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CANTAB27 November 2004

CANTAB27 November 2004 published on

** Please note that this is an archive of the CANTAB publication and contains out-of-date information **


This edition is largely given over to the “Parish of the Month”, and some considerable detail has been used to describe the path network.  The use of grid references seeks to overcome the difficulty of printing a detailed map in the light of OS copyright restrictions. It would be interesting to receive some feedback from readers as to whether they valued this detail in an occasional issue, or whether they always prefer the more general format with shorter more varied articles.

Janet Moreton

Parish of the Month – Balsham
Historical Notes
Balsham, some 10 miles from Cambridge, appears to have developed jointly in the Saxon period with West Wickham. The parish, some 750 ha area, mostly lies on a chalky boulder clay plateau ca. 100m high, with chalk exposed at the W end. Roman Roads form the W and S borders, and the dark ages earthwork, Fleam Dyke, lies along a greater part of the N boundary. In medieval times, sheep formed an important part of the local economy, as commemorated  by two lambs on the village sign. Inclosure of the open field system followed an award of 1806. Today, most of the parish is under arable cultivation, but with some pleasant pastures close to the village.

Like most English villages, its oldest building is the church. Saxon tomb lids have been found in the area, indicating the probable presence of a church of that period.  The present building has a C13th tower, one of whose bells is 400 years old. Within the church can be seen two decorative stone fragments, part of a grave slab and a cross shaft, both with interlaced carving dating from the early C11th.

The church tower is illustrated on the village sign (erected on the Green in 1975). The main illustration relates to an incident ca.1000, when all but one inhabitant of the village was slaughtered.  The entry in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for the year 1010, describes the  defeat of the English army by the Danes who overan East Anglia. Svend Forkbeard overthrew the English hero Ufeytel in the Battle of Ringmore Heath.   Subsequently at Balsham, “they massacred all whom they found in that place, tossing the children on the points of their spears.  One man … mounted the steps to the top of the church tower…and…defended himself single handedly against his enemies“. Atrocities reported nowadays in Africa and elsewhere blemished our own soil a thousand years ago.

The population of Balsham (called Balesham in Domesday Book) was only 26 in 1086, not having recovered from the Danish invasion.  In 1251, 500 people lived in the parish.  Many cottages and farmhouses set in long medieval closes along the High Street were built in the C16th & C17th.  In 1801, the census still counted 542 people: but by 1851 there were 1352, most living in poverty. Numbers reduced by half in the early part of the C20th, but with new houses being built from 1950 onwards, by 1996 the population was 1400.

Notable buildings in the village are Nine Chimneys House, which has C16th doors & fireplace; the Black Bull, which is a C17th coaching inn; and several fine thatched cottages.  The Manor House, Balsham Hall was already ruinous by 1356, but its site was given to build the old school in the C19th.

The attractive shelter on the village green commemorates William Alfred Prince, in letters carved on the inner beams.

Balsham’s Path Network
Maps: Landranger 154; Explorer 209
To some, the greatest glory of Balsham lies in its linear monuments, its old trackways and paths. It is on the route of the Icknield Way Long Distance Path, a route based on ancient trackways following the chalk ridge from the West Country NE towards the coast near Hunstanton. This band of communication is spoken of as our “oldest road”, at least 4000  and perhaps 6000 years old. The stone on the green commemorates the official opening in Balsham of the Icknield Way LDP as a regional route on 11 September 1992. Balsham is also traversed by the Harcamlow Way, a 140 mile footpath invented by the veteran walker, Freddie Matthews.

Balsham has 22 rights of way on the County’s Definitive map, most in fair order, and these allow for a number of circuits in the parish.

Balsham Footpath 1 continues the line of Fleam Dyke WNW from West Wratting Footpath 18 at TL573523, where it ceases to be a headland path, with the low, tree-covered bank of Fleam Dyke to the left, but climbs onto the Dyke itself.  The Dyke, a Dark Ages monument, bears the path past Dungate Farm, and carries it to the footbridge crossing the A11, and thence on to Fulbourn.

Footpath 2 starts by a traffic derestriction sign on Fox Road, at the end of the tarmac, by a green metal sign at TL580512.  Starting alongside a garden hedge, the path launches itself diagonally across 4 fields; it goes through a gap in a crossing hedge at The Ambush, and climbs steps onto Fleam Dyke at TL570524.  Fox Road itself gives way to the unsurfaced Byway 3, running N from TL580512.

A pleasant circular walk (A) may be enjoyed using these paths, starting on Footpath 2, joining Fleam Dyke, and following the route back to Byway 3, and returning S to the village. (3 miles). Note both Footpath 2 and Byway 3 can become sticky and unpleasant in wet weather.

The Winter walker may well prefer to leaven the muddy paths beyond the village, with the cleaner routes on its outskirts. Two paths Footpaths 6 & 7, leave the recreation ground behind the church. Footpath 6 leaves the far SW corner of the recreation ground over a stile at TL587509, continues N for a few yards through bushes, then turns left through a gap in a crossing hedge to run WNW on a grass headland, with a ditch and tall hedge to left, and arable to right.  It joins Byway 3 at TL581515.

Footpath 7 runs generally parallel to Footpath 6.  It starts over a bridge in the hedge by a white notice in the recreation field, goes through a kissing gate at TL587509, and passes beside a series of small pastures on a broad grass way, to emerge on Fox Road (Byway 3) past some lock-up garages.

Thus it is possible to go up one path, and down the other, and combine this short route with the circuit (A) towards Fleam Dyke.

Further elaborations on this inner-village circuit use Footpaths 21 or 22.

From High Street at a Street sign, “Nine Chimneys Lane”, TL585508, a tarmac residential lane leads N between properties to Nine Chimneys House.  Footpath 21 starts left on tarmac in front of the house, then half-right (NNE) to go 20m as a rough access track to a locked field-gate and a stile at TL581510, giving access to a grassy field and Footpath 7.

Alternatively (for the navigationally adept) from High Street at TL585508, the signed Footpath 22 runs N along a 2.5m wide tarmac access road immediately E of house no. 62.  It crosses the frontage of house no.60, then turns NE on 1m wide tarmac with the frontage of another house to left and a high garden fence to right, before joining a 2m wide tarmac roadway.  This is followed, now with a high garden wall to right, and the garden fence of house no.3, Nine Chimneys lane to left, to reach Nine Chimneys lane at TL585509.

Along the South Boundary of the parish, Byway 4 forms part of the Roman Road, commonly called today The Via Devana, but before the C18th known as Wool Street. The entire Roman Road ran 42 miles from Godmanchester via Cambridge and Sibble Heddingham to Colchester. At TL583488, it passes the end of Woodhall Lane (Byway 16).  In Winter parts of both these byways become rutted and muddy.  The user can turn off  N on Footpath 17 at TL576491, but this is across a cultivated field (formerly a grassy strip). At the top of the field, the route turns right in front of a fence, and continues to a stile at TL 578494. The path crosses 2 grass fields diagonally, goes alongside a hedge, and crosses a ditch by a bridge at TL 581496.  Beyond, one turns left beside a ditch, and continues through a little Spinney, to emerge on Woodhall Lane.

Starting from the village, and combining Byway 16, Footpath 17, and part of the Roman Road makes a circuit (B) of ca. 3.5 miles.

Elaborations and extensions may also  be made to the circuit (B), using several inner village tracks.
Footpath 13 runs WSW from a “Public Footpath” sign high on a lamp-post on West Wickham Road at TL592506, going between house no. 38 and Brown Penny Cottage, on a drive between garden boundaries. The path turns W, and continues behind gardens, and later beside allotments. It emerges on Woodhall Lane at TL 586506.

A more popular start to this network, perhaps following refreshment,  may be made through the yard of the Bell Inn’s Car Park on High Street.  This is where a short tarmac path, Footpath 14, leads S through Hay Close to join Footpath 13.

Footpath 15 continues this line S from TL 588505, as a narrow path by a garden fence, then a grass baulk between allotment plots.  It continues across an arable field, crossing a bridge in a hedge-gap at TL588504, and crosses a second field to a stile in a fence-corner at TL586500. From here, it crosses two paddocks diagonally, to a bridge and stile at Woodhall Lane, TL585499.

As an alternative to Footpath 15, Footpath 18 starts SSE from Footpath 13 at TL590505, on a narrow path between allotments,  and continues by garden boundaries.  Curving SSW, it passes the end of a crossing hedge at TL590503.  Beyond the rear of a paddock, it becomes a grassy headland in arable fields. At TL589501 on the hedge-corner, it turns right (W) across undefined  arable  to join Footpath 15 at TL588502.

Circuit (C) may be made via West Wratting, a distance of some 5 miles, using the paths descibed below.

Balsham Footpath 8 starts from the rear of the churchyard, TL588509 and is also accessible from a gravel track to the bowling green, via a hedge gap.  The path crosses a concrete bridge over a ditch, and continues NE as a mown path between fences, with garden boundaries to right.  It emerges on the B1052 West Wratting Road by Frog Hall.

Across the road, Footpath 9 follows a well trodden path through a meadow, crossing a little stream mid-field on a new bridge.  In a gap in a tall crossing hedge, TL591510, a second bridge leads to an arable field.  From here, the right of way runs E undefined to meet Footpath 11 at TL593510 (but a customary route goes round the field edge).  Part of Footpath 11 continues along the field edge to the parish boundary at TL594511, where West Wratting Footpath 2, continues across 2 fields, and through a wood into West Wratting.

Emerging in Padlock Road, West Wratting, a path on the left runs beside a ditch, then behind the tall hedges bounding the foot of properties on High Street.  Continuing along this path to emerge on the B1052 at TL602522, it is necessary to walk left (S) down this road, to the start of West Wratting Byway 17 at TL598520.  Here turn right (W) along the wide grass/gravel track, going downhill to a clump of trees at the junction with Fox Road, Byway 3.

Return to Balsham on Fox Road or turn left  at a path junction, TL584519, where Footpath 5 starts between metal posts in a hedge-gap. Use the grass track running ESE across one field, then beside a hedge, then enter a charming narrow lane in the thickness of a hedge. The path emerges on the B1052 to the N of Oxcroft Cottage, TL591513, and the road may be followed back to the village, approaching the church along Footpath 8.

Alternatively, to avoid using Footpath 8 twice, start circuit (C) by taking the main tarmac path SE through the churchyard,  cross the B1052, and walk along Burrell Way to a footpath sign at TL590507. Footpath 11 starts as a narrow passage between tall fences. It crosses Plumian Way and continues as a narrow path between a tall fence and ditch.  The path crosses stiles into 2 pastures, and emerges over a stile at TL593508, by a wired up gate.  This is where we meet Footpath 9 in the above description for route (C). 

(Footpath 11, although partly urbanised, is dear to my heart, as it was saved from closure during redevelopment of this part of Balsham.  I represented the RA at the public inquiry in 1994.)

A further variation to route (C) consists of following Footpath 8 through the churchyard, crossing the  B1052, and finding the start of Footpath 10 at TL590509. The path runs ESE down a rough access road, between a tall hedge to the left and garden fences to right.  After 30m, it passes to right of rough iron gates, into a passage between tall chain link fences, and later a high corrugated iron right.  It crosses a bridge into a pasture.  We continue ESE in the field beside a fence to right, then maintain direction across the field, crossing the line of Footpath 11 mid-field at TL592508. Footpath 10 terminates on Old House Road over a stile at TL593508.

Footpath 12 starts at the same stile, and runs W across the field to join Footpath 11 by a stile and bridge at TL592508.  By this time, we have managed to use all the paths in this part of Balsham!

Have you been counting path numbers? We have remaining Byway 19, and Footpath 20, but I have run out of unused Balsham paths to build them into a circuit! Byway 19 is, however, an important component in a long route involving West Wickham and West Wratting. But why not just admire the view from the water-tower?

From the West Wickham Road at TL592504, a sign, “Public Byway” indicates Byway 19 running SSW on a gravel track. Continuing on Byway 19, the track widens as it passes the gated entrance to the water tower. The path continues SE as a rutted muddy track, up to 4m wide.  Beyond a field entrance at TL592500, the path continues as a 2m wide mown grass path between hedges 4m apart, running downhill.  When the hedge on the right ends at TL593499, the right of way curiously becomes a footpath, curving SSE on a 1.5m wide grass headland, with hedge to left and open arable field to right.  It passes through a 1m wide gap in a crossing hedge to become West Wickham 2 quite shortly beyond, at TL594497.  This is not the only case in Cambridgeshire of paths changing their identity at parish boundaries. More commonly, it is a bridleway which becomes a footpath on entering the next parish.  One has Thelwell-type visions of “portage”, with the horse thrown over the rider’s nonchalant shoulder..

Footpath 20 leaves Byway 19 at a gate at TL592502 and crosses attractive new open access woodland, going WNW on a wide grass ride to join Footpath 18 at TL589502.

In conclusion…
We have studied the paths of Balsham intensively and, perhaps, exhaustively. Some  information used was derived from the Ramblers’ Association Cambridge Group’s Millennium Survey of  South Cambridgeshire for Balsham parish, updated by recent site visits. I hope it will encourage readers to explore the less well known paths, as well as the well-documented routes passing through the parish.

Cantab Rambler by E-Mail & Post:  Issue 27
Cantab is available every 2 months by e-mail. By hand, 10p is appreciated towards the costs.  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


Issue 27; Price 10 pence where sold

© Janet Moreton, 2004.


CANTAB26 September 2004

CANTAB26 September 2004 published on

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


In this issue, we assess a recent walking break in Durham attended by 8 members of RA Cambridge Group, and look forward to a group holiday in 2005.

By popular request, we focus on another village in north Essex, this time Elmdon, on the Icknield Way, and we chart progress (or otherwise)  being made with the Coton Country Park.

Finally, we look at the time taken for changes to the path network to pass through various stages of consultation, negotiation, and legal requirements. Planning matters, road building and widening, the wishes of landowners, and the law’s delay all affect the path network.  The walker on the ground, especially when visiting an area infrequently, may be unaware of impending changes.  Then one day large notices and maps posted at the end of the path will inform of a diversion, which may affect the day’s schedule.  More depressing still are promised improvements in an area which may yet be awaited 10 years on… Perhaps this is one reason why footpath workers are often not so young!

Janet Moreton

SAGA walking holiday in Durham
In mid-August, six members of the Ramblers’ Association from the Cambridge area, and two members now resident in France, joined a SAGA walking holiday, based on Trevelyan College in Durham.

The grade was described as *** for 8 to 11 mile walks, with a maximum ascent  750 – 1250 ft, probably equivalent to Ramblers’ D/D+.  Five  walks were led, with the coach fare being included in the price.  As well as the leader, a SAGA courier went along each day as a “back-stop”.

At £320 basic price (more if you chose en-suite), we thought that the holiday was good value for money (compared with HF, Ramblers, Waymark etc);  that the walks selection was good, and that the food was very acceptable, with generous helpings and a daily choice of main courses, as well as a salad bar.  The accommodation was what one would expect for a college, with a predominance of single rooms, and a few twin. Running concurrently with the walking was a traditional sightseeing holiday, with daily coach-outings. It was very convenient to have these trips to stately homes as a back-up option, especially for two of our number who did not want to walk every day.  We were very attracted to Durham – one of the loveliest Northern towns. There were entertainments laid on each evening e.g. the well-known Easington Colliery Band, a male voice choir, and an illustrated talk on Durham.  I avoided the evening of line-dancing!

The walks included linear walks in Weardale, Teesdale, and one from Durham itself, following the river out of the city, and between wooded banks.  For me the highlight was a linear walk along Hadrians Wall, which we last visited in 1967, when Roger & I walked the whole length.

On the downside was only the size of the party – up to 30 people on the coach.  Aged 45 – 80 plus, we were a tough bunch, with only the occasional very steep pull up a hill sorting the sheep from the goats!

For anyone organising a group, especially when numbers of single rooms are required, I would advise them to consider accommodation in university halls of residence in the Summer season. A convenient way to book is via SAGA, who provide additional excellent back-up services for lively customers with an age range of some 40 years. Don’t be put off by the image.  For next year’s University Holidays brochure, ring free-phone 0800 856 2851.

(No, we don’t have shares in SAGA!)

And for details of next year’s Group Holiday with Cambridge RA Group, turn the page . . . Planned holiday in Penrith
We are organising a week’s holiday from 14 to 21 August 2005, staying at Newton Rigg College, which is just over a mile from Penrith, Cumbria.

We plan to walk in the fells, say 9 to 12 miles daily, aiming for a summit or two each day if the weather is clear, or investigating lowland routes if it is not.  We invite friends to join us, but prefer to keep the party to about 12 to 16, in hopes of recapturing the pleasant intimate atmosphere our groups enjoyed for several years at Bassenthwaite.

To this end, we have made preliminary reservations, to be confirmed before Christmas, at this attractive college whose full title and address is “University of Central Lancashire, Cumbria Campus, Newton Rigg, Penrith, Cumbria, CA11 0AH, tel. 01772 894061  e-mail:  website:  The contact is Janet Rowbury.

The college has accommodation for 280 people, and regularly receives groups of walkers through the Summer.  There are a few twin en suite rooms, and some en suite single rooms.

Prices in 2004 (to be held for early bookings)

standard single £20.00
standard twin £18.50
en-suite single £23.00
en-suite twin £21.50

This price per person includes full English breakfast.  A self-service, 3-course evening meal is available at £8.25, which we will book.

The residential buildings are set in pleasant lawns and trees, with delightful central gardens, and plenty of paths on the site for evening walks.  A quiet pedestrian-and-cycleway leads directly to Penrith, well away from the roads. A car-journey of 20 – 40 minutes will take us to the Northern and Eastern fells, and the interesting limestone walking country to the east is also accessible.

We have stayed the the college for a few days this year, and were particularly impressed by the pleasant, friendly staff. On that occasion, we were able to make a few preliminary investigations of suitable walking opportunities.

Would you like to join us? If so, please let us know, then make your own bookings, letting Ms Rowbury know that you are part of the Moretons’ Cambridge walking party. Finally, do note that there is no “B” group!

Janet & Roger Moreton

News of Coton Country Park
We recently walked in the locality of Coton, and were rather disappointed to see no signs on the ground of the proposed greater access, wildlife protection, and facilities for enjoying the countryside, which were proposed last year on land at St Catherine’s Hall Farm, owned by the Cambridge Preservation Society. However, we read in the Society’s journal, The Ring, that progress will be made soon.

The project was given planning permission last August but in January of this year received the very considerable boost of a grant from the ODPM (Office of the Deputy Prime Minister) of £725000.  The money has to be spent during the financial years 2004-6, and will be used primarily for the creation of new wildlife habitats and the establishment of new areas of tree planting, picnic site, a footpath network, and a bridleway and cycleway through the site…..The Society has also applied to DEFRA to include the farm in a Countryside Stewardship scheme.

Four new staff have been appointed to the project, so we look forward to seeing progress on the ground in the near future.

Parish of the Month – Elmdon, Essex
To those of us living over the Cambridgeshire border, the villages of the upland chalk over the Essex border have the attraction of a slight distance lending enchantment to the already very good views.  Elmdon is one such, and like Great & Little Chesterford (see Cantab of April 2004) lies on the route of the Icknield Way Long Distance Path.

Footpaths are generally well signed and in good order, except for a tendency to deep sticky mud in Winter, derived from the boulder clay overlying the chalk.  This sticky mud must have been very much a feature of life for those living in the village 60 or more years ago, when roads were unsurfaced, and when walking was for business, not for pleasure.

I recently discovered an interesting book by Jean Robin, “Elmdon – continuity and change in a north-west Essex village 1861- 1964” (Cambridge University Press 1980, ISBN 00 521 22820 4).  It describes the situation in the village in 1861: landownership; employment; marriage; status & social mobility; then goes on to chart migration in the later C19th, and makes a comparison with Elmdon in 1964. These chapters provide insight in what we see on our walks today.

Elmdon, lying on minor roads, was always an agricultural community.  The Domesday register listed 26 swine and 288 sheep in the lord’s demesne, and 250 swine in the common forestry. In 1770, the villagers were described as being “supported by husbandry and spinning“, and fustian cloth & fine yarn for Norfolk worsteds was finished in Saffron Walden.  By 1861, 7 shepherds were listed in the census, out of a population of 520.

Since the C16th, NW Essex seems always to have been an area of large landowners.  To the  south was the manor house of Wenden Lofts, bought by Sir Thomas Meade in 1571.   The Meade family also bought Pigots Manor, and Elmdon Bury.  In 1717, the estate (and part of Elmdon village)  was sold to a Londoner, Nathaniel Wilkes. This estate grew by purchase and enclosure up to the depression, when it was finally sold in 1927. There is a similar story for other local farms. For example Rockells Farm was bought in 1838 at £26 per acre, but in 1927 Freewood Farm fetched only £7 per acre at auction.  Lofts Hall itself was burnt down in 1934.

In 1861, there were blacksmiths, thatchers, builders, carpenters, a tailor, cobbler, bakers, dressmaker, draper, a miller and carrier in the village, as well as a clergyman and school-teacher.  But the largest number were employed on the land (ca. 120 men & boys, and 12 women), with a further 30 people employed as household servants. The weekly earnings of the farm workers were some 10, 4, and 3 shillings for men, women and children respectively, with typically a shilling’s worth of beer provided.

By 1961, a proportion of professional people were living in the village, but the population had shrunk to 490. Some 40% of Elmdon men were still engaged in agriculture by 1964, but by then, school leavers were being attracted away by Ciba-Geigy (set up in Duxford 1905), Spicers paper factory in Sawston (established 1914), and to jobs in Royston and Saffron Walden. Improved ‘bus services after WWII  opened employment beyond the village.

But what of the land itself?  The 3-field strip system persisted until an Act of 1824 was laid before Parliament “for inclosing lands in the parishes of Wendens Lofts and Elmdon in the county of Essex, and for extinguishing Tithes in the said parishes“. (Awarded 1829, see Essex County Records Office).

The cost of the obligatory fencing after inclosure fell heavily on small-holders, who in some cases sold out to larger men. Agriculture changed with the years, although wheat & barley remain dominant.  Sheep had almost disappeared by 1964.  In 1920, the Fison family at Elmdon Lodge introduced dairy shorthorns, superceded by Mrs Watson’s herd at Lofts Hall, and finally by the large herd of jerseys at Freewood Farm.  Sugar beet was first planted in 1926.

The church was much as now, but The Kings Head and The Carrier pubs have both closed in recent years, and the shop/post office has now gone. Many fine buildings remain. C17th “Pigots” on the site of an old manor house is finely timbered and moated.  Hill Farm is the oldest building in Elmdon with a C15th wing, and two ancient barns on the slope of the hill below.  Church Farm dates from 1626. Elmdon Bury is still used as a farm, but the house has been greatly restored. A large and lovely Tudor House is “Bangles”.  Above it is an imposing vicarage, early Victorian and one of the first Elmdon houses to be erected in brick.  A turning off High Street leads to the attractive Kings Lane, once site of controversy when builders sought to construct bungalows.

To see Elmdon for yourself, either pass through the village on the Icknield Way LDP, as highlighted on Explorer Sheet 195 or Landranger 154, or try walks 15 and 16 in “Walks on the South Cambridgeshire Borders” (publ. RA Cambridge Group, available from B.Hawes, 52 Maids Causeway, Cambridge, CB5 8DD).

Slow Motion on Path Improvements
During WWII, the footbridge over the River Cam, between Babraham and Stapleford,  was blown up as an army exercise.  It was finally replaced after many years of campaigning by RA workers, some 40 years later, in October 1985.  This route is now part of a popular circular walk promoted by Cambridgeshire County Council.

This path problem was among the earliest we encountered as Footpath Secretaries for South Cambridgeshire District, on behalf of RA Cambridge Group.  Since then, we have become only too aware that obtaining a solution to the average path problem takes months or years, rather than days or weeks.

Take the case of a missing signpost. A new path, Bartlow 6 was added to the definitive map in April this year, following RA success at a public inquiry held in November 2003. Currently, in spite of our complaints, it is yet to have statutory signposts at each end, so of course, only those who were aware of the outcome of the public inquiry know that the path is open.  The usual argument is that signposts are erected by area, in batches, for economy. But surely this is a special case?

Even when matters are progressing “well”, the business of diversions, path creations and extinguishments takes an exceedingly long time.  Consider a diversion package in West Wratting.  The Ramblers’ Association and others were first consulted by the Parish Council in September 2001, on a set of proposals for paths in the parish.  Nothing more happened until the County Council took up the scheme in April 2003, since when it has been back and forth innumerable times, until a final version was accepted by the RA in May 2004.  We are still waiting for the Diversion Orders to appear, after which it will probably take another 6 months to get them confirmed, so that we can start enjoying the new routes.

A particularly difficult case is that of Graveley Footpath 10, which ought to lead from the village to Toseland Road  and the path network to the SW.  However, the Toseland Road end has been fenced off and taken into a private garden.  The obstruction was reported in the RA’s first survey of South Cambs. in 1982. The County Council declined to act, saying the Parish Council “didn’t want the path signposted”.  Repeated reports finally brought a promise of action from Cambs.CC in March 1997. Seven months later we got a signpost and bridge over the roadside ditch, but there  were still obstructing fences beyond, and we learnt that one of the landowners had challenged the existence of the path.  By November 1998 County Council staff  suggested that the bridge was wrongly sited, and by December 1999 both bridge and signpost had been removed.  A replacement was promised “when the correct line has been agreed”.  Despite further promises, there was still no bridge by November 2001.  By this time the legal dispute had been resolved, but we were told that “the legal route goes through the garden of Vine Cottage, where the 87-year old resident is very frail, so Cambs.CC will not act”.  In April 2004 we enquired again, but were told that the resident is “even frailer”. Effectively the County Council is waiting for the cottage to change hands.

These are just a very few of the path cases hanging fire, the problems unresolved. And what happens when these legal cases remain unresolved in 2026, when historical evidence can no longer be invoked to claim new rights of way?

Janet & Roger Moreton

Cantab Rambler by E-Mail & Post:  Issue 26.
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


Issue 26; Price 10 pence where sold

© Janet Moreton, 2004.

CANTAB25 July 2004

CANTAB25 July 2004 published on

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


There is a tendency to travel further afield in the Summer, and for many of us the pleasant shady walks in Thetford Forest, and the well-maintained facilities at West Stow Country Park, Suffolk, will already be well-known. This issue aims to provide the background to West Stow, and some suggestions for shady Summer walks.

Janet Moreton

West Stow, Suffolk
Archaeological studies showed that between 450 and 650 AD, an Anglo-Saxon settlement occupied a sandy site near the River Lark, 6 miles NW of Bury St Edmunds.  The settlers either advanced in shallow boats up the River Lark, or on foot along the trackway called the Icknield Way, the oldest road in Britain, being in Saxon times already at least 2000 years old.

Today, the Country Park stands on the same site, and reconstructed houses of the  Anglo-Saxon village gives visitors the opportunity to picture life during this early period of history. In particular, special events, such as costume drama, and  demonstrations of crafts, such as weaving, basket making, and metal and leather working give visitors a chance to interact with modern-day Anglo-Saxons .

Most walkers, however, will visit the Country park to walk round the attractive lake & by the river, and to roam more widely in the adjacent Kings Forest, which is a part of the East Anglian Forest known generally as Thetford Forest.

Development of West Stow Country Park
The site was originally part of West Stow Heath, forming part of the adjacent Culford Estate.  In 1886, this part of the heath was sold to the local council, and later a sewage farm was established at the east end of the site.  This did not close until 1953, when the area was used for mineral extraction, and then, in the 1960s, as a municipal rubbish dump! When the dump was full, a gravel pit was dug at the west end of the site, and the landfill site landscaped with the topsoil.  During excavation of the gravel pit, the Anglo-Saxon site was discovered and investigated, and subsequently the reconstructed village was built on the original ground.  At the east end of the site, the building and chimney of the old pumping station remain.  In 1979, the Country Park opened officially, comprising 150 acres  of heath, sparse grassland, swamp, woods, and  the lake.  It is possible to walk over 2 miles on made-up paths.

The Visitor Centre (opened 1988) and Angles Café overlook a bird feeding area with hides, and information boards relating to wildlife are distributed round the site.

Forest on the Norfolk-Suffolk Border
The Breckland, around Brandon and Thetford, until the 1920s was a region of dry, unstable sands, much uncultivated. Land became available between the wars due to the depressed state of agriculture, which produced great poverty in Breckland, and led to many farmers subsisting on the produce of rabbit warrens. The first land for tree -planting was acquired by the  Forestry Commission from 1922, and gradually more added until 80 square miles were planted with trees, mostly Scots and Corsican pines, making Thetford Forest the largest in England. Adverse climatic conditions (rainfall average 23 inches/annum, cold Winters, dry Summers ), and a poor soil (deep sands, or shallow sand over chalk) dictated the choice of conifers.  In the post-war years, opening of much of the forest to the public, amenity planting of deciduous trees, and development of car parking and recreational facilities, has given us the lovely forest we can now enjoy.

Walking in the West Stow locality
The best map to use is the Explorer 229.  Several Long Distance Paths (LDPs) pass through West Stow, emphasizing its importance in the network of walking routes. These include: The Lark Valley Path; The Icknield Way; and the St Edmunds Way.

–But consider first easy walks in the immediate vicinity of the park, where a leaflet is available from both the café and the Visitor centre to guide your steps around West Stow Country Park itself.  The shop attached to the café also has leaflets on some of the other routes described below.

Nearby, on the junction of the A1101 with the minor road to West Stow village is the Ramparts Field Carpark and picnic site.  In Summer, it is well worth pausing for a short stroll here, and admiring the wildflowers.  The short grass may be bright with the white flowers of meadow saxifrage in April, small clumps of the rare maiden pink, and yellow biting stonecrop in June, and purple vipers bugloss and rose-bay willow herb in high Summer. In Winter, you will have to be content with the odd gorse bloom.

Off the A1101, between Lackford and Flempton is the Lackford Bird Reserve, with several hides, giving views of birds on several attractive lakes.  The recently opened Visitor Centre has excellent displays and facilities. An agreeable walk of a couple of miles is possible here, with many pleasant distractions.  However, be warned that it is not safe to walk here from either Lackford village or Flempton, as the busy road has no footway or verges, nor does there seem to be any route on foot into the reserve other than down the driveway off the A1101.

North of the Country Park, on the other side of the road is The Kings Forest, which is largely open access on gravel or grassy rides.  Look out for signs advising of forestry operations, and if you venture into the smaller rides, making several turns, be sure to take a compass as well as a map!  It is in the less frequented rides where you will more likely encounter deer and the shyer birds. We have seen a rough-legged buzzard and sparrow hawks here, and, on an unforgettable night walk, heard night-jars.

–For a more substantial walk traversing the site, try The Lark Valley Path, which is a 13 mile linear waymarked route between Mildenhall and Bury St Edmunds, passing Icklingham, West Stow, Culford and Fornham All Saints.  A bus service runs between the end points of the walk, and some of the buses actually call at the park entrance. Telephone “County Connections” on 01473 265676 for details.

–It is possible to use the Lark Valley Path going W as the start of an excellent 13 mile circuit.  Follow the waymarked route NNE out of the Country Park W of the lake, crossing the road and continuing briefly NNE on the rough track, Weststow Road, towards the Kings Forest. In 250yd, at a prominent waymark post, turn left (W) to follow the Lark Valley Path towards, then through Icklingham.  At the far end of the village, on a sharp bend in the A1101, turn NNE up the track called Seven Tree Road.  Follow this 3 miles to the T-junction with Dukes Ride.  Turn E to the B1106. A footpath runs S by the road just inside the hedge at far as Shelterhouse Corner.  Here there is a monument to George V, where pick up Queen Mary’s Avenue between fine trees, leading into the long byway, Weststow Road, which returns you to the Country Park.

–For a walk leading out of the forest, take the Lark Valley Path E out of the Country Park past the old pumping house, following waymarks through a strip of woodland, and turning shortly along by the River Lark, to emerge by a charming little bridge where the road crosses. Turn left to follow this minor road to West Stow Church.  Almost opposite, the Lark Valley Path enters the grounds of Culford Hall, now a boarding school.  The route either follows the right of way along the drive, or a marked permissive way beside the river. In either case one emerges in Culford village, where a path (best in Summer, damp in Winter) is the start of a route to Timworth. From the A134, follow a minor road to Timworth church, and take a right of way from the rear of the churchyard across a point-to-point course to Ingham.  A footpath runs W through Place Farmyard across arable fields back to Culford.  From Brockley Corner, a sandy byway runs N past a tumulus called “Hill of Health” on the map.  After half a mile, turn left on the path to Wordwell Hall.  Over the road, a further footpath continues W to the edge of the forest.  Follow shady rides along the forest edge to Forest Lodge,  and the hard track S, to pick up the road leading W, shortly back to the country park. (12 miles).

This walk can be shortened considerably by turning N on the waymarked  path crossing the playing fields in Culford Scholl grounds, and turning E along the road, to join the byway past “Hill of Health”. (8 miles).

The Icknield Way Long Distance Path, runs 100 miles from Ivinghoe Beacon near Dunstable to Knettishall Heath in Suffolk, passing through West Stow. The route is co-incident with the Lark Valley Path from Icklingham to Weststow Road in the Kings Forest .  It passes through the Country Park, and from Forest Lodge, makes along the edge of the tree belt to Wordwell Hall, before joining the long byway NNE, then E to D-House.  The route uses Euston Drove, and through the Euston Estate, to Knettishall.

The St Edmunds Way, starts in Manningtree, to pass through Flatford, Bures, Sudbury, Long Melford, Stanningfield, Bury St Edmunds, West Stow, Thetford and finishes at Brandon.  Approaching West Stow from the E, the route passes through the grounds of Culford Hall, and beyond the Country Park, it leaves NNE along the track variously called Weststow Road, or The Icknield Way (not to be confused with the LDP of that name).  A route along the New Barnham Slip takes one into Thetford, then by riverside to Brandon.

Further reading
East Anglian Forests – Forestry Commission Guide, Ed. Herbert L.Edlin
HMSO, London 1972. ISBN 11 710032 3

The St Edmund Way – A Walk across Suffolk
Jean & John Andrews (£4.25 from 6, Priory Close, Ingham, Bury St Edmunds, IP31 1NN)

The Icknield Way – a Walkers’ Guide
Available from The Icknield Way Association
D. Northrop, 5 Perne Ave, Cambridge, CB1 3RY, tel. 01223 244522

The Value of Trees in Society
A new Woodland Trust Report (see Broadleaf, No.62, Spring 2004, p.7), brings together evidence of the total value of woodland in society, in terms of economic, social and environmental factors.

James Cooper, the Woodland Trust’s public affairs manager quotes the health benefits of walking and cycling in woodland beauty being estimated as saving the NHS up to M£4.5 per annum in the West Midlands along, while general tree cover of 20% was thought to add 7% to house prices in parts of Central England and the Welsh Borders.

A Forestry Commission study estimated that the absorption of (airborne) pollution by trees resulted in the saving of 65 to 89 lives in the UK per year.  A Northumberland study put the value of woodland for flood alleviation at ca. £1200 /ha. Over a quarter of the 350 million woodland visits by the public each year generate money into the local economy.  Residents of tree-lined streets are reported to be in far less conflict with neighbours compared with those in treeless neighbourhoods.  For the full report visit  Meanwhile, just enjoy a walk in the woods!

The Woodland Trust
Britain’s leading woodland conservation charity offers free public access at nearly all its 1180 sites, covering 19 209 ha.  Members receive the magazine “Broadleaf”, and an annual directory of sites.  We admire especially the initiatives within the last 20 years of new woodland planting, which has particularly benefited East Anglia.  The Woodland Trust is at Autumn Park, Grantham, Lincs.,  NG31 6LL. tel 01476 581111.

New Bridleway at Bottisham, Cambs.
Four members of RA Cambridge Group attended the official opening on 29 March, of a new bridleway on Cambridgeshire County Council land.  It runs from the A1303 “old Newmarket Road” at grid ref. TL 562 600 to Swaffham Heath Road at TL 570 620, and consists of a grassy field-edge path beside a hedge.  It is crossed by a footpath from Park End, Bottisham, and the south end connects with the network of byways from Great Wilbraham and Westley Bottom.  Thus it makes possible a number of new circuits in the Bottisham – Wilbraham locality.      JM

Looking Back – When did that happen?
Coming across a bunch of old Cambridgeshire County Council newsheets called “Countryside Matters”,

Summer Issue, 1990 had an article on the opening of 26 miles of the Ouse Valley Way, “the culmination of a huge programme of work organised by Huntingdonshire District Council.” Today, this has become but one section of a much longer route from the upper reaches of the river in Bedfordshire, to the exit of the Great Ouse into the Wash.

Spring Issue, 1991, refered to the purchase of 164 acres of the Gog Magog Hills by the Magog Trust in 1989. In 1991, 26 acres were sown with chalk grassland mixture, 30 acres were sown as meadowland, and 18 acres of woodland were planted. Some of the trees are now 15 – 20 feet high, and the wildflowers are more beautiful each year…

The same issue emphasised the requirements of the 1990 Rights of Way Act, especially in respect of farmers marking cross field paths across arable fields. Thirteen years on, the Ramblers’ Association is still fighting this battle on our behalf…

Summer Issue, 1991 featured plans for Milton Country Park.  Contractors working for South Cambridgeshire District Council had at that time completed a £280 000 demolition and clearance job ready for landscape work to begin.  Today, the Country Park is well-established, and users are enjoying the additional benefits of the adjacent newly opened cycle and footbridge over the A14.

Spring Issue, 1992 described the start of the then Countryside Commission’s scheme for Parish Paths Partnership.  This scheme, involving some 70 parishes or so per year in Cambridgeshire, gives small grants direct to parishes for managing their local network.

The same issue has a double spread of the problems of litter in the countryside.  Here, nothing changes – the major problems are fly tipping, and dumping of old cars.  These eyesores are reported regularly to the District Council, not always to any effect.  Other problems are litter bins, which, of course, need emptying. Seeing overflowing bins creating a horrible mess after a bank holiday, it confirms my personal view that most tourist sites would be better without them, so that we should take our litter home. JM

Correction – Great Chesterford
In the last issue, describing walks around Great Chesterford, I erroneously described this village as being 6 miles from Cambridge.  I had intended to put 10 miles.  Eagle-eyed John Capes spotted this mistake, and puts the distance at 11 miles.  Thank you, John.-

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, 2004

CANTAB24 April 2004

CANTAB24 April 2004 published on

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


One emphasis in this issue is on Uttlesford, Essex, an administrative district named after a rather obscure little village.  There is some excellent walking to be had in this quiet, northern part of Essex, in spite of the presence of nearby Stansted.  With plans for airport expansion, many of these walks will be a deal less peaceful in the years to come, so I would exhort you to enjoy some rambling in these parts while you may.

Readers may be intrigued to learn that copies of Cantab are posted regularly to two former local walkers who are still members of Ramblers’Association Cambridge Group, now living in Collobrières, Provence.  Marie-Claire and Kalman Szaz tell of their surveying paths in the lovely wooded, hilly district around their village, as part of a plan by the mayor to produce a local walking guide.

Janet Moreton

Great Chesterford
This Essex parish is only 6 miles from Cambridge [ed. should say 10 miles], and, lying on the Icknield Way Long Distance Path, is a popular venue with walkers.  Although easily accessible by rail, and with a bus service, parking for parties of walkers is less easy, and care should be taken not to block the narrow village streets.  But visits to Great and Little Chesterford are well worthwhile, there being several excellent walking routes as well as the Icknield Way. But tarry awhile in the village before setting off, consider its long history, and note the fine old buildings which still stand.

Prehistory and The Romans
Evidence of prehistoric settlements in the area are to be found in stone tools in Saffron Walden Museum.  The first contemporary historical record of residents appears in the writings of Julius Caesar, in 54 BC, who mentions the local tribe, the Trinovantes.  These were indigenous iron-age farmers, possibly with a Belgic warrior ruling class. A fine bronze mirror of this period was recovered from the village. (1)

A small, first century Roman fort was built somewhere between the road junction of Stane Street and the Chelmsford road. A much larger fort, indicative of a determination to keep tight control on East Anglia, dates from after the Boudicca uprising in 60 AD. (1)  The Trinovantes were romanised & drawn into the larger province.

This second fort, Duroviguto, stood a little W of the present village and close to the river.   It covered 35 acres (14 ha) and was capable of accommodating half a legion as well as auxillaries.  A civilian settlement, centred around the S gate of the fort, started life outside the walls but by the second century, civilian buildings were standing inside the line of later town walls. The fort grew into a walled town, second in East Anglia only to Colchester, and existing into the fourth century.  Traces of numerous wooden houses of rectangular plan with gravel or earthen floors were found all over the N sector of the walled area.  Substantial buildings existed, some with roller-stamped daub, implying walls plastered and painted. A late corridor-type villa was found.  Another imposing structure in the settlement is suggested by a large octagonal block of carved sandstone, discovered in C18th, and now in the British Museum.   Of the original 8 faces, only 4 survive, each with a head – Mercury, Jupiter, Mars & Venus.  It may be all that remains of a Jupiter column.

The stout defensive walls of the Roman town were still standing in part in the C18th, as described by Stukeley.  However, they were constantly being robbed to provide stone for building and road repair. Twelve enormous iron scythes, iron blades and cropping shears were found in a Roman hoard. Roman coins and pottery are in Saffron Walden museum. In the early C20th, all that remained of the walls were a robbers’ trench, but now, sadly, not even that.  The Roman town was excavated in 1948 for the then Ministry of Public Buildings and Works before gravel digging. (2)

Historic buildings in Great and Little Chesterford
The village is a large one & numerous houses remain from a time when it had an important market. (3) The restored church is ancient:  it was formerly cruciform and much longer than at present. There was a large W tower which fell and destroyed the W end of the nave and aisles in the late C14th. It was rebuilt E of its old position, but this fell in 1790 and was again rebuilt 2 years later, then was altered in 1842. The chancel is probably C13th, as is a lancet window remaining in the N wall.  The nave is late C13th, but the aisles rebuilt in the C15th, when chapels were added  N & S of the chancel.  There are some gargoyles on its walls and a winged dragon sprawling over one of the buttresses. Sycamores & pines enhance the churchyard, which has by its entrance one of the village’s fine old houses.  Timbered & plastered, with overhanging gable, this was built in 1470, with good timber work, and a pargetted front with 1692 shown on a panel.

The history of the village is celebrated by the fine wooden sign on the green. It recalls Roman origins, the coming of the railway in the C19th. to displace coach-and-horses, as well as local farming traditions and the church.

On the Icknield Way route down Manor Lane, one passes the old Manor Farm – although much altered, the house retains a beam carved with the Pelican of Piety.  Near the B1385 river bridge  is a large C19th mill (converted into smart flats).

Our walks may take us past  Little Chesterford church, where looking out over the willows fringing the River Cam is an historic manor house, dating from the time of Magna Carta.  The house can be viewed from the churchyard. The oldest part is the kitchen wing from which 2 deeply moulded doorways lead into a central hall. It is thought-provoking to consider the oak posts with their moulded capitals and remember that they have been here since 1275. This is possibly the oldest inhabited house in Essex.  It is H – shaped but originally consisted of the E wing only, which was built of flint and stone ca 1190. The church dates back to the C13th., though the chancel was rebuilt ca. 1380.  There is an early C16th screen separating nave from chancel.(3)

Routes around The Chesterfords
The Icknield Way.(4)
Many of us will have approached the village down the Icknield Way LDP. The bridleway leaves the road on Strethall Field on a signed cross-field path, often sticky in Winter.  However down the field, one enters a very pleasant hedged lane, which eventually leads to the bridge over the M11.  It goes down a ramp, and rejoins the wooded lane, passing a couple of houses, then turns left alongside the railway embankment, and emerges on the road beside the level crossing, and near the station.

For interest, as well as being part of a skein of parallel routes which formed the prehistoric Icknield Way, this path is also on the line of a Roman Road which ran from Braughing in Essex, through Great Chesterford, to Worstead Lodge. (5)

The Icknield Way Path leaves the village along Manor Lane, turns left to cross the B184 Walden Road, and follows a good track N towards Burtonwood Farm.  Just short of the farm there is one field to cross.  This Winter, for the first time, the mid-field section was left unploughed – a big improvement.

Two other routes leave the Walden Road going North.  These are the hard-surfaced, quiet Cow Lane and Park Road.  Excellent walking circuits can be made by walking up one of these 3 paths, and returning down one of the others.  Some possible combinations are:

  • Gt C along the Icknield Way (IW) to Burtonwood Farm, then farm access road to Cow Lane & back to Gt C.  (4 miles).
  • The more energetic may extend this along the IW route into Linton, returning via the ruins of Crave Hall  (11 miles).
  • Or go up Park Road to Park Farm Gt C.  Follow the waymarked path over the county boundary towards Abington Park Farm, and turn right along the N edge of Hildersham Wood.  A path leads along field boundaries to join the bridleway between Linton silos and Crave Hall, and thence back to Gt.C (7 miles).
  • This excursion may be extended into Abington, via the former Land Settlement, Hildersham, and Little Linton (12 miles).

From Burtonwood Farm, other excursions could lead across Hadstock old airfield, returning via Linton and Crave Hall.

Both Manor Lane and Rose Lane in the village also give access to a well-maintained path going SE to Little Chesterford.  Having viewed the Church & manor house, continue S by the R.Cam to Springwell, where cross the B 184 and climb the hill on a signed path starting beside the nursery.  This path gives a stupendous view of the Cam Valley, climbing E, before turning S near the summit, and gradually descending into Saffron Walden.  This is a route for landscape epicures – and has several seats on which to pause and admire.

Within the village, at the junction with the far N end of Carmel St & the B 1383 is the path into the large recreation ground. The right of way goes round the rear of the pavilion, to run beside a hedge in an arable field and exit onto the B184 near Park Road.  Another exit is via Meadow Rd, off Jackson’s Lane.

1. Peoples of Roman Britain – The Trinovantes, by Rosalind Dunnett Publ. Duckworth, 1975.p.30.

2. The King’s England – Essex,by Arthur Mee, Publ. Hodder & Stoughton, 1966 Ed. pp.119 – 120; 172

3. Uttlesford District Council Official Guide, Home Publishing Co. Ltd. 1982 pp. 37, 39.

4. The Icknield Way – a walker’s guide.  Publ. The Icknield Way Assoc. 3rd Ed. 1993.

5. Roman Roads in Britain  Ivan.D.Margary  Publ. John Baker (revised edition) 1973.

Hadstock’s Nature Reserve
On a recent circuit from Great Chesterford through Hadstock, we discovered an unusual nature reserve. It is on the west side of the B1052, at TL 557 441, on the hill nearly 1km from the centre of Hadstock village, and not far from the start of the bridleway running towards Burtonwood Farm.

A display board by the roadside gives its name, “Harrison Sayer”, after a previous owner.  It is a curious place, with residual concrete and two huge old fuel tanks amongst the grass and scrub, dating from its past use as a wartime airbase. When we were there in January, the site, on heavy clay, was partly flooded, but in the Summer, we are promised a display of wild roses, bee orchid, wild liquorice, twayblade, fairy flax and blue fleabane. An interesting place, rather than beautiful, but we shall go there again.

Len’s Path, Hadstock, Essex
This is the name of a smart new gravel path running from the end of the footway on the Linton Road, near the Zoo, at TL 557 460, to the edge of Hadstock village at TL 557 451. The path, a shared route for pedestrians and cyclists, was made by Hadstock Parish Council in September 2003, with financial assistance from the Countryside Agency.  Its southern end meets the road at the same point as the Icknield Way bridleway, and thus avoids walkers needing to use the narrow deep-cut road into Hadstock.

On a recent walk, the waymarking of Hadstock paths to a high standard was much admired.

Afoot in Collobrières, Provence
Collobrières is a most attractive village, with a population of about 1600, situated in the Massif des Maures, in central Provence, some 35 km ENE of Toulon.  The nearest towns are Hyères, and Aix-en-Provence. A network of narrow residential streets of tall old houses nestle together to exclude strong sunshine,  between Notre Dame des Victoires church at one end of the village, and below the ruined twelfth century church of Saint Pons on a rocky promontory. The village has banks, a doctor, a good range of shops, restaurants, two hotels, campsite, and overnight gites, and a tourist office* which produces a guidebook in English. The village is surrounded by vineyards shaded by peach-trees, and forested hills, including cork oaks and sweet chestnut trees, for which the place is famous. The area has wonderful flowers in the Spring, menhirs (standing stones), wayside shrines, ancient threshing floors, old monasteries on the hills, and ancient farms that look as though they themselves grew out of the soil, along with the trees.

From the village, Marrons Glacés are tranported throughout the world, and chestnuts can come in every culinary guise. The local rosé  wine is light and delicious, as well as a fuller red. There are wine festivals and Chestnut Festival weekends in the Autumn, when the village is very crowded.

For the walker, the hills and forests are a source of delight,  as we have discovered ourselves on several visits, when our walking has been guided by experts, Kalman & Marie-Claire Szaz. In recent years, a nature trail near the village has been waymarked with attractive plaques, but although the waymarked grande randonnée (GR) routes 9, 90 & 51 pass nearby, the local paths are sometimes obscure and overgrown.

Kalman & Marie-Claire are working to overcome this, by producing surveys which hopefully will be used as a basis for a new walkers’ guidebook to the village. Kalman writes,
“The Conseil General of the Var (equivalent of the County Council) decided to clear, waymark and maintain certain paths in the parish of Collobrières.  The idea is to guide tourists away from the crowded coast towards the interior, help the economy of the smaller villages, promote health by walking, riding, cycling…  Early in December, M-C and I were invited by the local councillor responsible for the forest to check the new waymarking.  With others, the two of us, or just myself did 10 walks in December and January. I prepared an illustrated report on each walk and gave them to the councillor.

“The work was nicely done but a few problems remain.  Paths already waymarked were not recognised as such, some old marks had been removed, others duplicated.  Certain guidebooks need rewriting. For some reason, connections with existing long-distance paths are poorly indicated;  maybe signposts are coming?  We are waiting for the publication of maps showing the newly opened and marked paths.

“I fear that the official recognition of some paths might lead to the closure of others.  Already, a notice ‘close the gate’ (because of the goats) has been replaced by ‘no entry’. On a track of transhumance (used in the old days for the migration of sheep between the South and the Alps) ‘private’ signs appeared.

“The FFRP (the French RA) also shows an interest in our area.  They publish TOPO-GUIDES, descriptions of the French footpaths and a representative recently visited Collobrières.  The plan is to create a guide covering the parishes of Collobrières, Pierrefeu, and Bormes. I hope they call it ‘Heart of the Maures on foot’  The village would benefit from the inclusion in such a guide but there is a little fear that the users of the guide in case of accidents hold the Mayor responsible.  So we propose that the new white-green paths (the waymarking livery) should form the circuits;  they are the County Council’s responsibility.”

All these problems associated with opening up of path networks, waymarking, and production of walking guides will be only too familiar to those of us who have been involved, over the years, with the promotion of path networks in East Anglia.

But central Provence is a wonderful area, which we would recommend for walking outside of the hottest months (mid-June to September, when temperatures are often above 30 degC).  If this article has aroused your interest, contact the Tourist Office,* Boulevard Caminat, 83610, Collobrières, France.

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, 2004

CANTAB23 February 2004

CANTAB23 February 2004 published on

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


There is presently much emphasis on “Walking for Health”, and there is no doubt that rambling is fine exercise.  But for most of us, it is much more – the opportunity to enjoy the countryside, and its villages, to appreciate solitude or good company, and to value a change of scene, or a new path.

For me, the enjoyment of a walk is enhanced by local knowledge: the history of a village and its paths; knowing where there is a comfortable seat; enjoying the local flora and fauna. Most of us plan our holidays by buying a local guidebook and perusing it in advance.  Do you pre-arm yourself with information on your local walks…

And do you arm yourself with insect repellant and sting relief, so that you are set up for the Summer?

Happy Rambling!

Janet Moreton

A New Footpath on the map in Bartlow
The village of Bartlow, about two miles SE from Linton, now officially has a public footpath connecting Church Lane and Ashdon Road.  The path, which goes from just S of the churchyard gate, through a former farm yard where buildings have been converted into houses, then along a narrow road to come out opposite the turning to Hadstock, had been in use for more than 50 years as a short cut across the village, and as a route to the railway station before the line was closed in the 1960s;  but it had never been shown on maps as a right of way.  When coming from Horseheath or Shudy Camps it makes a short cut on the route towards Hadstock, and a way to the “Three Hills” pub, without using the narrow, winding road which has no footway.

Trouble started in the year 2000, with plans for a new garage and enclosed yard at Church House that would have blocked the path.

There was a local outcry, and in March 2001 the RA was asked by a village resident to make a formal submission to the County Council, using evidence from Bartlow people that the path had been used as a public right of way.  Three years on, after initial refusal by the County Council to act on our claim, a successful appeal by the RA to the Secretary of State, objections from landowners, and a Public Inquiry last November, an Order recording the path as a Public Footpath is finally to be confirmed by the Secretary of State, and we are confident that Public Footpath Number 6 at Bartlow will always be there for all to use.  Our grateful thanks are due to Eugene Suggett from RA Central Office, who presented the case on our behalf, to RA members John Fuller and Eric Chardin who gave evidence of use by parties of walkers, and to all the Bartlow people who supported our case, especially Mrs Catriona Ogilvy who had used the path nearly every day, since 1939!

To find the “new” path, go down Church Lane, past the church gate (which already has a footpath sign, for the path through the churchyard to the “Bartlow Hills” tumuli), and go through a small gate on the right, into a narrow passage between walls.  It isn’t easy to see, but we expect in due course to find a new footpath sign, once the legal work has been completed.  Cross a gravelled yard to another gate, then follow the narrow tarmac road past the “Bartlow Barns” development, to come out on Ashdon Road, just opposite the road to Hadstock.

We are hoping to lead a walk in the Autumn, taking in the new path, so look in the next RA walks programme when it comes out in April.

Roger Moreton.

Parish of the Month – Toft
The parish of Toft, meaning “simple farm-stead” has kept its name since ancient times. The parish (1) of little over 500 ha lies on boulder clay, but the village itself sits on a ridge of gravel.

The original village developed, sandwiched between between the intersection of roads. The ancient Armshold Lane (now a leafy bridleway) ran N – S from Arrington Bridge through Wimpole and Hardwick. Parallel to it was the High St (B 1046). At right angles to these, were the Millers Road (still named as a dead-end road in the village), and the ancient Lot Way past the church. Lot Way(1, 2)  ran E – W close to the Bourn Brook for most of the way from Grantchester, to Barton, Comberton, Toft, Caldecote, Bourn and Eltisley from at least Roman times.

What a pity we no longer have all this route as a footpath!  Later roads within the village developed around the geometric field system. One such was the zig-zag route from the church to Lot Way to the river crossing. This route was used  as part of a long-distance route from Cambridge to Oxford, passing through Toft.

Toft’s village sign  (situated near the junction of Comberton & Church Roads) celebrates the  village founding, depicting a Norseman.  The plaque reads “A thousand years ago a man such as he was the founder of our village, laying aside his weapons he cleared the land of shrubs & trees, built himself a homestead, a Toft“.  On the other side, a visit of John Bunyan, preaching from a wagon is illustrated, “In the year 1659, when England was torn by political & religious strife, the author of Pilgrims Progress came to preach to a meeting in a barn at Toft“.

Much of Toft belonged to Ely from the C10th, and the church was constructed by Lot Way. The present perpendicular church is partly rebuilt- it has an old font, an oak pulpit and an ancient timbered roof, alabaster figures and Victorian glass.  The manor house is nearby. The Domesday population was a mere 23, and there were only 76 poll-tax payers in 1377. There were still only 173 people at the end of the C18th. By 1951, however, there were 380 inhabitants, and 560 in 1996.

The village today has buildings of a mixture of ages, an excellent village shop , and the “Red Lion” Chinese restaurant, whose friendly proprietors also serve drinks and fish & chips. Nowadays, there is a dense network of paths within the village, and 8 paths leading out into other parishes, making a total of 19 paths. A useful free car park is signed off School Lane.

Most readers will consider Toft to be an excellent centre for day-long walks. The book, “Walks in South Cambridgeshire”(3) gives two classic suggestions. Route No.18 describes a 9 mile circuit from Hardwick, taking in Toft and Comberton, which could just as easily be started from Toft.  Route No. 19 gives a Toft circular of 7 miles, going via Great Eversden, although this could readily be extended via Wimpole, to make a 10 or 12 mile day.

However, I would encourage readers to explore the many short paths within the village envelope, investigating the nooks and crannies of this interesting village, where a short day could be had without venturing far from shelter, in case of showers, or where a display of local knowledge can be used to impress visitors as a finale to a longer walk.

1. South Cambridgeshire Official Guide
2. Archaeology of Cambridgeshire, Vol. 1
South West Cambridgeshire, by Alison Taylor, Publ. Cambs.C.C. 1997.
3. Walks in South Cambridgeshire,Publ. Ramblers’ Assoc. Cambridge Group, Second Edition, 1993.

Inner-village explorations
1. South loop
Leave the rear of the carpark on the short tarmac fp 9 into High Street.  Turn right to a sign, “Public Footpath Caldecote ¾”, showing Fp1 running W along house no.22’s drive. A stile leads out of a gravel passage to pasture, where go downhill to cross a stream on a culvert bridge and continue to a stile in a crossing fence, and a flat bridge over a ditch.*  [*This is the start of the main route out of the village to the W.  If you keep on going in the same direction,  eventually paths will take you to Caldecote Church, then thence across field paths to Bourn.]

For the present, turn left over the bridge along a narrow grass headland, with ditch & trees to left. This is Fp 19 as far as a little bridge on the left, leading back over the ditch. (Ignore this path over the ditch, which leads across the field & through paddocks, back to High St.)

Continue on the path (now designated Fp 2) to cross a footbridge over Bourn Brook., to emerge through kissing gates (or beside the brook) and up steps onto B1046 by Toft Road bridge.  (The patch of rough pasture here is stewardship scheme land, with blue meadow cranesbill in Summer).

Here, by the roadbridge, we are in Kingston parish, and Kingston Footpath 6 is signed opposite  going SSW then W to Kingston village.  But from the road bridge, continue E along “Brookside“.  We pass an attractive stream-side allotment on the right, and find a fine footbridge over the stream. This path is actually numbered in Kingston parish.   Continue forward in the pasture, with the hedge & ditch on left, cross the stile onto the disused railway, turn left, and, at the begining of the golf course, turn right down the hedged lane. This is the ancient Armshold Lane, along the Eversden parish boundary. However, bridleway rights were not maintained when the railway was built, and Toft Fp 8 in the field to the N  has only footpath rights. [Armshold Lane can be used as a startpoint for Eversden Wood via Kingston fp 12, and thence to Wimpole].

Let us return over the bridge to Brookside, which soon narrows and becomes Church Road.  There is a seat here for tea-break, or a careful examination of the map!

Just ahead,  an unsigned footpath should run through a spinney adjacent to an Anglian Water sewage pumping station.  The route crosses the Bourn Brook a few metres behind the spinney, but there is no bridge and the old ford was destroyed by dredging.  On the bank beyond,  barbed wire obstructs progress.  The right of way continues along the former “Watery Lane“, following the parish boundary, now gouged out, fenced & ditched on the Kingston side. It is possible to walk SSW in a pasture with the fence on  right (E), and open pasture to left  At TL 359 554, a double crossing fence is reached, having trees between.  There are no stiles in this fence to give access to continuing Eversden Bridleway 1 on the other side of the old railway. (In the preceding para. we  walked on part of the remains of the route in the adjacent field, on the other side of the ditch).

Having mused sadly over this obstructed route, return to the bridge over the brook.  The short Fp 17 cuts the field corner to a stile in the fence, then runs SSE across pasture to a second stile & onto Meridian Golf Course.

A well-signed path (Eversden fp 2) leads across the golf course, a short arable field, and down a wide grassy avenue towards Kingston Road, Eversden. [A popular 2 mile dog walking circuit for Toft residents consists of up the golf course path towards Eversden, and back down Armshold Lane.].

Now continue up Church Lane towards the church, noticing the service tree in the graveyard. Just beyond the church starts Lot Way, the wide fp 16, signed “Public Footpath Comberton 1½” running E between hedges, and continuing beyond the stile into the golf course., where it runs at first as a verge beside a hedge on right.

In the middle of the golf course, there is a slight dog-leg marked in the route and various reassuring signs – “Walkers have priority.  Watch out for golfers playing from your right“.  At the end of the golf course, the path continues, across arable fields, becoming fp 9 in Comberton.  What a pity the farmer here insists on cultivating the right of way, when, in so vast a field, a continuous grass strip could hardly be a great impediment to farming practice.

Today, however, we are going no further than peering over the stile, to admire a fine plant of spurge laurel by the hedge.  Return down the lane to the church, and turn back down Church Road the way we came.  Very shortly, observe a stile in the fence, giving access to a pasture, with pronouced ridge & furrows.  Often sheep graze. The direct route of fp 14 goes NW across the field to a wooden signpost & stile on School Lane, not far from the car-park.  However, to dally longer, steer W across a short section of the field, (fp 15) and find another stile hidden under the branches of a tree. This gives access to Bp 11, an interesting dark, green lane running between Church Road and School Lane.  Bp 12 is another such dark, dank lane (watch out for wet feet!), starting further down Church Road.

Meanwhile, a challenge is to find fp 13, which leaves bp 11 over a narrow stile at TL 3604 5585, by a metal sign, “Public Footpath”. It runs W between hedges & walls, sometimes only 0.7m wide, and then down the side of a garden. It exits onto School Lane, to continue opposite down the gravelled drive of house no. 42A (an infiller?) to pass beside a garage.  It ends down the drive of  no. 55A High Street.

Tarmac “Stony Lane” (fp 10) runs E between houses 39 & 41 onto School Lane.  Stagger back to the carpark!  (2 miles?)

North Loop
Leave the carpark for High Street, and turn N past The Red Lion, continuing up Mill Lane, which becomes a footpath. At a T-junction of paths turn left down towards the stream, and follow Fp5 across the stream on a footbridge. The narrow path follows a ditch uphill to meet a good track, Fp4 not far from Wood Farm.  Follow this left to Hardwick Wood Wildlife Trust Reserve, and continue on the grassy path along the S edge of the reserve. [Ancient Hardwick Wood was recorded in the Bishop of Ely’s Coucher Book of 1251, and is well-known for oxlips. Access is restricted, but the flowers can be seen from the path] Go through a wide gap in a crossing hedge, and briefly join The Wimpole Way (at this point Caldecote Bp4).

Just before the bridleway turns right, go through a gap in the hedge on the left. and continue on the other side of the hedge on Toft Fp7.  This was diverted in 1995 to follow the field edge, and takes you back towards Toft, to Millers Road. On the return, detour to walk round Toft Wood (Woodland Trust, 3.2ha), and pick up the stream-side Fp3, which crosses Miller Road, and takes one through a spinney into the field and the junction of Fps 1 and 19, on the S loop walk, point *. From here return to the car park, reversing the description given in the S loop. (ca 3 miles).

You have now walked parts of most of the inner-village paths of Toft.  For interest, this is the sort of design of route needed for path surveying, when the exercise may take all day, whilst pausing to note details.

Beware Midges, or Midges beware?
Recent correspondence in Ramblers’Net discuss the age-old problem of midges in Scotland, Scandinavia (and especially Iceland, where they are known to be especially voracious).  Travellers going North this Summer may wish to read this.

There are many species of midge, the tiny swarming flies of the order Diptera, but the one of greatest interest here is the Highland Midge Culicoides Impunctatus which attacks humans, and whose females need a blood meal before they can breed. Midges start to be a problem in June, through to August or September; they like damp conditions and still air and dislike strong sunlight or torrential rain. They are said to be more attracted to dark-coloured clothing than to light.

It is easy to buy nylon (or more rarely cotton) midge-nets in Scotland to go over the head. I find these hot, and they obscure the field of view. Walking at a decent pace generally keeps these tiny insects at bay. The real problems come when stopping. And have you ever tried to eat a sandwich under a midge net?

It does help to have an insect repellant, but this seems only effective on the area treated, so if you miss applying the spray or lotion to one part (e.g. one’s ears) they become a popular target!  Most common deterrents are brands containing DEET (di-ethyl toluamide) or DMP (dimethyl phthalate). Ranges of natural alternatives are available, which may contain citronella, eucalyptus, or tea-tree oils, but these may be less effective.

People’s response to midge bites vary, and deterrents and remedies which work for some may be ineffective for others. Some walkers sucessfully use Avon’s “Skin so Soft”, and one writer does not leave home without Apis Mel, a homeopathic remedy based on bee venom. It does, however, sound as though “Jungle Formula” containing DEET may be the most effective – but read the cautionary labels, so that it is not toxic to the user as well as to the predator. It  has the advantage that it will also deter mosquitos and ticks.

For further information, read “Midges in Scotland” by George Hendry (ISBN 0 08 0365957).

West Anglian Way Guide now available
A guide to the West Anglian Way, a linear route between Cambridge and Waltham Abbey, is now available at £2 by hand (Cambridge RA Group Saturday walks) or £3 by post from Bernard Hawes, 52 Maids Causeway, Cambridge, CB5 8DD.

The guide to the 64 mile route is in loose-leaf A4 format, on heavy paper in a transparent envelope, so that individual sheets may be used separately. A coloured route map is included, but the guide is intended to be used in conjunction with Explorer OS sheets.

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, 2004

CANTAB22 January 2004

CANTAB22 January 2004 published on

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


At this time of year the hardiest rambler seeks to consume a warm drink in shelter at lunch and tea-break, away from the biting East Anglian wind.

The rural bus shelter has its uses, ranging from the most primitive, to delightful village shelters, such as the new Millennium Shelter and garden at Wrestlingworth, and the commodious shelter with electric light and roses round the door near Heydon church (very useful for Icknield Way travellers…).  Do remember to give precedence to the bona-fide bus traveller!

Most ramblers are also firm friends of the village pub, where nowadays coffee is usually available, as well as the normal range of cold drinks.  But provision of pots of tea is rare, as is, sadly, the traditional country tea-room, outside of tourist villages like Grantchester and Thaxted.  This issue of Cantab suggests garden centre tea rooms and similar outlets as valuable sources of that essential beverage tea (and other hot drinks), in locations where there is also good walking.  They are usually open seven days per week, and, being accustomed to the green-fingered tribe, will not be averse to ramblers’ walking gear (although you may still need boot-covers in the café!).

The list here is quite short – if anyone has other suggestions (including rural cafes, farm-shops and similar outlets) on the route of a good walk, I would be delighted to include it in a future issue.

Janet Moreton

Tiptoe through the tulips?
Notcutts Garden Centre
(formerly Ansells), tel. 01223 860 320 on the outskirts of Horningsea Village is probably already known to many ramblers for its friendly restaurant, serving generous-size hunks of cake!   This is well-placed halfway round a circuit from Milton Country Park, emerging from the rear entrance into Fen Road, and turning right to the River Cam Towpath. Follow this to Clayhythe, returning on the Fen Rivers Way route through Horningsea village.  After refreshment, cross the river at Baits Bite Lock, to return to the Country Park. (5 – 6  miles).

Alternatively start from Newmarket Road Park & Ride.  Take the cycleway from the rear of the parking, cross the line of the old railway, and take a signed path through small fields to Fen Ditton village. Join the riverside from Green End, and at Baits Bite Lock, turn right to Horningsea. The garden centre is the first building reached!  Return on the (very muddy) byway via Snouts Corner. Wellies are recommended in Winter for this little-known but quite attractive route close to Cambridge.

Shepreth has two garden centres on the corner of the A10 Dunsbridge Turnpike, with Cambridge Road to Melbourn. Both the Royston Country Homes and Gardens Centre (tel. 01763 260412) and the Phillimore Garden Centre (01763 260537) have cafés. The first is conveniently nearer the junction, and the informal café is very good value.

From Shepreth rail station, take a pleasant permissive path in 2 sections beside Fowlmere Road, running through a narrow band of  woodland, planted with Spring bulbs, behind the roadside hedge. Turn right onto the A10, and cross carefully opposite the Motel, to take the cross-field path (reinstated!) to Field Farm. The road leads SE on to a small cemetery, where turn right on a little road to the RSPB reserve. There is a car-park here, where, for a small fee, an alternative start may be made.  After visiting the reserve, continue along the quiet road to Mill Farm.Here take a delightful path close to the stream to The “Green Man” on the back road near the A10. (I say “close to the stream” advisedly – although safe, the narrow path would not suit a user with vertigo!).  Before re-crossing the A10, divert left to visit one of the garden centres, if not lured away by the nearer attractions of the pub!  Cross the A10 and walk down Frog End, diverting on a path to visit the Church, before returning to the station.  A longer walk could include Shepreth L Moor Reserve. (5-8 miles)

Waresley Park Garden Centre (tel 01767 650249) on the Gamlingay Road, has a very pleasant licenced restaurant, where one may take afternoon tea, and indeed, more substantial meals. I recall this as a welcome oasis on a hot afternoon! Attractions hereabouts are a visit to Waresley Wood, with its bluebells and oxlips, perhaps emerging on the east side down Dick & Dolls lane, to visit the twin villages of Little Gransden & Great Gransden.  Return on the path via Squirrels Grove, and take the wide bridleway to Wildmere Plantation, returning to Waresley on a fairly quiet road. (7 miles).

Coton Orchard Garden Centre (tel. 01954 210234), is not, unfortunately, within the village, but near the A428.  It is, however, easily accessible from the village using the footway along Cambridge Road.   The tarmac path from Adams Road, Cambridge, crossing the bridge over the M11 to Coton needs no describing, and most readers will also be familiar with the parallel path on Cambridge Preservation Society land which turns off just beyond the footbridge and emerges on Grange Road between the Rugby Football ground and the rear of Clare Hall College. However, a longer walk around Coton, will allow ramblers to investigate paths (presently permissive, but eventually to be added to the Definitive Map) on land the Preservation Society plans* to convert to a new “Farm & Wildlife Reserve”. We look forward to having this new public amenity so close to Cambridge, but  understand that improvements will be achieved gradually over a number of years.

* See The Ring, Cambridge Preservation Society, Winter 2003.

Parish of the Month
Great Shelford, South Cambs.
By David Elsom, & Bridget Hodge**

Great Shelford is not the most obvious parish to highlight in a rambling magazine!

There are few footpaths; bridleways; or by-ways, other than those which ease movement within the built up area of the village. For example, Footpath 4 cuts through from Elms Avenue into the High Street [all of 90 metres], saving a walk round two sides of a triangle.

However things are changing, and people may not be aware both of various permissive paths which make longer walks and links to the wider network possible and also impending changes which will improve things still further.

As the West Anglian Way walk demonstrated it is possible to leave Cambridge from Brooklands Avenue along Vicar’s Brook [which becomes Hobsons Conduit]. Turn sharp left just before Long Road, sharp right under the railway bridge, following the old line SW before going sharp left along Cambridge Footpath 47 to cross the railway line at the level crossing carefully en route to Addenbrooke’s Hospital. Once over the railway a permissive path “B” runs down the eastern side of the railway, to turn left into the wooded area around Nine Wells, the source of the Hobsons Conduit, complete with memorial stone.

From the north-eastern edge of Nine Wells, it is possible to walk north-eastward along Footpath 2, which then links to Cambridge Footpath 8 which then joins Granhams Road at the boundary stone. Equally possible is to walk from Nine Wells in a south easterly direction on permissive path “C” passing White Hill Farm to reach  Granhams Road. At present to continue into Shelford along the road requires courage. But help is at hand.

[Ramblers have now suggested to the Parish Council that maps showing these possibilities should  be posted at strategic points.]

The Parish Council has worked to ensure that there is ‘planning gain’ for the village as a result of a new golf course and ‘leisure resort hotel’ to be built between Granhams Road and Hinton Way . In the foreseeable future, there will be a new permissive path on the western side of Granhams Road from the Granhams Road level crossing to the point where permissive path “C” goes off to the left [NW]. Here the new path will be on the east of Granhams Road, go over the brow of the hill, and round the lethal bend, and drop down the hill towards Babraham Road, almost to the boundary stone where Cambridge Footpath 8 comes from Nine Wells.

Already in existence is a new permissive path from this point across to Hinton Way, near the Shelford Bottom roundabout.Those of you reading this with the benefit of a map or local knowledge, will realise that there is a still a gap before there is easy access to Wandlebury and/or the Magog Down. This is exercising many people: perhaps the day is not too far off…

Even longer term, the soon to be published Great Shelford Village Design Statement will suggest investigating the possibility of opening paths along the Cam between the village and Hauxton [permission may already be sought on an individual basis], and from King’s Mill Lane through to the Wale Recreation ground in Little Shelford.

Meantime, ramblers in the village can at least make use of the walks further afield, described on the village website – [link local walks—One Man and his Dog!].

**David Elsom is active with the Ramblers’ Association Cambridge Group as a regular walks leader and with a responsibility for scrutinising planning applications in South Cambs. District for the Ramblers’ Association.  Bridget Hodge is Chairman of Great Shelford’s Planning Committee.  Both were recently (July 2003) involved in producing the “Great Shelford Village Design Statement – Consultation Draft” – an impressive document intended to provide guidance for any development proposals for the village, and produced following extensive local consultation.  What is good to see is the interest in not only the history of the village, its buildings & landscape qualities, but also the presence of a section on byways in the village – and the need for more footpaths and cycleways.

Little Shelford initiatives
Neighbouring Little Shelford is also working on path improvements and augmentation. Writing in Cambs. C.C.’s “P3″ Bulletin (the magazine of the parish paths partnership parishes), Peter Dean reports on a new section of made-up path by the riverside at the rear of the recreation ground, “The Wale”. It is hoped to extend this short path across the River Cam into Kingsmill Lane in Little Shelford, and then in a direct line to the primary school. Little Shelford Parish Council are also seeking to have two paths added to the Definitive Map.

One of these leaves The Wale, and turns E through woodland behind Courtyards residential estate, then SW along a track to the junction of High Street and Whittlesford Road.  The other starts down the residential road opposite Church Street, continues through allotment gardens, then runs on a track SE to join the dead-end of Footpath 4.  If there is anyone who has used either of these paths, please contact Mrs A.Webb (tel. 01223 843964).

Perhaps I should say that any such usage on either of these paths is not likely to have been recent. Visiting the site last month, the woodland on the first route looked very overgrown.  On the second claimed route, although both Little Shelford Footpath 4, and the claimed field edge beyond looked used, the new shiny barbed wire strung up between would have discouraged Houdini.

Path changes in Wicken & Soham
The Autumn 2003 “P3” Bulletin also details changes to the Definitive Map in these East Cambs. parishes. When Cambs.County Farms Estate sold off land in 2000, a diversion agreed with the farmer moved one path (Wicken Footpath 27) to a 2m wide grassy field edge, and, at the same time, new field edge bridleways, 4m wide, were created. Footpath 27 runs from Butts Lane to join the new bridleway just N of Hall Farm in Wicken parish. The new bridleways start from Drove Lane (Wicken byway 23) to run both to Bracks Drove and Horsefen Drove (Soham byways 113 & 111 respectively).

Crossing trunk roads and bypasses
The Highways Agency recently announced that it did not, after all, propose “improvements” of the A14 between Brampton & Thrapston.  Two extra bridges crossing the road would have been supplied, although several paths would still have been dead-ended or given long diversions.

Mark Westley, writing in Hertfordshire & North Middlesex RA Area Annual Report, comments on bridleways buried beneath bypasses, and other problems.  He cites the Sideroad Orders for the Wadesmill bypass. At first, the Highways Agency wished to extinguish an ancient lane which crossed it, but later decided to contruct a tunnel for the benefit of wild deer. Similarly, there was initially no plan to provide a tunnel for St Edmunds College pupils to cross into Puckeridge until it was found a service tunnel was required, so this bypass will open with two more grade-separated crossings than first planned.

Tunnels are more readily provided for animals than for ramblers.  Mark Westley recalls that three tunnels were provided in the 1960s for cattle under the improved A602 built across the River Rib, but only now is Herts.C.C. considering making one of them available to walkers. The Fen Causeway in Cambridge has long had a cattle-creep, whereas walkers had to brave the continuous flow of traffic at grade, or wallow through deep mud. Only within the last couple of years, when a cycle route was created, has the tunnel been given a concrete footway, raised above the mud and the seasonal flooding.

Whilst no doubt we should care for our four-footed friends, it gives pause for thought when we realise that, as ramblers, we rank lower than a cow!  Or, more correctly, our persons inflict less damage if in collision with a motor vehicle.  Perhaps we should get together with the Wildlife Trust and RSPCA to register homo sapiens ambulans as a bona fide creature, in need of care and protection.

Wishing You safe walking in 2004!

West Anglian Way
Did you miss one or more sections of this led walk last winter, or did you enjoy it so much that you would like to explore it again at your leisure?  A simple guide (on loose sheets, presented in a waterproof envelope) has been prepared, and will soon be  with the printers.  A short production run is envisaged, priced to cover costs, so if you would like a copy, it would be helpful to advise (name & address please) in advance.

No name-change here!
This is Issue 22 of Cantab Rambler, and we hasten to assure our readers that a name-change is not envisaged. You may march, jog, trek, tramp, climb, hike, walk, saunter, amble, stroll, limp, hobble or even crawl up the avenue, but we will still call it ramble!

I was asked recently for some back copies of Cantab (which are still on disc) containing the “village of the month” series.  It would be possible to prepare an index of the larger articles therein, should there be a demand.

The Quotation
Yet all experience is an arch where through
Gleams that untravelled world whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move…

Alfred, Lord Tennyson

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, 2004