 6 months closure notices, starting from 1 May 2000.

Essex 100 Walk,  August 2002
The Essex 100 Walk starts this year from Castle Camps in Cambridgeshire (!), on 3 August. Following days start from Hempstead, Thaxstead, Wethersfield, Stebbing, High Roding, Broomfield, Wickham Bishops and Tiptree. A coach, fare £2,  runs from the end of the day’s walk at 9.30 sharp.  There is also an Essex Mini week’s walk. running simultaneously.  The “100 miler” is 9 days at 11 – 12 miles per day, and the mini-walks are 3 – 4 miles.

The Complete Fen Rivers Way accomplished in less than 20 hours!
The following report was sent to the Fen Rivers Way Association  on 18 May by Andrew Knights.

“I have just returned from an expedition  by Fenland Mountain rescue (Thorney Division), a walking group of friends from Thorney.  Thirteen of us left “The Pike and Eel” at 2305h last night, and with the help of our support party, and some friends who joined for part of the way today.  Eleven of us (and a dog) completed the 50-and-a-half mile walk without a break.  The first of us arrived at 15.20h at Ongar Hill, after 16h 15 min, and the last some 90 minutes later.

The sections of the walk in Cambridgeshire were for the most part very overgrown and made passage very difficult (and our legs and feet very wet) except where cattle were grazing.  In particular, we had to walk along the A10 itself to Brandon Creek, where we had breakfast, as the grass on top of the bank was long with no discernable path. Fortunately, it was early in the morning, but the traffic was very fast and very scarey.

By contrast, most of the Norfolk Section was very well tended and a pleasure to walk on.  I was disappointed that beyond West Lynn ferry terminus there were no more Fen Rivers Way Signs, only West Coast Path ones, and no mention at all at Ongar Hill on the information board.  We had 8 checkpoints with our support team, and your guide book was invaluable.”

Andrew asks if the feat had ever been accomplished before – to which the Fen Rivers Way Group answers, “No, not to our knowledge”.  Many congratulations to the Thorney team – who says Fen Tigers don’t make good walkers?

State of the Fen Rivers Way in Cambridgeshire
As a follow-up to the above letter, Duncan Macay, Chairman of FRWA contacted Kate Day, Team Leader of the Rural group at Cambridgeshire County Council.  Kate reported that the annual cut of the grass was now underway, part being done by contractors, and part by representatives of the those parishes in the Parish Path Partnership Scheme.

It seems a shame that the path cannot be maintained throughout in good order, when it is clearly so popular. Duncan Mackay intends to press for better maintenance in the future.

The Fen Rivers Way Association – a good job now completed
At a recent Committee meeting of the Fen Rivers Way Association, members took stock of what had been accomplished in half a dozen years,

  • to publicise a through route along the rivers Cam and Ouse between Cambridge and Kings Lynn, and beyond
  • to obtain support from the Norfolk and Cambridgeshire County Councils, and from many parishes along the route
  • to see two major bridges, at Holt Fen Drove, and Cuckoo Bridge near Ely provided
  • to assist in the waymarking of the route as far as Kings Lynn
  • to extend the route, using the new West Lynn walkway
  • to provide a popular guidebook, now in its third edition
  • to lead walks along the route, including the popular series of the whole route in sections last year.

The Committee considered with satisfaction what had been achieved, and what remained to be done. Clearly, the guidebook needs to be kept updated, and in print, but the Ramblers’ Association Cambridge Group has agreed to take this over.  Otherwise, a watching brief needs to be maintained on the state of the path, as is shown clearly by the reported overgrowth in the preceeding article.  Repairs to the waymarking can be carried out by a few people only.

Members of the FRWA were consulted, regarding the continuation of the Association.  Many were prepared to remain members, but there were no additional volunteers to serve on the Committee.

Consequently, it was decided to terminate the Fen Rivers Way Association, but a Fen Rivers Way Working Group will continue to provide a watching brief on the route, update the guidebook, and seek to help the promotion of walking beside other East Anglian waterways.

Duncan Mackay, Roger Moreton, Dennis Stephens Janet Moreton

Advance news of The West Anglian Way November 2002 – February 2003
Here is something to look forward to in the coming Winter.  Walk a new long distance path with Cambridge, Royston & East Herts Ramblers next Winter.  Full details will be in the Ramblers’ Association programmes, out by October.  Distances are approx. 10 – 12 miles, with shorter options in some cases.

Meanwhile – Dates for your diary

  • Sat.2 Nov. 2002, Cambridge station to Whittlesford station. 11 miles (or to Gt. Shelford, 5 miles).
  • Sat.16 Nov. 2002, Whittlesford station to Newport station. 12 miles
  • Sat.30 Nov. 2002, Newport station to Bishops Stortford station. 11 miles (or to Stansted station 7 miles)
  • Sat.18 Jan. 2003, Bishops Stortford station to Harlow Town station, 10 miles.   Janet’s bun walk!
  • Sat.8 Feb. 2003, Harlow Town station to Broxbourne station , 11 miles (or short option).  Leader Mark Westley.
  • Sat.22 Feb. 2003, Broxbourne station to Cheshunt station. 11 miles (or short option). Leader Mark Westley

For further information, tel. 01223 356889. Start times will be fitted to the railway Winter timetable. We hope to have certificates for finishers!

This is a privately produced magazine, and the views expressed are solely those of the editor, or the author of an individual item. Janet Moreton 01223 356889


Price 10 pence where sold

© Janet Moreton, August 2002

CANTAB13 June 2002

CANTAB13 June 2002 published on

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


The County of Cambridgeshire as a whole is known for its flat fenlands.  Indeed, those of us living in South Cambridgeshire sometimes have difficulty in persuading strangers that most of the countryside in our District is not fen, and indeed, is not flat, but mostly gently undulating, with a modest amount of tree cover, and not very much different in aspect from our neighbouring counties of Essex and Hertfordshire, consisting geologically of chalk overlaid with boulderclay.  South Cambs does certainly have some real fenland, consisting of tongues of low land in The Wilbrahams and Stow cum Quy, and on the farmlands associated with the fen-edge villages of Cottenham, Rampton, Swavesey, Over, Waterbeach,  Landbeach, and Willingham.

However, the Districts of East Cambs, and especially Fenland have vast acres of fen soil, “black gold”.  Footpaths here are relatively few, and are mostly along the banks of the rivers and fen drains. So the fen droves as a means of access on foot, horseback or by bicycle assume a great importance.  In recent years, some have been added to the map as minor roads.  Others continue to have an ambiguous status.  The following excellent essay by John Andrews of Suffolk examines the position in fenland villages in neighbouring Suffolk. We are grateful to John for permission to reproduce his work here.

Fen Droves in Brandon, Lakenheath and Mildenhall
I think the origins and history of these routes are so different from the normal development processes of roads and paths that it makes sense to try to discover to what extent there are aspects common to all of them.  Quite a number have been gradually incorporated into the ordinary maintainable highway network and others were included on the Def. map – most commonly as RUPPS.  The majority, however, of which those in Mildenhall form the largest group, have no recorded public status.

The droves were laid out to provide access to agricultural land being created by the fen drainage schemes which peaked in, I think, the 17th century. They were the property of the Fen Commissioners, the bodies which managed the areas and later gave place  to their successors in title, the internal drainage boards. Although the land to which they provide access is in private ownership, the droves remain the property of the boards, who have maintained them except where that function has passed to the Highway Authority.

However, it is clear that for a very long time there has been a general view that the majority of the droves are used by the public as of right and most of them are still in use, in some cases very frequently, by the public without `let or hindrance’.  At Mildenhall, for example, the Parish Council is in no doubt that the droves are very largely public routes, but has declined to get involved in pressing the case for inclusion on the Definitive Map because it is thought that the considerable workload involved in that would be a waste of time because `everybody knows’ that they are public and nobody is ever prevented from using them.

That stance does not, of course, assist the process of discovering the full facts, but the problem of trying to produce user evidence for all of them – I have applications for a total of approx. 35 still outstanding – would be an enormous one.

However I believe that there is a useful body of evidence from which one can draw some conclusions about the whole group.

Some of the most weighty is to be found in inclosure awards. At Mildenhall there are a few droves where parts of them crossed land being allotted; those portions had, therefore, to be `set out’ by the commissioner in order to prevent their being stopped-up under the `default’ provision in s.11 of the 1801 general Act. They are set out as a `Private Carriage Road and public bridle way’ and the unaffected continuations of these are described as `droves’.  This is a firm indication that the commissioner was acting to preserve the status quo of private vehicular and public bridle rights.

Similarly, one of the public footpaths set out terminates on  a ” Drove Way leading to the Fen”. That drove way must therefore have carried public rights of at least FP.

There was an very similar situation in the Lakenheath, Undley Common, Inclosure, where parts of two of the droves crossed land being allotted. In this case, however, the portions set out were awarded as public carriage roads and are now part of the ordinary local highway network. Some of the other droves were awarded as private roads for the use of certain specified persons only; the latter were all culs-de-sac and provided access only to agricultural land.

In the other Lakenheath inclosure there is one public road set out which is a part of a drove  – the `new inclosure’ over which it passed again supplying the explanation. Only one or two droves are located in that area, but one of them was amongst the group of 8 roads awarded as `private’ – of which only two, however, were described as being for the use of specified persons.

This brings us, inevitably to the `big issue’  – that there is now an accummulation of evidence nationally that numbers of `private roads’ carried public rights of way.  There seems little doubt that the way in which the word was used during that period referred normally to the responsibility for repair and maintenance, raher than in relation to rights of user. This still leaves us with the need to have evidence of the existence of public user rights before the route can qualify for inclusion on the Def. Map – but it does mean that it is not justifiable to dismiss allegations of a public way solely on the grounds of a reference in documentation to a private road or way.

There is a classic example at Brandon, where the Inclosure Award set out a public bridle road connecting a private road with a drove. The `private’ road in question was shown to be a public road by reference to the almost contemporary Quarter Sessions diversion order in which it was described as the `highway leading to Wilton Ferry’.

As a generalisation, the evidence seems to point to the fact that those droves which were thoroughfares were or became public routes, whereas those which had no obvious public function – in terms of getting from A to B, but were culs-de-sac leading only to fields etc., have remained `private’ in both senses of the word.

There is other relevant documentary evidence which points to the same conclusion. I have already drawn attention, in the context of the investigation of Claims A and D at Lakenheath, to the early railway plan evidence of public footpaths which linked some of the droves in that locality. The information contained in the plans associated with the 1949 Great Ouse Flood Protection Act provides support for the public status of at least one other drove which has not yet received attention. Some aspects of the latter documents have conclusive force, since they constituted diversions sanctioned by act of Parliament.

Added to all this is the Statutory Declaration made by the Mildenhall Internal Drainage Board in 1968, which lists a substantial number of droves as carrying a public right of way and has been acknowledged in writing – by the solicitor who serves as Clerk of the Board – to be good evidence of a public right of way – at the very least, on foot.

John Andrews           24th January 2002

Anyone for golf?
In January, a Suffolk correspondent reported to a walkers’ Internet site that officials of a local golf club had angrily accosted members of the RA’s Bury St Edmunds Group – complaining of their unacceptable behaviour whilst walking along a public footpath across the golf course.  Of what antisocial practice was this unseemly rabble accused ?  Talking!!!   Seemingly, the response of the unseemly rabble was not meek compliance, but more like hysterical amusement…

This story provoked quite a prolonged correspondence.

A golfer-cum-rambler replied,…”it all depends on the circumstances.  If it was a large group and they were talking loudly and near a tee where players were preparing to take a stroke, then the Ramblers were just being discourteous….”

Another response, “I have to agree that the conduct on the day was absolutely deplorable.
How dare members of a golf club disrupt people walking on a public right of way.  To my mind the footpath was there a long time before the golfers built their course across it.”

The original correspondent replied, ” The footpaths – more than one of them – were certainly in existence in the 1880s – which probably means that they have been there for several centuries – and have already been diverted for the convenience of the golf club !”

The final commentator took a very strong line, “What the walkers should have done is called the police or made a complaint afterwards on the grounds of unlawful obstruction and verbal assault.”

Perhaps the Bury St Edmunds golfers should be grateful they have only walkers on their course.  We have seen golf courses in Scotland with sheep and even highland cattle wandering about.. But then they don’t talk!

Parishes in the Fens, signs and ways
Whether in Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Suffolk or Lincolnshire, the fenland parishes tend to have features on common.  Often the  village is rather disperse, with a scattering of isolated farms over a wide area. Roads tend to run beside the drains, and what footpaths there are (and generally, they are in short supply), also follow drain banks, or droveways.

A very attractive feature that have appeared in the last 30 or 40 years is the illustrated village sign. The following information on fen villages was derived from a delightful little book, “Village Signs in Cambridgeshire”, published in 1986 by the Cambridge Federation of Women’s Institutes. Several of the signs have been repainted and smartened up as part of Millennium celebrations.  Consider visiting some of these atmospheric parishes, and maybe investigate which of the nearby fen droves can be walked.

Haddenham’s sign dates from April 1983. One side represents the Old West River, sweeping through the fen to the hill on which Haddenham stands. The church and prominent watertower are reprented, as is local agriculture by horse & plough. The reverse shows orchards, goats and cows.
This parish has pride of place in the list, with numerous fen droves all registered as public rights of way (mostly byways, some footpaths), and with a parish council interested in their maintenance.

Downham in the Isle’s village sign (erected 1977) stands on the rising ground of Church Green, not far from the Norman Church of St Leonard. The sign illustrates the coats of arms of the Isle of Ely, the Bishop of Ely being the Lord of the Manor. Also shown are reed-mace, designating the swampy fens, oak leaves representing the bog oaks, and the Bishops palace, which was situated at Towers farm.  On the reverse the open bible represents Bishop Lancelot Andrews, a co-translator of the Authorised version of the Bible, who lived in “Little” Downham 1608 -19.
The local path network is well-developed and waymarked, with the County Council’s promoted route “The Bishops Way”passing through the village, en route to Ely. (A leaflet is available from Cambridgeshire County Council, tel. 717445).

Waterbeach has a splendid wrought-iron village sign, showing a heron flying over the River Cam, erected by The Village Society in 1980, at one end of the village green.
This is another village that cares for its public rights of way, taking an active part in the County Council’s Parish Path Partnership Scheme, and being a prime mover in the development of The Fen Rivers Way. This has not prevented there being problems for walkers in the parish.  The riverside walk along the west bank of the Cam, passes as a right of way along The Washes, an area of wetland regularly flooded in Winter.  For many years, usage was also along the flood bank, especially in Winter.  Now the landowner has put up a barricade of barbed wire along the flood bank, and the parish council is claiming a right of way.  Part way along this bank, the grassy track, Angler Drove, gave access to the bank from Long Drove, a public roadway.  The issue has been with the County Council many months.

Welney in Norfolk has two skaters on its sign of 1976, in this commemorating the great Welney sportsmen of a former age, including “Turkey” Smart, a World Skating Champion.  The windmill is a symbol of the early fen drainage. The pub sign, “The Lamb & Flag” is equally interesting.  The Hereward Way Long Distance Path passes through the village on the road.  Indeed, there are few paths, except on the banks of The Hundred Foot river.
Many will be familiar with the hide and shop of the Wildfowl Trust, and we ourselves have enjoyed a magic evening, with the waters floodlit, and the wild Bewick & Hooper swans coming to feed.  It is a pity that the hide itself obstructs a right of way, with no provision  made for walkers to divert, for example, around the back,  away from the road busy with birdwatchers cars.

Thorney.  The village sign illustrates the seventh century abbey, with a monk standing either side.  The abbey church is well worth a visit, and a leaflet may be obtained therein describing a short local walk. The nineteenth century Duke of Bedford planned an estate village, much of which remains on this isolated fen island. Like many of these fen villages, one is unlikely to be able to visit, without a car or an energetic bicycle, in the almost total absence of public transport.
Some of the fen droves were registered on the Definitive Map for Cambridgeshire in the late 1980s,and several have become minor roads, but this remains a challenging place to take a prolonged recreational walk.

Isleham, tailpiece
In Cambridgeshire, several fen droves were registered as rights of way in the late 1980s, but equally many remain ambiguous on the map, and with an equally unresolved legal status.  Isleham, in Cambridgeshire, looking across the River Lark towards Mildenhall parish, exhibits areas of map equally devoid as Mildenhall of red or green dots. The new Explorer 226, Ely and Newmarket, shows only a track of unknown status for West Fen Drove, and by Twelve Foot Drain, although public footpaths lead to them, and an interesting circuit could be made.  Is there someone in Isleham who will delve in dusty documents to find their status? Every parish needs such an enthusiast – Suffolk is supremely blest with the skills & persistance of John Andrews who devotes many hours to such pursuits with great success, but we have no such scholar in Cambridge.

Roger & I have looked up Inclosure Awards for a few South Cambs. parishes with contentious paths, but with on-site path problems to pursue in 100 parishes there is no time to delve further.  Does anyone have, or wish to develop, a flair for this?

This is a privately produced magazine, and the views expressed are solely those of the editor, or the author of an individual item. Janet Moreton 01223 356889


Price 10 pence where sold

© Janet Moreton, June 2002

CANTAB12 April 2002

CANTAB12 April 2002 published on

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


In the last edition (Feb. 2002), the Countryside Agency’s Rights of Way Condition survey 2000, and its findings nationally were discussed. We have since received several comments along the lines, “if the paths are so good, why do we find so many ploughed up?!”.  One of the answers is, of course, that the survey was carried out during the Summer, rather than in Winter, when problems of lack of reinstatement are always more severe.

The document seems to have provoked advense comments generally, and we scanned a ramblers’ database on the Internet for informed opinions of why the Countryside Agency came up with the optimistic results it achieved. The  following article, which is reproduced here by kind permission of the author,  expresses the personal views Tony Drake, the veteran footpath worker from Gloucestershire.

Countryside Agency’s Rights of Way Condition Survey – an opinion
“I am surprised that no one … has hit the roof about the completely fallacious conclusions drawn by the Countryside Agency to the findings of its condition survey. The report seeks to show the extent to which highway authorities have achieved the national target of having the path network “legally defined, PROPERLY MAINTAINED, and well publicised”.

“For the indicator, – “easy to follow” the surveyors had to grade the paths into three categories. The all-England total was 62% easy to follow without a map, 34% needed a 25,000 map and 4% were impossible or difficult even with a map. The target of 95% achievement of “properly maintained” was considered to have been reached if the easy to follow PLUS those that were followable only with a map added up to 95%. Thus an authority with 5% impossible paths and none satisfactory would qualify. Surely only those that are satisfactory qualify for the target.

“Similarly the indicator of ease of negotiating crossings such as stiles and gates called for three grades – “satisfactory”, “needs attention” and “unusable”. The breakdown was not given and only the “usable” figure is given for each region (95% for England), which is merely those that are not unusable. Whilst the unusable figure is a matter of concern the more important area for resources is the middle class of those needing attention, but we are not told what proportion that is. The figures must be available.

“The obstructions per 10km is a useful figure though it covers a variety of hazards including growth, mud & cropping problems but not furniture (e.g. stiles, gates etc) difficulties.  The English average is 5.2 per 10km, but when combined with furniture problems there is no direct comparison because only breakdown figures of 4.7 for walkers and 7.7 for other users are given so one cannot gauge the number of furniture obstructions per km. 

“There are many useful statistics in the report though clearly there must be limitations on any such survey, much of which relies on the subjective judgement of the professional and volunteer surveyors. The whole report however is damned by the overall conclusions as to the achievement of the government target. To regard paths which are unsatisfactory and in need of attention as having achieved the “properly maintained” definition is irresponsible. The achievement table, also shown on the free handout, suggests that 29 regions have achieved the “easy to follow” target & that 9 regions have achieved the “easy to use” target, whereas in fact none of them have achieved any target  All that can be concluded is that some of them have less than 5% impossible paths.

The Agency press release, while saying that a quarter of paths are not easy to use, quotes the deputy chair of the Agency as saying that only 15%  (5 shire counties, including my county of Gloucestershire) achieved two of the targets wheras none did. Just coming up to county budget decision time we in Gloucestershire. could have done without local paper saying “Gloucestershire was praised for having “easy to follow” and “easy to use” paths”.

“(Ramblers’ Association) Head Office is reluctant to criticise the report as there is so much good material in it, but I think it is undermining our call for more resources for getting the network in order and which gets no subsidies. I would welcome support from those who have read the whole report (£20 from the Agency Publications, Wetherby) or on the Web. I think the report should be withdrawn and reissued with proper reference to the targets.

From Tony Drake, Glos. Area Footpath Secretary, 23 January 2002

Path updates

-Cambridge City Underpass improvement
The cattle creep under Fen Causeway, linking two sections of Coe Fen has been deepened, and concrete & drains put in, to facilitate clean-footed crossing safely beneath the road. Note purple toothwort started to flower on nearby Robinson Crusoe Island at least six weeks earlier than usual!

We learnt of  a Temporary Prohibition of Use Order 2002  until September 2002 for the Crow Dene bridleway, to allow for construction works on the A428.

Bridleway  20 (Rivey Lane, which runs downhill from the water-tower) has a temporary closure order for resurfacing & drainage until July 2002.  We hope this will be more successful than previous attempts at improving this wet lane.

-Hemingford Abbots
Cambridgeshire County Council have put a temporary closure on Black Bridge at Hemingford Abbots until 07.05.02 for service diversion & a new bridge.

Black Fen & Brown Fen Trails
In the last issue, the Black Fen Waterways Trail (62 mile circuit from Ely) and The Brown Fen Waterway Trail (62 mile circuit from Boston) were featured, when it was noted that there was difficulty in obtaining the free A3 leaflet which gives descriptions of both these routes.

However, our Stretham correspondent, Bill Wakefield, now alerts us to the fact that the free leaflets are now available at Tourist information centres in the region (e.g.Ely, Spalding, Boston etc).
Bill emphasizes that it is essential to have the relevant up-to-date large-scale maps of the area, as the leaflet, of itself, provides inadequate detail to accomplish the walks.

West Anglian Way. November 2002 – February 2003
Walk a new long distance path with Cambridge & East Herts ramblers next Winter!

Dates for your diary
1. Sat.2 Nov. 2002. Cambridge station to Whittlesford station
2. Sat.16 Nov. 2002. Whittlesford station to Newport station
3. Sat.30 Nov. 2002.  Newport station to Bishops Stortford station
4. Sat.18 Jan. 2003.  Bishops Stortford station to Harlow Town station
5. Sat.8 Feb. 2003.  Harlow Town station to Broxbourne station (provisional)
6. Sat.22 Feb. 2003.  Broxbourne station to Waltham Abbey (Waltham Cross station) (provisional)
(for further information, tel. 01223 356889).

Parish of the Month – Shepreth
Shepreth’s well-kept paths were waymarked this Winter by members of the Cambridge Group of the Ramblers’ Association, led by David Harrison. There are 13 numbered rights of way on the  County Council’s Definitive Map, and at least 2 further well-used permissive paths. Shepreth is accessible by rail via the station, with its 1851 buildings.

Prehistory of the parish is described in Rowland Parker’s classic on the neighbouring parish of Foxton “The Common Stream” (in paperback, Paladin 1976), where lines of two prehistoric trackways crossing the parish from North to South are noted.  These were recorded on the Inclosure map of 1823, and might be worth following up in any search for paths to be added to the  Definitive Map. The remains of a Roman villa and an early village were found, and ancient grain storage pits were found in 1885 and a burial ground excavated in 1895.

Of today’s well-signed paths, Footpath 1 starts along Moor End lane, soon passing the parish church, with its clunch tower, C13th Decorated nave and chancel, incongruous yellow brick south aisle, and well-kept churchyard, with a large carpark behind. The path leads to Shepreth L-moor, 18 acres of grazed marshy pasture in the care of the Naturalists Trust. Over a century ago, much of the moor was dug for coprolytes.  Its chalky streams are now home to arrowhead and four species of water crowfoot, and the rough pasture is a good place to see cowslips.  Footpaths 1 & 2 cross the moor, using an underpass below the railway which bisects the reserve.  Another approach is by the well-used Footpath 3, which starts from a small lay-by at a bend in Frog End road, and by the less-well used Footpath 13, which skirts the W edge of the Moor from Frog End, before passing under the railway. Two exits from the Moor lead onto Meldreth road.  Here, turning right (E) leads one back to the village, passing the former crossing-keeper’s house, with its exquisite garden, which may be visited.

Back in the village, across the road from the church is a piece of rough woodland that has grown over an old moated site.  This is thought* to be where one of the early manor houses stood.  Docwra’s Manor is the name of a very fine house with a shell doorway, on Meldreth Road by Huttles Green, near the thatched village shop.   Here is a diffuse  multiway junction at the centre of the village.

The short Footpath 5 cuts off the road corner here between Frog End Road and Fowlmere Road. The footpath runs in a meadow behind a former water-mill. One of the miller’s sidelines was brewing, and the associated cottage was a beerhouse!

Cross the old roadbridge over the stream near Huttles Green, and turn NE along Angle Lane.  This leads to Willers Mill Wildlife Park.  Continue N along the lane beside  a clear chalk stream, noting the wolves in their cages to the left.  Passing over the railway crossing, Footpath 6 continues on a grassy field-edge track, before turning half-right on a well-trampled path across an arable field, to join the network of paths in the low-lying fields approaching Barrington. A direct return may be made from Barrington Green via Barrington Road, leading to Shepreth station, but a better, though longer option to to return via Five Fools Meadow, a County Council maintained public open space, once part of extensive lands in these parts owned by the nuns of Chatteris. A pleasant but damp permissive path runs a long way through the meadows and woodland to Malton Road, Meldreth.

If however, one turns East off Angle Lane by the green metal sign for Footpath 7, it leads along a gravel track, through kissing gates, between gardens and later behind attractive old pits in a belt of woodland to emerge on the A10 opposite the road turning to Foxton. Note that this path was diverted in 1982, so old maps might not show the present route.  Footpath 8 is a backs-of-houses feeder route, starting on Fowlmere Road.

From Huttles Green, alongside the Fowlmere Road is a strip of woodland, where a very attractive permissive path has been signed, taking the walker up to the A10.  Here turn right (S) on the footway.  Shortly, across the road, a sign points into a belt of woodland, whence Footpath 10 leads across an arable field to Field Farm, and thence to Fowlmere.  Alternatively, continue along the footway of the A10, past the Motel, to return toward the church on the attractive Footpath 9, beside the clear R.Shep. Turn left (S) here, to use the charming, well signed path across pastures towards Frog End (note three rather high stiles to climb!).  From Frog End, return S to the A10.  Cross carefully, and continue ahead through a cut-off residential road, towards the Green Man pub. with its pleasant garden.  Opposite this starts Footpath 11 on a grassy farm track, soon becoming a narrow embanked path between trees above the stream, to emerge on the quiet lane in Fowlmere near the RSPB reserve.  Daffodils spill from neighbouring gardens, and we have seen kingfisher. Quiet perfection here.

*For more information on Shepreth, and the neighbouring parishes of Barrington, Fowlmere, Foxton, etc.,see  also “Valley in the Chalk” one of a set of leaflets published by the Cambridge Green Belt Team, 1995.

Shepreth, South Cambridgeshire is on Landranger 154, and Explorer 209.

Don’t just pass through Somerset
Three of us passed a most enjoyable walking holiday in South Somerset in March, staying near Bruton. Access to this area is via the A303, used by the many en route to Devon.

We used two enjoyable, well waymarked “long distance paths”, each only 28 miles long, which with scenic detours made six days’ enjoyable walking of about 10 miles per day.  The Leland Trail (commemorating the C17th tour of the historian) runs from King Alfred’s Tower, near Stourhead Gardens, through Bruton, Castle Cary, North Cadbury, Queen Camel, Ilchester, Montacute, and ending at Ham Hill Country Park. The countryside is pastoral, with occasional sharp hills and attractive small towns and villages.  We did not however enjoy the 2 mile section near Yeovilton, where the Fleet Air Arm’s Harrier Jump Jets practised “circuits & bumps” over our heads!

The Liberty Trail continues from Ham Hill to Lyme Regis, passing through West Chinnock, Misterton, Wayford, Thorncombe and Wooton Fitzpaine. This is a most attractive, hillier section, whose only snag is the need to cross the formidable A30. This route is based on the stories of the men who joined the Monmouth Rebellion from villages in Somerset & Dorset, assembling at Lyme in 1685.

Both guides can be obtained from Tourism & Marketing Unit, South Somerset District Council, Brympton Way, Yeovil, Somerset, BA20 1YR, tel 01935 75272. There are also two series of “Walks in South Somerset”.

Organisation: We mostly used two cars to do these linear walks, but for convenience used a taxi from Lyme back to Thorncombe (cost £15). We needed Explorer series 142, 129 & 116. We stayed at “Steps Farmhouse” in Wyke Champflower near Bruton, where we enjoyed the relaxing atmosphere and delicious and ample vegetarian BB/EM for £28 pp/day, against a background of sheep, goats, rabbits, doves and horses, set in tiny hamlet in a bowl of grassy hills. Phone Eileen Lemon & Noreen Daniel on 01749 812788 for details.

Cantab Rambler is a privately produced magazine, and the views expressed are solely those of the editor, or the author of an individual item.  Janet Moreton 01223 356889


Price 10 pence where sold. 12th edition

© Janet Moreton, April 2002

CANTAB11 February 2002

CANTAB11 February 2002 published on

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


The publication of the Countryside Agency’s Rights of Way Condition Survey 2000 has confirmed what all walkers knew already. It concluded that 25% of England’s paths are not easy to use. The Countryside Agency invested £30 million in the path network over 10 years,  and the report rather suggests that the public has not received value for money via the County Councils.  Walkers can expect to encounter a problem on average every 2km  on England’s 188 000km of rights of way.. £69 million is needed to bring paths up to the national target. Maintaining the network in optimum condition would cost £18 million annually.

The survey gives a table of statistics, county by county. Cambridgeshire claims to have 66% of the network “easy to find”, 77% “easy to follow” ; 21% “possible to follow”; 3% impossible; 85% “satisfactory”; 5.2 obstructions per 10 km; 4.8 problems for walkers per 10 km.  Remember the site surveys were done in Summer.

Cambridgeshire looks about average compared with other counties. Suffolk has now overtaken Cambs. in terms of recorded path quality.  It is perhaps no surprise that Lincolnshire is the worst.

Counties which claim to have 95%+ satisfactory paths are: Berks; Cumbria; Derbyshire; E. & W. Sussex; Gt. Manchester; Hants; IoW; Staffs; Suffolk; Surrey; Warks; W.Midlands; W & S.Yorks; Wilts; Worcs (who claim 99% satisfactory). Perhaps one should use this list when selecting a holiday destination!

Meanwhile,it might just be worthwhile to write to one’s County Councillor, pointing out that the County has just received an extra package of money from the government, and that a very deserving and worthwhile Section to receive some extra funds would be the Rural Group.  Point out the value of rights of way on the health of the population, and the importance for tourism…

Countryside Focus
This is the name of a “newspaper” style magazine, produced by The Countryside Agency, the organisation which replaced The Countryside Commission.

We have seen the Dec/Jan issue.  In 8 pages, the magazine covers a wide variety of issues, not many being directly related to the path network.  The lead article is “New hope for rural services“, and the centre spread is devoted to “Bringing vitality back to the villages“. The final page is “Farmers shown road to recovery“.  There is also “new thinking on second homes” and “whatever you do, don’t forget riders“.

However, there are useful snippets of information on the path network.  There is a brief summary of the conclusions of the national Rights of Way Condition Survey, published by The Countryside Agency in December. Nationally, users encountered as many problems as they did at the last national survey in 1984.  The Countryside Agency feels that a new approach is needed.  The magazine is available free from Countryside Agency Publications, PO Box 125, Wetherby LS23 7EP.  e-mail

Black & Brown Waterway Trails
The Black Fen Waterway Trail and The Brown Fen Waterway trail are two new routes centred on Ely and Boston respectively, and promoted by Fens Tourism.  As the name suggests, both routes stay close to the fenland watercourses.

The Black Fen Trail is a 62 mile (100 km) circuit, from Ely, via Littleport, Downham Market, Nordelph, Outwell, March, Chattris, Sutton, Wilburton, Stretham Old Engine, Little Thetford, and back to Ely.  The route is already waymarked in the Ely and Stretham localities (and maybe elsewhere) with attractive discs, marked “Black Fen Waterways Trail”.

This route is served by some public transport on Mondays to Saturdays, but careful planning would be advisable, as some of the bus services only run three times per day.

The circular Brown Fen Trail runs from Boston, south towards Spalding and Crowland, before returning north to Boston via Donington.  The route also 62 miles long.

Your editor tried in vain to obtain details of both these routes from the Tourist office in Ely. From another souce, eventually she learnt that waymarking has indeed been underway, and a leaflet has been produced, which describes both routes, one on each side of an A3 sheet.  Then a right of way dispute arose on a small part of the Brown Fen Waterways Trail, and until this was settled, the authorities were loath to make the leaflet available.  However, we have received a copy of the leaflet recently, so hope it will be generally available soon.  It would have been pleasant to sample The Brown Fen Trail, for example near Spalding in the Spring bulb season.

The Fens Waterways Guide
This is a free colour guidebook which is obtainable from the Ely Tourist Office in Oliver Cromwells House. It has attractive illustrations, and splendid maps of the fenland waterways systems.  However, it is aimed mostly at fishermen and the boating fraternity, and has no information about footpaths. It does have details of where to stay, and of eating places, and is useful in providing opening times for attractions and places of interest.

The Fens (Tourist guide)
Also available from Ely Tourist Office (and elsewhere – try Cambridge Tourist Office) this does have a section on fenland walking opportunities, mentioning The Fen Rivers Way,The Nene Way, The Hereward Way, and even The Macmillan Way. (The latter runs all the way from Boston in Lincs to Abbotsbury in Dorset).  There are excellent articles on fenland towns, and wildlife and environment of the fens.

On page 9 is the statement that a leaflet on the Black & Brown fens Waterways trails “will be available in March 2001“.

Wagn-ers Walk
When your train is late, and you are hanging about Cambridge station, pick up a small purple/orange leaflet showing an improbably clean couple going for a country walk.  This is, of course, an advert for places to visit, and places to enjoy country walks using WAGN trains.

Suggestions include visiting Hatfield House, Knebworth Park and Ware Priory.  Canal walks in London are promoted, as is the New River Walk at Hertford. Rather more details are given for the Cole Green Way walk of 3.5 miles, near Hertford.

One feels that WAGN could be a little more ambitious with their suggestions.

Vive “Passion Rando”
The French equivalent of the Ramblers’ Association is the Fédération Français de la Randonnée Pédestre (FFRP). Their magazine is “Passion Rando”, published by FFRP, 14 rue Riquet, 75019 Paris. Thanks to kind friends resident in France, recently I had an opportunity to look at a copy.  For anyone who reads French reasonably fluently (which I certainly do not), it would make an interesting comparison with the Ramblers’ Association Journal.  The Autumn 2001 issue  includes articles on rambling for children; health hazards of eating unwashed/uncooked low growing fruits in the countryside; the value of the GR (long distance path) waymarking; and calendar of national events.  The major article focuses on a celebratory mass gathering of walkers in Alsace.

We also found a précis of statistics on the French walking scene, in a news-snippet on the Internet written by Alan Mattingley, who lives in France.  From this we learn that some three-quarters of the French take outdoor recreation, of which walking is the most popular, with 66% of the population (or 30 million people) participating. (Similarly, the Environment Agency records that country walking is the most popular outdoor recreation in the UK)

In France, it was found that 22% of walkers only use routes close to home, but another 19% only go walking when on holiday. The French authorities have discovered (as did the UK Tourist offices when struck by the Foot & Mouth crisis) that the growing popularity of walking medium & long distance paths, leads to a demand for accommodation en route, baggage transfer services, food etc.

Every year some 750,000 walks guidebooks are sold annually, many via the FFRP.

In France, some 20,000,000 pairs of walking boots are thought to be currently “in circulation” with some 5,000,000 pairs sold annually. So when you next have that French walking holiday, think of all the other pairs of boots tramping the GRs!

Even the new Explorer Maps are not up-to-date!
Most readers will have bought some of the new range of Explorer maps.  However, changes to the County Council’s Definitive Map occur all the time, by means of path diversions, creations, modifications, or extinguishments, so even new maps are never completely up-to-date.  The following items note some of the more useful changes which have occurred recently in South Cambs.

New paths near Thriplow
Thriplow has long been known for having numbers of permissive paths along local farm tracks.  Notices at the ends invite walkers to use them, keeping dogs on leads etc.

A new permissive path towards Whittlesford under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme has also become available recently.  This leaves “The Drift” public right of way at TL 455 471 by a notice & map inviting its use.  It runs NNW towards the spring known as Little Nine Wells, going through a waymarked gap in the hedge, and then towards the M11.  It continues in the field alongside the  M11, to climb a flight of new steps at TL 457 486, and crosses the M11 on the bridge for the minor road into Whittlesford.  Thus it is possible to continue on “The  Moor” footpath in Whittlesford, extending the walk further if desired, and return to Thriplow on The Drift footpath from TL 466 477.

In addition, there is also a fairly new right of way, which leaves The Drift at TL 453 469  turning off S towards the fishing pits.  It is waymarked through a small wood, follows field boundaries, and emerges into the recreation ground at Heathfields Estate, near Duxford.  From here, it is possible to return to Thriplow by walking SW past the garage on the A505, and using the signed Footpath 5 passing the big barns.

New bridge at Bourn
Cambs C.C. have recently put in a new footbridge at Caxton End, at TL 318 573. This bridge enables Footpath 9, running in a pleasant grassy field from a signed stile at TL 319 572 to be used, thus avoiding the narrow road.

New waymarking of Kingston footpath avoiding Cranes Lane
Next time you walk in Kingston, be aware that an alternative exists to the muddy and water-logged Cranes Lane.  If you look carefully on the OS map, you will see that a separate footpath (Kingston no.14) exists parallel over part of the length.  It has take several years to persuade Cambs.C.C. that this path had a useful function, and to bring it back into commission. It has recently been waymarked by joint parish/RA action.

Start up the village end of Cranes Lane, and enter the play area by a green metal sign at TL 345 549.  Continue through the grassy playground by the hedge, and exit into the arable field, to walk ca. S parallel to Cranes Lane, but on the other side of a tall hedge. This is Footpath 14. The hedge on your right ends at the junction with Footpath 15, waymarked turning off E. From here, Cranes Lane & Footpath 14 merge for a while into one wide grassy track, unhedged on the east side.  Fortunately this section is usually drier. At TL 338 537, Footpath 14 crosses a ditch on a new bridge, and once more has a separate identity, continuing with a hedge & ditch separating it from Cranes Lane, as far as TL 338 529, where it re-joins the lane. The last section is at present less satisfactory, being sticky and overhung by the hedge, but further improvements are planned.

New Willingham to Earith path
On 3 Jan.2002, Cambs.C.C. gave notice of the creation of a new bridleway in Willingham parish, as part of the planning agreement for the Over gravel extraction.  The bridleway runs from the N end of West Fen Road, TL 397 731 in a NE direction towards the B1050 road near Bridge Farm, then NW parallel to, but one field away from the road to TL 391 745, where it meets the unclassified road running N to Earith Lock.

This makes possible a long circuit from Over, going to Overcote, and along the bank of the R.Great Ouse to Earith Lock, returning by the new bridleway, and also recently created paths to Over Gravel.

Secretary of State Confirms new Footpath in Over Parish
On 18 December 2001, and following a local public inquiry, an Inspector confirmed the Order adding a new public footpath along the E bank of Swavesey Drain, from Station Road, Over at TL 367 698, to TL 366 702, where it joins an existing footpath from Station Road, and continuing alongside Swavesey Drain, to reach the bank of the River Great Ouse..
This is a good birdwatching area in Winter.

If you go down in the woods today.
At Brandon Country Park, Suffolk, where so many of us enjoyed walking earlier in the year, when many other paths were closed by the Foot & Mouth crisis, you will now find that several sections of the wider loops of forest paths & cycleways are presently closed by tree felling operations. And at High Lodge, on the other side of the B 1106, there are major building operations, and the shop and cafe are closed until June.

Parish Paths Partnership, “P3”
This is Cambs.C.C.’s ongoing scheme whereby some parish councils are given a grant to carry out path maintenance. Reports in the Autumn 2001 Bulletin include details of a 16 page booklet on walks in Brampton, Hunts. Copies can be purched for £2.99 from Pat Doody, c/o 5 Green Lane, Brampton, Huntingdon, Cambs. PE28 4RE.  tel: 01480 392706  e-mail:
Any profits will be donated to the Wildlife Trust.

Cantab Rambler is a privately produced magazine, and the views expressed are solely those of the editor, or the author of an individual item.  Janet Moreton 01223 356889


Price 10 pence where sold

© Janet Moreton, February 2002

CANTAB10 December 2001

CANTAB10 December 2001 published on

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


This is the tenth Cantab Rambler, which proves it has some staying power, if nothing else! This is the Christmas issue, and ought to be full of jollifications, but I will apologise now, because it contains some serious discussion. First, remember the difficult year for ramblers that has just passed –  flooding in our county both in the Spring, and again in October;  and the dreary months of Foot & Mouth restrictions. There have been no new cases nationally since September, so we will hope fervently that there will be no further outbreak in the Spring, and that we can look forward to 2002 being a halcyon year for walking.

Then consider one of the less-well publicised effects of the new legislation on the registration of further rights of way on the definitive map.  Most people have heard of the mapping of access areas, and the controversy generated by the drawing up of draft maps across the country, portion by portion.  But also included in the legislation is the condition that historic routes not presently recorded on the Definitive Map (which is held, county by county) must be recorded by 2026, or they will be lost forever.  This does not apply to routes claimed by virtue of recent usage over the last 20 years, but rather to routes which are indicated in various old documents.

Finally, what is the future of the Cambridge Green Belt, and local access on foot in the light of present building bonanza, and re-assessment of the A14 corridor? I seek to put out some ideas, and would welcome correspondence.

The Fen Rivers Way Walk
The last two sections of the walk from Cambridge to Kings Lynn were completed successfully in good weather on 3 Nov. and 10 Nov., starting from Downham Market and Watlington respectively, after a long gap in the summer occasioned by the Foot & Mouth crisis. Some 59 people attended the final walk, and were present to see the opening ceremony on the Kings Lynn waterfront, when Dr Norris, Chairman of Norfolk County Council, cut the ribbon, and declared the route officially open.  Afterwards, there was a splendid tea in the Green Quay Centre. In this venture The Fen Rivers Way Association had liaised with RA Cambridge Group, and was supported with many walkers from Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, and particularly Hertfordshire.

Have you bought the guidebook?  The Third Edition (silver cover) is now on sale at £4 inc. p/p from D. Stevens, 89 Way Lane, Waterbeach, Cambridge CB5 9NQ.  tel. 01223 861019
Visit the FRWA’s website –, and see s splendid photos taken along the route!

Cumbria:  8 – 14 May 2002
We now have almost a full house for the walking week at Kilnhill Barn, Bassenthwaite, Cumbria on 8 – 14 May 2002.  If there is anyone else wanting to join us, please contact Janet & Roger (phone number next column).

Finding new paths on old maps
Recently, the Cambridge Evening News of 6 December carried an article entitled “Map it or lose it“, relating to a press release put out by Alysoun Hodges, Cambridgeshire County Council’s Senior Definitive Map Officer.

The background to the issue is as follows. When the County’s Definitive Map was drawn up in the 1950s, as well as user evidence from  people in each parish, searches were made of old documents to find what highway rights (such as carriage road, highway, byway, bridleway, footpath) existed. Paths were then recorded on the Definitive Map, and this forms the basis of the network we find on the OS sheets today.  Legal documents, called Definitive Map Orders, have made changes to these paths since the 1950s.

The Definitive Map may be inspected at Shire Hall during working hours, and copies are available in the major county libraries.  It is planned to make this vital map available on the Internet, but this is still a year or two away.

Paths may be added to the Definitive Map in a number of ways, including by Modification Orders based on evidence of use by people over 20 years.  Quite often such evidence is challenged by a landowner, and then a public inquiry is held, the outcome of which will determine whether or not the new path is added to the Definitive Map.  This way of adding new paths will not change with the new legislation, but remember that such evidence is often based on the memory of the elderly, so if you wish to claim a path by this method, time may be of the essence.

However, it has up to now also been possible to add new paths to the Definitive Map, based on convincing evidence found in old documents, on the principle, “once a highway, always a highway“.  This is about to change.

The access clauses of the new Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 have been widely discussed, but the Act also requires that all rights of way be registered on Definitive Maps held in County Council offices by 2026. Any path not registered by 2026 could thus be lost forever. In legal terms, this is a short time-scale, especially since Cambridgeshire County Council is known to have a backlog of cases waiting for processing.

Roger & I recently attended a Ramblers’ Association Seminar in Bury St Edmunds on how to claim rights of way and get them added to the Definitive MapAbout 25 people were present, mostly from Norfolk, Suffolk & Essex.  Speakers were John Trevelyan on  “The relevance of Definitive Map work to walking“.  This covered types of  legal Order; claiming rights of way based on user evidence, and the historical background.  John Andrews illustrated the use of documentary evidence in claiming rights of way.  He cited:  Highway Orders;  highway maintenance records, also parish & district council records;  Inclosure Awards & maps;  deposited plans;  tithe maps & apportionments;  the RoW Act 1932;  the Finance Act 1910;  Ordnance Survey documentation (OS maps, first survey manuscript drawings, books of reference, object name books, boundary dispute documents);  defence legislation;  published private maps;  estate & property maps;  glebe terriers & manorial records;  and railway & drainage maps.  He dealt with where to obtain sight of these;  how to interpret them (and to look for things that are missing and what is present);  problems with scale & orientation; and the relative importance and reliability of different types of document.  Later, we all did individual exercises:  finding a likely missing byway on a piece of map and verifying it using three pieces of documentation;  deciding whether to claim a Modification Order, based on a long list of mutually contradictory evidence;  and deciding how to claim a missing link path based on a set of old documents.  Finally John Trevelyan spoke of the need for much work now, to claim historical paths missed from the record, so that they are safely on the Definitive Map by 2026.  We owe this to the next walking generation, just as we are indebted to those of the 1950s..

Whilst Roger & I are intrigued to do some work like this, we spend much time out on the footpaths, following up present problems. Cambridgeshire  needs several ramblers who are equally at home in libraries to specialise in this field.

“Once around Wandlebury”
The story of Wandlebury estate by Wendy Clark is priced at £7, and is available from the Cambridge Preservation Society office.

Footpath Worker is a sober quarterly bulletin published by The Ramblers’ Association, for all concerned with the care and protection of public rights of way.

It contains descriptions of parliamentary and local government matters affecting paths, publications (e.g. the new British Standard for gaps, gates and stiles), court cases relating to paths, and details of public path orders. Vol.21, No.1, Oct. 2001 contains as usual a selection of Definitive Map Modification Order Cases. One of these is summarised here,  as it illustrates the type of work involving old documents, described on the previous page.

John Andrews of Suffolk was successful in his campaign to have a byway added under section 53 of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981.

Popes Green Lane, SE of Polstead Heath, ran E through a farm.  The earliest cartographic record was 1594 depicting the route, labelled “via ducens a Polstede heath versus Layham”. The Layham Tithe Map showed the route in various versions, but by the mid-1860s only part was maintainable at public expense.  Records under the Finance Act of 1910 were apparently inconclusive.  Seemingly, there are a couple of nearby routes going the same way, but it is argued, based on the earliest records, that in the C16th, when roads were unmade, several would have provided a seasonal selection, based on ground conditions. The successful use of so early a map in a claim is apparently unusual.

Interested readers may subscribe to Footpath Worker.. phone 020 7339 8500.

Green Belt, Green Tracks.
South Cambridgeshire District Council is debating the construction of a new golf course  in the Green Belt, in the parish of Great Shelford. If this is approved, it seems likely that part of the “package” will include a new footpath, to run from Granhams Road towards Hinton Way, thus providing another step in a footpath route out of Cambridge to Magog Down. Local people are reputed to be prepared to accept a hotel and golf course buildings on their open Green Belt land, in hopes of thus protecting this land from the ever encroaching menace of more houses.

But at the same time, the Cambridge Evening News of 13 December, bearing details of the government’s backing for A14 plans, described a guided bus route linking the middle of Cambridge to Addenbrooke’s hospital and Trumpington. Such a bus would run along the former Bedford to Cambridge railway line, passing under Long Road.

What the paper does not add is that the track of the old railway is presently a very useful and quite attractive permissive footpath, part of a link from near the Botanic Gardens via Empty Common, and towards Nine Wells.  So does this mean we shall lose our path?  Probably, but few would deny the need for solutions to the Cambridge traffic problem. It is particularly saddening that whenever such a scheme is envisaged, the footpath network seems literally the last factor that is considered.

A new long walk for 2002?
The sectional walk of the Fen Rivers Way between Cambridge and Kings Lynn was so popular, that we have been asked to plan another series of walks elsewhere.  So four intrepid ramblers are presently engaged on planning the West Anglian Way, which will be led from Cambridge to King Harold’s Cathedral at Waltham Cross.  It will consist of a number of sections, each of approximately 9 – 12 miles, and will be accessible by rail transport, to avoid the problems of using a coach, or shuffling cars to & fro.

So watch this space!

And Green Trees, Green Spaces.
Compared with many towns of the same size, Cambridge is well off for open space.  The Cambridge Preservation Society notes there are almost 100 hectares (ca. 250 acres) of open space, and a further 150 hectares (370 acres) of recreation grounds & parks, and other available land (not counting playing fields and allotments).  The City itself has some fine trees in parks and gardens (especially The Botanic Gardens, Cherry Hinton hall grounds, and of course, the numerous college grounds) but looking more widely into the county as a whole, it sadly lacks for trees.  In the last issue, we described Woodland Trust initiatives which, together with private plantings, and tree planting on County Farms land have greatly increased tree cover in the County, from ca 1%  to about 2 % in the last 10 years.  A Cambs.C.C. publication in 1991 “Discovering Cambridgeshire Woodlands” admitted that Cambridgeshire was the least wooded of all English Counties, and that there was then a larger area of tarmac road than of woodlands.

Since that time, there have been more bypasses, and more roads widened.

At Cambourne, many new trees have been planted, but a large swathe has been cut into the adjacent established woodland to allow the dualling of a section of the A428.  And now there is the threat of yet more houses – thousands and thousands to be built in the next ten years.  A few are to be squeezed here and there into pleasant corners in towns and villages, to make us feel more cramped.  Other new estates will extend across footpaths, turning the paths into tarmac alleys between high garden fences.  And somewhere or other (is it to be in Oakington and Longstanton?) there are to be some thousands of houses built.

In the face of this expansion of roads and real estate on all fronts, individually we are powerless. This should not deter us from making our views known to our local councillors.  Organisations are contributing to the issues report response form, in preparation for the South Cambridgeshire Local Plan no.3.

Most of us belong to some organisations like The Ramblers’ Association, The National Trust, The Wildlife Trusts, The Open Spaces Society, The RSPB, all of which campaign for open countryside, and in many cases actually purchase land to preserve it for posterity.  So in Cambridgeshire, the National Trust is seeking to obtain control of hundreds of acres (sorry, hectares!) to extend Wicken Fen. The Cambridge Preservation Society is planning to make a further Country Park near Coton.  The Woodland Trust is always seeking funds to buy woods to protect them from destruction and development.

So should this be our New Year present to the Countryside?  Our “widow’s mite” put towards buying and protecting some little bit of land in Cambridgeshire, for public access? After all, the “access” part of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 isn’t going to add much to Cambridgeshire’s strolling acres (sorry, hectares!).

And good walking in 2002!

This is a privately produced magazine, and the views expressed are solely those of the editor, or the author of an individual item.  Janet Moreton 01223 356889


Price 10 pence where sold; no postal sales

© Janet Moreton, December 2001

CANTAB09 October 2001

CANTAB09 October 2001 published on

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


Whilst some restrictions remain in a few parts of Wales and the North of England,, fortunately most traces of Foot & Mouth notices have gone elsewhere in the country. Certainly, the whole of public paths in East Anglia should now be open. If you encounter residual or misleading notices, we have been told by County Council staff that they may be ignored, and also to report such notices.

There have been some recent changes in the Countryside Services Team at Cambridgeshire County Council.  Kate Day, Head of Section is presently on maternity leave, having been delivered of an 8 lb boy in late September. In her place for the duration is David Arkell, on loan from the Transportation Section.  Other new staff members are Amy Rushton and Charlotte Emmens (both definitive map officers).  The head of the Definitive Map Section remains Alysoun Hodges.  If you find yourselves reporting problems to CCC, write to the Head of Section of the Countryside Services Team, (Shire Hall, Cambridge, CB3 0AP, Box ET1009) and you may receive a reply from one of the above, or from Karen Champion, John Cooper or David Bethell (the last two deal with the “P3” parish path partnership parishes)…

Any More Bookings for Cumbria?  8 – 14 May 2002
Regular subscribers will have seen the details in the July issue of Cantab Rambler. We shall be going to Kilnhill Barn, Bassenthwaite, once again for the week of 8 – 14 May 2002.  Those who booked last year and found the holiday had to be cancelled due to Foot & Mouth restrictions, have been able to carry their bookings (and deposits) over, thanks to the generosity of Ken & Heather Armstrong.

There are 9 bookings so far, so a few places remain. It would be nice to fill this farm guest house. Rates at 2000 were ca. £32 per night bb/em, for high quality accommodation in this excellent centre for the Northern Lakes..

Interested?  Then ring Janet & Roger for any more details, then please make your own booking: Ken & Heather Armstrong, Kiln Hill Barn, Bassenthwaite, Keswick, Cumbria, CA12 4RG. Tel. 017687 76454….  Please let me know you have done so!

As on previous holidays, we aim for 9 – 12 miles a day, with a mountain climb weather permitting. A metal walking pole (or two?) is highly recommended. Waterproof overtrousers are essential.

We use OS Outdoor Leisure Series NE & NW Cumbria (yellow covers).  You might also like to have OS Landranger Sheet 98, West Cumbria., showing the guest house Grid Ref. 214 326 at the N end of Bassenthwaite Lake.

The Fen Rivers Way
Due to the outbreak of Foot & Mouth, the Fen Rivers Way walks were never finished in the Spring, but are due to be completed in November.

The Walks will be organised by the Fen Rivers Way Association, and will be held jointly with  Ramblers’ Association, Cambridge Group. The Arrangements are as follows, with leaders Duncan, Roger, Janet & Bill.

Saturday 3 November 2001  FRW 5th SECTION
Meet Cambridge Station for 9.32 train to Downham Market, or meet Downham Mkt Sta 10.03 am. Return from Watlington Station.  Tel 01223 356889  8 miles  Check train times.
Afterwards, come to the FRWA AGM at 2.30, at The Cock, Wiggenhall St Mary Magdalen.

Saturday 10 November 2001 FRW 6th SECTION
Meet Cambridge Station for 9.32 train to Watlington, or meet Watlington Sta 10.09am Return from Kings Lynn Station. 15.56 etc
Afterwards, there will be an official opening of the route at Green Quay, to which all are welcome.  There will a tea for those who booked for the event last February. Tel 01223 356889  9 miles (14km) inc. historic centre. Check train times

The New Woods of the Cam Valley
Take an Autumn walk in the Cam valley, and visit some of the new woods which have come into being during the last 10 years or so.

Start at Steeple Morden, in the large car-park behind the recreation ground, and leave by the rear kissing-gate, to enter a wildflower meadow, which slopes down to a little stream.  White Ponds Wood (TL 283 429) consists of a mix of species (willow etc) suitable for its low-lying location.  The trees are already well-grown, and a credit to The Woodland Trust, who allow unrestricted access to their sites. There is adjacent access to the good network of local paths. The Woodland Trust have also recently planted and opened Tween Towns Wood, on a strip of low-lying land between Guilden Morden and Steeple Morden, with access via a new grassy track from the road at TL 289 440.  There is also de facto access from a footpath from the Guilden Morden side, via a short strip of land beside the ditch, but there seems to be some dispute about this.  Don’t look yet for Autumn leaves here, unless from the tall weeds of ox-tongue and willow herb, as the trees are as yet only knee-high!

Now progress along Ashwell Street to the parish of Litlington.  Beside the byway, at TL 309 416 is Whitethorn Wood, on a site which used to be allotment gardens. This small site (a good place for a break, but one seat only) was planted some years ago, but the trees grow slowly, on the dry chalky soil.

Continue further along Ashwell Street, towards Bassingbourn, but halt beside a kissing gate at the side of the byway.  A permissive path leads across an arable field to a dip in the chalk downland. Here, Cambridgeshire County Council has planted Clear Farm Wood, TL 330 427 with the trees still small, and well-fenced against the depredations of rabbits.  Stiles lead in and out of the fences, and the path leads on to the wooded Springs behind Bassingbourn Village College. Continue into the village, to visit Keith Wood, TL 337 428, and Ford Wood, TL334 435.  Both of these attractive woods are becoming quite well established, and blend well with the dog-walking network of paths close to the village.  And finally, off Spring Lane in Bassingbourn at TL 336 435 is a newly-planted strip of woodland, with a “welcome” and an invitation to walk this way. How nice.

Enjoy your walk!

The Woodland Trust – Woods on your Doorstep
We are fans of The Woodland Trust, who acquire valuable tracts of old, established woodland, and plant new woods, with especial emphasis on creating new woodlands near to towns and villages.  These woods are always open to the public – none of this “members only”

Continuing the theme of woods in the Cam Valley, here is a brief list of other woods in Cambridgeshire owned and cared for by The Trust.  You can visit them all! Could this be a project for the Autumn? One word of caution – many of these woodlands are young (Y), so don’t expect mature trees (M) here!

Castle Camps Wood, 5.2ha, Landranger 154, TL 627 432…(Y)

Clarks Corner, Babraham,  3.6ha, Landranger 154, TL 496 535

Priory Wood, Burwell, 9 ha, Landranger 154, TL 585 667…(Y)

Reach Wood, 4.6ha, Landranger 154, TL 565 659….(Y)

Toft Wood, 3.4ha, Landranger  154, TL 357 564….(Y)

John’s Wood, Coveney, 0.8ha, Landranger  143, TL 492 824….(Y)

Nine Acre Wood, Haddenham, 3.8ha, Landranger 154, TL 444 723…. (Y)

Townsend Wood, Fordham, 1ha, Landranger 154, TL 627 704….(M)

Archers Wood, Sawtry, 176 ha, Landranger 142, TL 174 810….(M)

Aversley Wood, Sawtry, 61 ha, Landranger 142, TL 158 815….(M)

St Mary’s & Muchwood, Ramsey, 2ha, Landranger 142, TL 293 869….(Y)

Gault Wood, March,  6.6ha, Landranger 143, TL 400 945….(Y)

Wandlebury (new) Wood, 495 535….(Y)

(Ford Wood, Keith Wood, White Ponds Wood, Whitethorn Wood & Tween Towns Wood are mentioned in the preceding article).

Remember, too, you can visit woods in the County owned by Cambridgeshire County Council, such as at Landbeach, and some Wildlife Trust woods, Fulbourn (although some, like Hardwick Wood, are of restricted access).

…..The Lark Valley…..
This is the title of a new book published by The Lark Valley Association, and available from West Stow Country Park, West Stow, Bury St Edmunds, IP28 6HG at £9.95. (ISBN 0 9537360 0 8; 156pp, paperback.)

On a wet afternoon, we were browsing in the Visitor Centre Shop, and this publication caught our eye.  It is lavishly illustrated with line drawings and colour photographs, but is much more than an attractive picture book of the area.  Over half the pages are devoted to a description of the wildlife interest in the Lark valley – mammals, birds, butterflies, reptiles, fish, fungi, and especially the trees and special plants of the Brecks. Each village is featured. Walkers will be particularly interested in the chapters on Highways and Byways, railways, recreation, and the Lark Valley Path guide, and also in the history of the river valley, its mills, and the Lark Navigation itself.  Breckland was not always peaceful: chapters give details of past arson and unrest; military camps in two World wars; and the theft of the Icklingham bronze hoard as recently as the 1980s.

There are 20 contributors to this publication: they have all done an excellent job, as has the editor.  The reader glides smoothly from one chapter to the next, with continuing enjoyment and edification.  Highly recommended!

And on the Lark Valley Path..
Some of you may know that in January, even before Foot & Mouth closed the paths, the route of the Lark Valley Path through the grounds of Culford Hall was unavailable while the lake was being drained. A visit in early October confirmed that the lake is now refilled, and the Lackford end of the drive (and the footpath) restored.  However, the waymarked permissive section of the path by the lake now starts half-way along the drive, opposite the green iron bridge, avoiding a waterlogged section.  This is not as described in the Lark Valley Path leaflet.

Report of August in East Yorkshire
Eight members of RA Cambridge Group enjoyed a week in August staying at Bishop Burton College, near Beverley, and walking on the coast and in the Yorkshire Wolds.

The weather was mixed, but the rain only seemed to arrive when we had done our 10 miles and were back in the cars, or secure in the dining room, enjoying some excellent meals.  The party “jelled”, so that one member wrote afterwards that it was the best group holiday she had enjoyed.

We were relieved that all the local paths were open, following Foot & Mouth epidemic restrictions earlier in the year.  We were able to enjoy a very spectacular (and energetic) walk around Flamborough Head. We went to the Humber Visitor centre and had a chilly walk on the bridge. On other days we walked some of the more spectacular parts of the Wolds Way and the Minster Way.  We had a half-day visit to Burton Constable stately home, and most of the party enjoyed a day trip to Castle Howard.  The other two, meanwhile, fulfilled an ambition to visit Spurn Point, on the southernmost coastal tip of Yorkshire, and were not disappointed…

This was a holiday arranged via SAGA, who make block bookings of some colleges in the Summer, and seem happy for groups to make their own arrangements within these bookings.  Other advantages are a modest price, and no shortage of single rooms. Clients must have reached an age of discretion – i.e.50!

Footnote – for anyone planning walking in the Dolgellau or Harlech areas, I have the addresses of two highly recommended guest houses.

Summary of Watery Walks
We were asked to provide a list of walks in East Anglia with a riverside theme:

  • The Hereward Way, 180 miles. Oakham to Knettishall
  • The Nene Way, 110 miles.  Badby, Northants. to Sutton Bridge
  • The Iceni Way, 80 miles.  Knettishall to Snettisham
  • The Angles Way, 80 miles.  Yarmouth to Knettishall
  • The Black Fen Trail, 60 miles.  March – Ely circuit
  • The Brown Fen Trail, 60 miles.  Boston & villages circuit
  • The Fen Rivers Way, 60 miles.  Cambridge to Kings Lynn
  • The Stour Valley Path, 60 miles. Newmarket to Cattawade
  •  Nar Valley Way, 34 miles.  Kings Lynn to East Dereham
  • The Ouse Valley Way, 27 miles.  Eaton Socon to Earith
  • Upper Tas Valley Walk, 19 miles.  Hethersett to New Buckenham
  • The Gipping Valley Path, 17 miles.  Stowmarket to Ipswich
  • The Lark Valley Path, 13 miles.  Mildenhall to Bury St Edmunds
  • Little Ouse Path, 10 miles.  Thetford to Brandon
  • The Peter Scott Walk, 10 miles.  Sutton Bridge to West Lynn

Has anyone walked all of these?  Can you add to this list?

If so, we would like details of start & finish, distance, and guidebook publisher, date & price.  Thank you.

This is a privately produced magazine, and the views expressed are solely those of the editor, or the author of an individual item.

Short contributions are welcome.

Janet Moreton 01223 356889


Price 10 pence; no postal sales

© Janet Moreton, 10 October 2001