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** Please note that this is an archive of the CANTAB publication and contains out-of-date information **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

CANTAB08 July 2001

CANTAB08 July 2001 published on

** Please note that this is an archive of the CANTAB publication and contains out-of-date information **


In late May we wrote that walking opportunities were improving locally, with only about 15% of paths closed. On our return from holiday in Scotland at the end of June, the Internet told us that by ca. 1 July (days varying slightly from County to County), the whole of the public paths in East Anglia were open (Cambs, Beds, Essex, Herts, Norfolk, Suffolk, Bucks)… but still not a single path in Lincs is open.

We congratulate Cambridgeshire County Council staff on their reasonable attitude throughout the Foot & Mouth crisis.  We hope the epidemic nationally is genuinely nearly over, and, this being the case, trust that all paths will be open soon everywhere, and that rights of way officers will busy themselves with restoring path networks which, at best, have become overgrown, and at worst, have developed new obstructions in the intervening months.

Remember this –
Having endured a few weeks of restricted freedom, perhaps we will fight harder in future to retain what we take for granted.  After the Civil War, Parliament outlawed “vainly and profanely walking” on a Sunday.

Think on these things.

A few sites in Cambs still closed
Whilst Wimpole Hall and garden is now open, and the right of way along the drive (allowing walkers to go the full length of the Clopton Way), the Park and Home Farm are still closed.  The greater part of Fulbourn Nature Reserve (i.e. the grasslands) is still closed. Magog Trust land is largely available, except for the South field containing the sheep – the perimeter dog walk has been re-routed, to emerge onto the North field, above the old chalk pit.  Other reserves, and open spaces which are not public may still be unavailable.

Umbrellas for walking?
The very wet Winter seems to have given way to a not-very-dry Summer, so I continue to carry a fold-up umbrella in the rucksac, to be used instead of a hot waterproof in a sudden shower, or to supplement the raingear in a real downpour. I have found a good quality “gamp” worthwhile, as it has stood being turned inside out on many occasions.  Fulton’s “Stormshield” is advertised  as never blowing inside out, but I have not tried it!

The first umbrella, or parasol, would appear to have been carried ca. 2000 years ago by the Egyptians.  It was made of ostrich feathers and used as protection against the fierce desert sun.  The umbrella arrived on London’s streets in the middle of the eighteenth century, courtesy of a certain James Hanway.  Initially regarded as continental frippery, by the end of the eighteenth century, umbrellas were being widely used throughout England.  Early ones were made of heavy cloth supported by ribs of wood or metal, and weighed up to 4 kg.  Now it is possible to buy one as light as 158g – but a more robust one might be better for that country ramble…

Return to Kilnhill, Bassenthwaite, 8 -14 May 2002.
Those of us who were planning to visit the Lake District for a group walking holiday in May this year were deeply disappointed to have to cancel, because of Foot & Mouth restrictions.  However, we have kept in touch to Ken & Heather Armstrong at Kiln Hill Barn, and are glad to report that they have had no disease on their farm, but clearly have been affected by the severe outbreak in the neighbour-hood.  We made a brief visit to them in June, on the way to Scotland, and they were very pleased to see us.  We have made a provisional booking for ourselves for the week of 8 – 14 May (Wed – Wed) next year, and very much hope that we will have a party again.

If you had a booking this year with Ken & Heather, should you wish to go next year, it would be nice if you could give them a ring in the next month, and confirm these dates, which they are keeping open.  If you have not been before, and would like to join us, then do consider this pleasant break.  It would be good to fill the guest house up!

As on previous holidays, we shall aim to do about 9 – 12 miles a day, with a mountain climb if the weather makes this possible.  As previously, 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, necessarily 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 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 5 double or twin rooms, and 2 singles.  In the annex there is one double and 1 twin, and there are two rooms in the barn.  Rates at 2000 were ca. £32 per night 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 dining room is in the upper floor of the very fine barn… and the food is varied and very good.

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!

The Hertfordshire Way
For those who have not walked this attractive route, information is now available on its own website:  There is an active Hertfordshire Way Association, a regular newsletter, and a useful guidebook, & walks programme.

3 Sept. 10 miles from Bramfield. 10am; grid ref 292156, near church. Bert Richardson, 01763 244509

8 Oct. 12.5miles Cuffley to Broxbourne. 9.30am. Lea Valley CP, GR371068. Peter & Sue Garside, 01992 467928

19 Nov. 10 miles from Royston, 10am followed by meal, Royston Golf course. Royston Golf Course CP. Bert Richardson, 01763 244509

The Fen Rivers Way
Due to the outbreak of Foot & Mouth, the Fen Rivers Way walks were never finished.  However, it is intended to organise Sections 5 and 6, (which were to have taken place on 24 Feb. & 3 March) on the first two Saturdays in November.  The Walks will be organised by the Fen Rivers Way Association, and will be held jointly with The 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 Station. Tel 01223 356889  8 miles  Check train times, which may change in the Autumn. 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. 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 Essex 100 mile Walk.
This event takes place in different parts of Essex every Summer, and is the brainchild of that grand old man of rambling, Fred Matthews..  This year, the route runs from Hatfield Broad Oak to Canewdon, in stages of 11 miles each, over 9 days, each day starting at 9.30am, at a car park, with a coach (£2.50 daily) to take walkers to the start.  All are welcome, using the following timetable:

28 July Harlow Town Car Park (CP) Grid ref. 451 108
29 July  Upshire Village Hall Grid ref. 415 010
30 July Stapleford Abbots Church  Grid ref. 501 961
31 July  Thorndale Country Park, CP Grid ref. 612 913
1 Aug   Great Bursted Church  Grid ref. 680 922
2 Aug South Hanningfield Fishermen’s CP  Grid ref. 737 974
3 Aug March Farm Country Park  Grid ref. 810 961
4 Aug Rochford Homebase CP, Purdey Grid ref. 886 898        [Ind. Est.
5 Aug Canewdon Village Hall  Grid ref. 902 945

There is a certificate for all finishers.

Walking in the Highlands…
We enjoyed 3 weeks in Scotland in June, and have been making a visit to different centres for several years, using addresses from the RA bed & breakfast guide.  The Highlands have barely heard of Foot & Mouth problems, although Dumfries & Galloway had a severe outbreak.

We stopped off at Dunkeld, (cathedral, Ossians Cave, ospreys, nature reserves, & waymarked walks) which we know & love from previously, and visited the new Beatrix Potter garden, and walked by the river, noting melancholy thistle, wood cranesbill, Jacobs Ladder, and other wild flowers we do not find at home.  Dunkeld is not far from Pitlochry, where there is an HF house, and both are good centres for hill walking.  Pitlochry has a theatre, shops and culture, but is much more touristy.  We have also stayed  in Aberfeldy, a charming unpretentious little town, with a two mile waterfall walk in the centre – delightful, but wear your midge repellant. Both Aberfeldy and coach-ridden Killin are good centres for the Lawers range of mountains, and the delightful walking from Glen Lyon, and have a range of accommodation and reasonable walking at lower levels. On all trips to Scotland, we try to be prepared for a proportion of wet days, and thus to cultivate an interest in castles, distilleries etc.

Arriving in reasonable time in Braemar, we took  a short walk round the Nature Reserve at Morrone birch woods, and reminded ourselves of the specialist Highland flora. Nearby, the Braemar Golf Course is said to be the highest in Britain, at over 1000 ft. We visited Braemar once before, some 10 years ago.  On that occasion, we climbed the obvious, easy peak Morrone (or Morven), which stands guard over the town.  Not far away, the car parks at Glenshee give access to the easiest Monros in the book, Cairnwell, and Carn Aosda, both achieved in about an hour and a half from the road.

But steady, you say, what are these Monros?  They are mountains in Scotland (named after Sir Hugh Monro, who first listed them) of over 3000 ft height and separated from other mountains by a drop of 500 ft.  As well as Monros, there are Corbetts, which are 2500 ft or more, again with a 500 ft drop between it and any higher hill. There are nearly 300 Monros, and about 220 Corbets, but the approved number changes from time to time, with revised Ordnance Surveys. When we first visited Scotland, we were irked by the lack of many rights of way.  There are some, generally through routes along the glens and over mountain passes, and nowadays  well waymarked by the Scottish Rights of Way Society.  But such routes are relatively few, and we wondered where to walk.  Then we came upon two books, published by the Scottish Mountaneering Club, The Monros, and The Corbetts.  Roughly speaking, each mountain has a page, and each page has a photograph, parking advice and route descriptions.  We were off!

On the present occasion from Glenshee, we climbed 2 easy Monros, Glas Maol (1068m), and Creag Leacach (987m), from the A93 at the Cairnwell pass.  This is a bit of a cheat, as the height of the road gives one a good start. Another of the Grampians, An Socach,  has two summits, 944m (the Monro), and 938m, at opposite ends of the ridge.  This was a delightful, elegant mountain, with a very relaxed, enjoyable ridge walk between, and very little bog, and making a walk of about 10 miles from the road.  Later in the week, in strong winds which we felt might stop us standing at 3000ft, we visited 2 Corbetts. We went towards Spittal of Glenshee, and up Ben Gulabin (806m). The wind howled on the top, and a hail shower followed us down, but it was invigorating. In the afternoon, we drove up a side glen, and climbed  Mount Blair from Cray. After the recent elections, this seemed appropriate, but we were saddened to find it disfigured on top by a new radio mast.

Braemar is known to walkers not only for access to the Grampians, but also as a back-door route to the Cairngorms.  We have stayed at Boat  of Garten on the other side of the Cairngorms on three occasions, and between the three weeks found weather opportunities to climb Cairngorm (no, not the chairlift); Ben Macdui (where we saw a snowy owl); Bynack Mor; Braeriach, the remote Monadh Mor, and The Angels Peak, as well as making inroads into the big Glen Feshie hills.  This time, we had hoped to get to know some of the easier approaches from the South.  We had one day of this only.  There was an early  ground frost in Braemar. We drove up to Linn of Dee, noting the last of the daffodils still in flower in the cottage gardens.  We parked, and walked up the rough track to Derry Lodge, and turned up Glen Derry, amidst ancient Caledonian pines and tall heather, to get onto the ridge, and climb Beinn Bhreac (931m), a rather small Monro, and returned much the same way.  As usual, we were following instructions in the SMC guidebook, but since it was written, there was a new 2m high deer fence across the visible path, with no gate or stile.  The fence sagged where others had climbed it, but we followed it along for 100m, where I found a gap underneath, where the ground dipped, & the fence did not, and rolled through.  We wove some pieces of heather in the top of the fence to mark the place, to find it on the return, but this was not so easy, even with binoculars!  The summit of our mountain gave wonderful views, but we soon turned cold.

Of the remaining 3 days in Braemar, on one day, the mist was down at 1000ft, but we enjoyed some 12 miles of pleasant local walks, using a leaflet from the tourist office.  In the heavy downpours of the succeeding day, we drove towards Aberdeen, and visited Crathes Castle (SNT), nr Banchory, (and walked its Nature trail in the wet), then visited another fortified pile, Drum, SNT (with an oystercatcher nesting on the ground at the base of the tower) near Peterculter.  The next day again started wet, so into the car for a trip to Frazer Castle, SNT, near Inveruie. When the sun came out, we consulted the map, and made for Bennachie Country Park.  This is like Wandlebury for Aberdeen folk, and was quite busy.  However, we went up a well-waymarked quaint pointed little mountain called Mither Tap (518m), surmounted by an old Pictish fort,

The following day, we drove to Spean Bridge, near Fort William, where we enjoyed a week of rather better weather, climbing more mountains. We have now topped 76 Monros, and about 20 Corbetts.  You do not have to be a rock-climber to try these mountains, or even a super-strong walker.  There are, no doubt, several that we will never attempt (like the Inaccessible Pinnacle on Skye), but there are many more that will give us happy days, a sense of achievement, enjoyment of splendid scenery, and a degree of isolation that we have not found anywhere else in the British Isles.


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, 14 July 2001

CANTAB07 May 2001

CANTAB07 May 2001 published on

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


Things are looking up on the paths of Cambridgeshire, and, indeed in several other places in Britain.

We in Cambridgeshire are fortunate to have no outbreaks of Foot & Mouth, and to have a sane and reasonable County Council, which, from the onset, has made numbers of paths available.  Gradually more paths are being opened, and hopefully we can look forward to a Summer of fairly normal country walking.

This edition is almost all about Foot & Mouth and access to paths, both in Cambridgeshire and elsewhere in the country. The aim is to give ideas on where to walk, where to find more information, and where to expect restrictions.

Please find several quotes from “Ramblers-Net” on the Internet, which has enabled us to keep up-to-date with what is going on all over the country, and to keep in touch with other footpath workers.

Where to walk in Cambridgeshire
When planning a walk, the first action to take is to find out which paths are still closed, and which have been recently re-opened. For the official list of closed paths, consult the County Council website:

There is a long list of path numbers, each with grid reference, and brief description of location, arranged by District. There is also a list of recently re-opened paths:

Both of these lists are updated every few days. For those who prefer to telephone, CCC’s helpline is on 01223 718622.  Unfortunately, some few paths that have been opened, are now closed, as cattle or sheep have been turned out to pasture.  Such a case is at Quy Fen which was available for a short time, but is now closed again.

The humorous side –
Michael Bird, of City of Birmingham RA Group, e-mailed on 7 May, “After nearly 3 months of exploring the rural delights of Birmingham and the Black Country, yesterday, we came across our first STILE!.   ‘They won’t catch on’ prophesised our Social Secretary, as he struggled with his third attempt to get his leg over the top rail“…

The problem of the “Please do not use this path” notice…
There are still considerable numbers of paths in Cambs. with signs, “Foot & Mouth precautions – please do not use this path”, or similar words, often with a CCC/NFU logo.

Cambridgeshire County Council had put out a specimen notice on its web-site, which farmers could download, but this is now withdrawn, and these notices should be removed.

Kate Day, the County’s Countryside Access Team Leader wrote on 8 May,
“We have asked the NFU to contact all their members with a view to getting the voluntary restraint signs removed.
We have written to all Parish Councils asking them to remove signs that they may have erected.
We are reopening paths following a risk assessment.
We are publicising the Countryside Agency/Maff’s Code of Conduct for path users.
We have recently secured more resources for updating, improving and managing the website.
We will continue to issue weekly Press releases on opportunities for enjoying the countryside”.

Kate Day also wrote on 3 May, in reply to our query, “unless a path is officially closed, it is available for use“.

Public Parks and Nature Reserves now open (as at 14 May 2001)
Within Cambridge, there is no restriction on the Commons, along the Backs and riverside.  The towpath down river to Waterbeach is no longer closed. Coe Fen, “Paradise” (the damp area behind Owlstone Croft in Newnham) is available, and the roadworks on the adjacent Fen Causeway are now finished.  Cherry Hinton Park is open, as is the nearby Cherry Hinton Chalkpits Reserve, and Limekiln Hill Reserve.  Carry on up the road to the Beechwoods Reserve, and the white heleborine will soon be in flower. Milton Country Park reopened in April.

Further afield, Huntingdon Riverside tarmac path is available, and Portholme Meadow, Godmanchester is open at present, as are Hinchingbrooke Country Park and Paxton Pits reserve near St Neots.  (However, do not continue along the Ouse Valley Way towards Buckden, as there are some cows reported somewhere in the meadows. )

Wicken Fen (boardwalk) is open, as are some of the surrounding paths in the parish, but there are several closures nearby. Welney Wildfowl Trust Reserve reopened mid-April.

For bluebell spotting, try the re-opened Waresley & Gransden Woods; Hayley Wood (very wet); Overhall Grove (Knapwell); and Brampton Wood.

Other nature reserves now available include: Ramsey Heights; Gamlingay Cinques, meadows and wood; Fordham Woods (behind the church in the middle of the village); and Barrington riverside reserve.

This list is not exhaustive: for more information, consult:

If you fancy a drive into Bedfordshire, Priory Park is now open, and Stockgrove Country Park, as are Coopers Hill Nature Reserve, and Blows Downs. Some (labelled) paths are available elsewhere in the Beds. countryside.

Getting out of the County?
The best local county to chose is Suffolk, which in theory opened all paths in early April, except where animals are grazing.

So far, we have enjoyed an excellent 12 mile walk in a large section of Thetford Forest, centered on Brandon Country Park. We were delighted to join Margaret Rishbeth, and a group of 20 Cambridge Rambling Club members on a similar Wednesday walk, which made a strategic detour into Brandon itself for the pub!  West Stow Country Park remains closed, but the nearby Ramparts Field is open, and in early May had a lovely display of meadow saxifrage.  From here, it is possible to walk the byway section “Icknield Way” north through the forest.  At first, one may not turn off left or right, but after a couple of miles, one enters an area of open access, up to the Monument.  Thus it is possible to do a “P” shaped walk of up to 10 miles.

We were also delighted to find open Bradfield Woods Nature Reserve, where the wildflowers are delightful. (We were invited in by the warden, but subsequently found Suffolk Wildlife Trust website reported this as closed on 8 April, – the web-site was presumably inaccurate.).  For a more formal walk, try Nowton Country Park on the outskirts of  Bury St Edmunds.  From here we did a day’s walk on mostly footpaths and green spaces into Bury St Edmunds, visiting  Abbey Gardens, and admiring the splendid new tower, the Abbey’s Millennium Project.

One can now walk the section of Devils Dyke in Suffolk, adjacent to the racecourse ... but  part of the section in Cambridgeshire towards Reach is still closed.  However, one can now turn the other way on the Dyke towards Stetchworth in Cambridgeshire.

Note there are still many discouraging notices present on paths in Suffolk.  We consulted John Andrews, the RA Area Officer, who replied (24 April): Nobody in County Hall has a record of what paths are closed and there are – in addition – substantial numbers of notices which have been handed out and scattered around by parish councils – with entirely predictable results.  RoW staff are making a valiant attempt to sort the chaos, but that’s a huge task now.”  Rosamund Tyrrell, visiting Suffolk in mid-April obtained info from the County Council that the only “official” closure notice was a “traffic sign no-entry symbol with “April 2001“.

However –
Avoid Essex would seem good advice, with most paths still closed, although it is several weeks since the last case of infection.

Hertfordshire has been slow in re-opening its paths, considering there is no F & M disease in the county.  Use for path number data on some RoW which have re-opened. Royston’s Therfield Heath is now open (but not the Nature Reserve).

Pity walkers in Lincolnshire, where, in spite of a total absence of disease in this largely arable county,  by mid-May still had not a single path open.

Owen Plunkett e-mailed on 7 May, “There are still very few paths open in Hampshire and West Sussex, although there have been no cases in either county.” On the other hand, the Editor has just enjoyed a very pleasant week in the Isle of Wight, where 70% of paths are available. It is possible to download 12 maps of paths in use from the website:  etc.

David Pawley reported by e-mail on 14 May some excellent news for walkers in Cornwall, “According to the Western Morning newspaper of 14 May, Cornwall County Council…… are lifting restrictions on 1800 miles of paths (including 250 miles of coastal paths) to the S & W of a line from Padstow to Plymouth from 25 May.  Landowners concerned about pathways next to livestock can appeal, but the Council only envisages a handful of short sections remaining closed...”

Mike Heckford stated on 6 May that “The majority of footpaths in Dorset remain closed – whilst there have been no outbreaks of F & M in Dorset, there have been outbreaks in the adjoining counties…”  From Kent, Mike Temple wrote, “At a meeting of the County Council cabinet today (9 May) it was decided to re-open RoW in Kent from 0600 Saturday 12 May, subject to the following restrictions:

-all paths N of the M2 to remain closed (further cull of 2000 sheep in Sheppey last weekend)
-all paths to remain closed in an infected area
-all paths to remain closed within 3km of an infected area, and -all paths to remain closed where they are grazed…”

We grieve for Cumbria.  Will the Lakes ever again be populated by the Herdwicks? On 9 May, Peter Jones wrote that the earliest estimate for some reopening of the high fell was July. Nevertheless, the Lake District is opening what it can,, and would love to see anyone who would visit (but  disinfect your boots, wash your socks & and use a car-wash before returning to Cambs!).

To end this section on an upbeat, we learnt from Ron Moore on 16 May that Wilts CC had just decided to open all paths, except those that go through farmyards or those that are used for moving livestock.  Closed paths will be marked.

Back in Cambridgshire
We have received several enquiries, as to where we have made or plan our private walks, recently.  Here are some ideas.  The paths were open and available when we made the walks, but it is advisable to check that the situation has not changed.

Fulbourn Area:  The Nature Reserve remains closed, but the local paths are open and attractive. Extend the walk along Fleam Dyke, use the footbridge over the A11, and continue along the Dyke, to use “Fox Road”, the byway into Balsham.  Return along the Roman Road, and turn right along the footpath or byway back to Fulbourn. (12 – 16 miles, depending on route through Balsham)  Alternatively, for an 8 mile circuit, after using the A11 footbridge, take the path alongside the A11 for a short way, pick up the old roadway to the chalkpit, turn left, and use the roadbridge over the A11.  A good verge takes you to Gt. Wilbraham, and thence on paths back to Fulbourn. Or just visit Great & Little Wilbraham from Fulbourn .

Hatley Area:  Some paths are closed S of the road, but all but 2 of the paths N of the road through Hatley St. George are open, so it is possible to use the bridleways to visit Hayley Wood (good flowers, but v. wet) and back.  Alternatively, from East Hatley, take a path to Old Harts Farm ruin, and thence to the Clopton Way.  This is open all the way to Arrington.  One can visit the Queen Adelaide in Croydon, and turn back on paths from the church to Hatley. Note, however, that all Croydon paths have the “please do not use” non-statutory notices, that CCC is trying to get parish councils to remove.

Grafham Water:  We walked all round the cycleway, and turned off to visit the Nature Reserves, and display areas, which were also open. (ca. 10 miles)  Note parking in the main car-parks is now £3

Steeple Morden & Guilden Morden, Litlington, Abington Pigotts:  CCC’s website shows relatively few path closures in this area.  Several paths near Morden Hall are closed to protect the ? alpaccas, but otherwise there is considerable scope.  We plan a walk for the Cambridge Rambling Club at the end of May, which will take in the flower meadow behind Steeple Morden rec, Ashwell Street, paths by the chalk pit,, and Litlington (PH) .  Two paths are closed in the middle of the village, going through pasture fields, but on footpaths across arable to Cheyney Water and Bogs Gap Lane the only impediment is oilseed.  Many other walks are possible round here, including from the Little Chef on the outskirts of Royston, over the railway line, to take the long diagonal path across the fields to Litlington.  Most paths in Abington Pigotts are also available, but in late April, there was still flooding on the path near Bible Grove.

Chrishill and Heydon:  Take care here not to venture inadvertently into Essex, but it is possible to do a pleasant hilly (!) circuit from Chishill down by New Buildings Farm onto a section of the Icknield Way track, which can be followed until the Icknield Way LDP turns right uphill into Heydon, and thence back to Chishill.

Ickleton & Duxford:  Several paths have recently been re-opened here, making a fairly sedate circuit possible. Remember that the nearby village of Great Chesterford is in Essex, and will have path closures.

Stetchworth, Woodditton, Dullingham:  We have recently enjoyed 2 very good walks in this area where marking of re-opened paths is particularly clear. Starting from Stetchworth and circling round from Devil’s Dyke, if you take the bridleway from Court Barns, it is necessary to avoid the route through Camois Hall, by emerging on a path by The Three Blackbirds PH, or continuing N towards Woodditton Church.

Another route followed the Dyke from Stetchworth to Ditton Green, then Ditton Park Wood (no closure notices), and paths skirting Lucy Wood, before choosing the long bridleway back to Ditton Green, where remark the new Millennium orrery and weathervane.

Other possibilities include (i) Whaddon – Orwell – Meldreth; (ii) Haslingfield – Harston – Barrington – Haslingfield (beware road); (iii) St Ives – Houghton – The Hemingfords.  Many other walks are, of course, possible.  These are just some ideas in response to friends’ requests.

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, 16 May 2001

CANTAB06 April 2001

CANTAB06 April 2001 published on


These are bad times for walkers, as well as for stock farmers, inns, guest houses & tourist attractions.  However, there has been some relaxation of restrictions in recent days, following Government instructions to Counties unaffected by Foot & Mouth to open more paths.

Cambs. C.C has been, from the onset, one of the more liberal counties, with only 15% of its paths officially closed, these being on land near stock farms, or woodland.  However, there have been a far larger number of paths with signs, “Foot & Mouth precautions – please do not use this path”, or words to this effect. CCC had put out a draft notice on its web-site, but this is now withdrawn, and the implication is that these notices should come down.  Suffolk, where initially all but town & tarmac paths were closed, has now opened its paths, except on stock farms etc…but we can report that large numbers of prohibitory notices remain on paths across ploughed fields, wheat crops etc. Essex had some 10 cases of Foot & Mouth (at the beginning of the outbreak, weeks ago, then no more), and its paths remain closed. Herts has no cases of Foot & Mouth, but, at the time of writing (9 April), we learn that paths in the County remain closed, although it is surmised that Therfield Heath (available to golfers, but not walkers!) will be available shortly.

You will know that the Ramblers’ Association Cambs. Area Chairman cancelled all organised RA walks in Cambridgeshire.

Cambridge Rambling Club, on the other hand, is putting on a skeleton walks programme, led by those members who are willing, and who have checked out routes that are feasible.  David Allard, for Royston RA has organised an emergency walks programme for his members taking them into other counties.

To find out which paths in Cambridgeshire are affected by the emergency legislation, use the Internet to obtain a 9 page list of these official closures.  All are marked at the start of the path with an official notice, sometimes with red printing at the top.

Unfortunately, there are at least twice as many additional paths, marked with requests not to use. In cases where paths pass through paddocks used by horses, which can carry the disease, although they do not contract it, we can sympathise.  But then there are also those farmers who have used the notices on paths across arable fields…

Woods and some reserves have been closed, on the grounds that it is just possible that wild deer could catch the disease… but some are now reopening.

Sadly, it has been necessary to cancel the Group’s May walking holiday in Cumbria.  Our thoughts go out to Heather & Ken Armstrong. Hopefully, it will be possible to make arrangements another time. We have seen very few of our friends while there are no organised walks, but send our good wishes.  This edition is designed to let you know what opportunities exist in and around Cambridge.

The University Botanic Garden
This is accessible from Bateman Street (main entrance), and from Station Road (entrance not always open).  Sadly, it is only free from 10am until 12 noon on a Wednesday. A charge is made at other times.

How to find out which paths in Cambridgeshire are officially closed
Use the Internet to contact Cambs.C.C.,
Then click foot & mouth epidemic

It is important to note that this list does not include those paths, woods and parks marked, “please do not enter…” or similar phrase.

The Cambridgeshire Scare…
In March, some sheep were reported slaughtered in Needingworth, having been in contact with a market in the Midlands.  This was a precautionary measure only.

Public Parks and open spaces available for use
Within Cambridge, there seems to be no restriction on the Commons, and along the Backs and riverside. Coe Fen is still very damp, and the noise & disturbance from the Fen Causeway road bridges repair is noticeable.  Cherry Hinton Park is open, as is the nearby Chalkpits Reserve.  In Newnham Village (within the City boundary), one can use “Paradise” the rough wooded area behind Owlstone Croft, although wellies are needed!

The Roman Road is open, & the Beechwoods Reserve was reopened in early April (but the Warden has lost the key to the padlock, so users need to climb the gate!). Milton Country Park reopened in April.

Further afield, Huntingdon Riverside tarmac path is available, as is Hinchingbrooke Country Park…(muddy, but wonderful to get away from the tarmac).  Quite an extensive, and very enjoyable walk and birdwatching etc may be had around Paxton Pits.  However, do not continue along the Ouse Valley Way towards Buckden, as there are some cows reported somewhere in the meadows.

Nene Park/Ferry Meadows, Peterborough are reported open – info. not yet checked.

Getting Away to the coast?
We had a successful weekday out in Hunstanton, (65 mile drive?) with free Winter parking.  It was possible to walk on the grassy cliff top in the town, and for miles on the beach on firm sand.  We did see numbers of other booted ramblers with rucksacs.. At the weekend, the beach might be quite crowded.

Wells-next-the-Sea has a huge beach, where we walked 5 miles each way, but beware places like Holkham, where a path to the beach is closed, thus cutting off access. Norfolk is now opening up some paths, including the old railway section of The Weavers Way.

Having lost a holiday in Somerset, we felt desperate to get well away, and drove further one day to Chapel St Leonards, in Lincolnshire, where we really enjoyed a 10 mile walk on a marvellous quiet sandy beach, backed by dunes.  But it was a 200 mile round trip in the car.  Also bear in mind that in  Lincolnshire, all rural paths are closed, so the beach will only give an out-and-back walk.

In Early April, Suffolk opened many of its paths. So far, we have enjoyed an excellent 12 mile walk in a large section of Thetford Forest, centered on Brandon Country Park.  We were also delighted to find open Bradfield Woods Nature Reserve, where there are sheets of wood anemones, and oxlips & bluebells just coming out. (Suffolk Wildlife Trust website reported this as closed on 8 April, but was not up-to-date!).  For a more formal walk, try Nowton Country Park on the outskirts of  Bury St Edmunds, and admire the fine parkland trees, and thousands of daffodils.  We tried the Three Churches Walk from Gazeley, but were foiled, as, although some paths were open, part of the Icknield Way path through the woods near Dalham Church was closed, as was the path East from Moulton Church. One can now walk the section of Devils Dyke in Suffolk, adjacent to the racecourse ... but the sections either side in Cambridgeshire remain unavailable.

What precautions can we all take?
At present, every time we take a walk outside the town, we clean our boots, disinfect them, and, of course, put the socks in the wash…..

Walking in South Cambridgeshire
The temporary path closures make it difficult to avoid walking all or part of a circuit along roads, many of which have no footway.

Don’t be counted amongst the current livestock slaughter on one of our A-roads..

The tarmac path from Cambridge to Grantchester is still in very frequent use (beware bicycles!), as are other paths in Grantchester, and, reportedly, some in Haslingfield.  (However, Byrons Pool site is closed).  The Coton Footpath was closed, but has now re-opened.

Some paths in Orwell (e.g. in the chalkpit, and from the A603 up onto the Mare Way) are available.  One may use the two bridleways down to Little Eversden, (but NOT the Wimpole Road path down to Great Eversden, as there is a pig farm at the bottom).  The charming inner-village paths between the Eversdens are in frequent use, and The Hoops welcomes walkers.


Barrington bristles with notices (official & unofficial) against path use.

Thriplow has sheep-pastures in the middle of the village, so has closed its paths, and will not be holding its daffodil festival this year.
CCC’s website shows all Hatley’s paths as unavailable…Why?

However –
On the other side of Cambridge, there are several paths open in Fulbourn (although the Wildlife Trust Reserve is closed).  One can use Hindloaders and Stonebridge Lanes (both byways), and there seems no objection to walking on Fleam Dyke, where we met a cheerful party of volunteers doing scrub clearance.  It is possible to use paths across the fields to Great Wilbraham, and thence to continue one’s walk along Street Way.

Churches & recreation grounds?
We never thought that we would be reduced to walking around recreation grounds, but there are some very attractive ones, and in any case they are a good place to find seats for a tea break.  Churches & churchyards are an interesting study.  We would particularly recommend the large rec. running down to the river at Great Shelford (with free parking, opposite Sticks & Scones café), and the attractive churchyard nearby.  Continue along the road, over the lovely bridges to the Churchyard at Little Shelford, and just round the corner is “The Wale”, a huge, tree-fringed rec., also with a charming waterfront….

Continue along the road to Whittlesford (where, sadly, The Moor footpath is closed), but find another huge rec., and beyond, a wonderful old church.

Sawston’s back-alley paths can be a study in themselves, but it is back to the tarmac.  Don’t get lost!

Other Towns and Cities…
Godmanchester and Huntingdon both have “town trails”, with leaflets available from the tourist office.  Both towns have some available green-space to relieve the tarmac monotony, but Portholme is closed.

Before the crisis, we enjoyed a splendid day out in St Albans, with much green open space around the cathedral, and adjacent to the river and Roman remains.

There is free parking near the swimming bath/leisure centre.

We had an enjoyable day out in Norwich, where the riverside walk is available, and the Cathedral precinct must be the largest in the country.  We also discovered a delightful huge wooded cemetery on the hill overlooking the river, where squirrels leapt from branch to branch.  We found some free parking on a Sunday, but on a weekday, it would be better to use the train, or “park & ride”.

On another occasion, we visited Wymondham, clutching a very informative town trail leaflet, and spent a pleasant morning amidst the unspoilt old buildings, and in the magnificent church.  And, yes, we were able to do a section of riverside walk, before being pulled up by a prohibitory notice.

On the same day, we stopped at Thetford town on the way back, to explore the castle mound, the watery area around Nun’s Bridges, and the lawns surrounding the Priory ruins.  Again, one can walk a long way along the riverside, before meeting the dreaded white notice…

In conclusion…
These are just a few ideas which might help you have outdoor rambling of sorts. Be prepared to have to do an out-and-back.  Be prepared to be frustrated by reasonable or unreasonable restrictions.  We find it is fairly easy to compose a short walk, but most long ones have much road.  We have tried moving the car, and having two short walks.  We fear that path closures may persist for many months, but hope desperately that circumstances will prove us wrong.

Janet Moreton

Stop Press:
Although Wimpole remains closed, The National Trust has re-opened Anglesey Abbey (house & gardens), and we found many of the paths in Lode open.  Avoid Allicky Farm.  We also discovered that Wicken Fen has re-opened, but found it was so wet that even parts of the boardwalk were under water. Some footpaths are open around Wicken, but not all.

Nene Park, Peterborough –  a telephone enquiry produced the info. that the area around the lake is open, but not the whole site.

Welney RSPB Reserve is reported to be reopening on 17 April.

Oxburgh Hall, NT, Norfolk (house, gardens, but not park) is now open.

Marriots Way, Norfolk is now open.

From the Ramblers’ Net website, 28 March “Footpaths are being reopened across the country, inc. 278 in Wiltshire. 90% of paths in S. Tyneside and some in Somerset have remained open....”

CANTAB05 January 2001

CANTAB05 January 2001 published on


Cantab Rambler is still around to wish you all “Happy New Year”, and “Good Walking for 2001”.  This is our 5th issue, and we hope to produce items of interest to help steer you through the dark damp months, and point ideas for new expeditions in the Spring.

This is a privately produced news-sheet for our rambling friends, with an emphasis on the walking scene in Cambridgeshire and adjacent counties.  We aim to give away copies, but if you would like to have regular issues, a donation of 10p per copy would cover our costs!
Janet & Roger Moreton
(01223 356889)

Local Literature
“Wild Essex” is a guide to the nature reserves and country parks of Essex and East London.
Edited by Tony Gunton, and published by The Essex Wildlife Trust (Lopinga Books) in November 2000, it is available from Tye Green House, Wimbish, Saffron Walden, Essex, CB10 2XE;, at £12.75, softback (250pp, ISBN 0-9530362-2-7)

This is a very well-produced, lavishly illustrated informative guide, with a section on each of Essex’s reserves. Sadly, a majority of these are situated at some distance from the Cambridgeshire border, there being naturally a higher density of the sites on the coast, and in Epping Forest, for example.  However, we discovered several sites (especially oxlip woods) previously unknown to us near Saffron Walden, and further south in the Stort Valley.

Each site has a separate page with details of grid reference, parking, site plan, and visiting details.  Note that not all the sites are available to all, or at all times.  Reserve specialities (flowers, trees, birds, butterflies, fungi etc are highlighted).

Janet Moreton

Do you visit Wandlebury Often?
If you visit the Country Park by car more than 15 times a year, you might like to consider becoming a member of the Cambridge Preservation Society. For one person, the subscription is £15; for a family, it is £25.  Members also receive the Bulletin of the Society, and have free entrance to other properties as well as Wandlebury (Hinxton Mill, Bourn Mill, The Leper Chapel, etc) at times of public opening.  Functions and talks are arranged.  For more information, contact: Cambridge Preservation Society, Wandlebury Ring, Babraham, Cambridge, CB24AE.

This Month….
We are starting the Fen Rivers Way… Join us on 6 January at Cambridge Station, 10 a.m.

Thriplow has a new path…
On 20 April 2000, Cambs. C.C. confirmed the creation of Footpath 7.  This was too late for the path to be included on the new Explorer maps, so very few people will know of its availability.  The path starts from Footpath 4 at TL 4523 4693, and runs S on a 3m wide hardcore track, overlaid with mud, with earth bank, ditch & trees to right, and at first an arable field, later bushes &  fishing pits to left.  There is a shed to left, associated with the fishing.  Beyond, the path enters a poplar plantation at TL 4527 4672,  turning left (E) inside the wood for 80m, then right (S) along the E edge of the wood.  It emerges onto a 1m wide grass  field-edge at TL 4539 4653, which it follows WSW, turning SSE after 70m, with wood to right and open arable to left,  to TL 4540 4628.  Here, the path enters another short wooded section, passing under power lines and at TL 4531 4625, emerges on a 2.5m wide concrete road leading N to a sewage works.  Footpath 7 turns left (SSE) along the road, to meet Kingsway residential road, in Heathfields Housing Estate, Duxford, at TL 4537 4614, adjacent to an electricity substation on right.  When last inspected, there were no signposts or waymarks…. It is quite an attractive route, when conditions have dried out somewhat.

The Quotation
“Happiness is a ball after which we run wherever it rolls, and we push it with our feet when it stops”


Watery Walks Circuits

The Ouse Valley Way – an assessment.
The Ouse Valley Way is a 26 mile route promoted by Huntingdonshire District Council, following the bank of the Great Ouse from Eaton Socon to Earith, passing through St Neots, Little Paxton, The Offords, Godmanchester, Houghton, St Ives, Holywell, and presently terminating at either Bluntisham, or Hermitage Lock, near Earith.

Over the years, details of the route have been published in several series of leaflets, but the ones we have consist of 7 leaflets in a folder – Ouse Valley Way, in the “Discover Huntingdonshire Cromwell Country” series. These may be obtained from the Tourist Information Centre, Huntingdon Library, Princes Street, Huntingdon, Cambs. Tel. 01480 375800.

The strip-maps provided are excellent, with clear line drawings, and just the correct amount of detail.  Notes give directions, as well as points of nature and historical interest along the route.  There are cross references to OS sheets (now use Explorer 225) to place the route in the surrounding countryside. Some car parks are marked on the maps. It is possible, though difficult, to achieve the walk in sections using public transport.  Places of refreshment are noted, although here, as on other routes, one should be aware of the decline in rural inns.

On the ground, waymarking is generally adequate, although it was first set up many years ago, and individual markers have become damaged or have disappeared in places.  Through Little Paxton Pits Nature Reserve, there is a section with almost too many waymarking posts, whereas on the long stretch approaching Brownshill Staunch there are very few, disconcerting in view of the changes occurring along the nearby banks.

All the leaftlets give timely warnings against attempting the route when the river is in flood. Indeed, during the last months of 2000, several parts of the route, e.g. near St Neots, and Godmanchester were underwater.  Most of the path runs close to the Great Ouse, or in its floodplain. A new footpath was negotiated through Buckden Marina in the early 1990s, effecting a considerable improvement for walkers. However, it is a pity that the fine riverside path along the north bank of the main river through Hartford  has no continuation, other than the main road. Instead here is a rather contrived (but attractive) set of paths from Godmanchester passing between the flooded old quarry lakes, to join the South bank of the river opposite Hartford Marina.  Through Houghton, the promoted route goes along Thicket Road, although it is now possible to make a very pleasant detour around Houghton Meadow.

Crossing the St Ives bypass on a busy Saturday morning needs care & agility, and the continuing route down inappropriately named “Meadow Lane” was, until recently a black spot of the trail, being a tarmac road shared with heavy lorries.  In recent months, this section has been much improved by creating some new sections of path safely behind the enclosing hedges. Approaching Holywell, the path crosses several low-lying fields, prone to flooding, then continues along a raised floodbank, out of sight of the river, between The Ferry Boat Inn, and The Pike & Eel, where, alas, the ferries no longer cross the river.

Near Brownshill Staunch, the landscape is disfigured by recent gravel workings, and especially by an ugly conveyor belt that crosses the river near to the staunch itself.  However, bear in mind that many of the attractive pits and nature reserves passed along the route were themselves derived from worked-out gravel pits, and plans are already afoot to make a new Nature Reserve with public access available on the south side of the river between Overcote and Earith in the 2020s. One branch path leaves Brownshill Staunch across fields to Bluntisham.  But the more logical continuation follows the raised south bank of the river to Hermitage Lock, near Earith. Here the Great Ouse passes into South Cambridgeshire, and thus beyond the sphere of interest of Huntingdonshire District Council.

Earith – and then?
Walkers who appreciate the open Fenland landscapes enjoy pursuing rivers, irrespective of man-made boundaries, and seek to follow the Great Ouse (here often called the “Old West”) along its flood-banks skirting Willingham and Cottenham to the south, and Haddenham to the North, eventually meeting the main river near Stretham, thus joining the route of the Fen Rivers Way.

Such ramblers, at present, have a thin time.  It is possible to pass through the Marina on the north bank at Earith, to continue over difficult stiles to Aldreth, and thence along the south bank to join the main river near Little Thetford.  Stiles in Haddenham parish have recently been somewhat improved,  but problems of poor path maintenance and overgrowth make this section a commando exercise west of the A10.

From Earith, the only available route South of the river towards Willingham runs on the A1050, a hazardous road without a footway, and not to be considered by walkers under any circumstances.  Legal documents known as “Modification Orders” are presently being enacted by Cambridgeshire County Council to create a bridleway running parallel to and about 400m south of the A1050, as far as Bridge Farm.  Opposite the farm, a dead-end footpath, No.2 in Willingham runs towards the river.  Another path creation here, and over Flat Bridge (which has a history of former public use), would give satisfactory riverside access joining existing paths on the south side of the river, through Cottenham parish, over the A10, and thence to Stretham.

We believe that the County Council needs an impetus to push through these improvements. The missing-link is at present being called the “Fen Rivers Way Extension”, as it is being promoted by the Fen Rivers Way Association. Had riversides been included in the Countryside & Rights of Way Act, then we might have obtained these paths without a struggle.  As it is, we need to make known to the County Council the demand for improved access to The Great Ouse – the dominant feature of the fenland environment.      JM

Village of the Month – Grantchester
Explorer Sheet – 209, Cambridge. Pathfinder – 1004, Cambridge & Balsham

This is the time to take a new look at Grantchester, where you may walk with dry feet on several paths, and which you can visit in Winter without being jostled by too many tourists.  The “Orchard” tea-garden  AND indoor tearoom are open all year, as, of course, are the 4 pubs.

The village is thought to have originated as one of a pair of Iron Age settlements on either side of a fording place, served by an east-west trackway.  Later settlement occurred in the  Roman period, and a probable Roman Road from Sandy via Gamlingay, Bourn, Toft and Barton crossed the Cam at Grantchester, then ran past Addenbrokes’ and along Worts Causeway.*  As well as the much-photographed thatched and limewashed cottages, there is the parish church (with its 800 year-old font); the restored seventeenth century millhouse; and the famous Old Vicarage.  The village has literary associations with Chaucer, Tennyson, Rupert Brook, and of course, Jeffrey Archer.  Rupert Brook lived in the Old Vicarage  from 1911 to 1914, but actually wrote the celebrated poem, ” The Old Vicarage, Grantchester” in Berlin in 1912.  The “..thrilling, sweet and rotten, Unforgettable, unforgotten river-smell..” has now thankfully been dispersed these several years by mains drainage in the village, but the aura of Rupert Brook lingers for the visitors, especially in the pub renamed after the poet, and in The Orchard tearoom.

All the village paths are admirably signed, and many are negotiable in ordinary leather boots save in exceptional flood conditions.   There are no fewer than three ways of joining the tarmac path from Grantchester to Cambridge.  A direct route leaves the village at Balls Grove on a tarmac passage, between garden boundaries.

Alternatively take the lane between The Green Man and Red Lion pubs, to join the tarmac path.

*F.Walker, “Roman Roads into Cambridge” Proc. Camb. Antiquarian Soc. XVI

A third route (damp in Winter) leaves Broadway beyond the last cottage, to cross the grass field diagonally, and join the tarmac path at a kissing-gate.  Within the village, admire the sculptures (shepherd & sheep) visible in the garden of Jeffrey Archer’s residence, then take the public path between walls to the millpond.  This gravelled path was underwater in October 2000, but is passable dryshod at most times.  Out of the village, on the Trumpington Road, the dead-end path to Byrons Pool is not recommended in Winter, being notoriously muddy and slippery. However, there is a car-park here.

Three rights of way leave the village SW of the roads.  Opposite The Old Vicarage, a signed path leads off Millway onto a concrete farm road between open fields.  These same fields can be accessed from Coton Road, either via Burnt Close, or further along, from the residential road called “Bridle Way”.  All these lead into open arable land, where dry walking can be had on firm tracks.  One footpath leads over an elegant footbridge across the M11 towards Haslingfield, and a bridleway across another bridge over the M11 to Roman Hill.  But as well as the rights of way, be aware that several permissive routes are available on tracks alongside the M11, and, on the other side of the Bourn Brook, beside the brook towards Barton (phone for permission to continue on the final section**), and in a circuit round by the radio-telescope boundary.

On all these routes, one is constantly aware of the traffic noise from the M11, but nevertheless this is a pleasant open area in easy access of Cambridge, and worthy of a Winter ramble.

**A path runs from the bridge at TL 423 549, along the Bourn Brook as far as TL 412 546, where there is a  Countryside Commission notice & map, and also a separate sign, “This land belongs to the Countryside Restoration Trust.  Please telephone 01223 843322 for access permission“.

©2001 R.B. & J.Moreton