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CANTAB44 December 2007

CANTAB44 December 2007 published on

** Please note that this is an archive of the CANTAB publication and contains out-of-date information **


I led a walk in late November, advertised as an opportunity to view late Autumn colours.  We visited Hayley Wood, and were lucky to find still a reasonable number of leaves still hanging on the trees like tattered coloured prayer flags. But underfoot was a bright, if rather soggy carpet of leaves, to remind us of a pleasant dry Autumn.

Unless in Thetford Forest, and its conifer plantations, or visiting foreign parts on a Christmas jaunt, one is unlikely to have spectacular leaves, fungi, or indeed wild flowers to admire now. So I always consider Winter is particularly the time to seek out interesting buildings on a walk; to study our lovely local churches, or just to look at the lie of the land, its bare clay or chalk revealed.

So this Month’s parish, Meldreth, has rather more description of its buildings and history than usual.  Tell me if you find this interesting, or if more walks’ details would be preferred.

Janet Moreton

Parish of the Month – Meldreth
On 18 November, I visited Meldreth Community Hall, for an “open day” in which a wealth of information on the history of the village, and its present activities were displayed.  I took notes, and augmented this by some reading, especially in Alison Taylors’s “Archaeology of Cambridgeshire”, Vol. 1, published by Cambs.C.C in 1997.

Prehistory;  Roman…
The parish covers 976 ha, of flattish chalkland in the valley of the Rhee.. Like most of South Cambridgeshire, human occupation goes back a long way. The Neolithic Age is represented by finds of an axe, flints and pottery in the village.  A smith’s hoard of the Late Bronze Age was found near the station (including 27 axes, 3 spears, 9 swords, and 15 lumps of bronze). Iron Age shards of pottery were found near the bypass. From Roman times, a lead coffin containing a bronze armlet, a perfume bottle and a coin of Cunobelin were found at Mettle Hill in 1816. Since then, several stone coffins have been found at Mettle Hill (one of which is now kept in the church nave), and pottery and bronze items,C1 – 4th  were found in the north of the parish.

Saxon; Norman; Medieval
Mettle Hill, called Motloweyhil in 1319, was the site of the moot for Armingford Hundred, probably on the same slight mound that the Romans had used to bury their stone coffins.

The oldest part of Holy Trinity Church is C12th, built on the site of an earlier wooden church, recorded as “monasterium” in Domesday. The church is of rubble, with external clunch walls, the present heavy rendering dating from 1838-42.  The fine lofty interior has a Perpendicular S aisle arcade of 5 bays.  The narrow Norman chancel has 3 tall Norman windows, and a thin narrow one, depicting a monk kneeling before the Lamb of God.  The lower stages of the tower date from the late C12th, with upper stages built a century later.  The font and parish chest are C15th, as is the king-post roof.  The C15th stalls with carved poppy heads were taken from a Suffolk church.  Remnants of the screen are late C15th, made up and installed in the C19th.  In 1658, George Pyke of Sheene Manor left £120 for the building of a funerary chapel to the E of the S aisle.  The fine peal of 8 bells has the tenor dating from 1617.

A moated site off Bury Lane (byway 12) still marks the position of successive Sheene Manor houses, once owned by St Evroul Abbey in France after the Norman Conquest, then by Sheene Priory in Surrey by 1415. The present house , seen best through Winter trees, has an incomplete moat.

Much easier to view from footpath 6 at any time of year is Topcliffe’s Mill, opposite the church. The path goes directly past the mill-race. The site of Topcliffe’s Manor (mentioned in texts from 1290) was by a moat S of the church.  In 1380, there was a thatched house & gateway. In 1553, the Manor was granted to St Thomas’ Hospital in London.  In 1617 and 1631, the Mill and Manor Close were leased to Robert Halfhead. Sadly, the mill ceased to operate in 1942. Also in the parish were Church Mill, Sheene Mill, and Flambard’s Mill, of which there is now no sign.

Vesey’s Manor stood on a moated site next to Topcliffe’s.  Another moat surrounded Flambard’s Manor, again long gone, but whose name is remembered in Flambard’s Close, at the end of which a footbridge gives access to Footpath 6, beside the R.Mel.

The Victorians…
By the C19th, the houses in the parish were grouped in 5 hamlets: at North End; around the church; along High Street and at Manor Close; at Chiswick End; and around Sheene Mill.  Meldreth seems always to have been well-populated, with ca 200 residents in Domesday, a population of 1931 recorded in the 1851 census, and ca. 1800 in 2000.

The group of properties by the railway station dated from the coming of the railway in 1851. The simple 2-storey Great Northern station, with a station house, goods-shed, warehouse stabling, and row of 6 cottages completed a small railway settlement.  Between 1892 and the 1950s, there was also a tramway, running from the cement works to the station.

Like the rest of the chalk belt from Leighton Buzzard to Burwell, Meldreth was affected by Coprolite mining in Cambridgeshire in the C19th., the crushed and treated fossil deposits being used as fertiliser, as containing 35 – 60% phosphate.  The Cambridgeshire Collection has an old photo (ca.1880) of railway waggons taking Coprolites from Whaddon to Meldreth Station.

The 1820 map of the parish, just before Inclosure shows several large fields: Little Field; Chiswick End Field; Little Holme; Synacroft; Mantry Field; Hollow Field; Down Field; Northfield. If this represents the relic of the medieval 3-field system, then it must  reflect the effect of more than one Manor in the parish, each with its own set of fields. The 1st Edition of the Ordnance Survey sheet for Meldreth, at 25 inches/mile is dated 1887.  An interesting 1910 Land Valuation Duty map exists. Older maps show areas of orchards. Many of these were grubbed out in the 1950s, but Fieldgate Nurseries (established 1969) and the Cam Valley Orchards still provide an opportunity for buying local produce.

The present OS Sheets (Landranger 154, Explorer 209) show a reasonable network of public paths in the parish, numbered up to 14 on Cambs.C.C’s definitive map. Paths between Meldreth and its “sister” parish Melbourn are somewhat debased by the need to cross both the railway and the bypass, the latter built 1988.  Crossing the railway is easy, but requires the usual care on a busy line.  The bypass can give trouble to cross at peak times – avoid especially late afternoon in dim Winter light, as commuters start home…

Many pleasant circuits are possible, starting, for example, from a small carpark opposite the church (but not on a Sunday morning), or from the railway station.

Thus, from the church, take fp 4 to Malton Lane, N along the lane to Malton Cottages, across the field to walk by the R.Mel to Orwell.  Here inspect the new Chapel Orchard (picnic site), and the chalk pit (nature reserve).  Return via the path to the golf course, crossing the R.Cam at King’s Bridge, and thence to Whaddon.  Return on fp 2 from the cement works to near Meldreth Church  (8 miles).

The energetic can extend the walk from Orwell to Wimpole Hall (12 miles). Again starting from the stile beside Meldreth church, take fields parallel to the road on fp 3, to return to the road to Shepreth.  Turn off across Shepreth L-Moor and exit towards Shepreth church.  Take the path past the rear of the zoo, and over the railway to Barrington.  Return along the green, to Dumpling Cottages, and past young woodland back to Malton Lane, by the Meridian Stone. Take the path to the R.Mel, returning to the road at Malton Cottages, and so back to Meldreth. (7 miles).

The most attractive path in Meldreth is fp 6, from opposite the church, passing the old mill, and running through woodland, beside the R.Mel.  It crosses the railway, beyond which is a choice of routes through to Melbourn recreation ground.  Turn W to pick up Bury Lane,  cross the bypass (twice), and use the ancient Ashwell Street towards Kneesworth. (When last here, we were relieved to see the fly-tipping had been cleared).  Turn N up a good path behind Kneesworth hospital.  Beyond the farm shop on Chestnut Lane, turn left, then soon right on a footpath N to Whaddon. Visit Church, or golf-course café,  again returning via the cement works (7 miles)

For a satisfying linear walk, from Cambridge take the train to Meldreth.  Return on foot through Shepreth L-Moor reserve, Barrington, Chapel Hill, Haslingfield, Cantelupe Farm Road and bridleway, Grantchester (the orchard tearoom?) and so to Cambridge by the riverside and Paradise.   (13 miles)

Essex Bridleway Improvement
An historic bridleway linking Hainault Forest with Havering Country Park, now provides permanent access to Woodland Trust land at the adjoining Havering Park Farm.  Previously, a section of the Havering Link leading through the forest had been impassably muddy in Winter, but the new, slightly diverted route will be accessible year round.

The Woodland Trust acquired 4 fields at Havering early 2006.  Three of these fields are to be returned to wood-pasture: already cattle have been brought in to graze.  The fourth field was once part of the forest, and has been restored with 10 000 native broadleaf trees, planted by local schoolchildren & scouts..

Norfolk last October
A party primarily of Ramblers’ Association Cambridge Group had a very pleasant mid-week break in Norfolk in October.  Most of us stayed at Butterfly Cottage, (; tel. 01263 768198) in Aldborough, not far from Blickling, where we were most comfortable, and very well fed.

Our first (afternoon only) walk was centred on nearby Blickling Park. All went well within the park, but on venturing down a signed path towards the R. Bure, the boardwalk gave out abruptly some 100m before the river bank, and the innocent-looking grass beyond was found to be some 4 inches or more deep in water!  Having survived this hazard, the walking for the remainder of the week was dry underfoot on predominantly sandy soils.

On 3 subsequent days, we enjoyed a mixture of country and coast each day with 10 – 12 mile walks based on Sheringham, Wells and Cromer. The walk along the sand at Wells on a falling tide, on a day of quiet clear beauty was voted the top experience of the week. On the last day, some of the party lingered for a morning walk round The Walsinghams and Great Snoring.

Whilst Norfolk walking is within 1.5 – 2 hours driving from Cambridge, taking a few days away with friends provides a much more relaxing break, and the opportunity to share knowledge of attractive venues beyond the scope of the normal weekly walking programme.

Janet Moreton

Claiming old paths in Little Shelford
We were sorry to learn recently that two paths claimed as rights of way at Little Shelford on the basis of 20 years uninterrupted use by local people had failed to satisfy Cambridgeshire County Council’s criteria for a Modification Order under The Wildlife & Countryside Act, 1981.  In this case the relevant 20 year period was between ca 1950 and 1970, which means that many former users are now dead, and others, obviously, have less-than-clear memories of the exact situation. While some County Councils insist on a minimum number of witnesses (six seems to be a common minimum),  this does not seem to have been the problem in this case.

However, the organiser of the campaign, Peter Dean, (tel. 01223 846343) would like to hear from any older readers who used the footpath from Garden Fields, to the end of Bradmore Lane, or Cow Walk and a footpath through the woods to The Wale Recreation Ground.

Cut the Clutter!
The Open Spaces Society has just produced a new information sheet, C18, “Removing and Improving Path – paraphernalia“. Written by Chris Beney, the document is available at £5 from the Open Spaces Society, 25A, Bell St., Henley-on-Thames, Oxon, RG9 2BA.

Methods of reducing unnecessary and undesirable structures on public paths, such as gates and stiles are outlined. We are told how to identify such structures, establishing their legality, and, where appropriate, getting them removed or altered.   For most people, the need to open (and close) a gate, or climb a stile is an inconvenience on a path, but if one is less-able, then such footpath furniture might prove an insurmountable obstacle.

Chris Beney states “Government is committed to the rule of using the least-restrictive option on paths, but this is not often followed in practice, despite there being a British Standard, BS5709:2006, which gives clear guidance on how to achieve it.”

Stop Linton Wind Farm
RA Cambridge Group’s Committee has been approached by the Stop Linton Wind Farm Group about the implications for walkers and other “users”, and the impact of a proposed wind farm both on routes and on the landscape.  The proposal is for eight turbines some 125 metres high stretching down the ridge from Catley Park to the Cam Grain silos near the Cambridge to Linton Road. There are fears that if one such development is approved, other landowners might be tempted to make similar proposals.

If readers of Cantab Rambler wish to know more about the proposal, please visit
David Elsom

Falling off a gate…
It was reported in the last issue of Cantab that Roger injured himself falling from a locked gate obstructing a public path from Stretham to Wilburton, East Cambs.

It was found later that Roger had broken his collar bone.  After 10 weeks, there is some improvement, but he is still wearing a sling much of the time, and is not yet driving.  Many thanks to all who have offered sympathy and help.  Although we reported the incident promptly to Cambs.C.C, it was over 3 weeks before a Council Officer inspected the site, and longer before we learned that the farmer disclaimed knowledge of the correct line of the path.  Roger has yet to receive an apology.

The December Quotation
I have finished another year, said God,
In grey, green, white, and brown;
I have strewn the leaf upon the sod,
Sealed up the worm within the clod,
And let the last sun down.”

Thomas Hardy, “New Year’s Eve

Cantab Rambler by E-Mail & Post
Cantab usually appears every two months. A large number of you now receive Cantab by e-mail. By hand, 20p is appreciated towards the cost of paper and ink. If you would like to receive an issue by post, please send a large SAE, and a 20p 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 20 pence where sold

Cantab44 © Janet Moreton, 2007.

CANTAB43 October 2007

CANTAB43 October 2007 published on

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


Whilst the school vacations are now over, and the beaches are emptying of their devotees, the holiday season for walkers is resuming. In this issue, we pursue the thought that “holidays” derive from “holydays” or saints-days, which would have been the only breaks in the work routine for the majority in past centuries. And does the modern long distance path or trail derive in essence from the pilgrimage route, rather than, say, The Grand Tour of the C18th nobleman?

Please find herein two short articles on the most important of the English pilgrimage routes, to give food for thought on that long distance path. I am much indebted to Charles Knowelden for his article on Walsingham.

Janet Moreton

Chaucer’s Pilgrims Way
The great pilgrimage to Canterbury, arose immediately after the murder of Archbishop Thomas a’Becket in 1170.

Chaucer started to compose “The Canterbury Tales” some 200 years later, writing at a time when the pilgrimage had reached its height and had, for some,  become associated partly with leisure rather than purely a form of penance.

At Rome she hadde been, and at Boulogne,
In Galice at St James, and at Cologne,
She coulde muchel of wandering by the way…
(The Wife of Bath)

In C16th the shrine of Thomas a’ Becket was destroyed by Henry VIII and pilgrimages to Canterbury effectively came to an end. It is believed Chaucer started The Tales in 1387 and worked on them until his death in 1400. He planned to write 120 Tales but completed little more than 20. The  Tales, rich in earthy humour, satire and politics, was one of the first literary works to be printed in everyday English.

The Pilgrims Way followed the ancient trackway that runs from Winchester to Canterbury, on a route 120 miles long, of which two thirds is still identifiable today.  The old track, a trade route in prehistoric times, was both a ridge walk and a terrace-way, following the North Downs escarpment.

In modern times, Hilaire Belloc first wrote about The Pilgrims Way, in ” The Old Road” 1904. A national trail running along the North Downs escarpment was first proposed by The Ramblers’ Association, and in 1978 the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Donald Coggan, officially opened the North Downs Way National Trail, 153 miles long, following the North Downs ridge between Farnham and Dover via Canterbury. At Boughton Lees the North Downs Way splits into the 57-mile Canterbury loop. Here one can either follow the loop clockwise along stretches of the ancient trackway to Dover via Canterbury and the Stour valley or one can take the loop anti-clockwise to Wye and on to via Dover via Folkestone.

The modern pilgrim may use the official guide “North Downs Way National Trail Guide” (Neil Curtis and Jim Walker, Aurum Press 2007 £12.99.), and the following Explorer sheets: 137; 138; 145; 146; 147; 148; 149; and 150.

The Way to Walsingham
Pilgrimages to Walsingham began in the Middle Ages. In those times, pilgrimages were popular and the duration could be for months or years. Pilgrims undertook these journeys to holy places to refresh or strengthen their faith, seeking to achieve a closer, more personal relationship with God.

In 1061, Lady Richeldis de Faverches, owner of Walsingham Manor, had a vision in which Mary, the mother of Jesus appeared and showed Richeldis the house in Nazareth where Gabriel had announced the news of the birth of Jesus. Mary asked Richeldis to build a replica of the house in Walsingham. The house was built, a simple wooden structure and later a priory was built around the house. It became an important place of pilgrimage, equal to Canterbury and attracted many pilgrims from all parts of the country and all levels of society, including Kings of England with their entourage. Its importance continued until the time of the dissolution of the monastries. The priory and the wooden house it contained were pulled down and the statue of Mary and the child Jesus, was destroyed.

Walsingham, no longer a place of pilgrimage, slipped back to its former self, a village in a farming community.  After almost 400 years, interest in pilgrimage to Walsingham was revived in the late 19th century. The wooden house was rebuilt inside a new church and another statue of Mary and Jesus was made. The restored Slipper Chapel, so called because pilgrims removed their shoes at the Slipper Chapel before walking the last mile barefoot, is a wayside pilgrim chapel. In recent times, with large numbers of people making their pilgrimage, the road from the Slipper Chapel has become a busy road but there is also a quiet trail along a disused railway line, for those who want to walk the last mile either shod or barefoot.

In his book, “The Walsingham Way”, John Merrill re-traces the route from Ely that was used by medieval pilgrims.  It is 70 miles in duration, and runs across fens, through towns and villages – Brandon, Weeting, Cranwich, Swaffham, Castle Acre and Sculthorpe – with numerous ancient churches, wayside crosses, chapels, castles and ruined monasteries.

Charles Knowelden

Walsingham and Great Snoring
Map – Explorer 251 (previously 24)
After a visit to Walsingham, a circular walk of some 5 miles, passing through Great Snoring, may also be enjoyed.

Go S from Little Walsingham, along the main street (B1105) towards Fakenham.  Turn left at an isolated lodge onto an unsurfaced lane leading through mixed woodland, later mature oak trees. Reach the top of the hill at a wide green lane, and turn right at a fork. The lane leads to the county road at Great Snoring.

Turn left, passing the former rectory, and continue through the village to the main road.  Go straight across, passing Top Farm, and after 100yd, turn left along a footpath. Pass behind a farm then turn right, leaving the buildings, along a broad track, fenced both sides. Over a stile, the route continues NNE following field edges, and reaching a road at Hill House Farm, where turn left to return to Little Walsingham.

The route may be extended by making an attractive circuit around the village of Great Snoring.

Parish of the Month: Hardwick
Some 600ha of clay land, ca 50-70m above sea level comprise this small parish, which was owned by the Abbot of Ely since 991. Detailed accounts of 1251 exist of a moated manor house, owned by the Bishop of Ely. The Bishops of Ely were forced to relinquish the parish to the crown  in 1600, after which it passed to a series of private landowners.

The parish boundary with Toft was finalised in 1815, and its open fields were inclosed in 1837. In 1088, there was a population of only 11; the census of 1901 revealed 112 residents; now an expanding village, the population had reached ca 2500 by 1996.

The original village grew where the N – S through route crossed two separate branches of The Portway, here running E – W from Coton to Bourn, and which are now footpaths and bridleways. The church stands just N of the more northerly of these junctions, at the SW corner of what was once a much larger green, enclosed 1806. The building dates from the C14th, and is believed to occupy the site of a benedictine priory.

The ancient Hardwick Wood (an SSSI),  now managed by the Wildlife Trust, was then called “Bradeleh Wood”, as described in the Ely Coucher book, 1251. Today, it is delightful in the spring with successions of violets, celandines, oxlips, primroses, bluebells, early purple orchid,  red campion and wild garlic, and in this season for its Autumn colours and interesting fungi.  The canopy comprises oak and ash, with hazel, privet, dogwood, spindle and wayfaring bushes beneath.

The woodland flora have been studied by naturalists for some 200 years, and there are said to be 160 species of flowering plants and ferns, and also mosses and liverworts.

Hardwick has 5 public rights of way, all in generally good order, but somewhat given to mud in Winter.

East of High Street, Footpaths 2 and 3 and Bridleway 4 form a convenient “dog-walking” loop of about 1 mile. Footpath 3 continues on the line of the ancient “Port Way”, almost meeting across Long Road with the Whitwell Way into Coton.  As well as the rights of way, there is a permissive path, running N from Footpath 2, at TL 382 586, up the parish boundary to meet the “old” Cambridge  – St Neots Road at TL 385595. It runs up a field boundary, and was in rather long grass when last seen. Use of this path combined with rights of way allows a circuit around the parish, as illustrated in a display map on the village green.

West of High Street, there is a short dead-end path from the green to the church & childrens playground. The Port Way runs W from the S edge of the village over towards Hardwick Wood.  From here, a network of paths run S to Toft, or further W to Caldecote, and Bourn beyond.  This is the heartland of the South Cambridgeshire Clay Belt.

New Footbridge over the A 428
Walkers in Cambridgeshire are rejoicing in the new big blue footbridge over the A428 at Hardwick. This bridge, which as well as steps, has ramps for wheelchairs, pushchairs etc, allows safe passage from Dry Drayton Church, some 1.5 miles along Footpath 17, to Hardwick. The route is along field-edges, mostly pleasant grassy paths beside a stream, although we have recently complained of the nettles in the first field behind Dry Drayton Church.

Try this linear route:
Bar Hill to Cambridge, 10 miles
Explorer Sheet: 209, 225
Frequent buses run from Emmanuel Street in Cambridge to Tesco, Bar Hill. Use the signed route to the Bar Hill Library, then follow pathways S through the village to the perimenter road, where pick up the footpath/cycleway to Dry Drayton. Rest a while on the seat by the green, then go through the churchyard, to follow the waymarked route to the new bridge over the A428.

Follow the village street to Hardwick church, seat-on-the-green and pub “The Blue Lion”, where a further rest stop may be called for!  Cross the road from the church, and shortly find the signed footpath (no.2) starting E down a passage between gardens. Follow this clear path across fields, to a junction of paths near the quaintly named “Starve Goose Plantation”.

Here continue ahead (E) on the bridleway to Long Road. Turn left, mindful of fast traffic, and resume E along Whitwell Way, to Coton. Again there is a church, green and seat, but the pub here is now a rather smart restaurant. From the recreation ground, follow the tarmac path over the M11, and back to Cambridge.

A Cautionary Tale…

As Footpath Secretaries for the Ramblers’ Association, covering the South Cambs Parishes, Roger & I frequently report to the County Council problems which may constitute a hazard to walkers.  Such hazards might be:
An awkward or damaged stile;
A missing bridge;
A broken bridge (or more often missing slats, or damaged handrail);
An electric fence;
Surface obstructions (eg heaps of rubble, wire or broken glass);
Dangerous dogs, horses, even geese.

Most often, we report these obstructions, having ourselves passed over, under or across them without damage to self, presumably being aware of the hazard, and taking due care. Occasionally we wonder if we are over-assiduous in reporting, since sometimes the Council’s reaction is merely “noted”.

However, on 4 October, last, Roger met with an accident on an obstructed path. We were not in South Cambs, we were with two friends near Red Hill Farm, near Wilburton, East Cambs, on a recreational walk. The path (actually in Stretham Parish, no 18) runs N from the A10, along Red Hill Drove, does a dog-leg by the farm, and reaches the road on the outskirts of Wilburton. There are two locked gates obstructing this path, which it was necessary to climb.  On the more northerly one, Roger slipped on the metal rungs and crashed to the ground. There are no broken bones, but a massively bruised right shoulder. After a week, he is able to hold a tea-cup in his right hand. We have told the County Council.

No, I do not think we cry “wolf” re path obstructions and hazards. We hope something will be done about this one soon.

Janet Moreton

Cantab Rambler by E-Mail & Post
Cantab usually appears every two months. A large number of you now receive Cantab by e-mail. By hand, 20p is appreciated towards the cost of paper and ink. If you would like to receive an issue by post, please send a large SAE, and a 20p 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 20 pence where sold

Cantab 43  © Janet Moreton, 2007

CANTAB42 July 2007

CANTAB42 July 2007 published on

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


Apologies are given to those of you expecting a June issue of Cantab. The delay is partly the result of editorial holidays, but more the result of depression of the spirit brought on by depressions of a meteorological nature.  Was there ever so wet and miserable a June? I suppose in East Anglia we should be thankful that our homes and crops are not underwater, but, even when it is not actually raining, the ground conditions are like those of a particularly nasty February.

I recommend to your attention the blessedly sandy soils around Thetford and Brandon for non-sticky outings. The chalk highlands above Royston, and around the Mordens, Chishill and Heydon dry out fastest, but beware a slip on wet chalk. And everywhere, the grass on paths seems to be attempting a new height record, waiting to soak your trousers and trip the unwary. So, go forth friend – but watch your step!

Janet Moreton

Literary Rambles

Bunyan’s pilgrims
John Bunyan published the “Pilgrim’s Progress” in 1678. His masterpiece was partly written in Bedford jail, where he passed 12 years for “unlicenced preaching”. The alegorical journeys of his pilgrim were based on the countryside he knew, in Bedfordshire.

Today, walkers can follow the same routes, using “The Bunyan Trail”, publ. by Beds.C.C.  The leaflets are sponsored by Schol Foot-aids.

Geoffrey Chaucher’s Pilgrims
Chaucer’s 29 (fictional) pilgrims assembled at the Tabard Inn, Southwark in 1387, in preparation for their 60 mile journey to the shrine of St Thomas à Becket at Canterbury Cathedral.  Many contributed a story to make the journey pass pleasantly. These monologues were arranged as “The Canterbury Tales”.

Next issue gives the history of The Pilgrims Way…

The Guided Busway
Clearance of scrub, and construction has now started on this route between St Ives and Cambridge.  This will resulting in disruption of paths over a wide corridor for at least the next two years.

Cambs.C.C. recently notified ramblers that  there will be a temporary path diversion (from 7 May this year to 25 July 2008) of Fenstanton fp 13 on the Ouse Valley Way.  The diversion is at TL 325 703 (under the viaduct). The path will be diverted about 100m away from its original line and back.

Watch for more diversions or temporary closures where paths cross the track of the old St Ives railway – we will try to keep readers posted.

Cambridge to Ely problems
The following information was received from John Cooper, a  Senior Access Officer with Cambridgeshire County Council on 9 July.  It is not quite verbatim, a few expansions  being added for clarity.

Due to the freight train derailment at Newmarket rail Bridge both paths (Ely 23 & 24) along the riverside near the bridge, TL 543 782, are subject to temporary closure (initially emergency) for health & safety reasons. The west bank has been subject to a temporary closure whilst the Braham Dock bridge was constructed. This bridge is all but complete and the path was due to be reopened, however the derailment has meant that there will be a continued closure on this side. Fortunately the Braham Dock closure had meant that there was an alternative route from Little Thetford to Ely in place which can continue to be used whilst the rail situation is sorted. With a view to providing circular routes around here the paths will be open up to Braham Dock bridge from the south.  New signage is being erected on this. On the east bank the section from the Ely / Soham road south to Barway is temporarily closed. Signs are being erected to notify walkers, in particular those Fen Rivers Way users who need to divert at Dimmocks Cote. The situation is being monitored with our highways officers and those of Rail Track/Keir and the paths will be opened as soon as safely possible. Press releases have been sent out. Kevin Green, who has been overseeing the completion of Braham Dock bridge with our bridges section, has been acting as lead officer on this. For more information, contact –

Chishill’s New Permissive Bridleways
Chishill, as one of the South Cambs southern border parishes, one might expect to find on Explorer 209, but in fact is mostly depicted at the top of Explorer 194, Hertford & Bishops Stortford.

Turn up both of these maps, to locate a really useful set of new permissive bridleways we first encountered recently.  Surfaced with rough mown grass, try them now, in conjunction with the rights of way network, before Winter equestrian usage renders them muddy!

Go west from Great Chishill Church, to a lane “The Pudgell” running north. Within a few metres, find a bridle gate, and a plan of the new paths which can be used to annotate your own maps.

One path runs NW down a hedge from TL 421 392.  It has a waymarked branch left (SW) across a culvert, at ca. TL 415 396, which turns left again at a facing hedge, ca. TL 412 395 to reach the Barley road at ca. TL 416 389.  This is very close to the start of the path from the windmill, which leads back to Chishill.

Had one avoided the first turn, and stayed with the path running NW, two other paths turn off right (NE) and lead, less usefully for the walker, onto New Road.

Continuing ahead from TL 412 395 leads WSW round a bulge in the hedge to the county boundary near Cumberton Bottom, at ca TL 406 393.  Follow the hedge NNW to the Barley Road at TL 402 401. Go S down the road a short way towards Barley, and turn off NNW on the right of way to the Icknield Way trackway near Noons Folly Farm.  Follow the trackway E across 2 roads, and take the footpath SSE from TL 414 419 to New Buildings Farm, and thence back to Chishill.

Parish of the Month – Graveley
Explorer 208, 225.
Like Chishill, Graveley is a South Cambs border parish, abutting Huntingdonshire, in the parishes of Toseland, Yelling, Offord D’Arcy and Huntingdon, and to the east, the little South Cambs parish of Papworth St Agnes.

In 986, a thegn left Graveley and Elsworth to his wife, and then to Ramsey Abbey.  At Domesday the record for “Gravelei” (a clearing in the grove), gives the population as only 20. In the C16th, the village (then of 23 households) was sold by the Crown to Jesus College, and the land was leased until the C19th. One such piece of land was owned by the Pepys family, and Samuel Pepys’ diary records that he hoped to inherit it. The church is dedicated to St Botolph. It has a flint C15 tower, and four amusing gargoyles over the west doorway.

Move forward to 1942, when Graveley had a WWII airfield, the home of Squadron 35 of Bomber Command, one of the original 4 units that eventually formed the famous Pathfinder Force in August 1942, about 6 months after the airfield became operational.  The Three Horse-shoes pub in Graveley records the history of this time with the many photographs on the walls of the bar.

On the old airfield itself, there is said to be a small memorial stone marking the original gateway to the RAF base. After closure in 1968, the wartime hangars were demolished, the concrete runways dug up, and the area returned to cereal farming, although the original trackways round the perimeter remain.

Paths in Graveley
A sad after-effect of the wartime activity, was that a section of the Roman Road from Huntingdon “Roman Way”, which passes through Graveley, once traversed the site of the airfield.  It was closed during the war, and never reopened.  This leaves a serious gap in the path network over to the neighbouring parish of Toseland, felt by both walkers and horseriders, and one where there is an on-going campaign to rectify.

The remaining part of the Roman Road in Graveley is numbered Bridleway 1 on the Definitive Map. There are 10 other footpaths in the parish.

From the parish boundary at TL 243652, Bridleway 1 continues the line of Offord D’Arcy Bp 5 running NNE over a crossing farm track. It passes Great Parlow Close and farm buildings, and at TL 244657, Offord D’Arcy Fp 3 turns off left. Bp 1 continues NNE to TL 246663, where it crosses a culverted ditch  to join the path N to Godmanchester. Paths turn off left to Offord Cluny, right to Ermine Street at Lattenbury, and Graveley Fp 2 goes off sharp right (SE). The junction is indicated by a carved wooden signpost, with four parishes named on the stem, and carved symbols on 5 fingers.

On Church Lane at TL 249641, a  sign, for Footpath 2 points N over a  stile, to enter a rough field .  The path goes NNW then N across 5 fields  In the last field, the RoW continues N towards the site of the former Glebe Farm, then NNW by the site of the farm to cross a ditch at TL 248658 on a wooden bridge. Fp 2 continues NW across a cultivated field  crossing a  boundary at TL 247660, and over a final arable field to reach Bp 1 by the carved wooden signpost. The last two fields are often unreinstated.

From Offord Road at TL 246643, a sign  shows Footpath 3 entering  pasture via  a kissing gate.  The RoW runs E then SE across 3 grass fields (note medieval ridge & furrow) and into a rough field where the route runs SE to join Fp 2 by the stile into Church Lane, TL 249641.

From Fieldings Place at TL 250641, a sign shows Bridleway 4 running NNW down a  tarmac roadway, shortly becoming a sunken gravel track, between trees & churchyard wall to left and later ditch & gardens to right.  It reaches a concrete standing with garages to left, and the house “Cosy Hollow” to right.  Here the RoW turns left (WSW) on a driveway  At TL 249641 it reaches Church Lane, passing a pathway turning left to the churchyard.

From Papworth Road at TL 253643, by the pumping station, Footpath 5 is signed running SW, across an arable field.  At the far side, it continues as a passage between garden fences, leading to Fieldings Place near the churchyard, TL 250641.

From High Street at TL 253640, a sign points ENE through a gap in band of trees indicating Footpath 6 following a line of power poles across arable to a field-corner at TL 255641.  Here it joins a 1m wide grassy baulk following a line of power-poles.  At TL 257642, the RoW crosses the ditch on a bridge, to continue on the grass path with ditch to left.  At TL 258642, it leaves the ditch to run E undefined across an arable field to TL 259642, where it bridges a stream in a deep, tree-hung ravine. The path continues E uphill on strip between crops to cross a concrete bridge to join Papworth St Agnes Fp 4 in pasture at TL 267643.

Footpath 7 continues the very short Papworth St Agnes Fp 5, which leaves the village road by a sign “Public Footpath” at TL 268641.  Papworth St Agnes Fp 5 runs WSW for 30m between trees, over a culvert bridge into an arable field.  Here a waymark post shows Graveley Fp 7 running SSW across 5 arable fields, generally reinstated, and with some waymarking at field boundaries. The path continues SW to reach a field boundary with trees at the brow of a hill, TL 263633, to join Yelling Fps 5 & 6, by a waymark post.

From High Street at a grass triangle by a sign, “Home Farm”, TL 252640, and a  metal sign opposite, “Public Bridleway Yelling ¾”, Bridleway 8 starts S down a sunken lane, briefly turns E, then continues S to join Yelling Bp 4 at the parish boundary, TL 254635. This generally good path can flood in very wet weather.

From Bp 8 at TL 253637, Footpath 9 climbs the bank out of the sunken lane. It runs N undefined across an arable field curving NW to rejoin Bp 8, through the yard of Home Farm, at TL 252639.

From High Street at TL 249639, a lane runs SW, signed to “Graveley Garage”.  After 25m a sign “Public Footpath” for Footpath 10, points right (W) along a track with high fence to left and a rough area to right. The path crosses a stile into an arable field, and continues to a kissing gate into a fenced passage. The remainder of the path should cross fenced paddocks and gardens to emerge over a ditch into Toseland Road. However, I advise against  currently attempting to use this route as it is obstructed, and the landowner denies the presence of the RoW. The matter is presently with staff at Cambridgeshire County Council.  However, continue down the passage on Footpath 11, which exits without problems onto Toseland Road, at TL 246639.

In addition, Ramblers Association, Cambridge Group are in process of claiming a “lost way”, that ran from Fp11 to the Toseland Road, based on evidence from the Inclosure Award of 1805.

Graveley – Walks Suggestions
For a linear walk, take a bus from Cambridge or Huntingdon to Papworth Everard. From the church, take fp 1 going  SW to the new bypass, which cross. Turn E down the road to Yelling.  Turn off right (N) on the path past Ridgeway Plantation, and follow this path through a wood and across a meadow to emerge from a house-drive in Papworth St Agnes. Detour to admire the church & old bakehouse, or take the path opposite, across a meadow, to join Graveley Fp6, which follow into the village. Rest on seats near the village sign, or use the attractive bus shelter.  Visit the church and from Church Lane, take Fp 2running N & NW to join Roman Way. Walk N into Godmanchester, whence frequent buses return to Cambridge.    8 miles

For a pleasant circular walk from Graveley, start from the church, where there is a little parking (not Sundays!).  Walk E along the village Street towards Manor Farm.  Take Fp 6 to Papworth St Agnes. Go SW to Yelling, using Fp7. The church in Yelling is worth a visit, and there is a seat in front of the village sign. Return N from the village sign on Yelling Bp 4, which joins Graveley Bp 8  at the parish boundary. (4 miles)  A circular detour may be made S of Yelling on a reasonably well-waymarked network, adding perhaps 2 miles. The more ambitious, seeking to visit Croxton and Weald, and adding 5 miles, should beware, as this further diversion requires two crossings of the A428 at grade.

Cantab Rambler by E-Mail & Post
Cantab usually appears every two months. A large number of you now receive Cantab by e-mail. By hand, 20p is appreciated towards the cost of paper and ink. If you would like to receive an issue by post, please send a large SAE, and 20p 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 20 pence where sold

Cantab 42 © Janet Moreton, 2007.

CANTAB41 April 2007

CANTAB41 April 2007 published on

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


Parts of this issue of Cantab Rambler are going to look rather negative, as I am passing on various reports of paths presently closed, or unavailable.  But it is surely better to find this out here, than to be half-way along a river bank, and find a path blocked or a bridge missing.

So good luck with the Spring walking, and do pass on reports of paths blocked, or temporarily closed.

Janet Moreton

Paths currently unavailable

Braham Dock
We are disturbed to note that the crossing of Braham Dock on the Fen Rivers Way at TL 540 774 on the west side of the River Great Ouse is still closed.  Construction  of a new bridge has now been rescheduled to start at the end of March, and diversion notices are posted.  Cambridge Group recently walked the stretch to Ely on the east side of the river, where there were no problems.

Five Fools Meadow, Shepreth
Permissive access is still allowed on Cambs.C.C. land at Shepreth, with a small car park at TL 384 492 but the continuing permissive path on private land through to Malton Road, Meldreth is now closed.  This is thought to be due to concern over falling trees and insurance implications.

Wendens Ambo’s pylon Repairs
Through the Winter, we have received complaints from time to time regarding unexpected closures of paths without warning in the Linton locality.  There is a major refurbishment programme underway on the whole cross-country line going north from Brent Pelham.  The whole programme is scheduled to take 2 years, but is now at least half-way through.

The latest reports have been from Wendens Ambo, near Audley End house, Essex. The popular Fp3, which leaves the B1383 at TL 519 369 to lead across the railway and towards Littlebury Green has a “Path Closed” notice. It is closed for 6 months “or earlier” from 12 March.

Sustaining the inner man!
On a happier note, here are recommendations for those who like their walking punctuated by a little liquid refreshment…

The King’s Head, Hadstock, Essex
David Elsom writes, “Happy to report that the Kings Head at Hadstock has reopened after six months and serving excellent home-made soup, granary bread, sandwiches etc. Log fires as ever. Another young couple making a brave attempt to revive the pub: gradually getting evening food going too”.

Abington Pottery & Craft Shop
High Street, Lt Abington, S.Cambs.
One of my own favourites is the tea-shop associated with this business, where handmade stoneware pottery is produced on the premises. The house is a medieval open hall house, restored in 1964. Browse amongst the pottery & craft exhibits after enjoying tea, coffee & home-made cakes.

Poppies Bistro, Soham, E.Cambs
We newly discovered this charming café, opposite St Andrew’s church, after a Cambridge RA Group walk on the Soham Millennium waymarked walks. Whilst serving excellent traditional British tea and cakes and morning coffee, lunches and evening meals with a Portuguese slant are also available.

By David Elsom

After about ten years work, this path was opened by Thames Water in 2003. It follows the New River, built in 1613 by a group of  “adventurers” led by Sir Hugh Myddleton, to carry fresh water for about 30 miles from the springs and rivers in the Hertford/Ware area into the City of London. Even today 10% of London’s water supply is delivered by this route.

The Path starts from Hertford, and is essentially rural until reaching Enfield, but even then often forms a green finger through the North London suburbs. On reaching Canonbury and Islington the line of the New River is preserved through a series of narrow public parks, until reaching New River Head, off Myddleton  Square and close to Saddlers Wells.

Some Cambridge RA Group Saturday walkers recently completed the walk in three stages, using the two distinct railway lines serving Hertford:

1. Hertford East railway station to Cheshunt railway station, which is about 12/13 miles, lunching at Broxbourne, in the park set up by the Lea Valley Regional Park Authority

2. Cheshunt railway station to Bowes Park railway station [near Alexandra Palace]. For this stage we parked at Hertford North railway station, walked to Hertford East to catch a train to Cheshunt, and then caught the train back to Hertford North. Lunch was enjoyed at Forty Hall, a magnificent house at the centre of a London Borough of Enfield country park. Plenty of pubs in Enfield Town, as we discovered. Old Enfield was a revelation to us all. Another 12/13 miles

3. Bowes Park railway station into the City of London, returning from Kings Cross to Hertford North, where we had parked to travel down to Bowes Park. Lunch was taken in Clissold Park, where there are good facilities and pleasant gardens. Only 8/9 miles

It is not very complicated to do this walk, and by doing it on a Saturday or Sunday, parking at the Hertford stations is plentiful and cheap [£1 all day].

Thames Water produce a good booklet “The New River Path” ***, which is essential [though the street map of Cheshunt area is wrong – ring David 01223 842074 for illumination]; OS Explorer 174 Epping Forest and Lee Valley covers all but the last two miles of the walk; and in general the signage is good.

*** ring Thames Water 0845 9200 800 to obtain your copy of the free booklet

For a surprising and different walk, do give it a go!

Parish of the Month – Conington,
South Cambridgeshire
Don’t confuse this little parish in South Cambridgeshire, with the other parish of the same name in Huntingdonshire!  This parish traditionally looked north to Fen Drayton for its shared vicar, and the good folk of Fen Drayton ambled south down a footpath of an evening, crossed the main road (Via Devana or Wool Street, later the A604, and now the A14) to reach Conington’s White Swan pub. Regular foot-traffic across this road has long since ceased – we last crossed nervously on a Sunday morning some 10 years ago or more – and Conington now looks to neighbouring Fenstanton for its shops, buses, and connections with the outside world.

There were never many folk living in Conington.* The population was recorded as 24 in the Domesday survey; 182 in the census of 1801; and 150 in 1996. Its only public building, the church  (usually kept locked) is partly rebuilt, with huge brick buttresses, but still boasts a C14th spire, which contains 3 medieval bells. The parish is low-lying  (ca 15m, rising to some 30m towards the Boxworth parish boundary).

Some archaeological excavations were made in the 1990s before a pit was filled with waste adjacent to the A14. After the Romans, who left evidence of coins, and a Roman Milestone on the main road, came the Saxons, a C10th lord being named Aefhelm Polga.  The Saxon village may have been to the south of the church.

There are said to be “irregular low banks still just visible in a ploughed field bounded by 3 hollow ways and the present School Lane”.  Perhaps one needs to visit of a Summer evening, in a low sun?  With the centuries, the village (never large) moved north & east along Town Street. The hall was built in the C17th. Later the village extended along Town Street. An extension of the Park in the C19th led to the demolition of old closes in the Hall grounds, leaving visible earthworks. The houses were originally replaced by “model cottages” on the other side of the road, but these, in turn, were replaced in the 1970s.

In the late C18th, the Hall, owned by the Cotton family, was let with stables, fish- ponds, gardens, etc, a very des.res. In 1818, trespassers were warned publicly that “Man-traps, Spring Ginns and Dog Traps are actually set in the rookeries and all the plantations about the premises at Conington”.

Nowadays you will find a friendly welcome at The Swan Inn, and no traps on the 4 local paths.

Fp 1 leaves the Fenstanton Road, signed at TL 322669, to run N over an arable field to a stile. The path crosses a small grass field to a second stile, and then joins the continuing Fenstanton Fp14. (This path reaches the flyover for the A14, and is the best route on foot into Fenstanton).

Along a minor road leading from the cross-roads by the White Swan, is an optimistic sign, “Public Footpath Fen Drayton 1¼”.  This indicates Fp2 going NE on a 1m wide rough grass headland beside a ditch in an arable field. The path runs to a signpost and bridge over the roadside ditch beside the A14, where the path is effectively dead-ended.  There are signs of folk having used this path – presumably a “there and back” for local dogwalkers.  There is presently a campaign within the village to obtain a crossing here, when the A14 is widened. If you can help, contact Cllr N Wright, (S.Cambs.District Councillor).

Fp 3, however, gives an excellent through route from School Lane, at TL 321661, where it starts from a signpost, along a hedged lane.  Soon the path emerges, to run along an attractive grassy track by a stream between fields.  It crosses a couple of bridges over side-ditches, and continues as Elsworth Fp9, skirting below a reservoir, and passing through pasture before entering Elsworth.

A  sign, “Public Bridleway Boxworth 2” on Elsworth Road at TL 325662, indicates Bp 4 entering pastures. The route runs ESE crossing a stream on a timber bridge at the end of the first field. After a second grass field, a metal farm-gate & a wide culvert over a side-ditch at TL 330658, lead out of the pasture and onto a  grass field-edge path. This path continues, with turns, to cross the  parish boundary at TL 336654, continuing as Boxworth Bp 1.

As well as the above rights of way, there is an important permissive path, going to Hilton along a farm track. It is signed “Footpath” on the Fenstanton Road at TL 316673.

Walks around Conington
Although it is possible to park a few cars considerately around the village, ramblers may prefer to park in adjacent villages, and walk to Conington, to use the pub, or sit on the patch of grass by the pond adjacent to the church for a picnic.  The following circuits are “tried and tested” routes.

(A) Elsworth (park beside the rec in Broad End) ; fp to Conington; detour to visit church; along High Street to the White Swan, left at junction along the road to Fenstanton. Turn off by the wooden sign on the left at TL 316673 to take the track to Hilton. Detour to visit Hilton’s huge village green, the maze, the church. Take the bridleway to Pitt Dene farm and Elsworth.  (approx. 7 miles)

(B) Elsworth; fp from behind church to Knapwell (detour to visit church and nature reserve); fp to Boxworth; bp to Conington; fp to Elsworth. (approx 7 miles)
Note it is equally convenient to start from Knapwell, where there is parking in the lane to the church. From Conington, include the Hilton extension to make 11 miles.

(C) For a linear route taking in Conington, try the following bus-based excursion.
Take a Whippet 1a or Hunts & District bus from Drummer Street, Cambridge to Fenstanton Clock Tower. Walk back through Fenstanton, and over the flyover, and take the signed path (through 3 fields, last one presently in oilseed, reinstatement promised) to Conington Road, and go to the cross roads by the White Swan. Take bp 4 to Boxworth, and continue to Lolworth, from whence a hard footpath crosses the fields to Bar Hill.  Turn left along the bridleway in the trees, and catch the bus from in front of Tesco Stores back to Cambridge.  (approx. 7 miles)

(D) Alternatively, take the same bus to Fenstanton Clock Tower, and walk to Conington. Continue to Elsworth and Knapwell, as in Walk (B). From Knapwell, take the footpath to Cold Harbour Farm, and the bridge over the A428 approaching Cambourne. Walk into Cambourne, making for Morrison’s. Citi4 buses leave from opposite the supermarket every 20 minutes for Cambridge.  (7 miles)

All of the above routes can be extended to give walks of up to 14 miles by including the villages of Lolworth, Childerley and Dry Drayton. Paths are generally in good order, but heavy in Winter on the boulder clay. By April, however, one would expect them to be drying out nicely.
*Historical notes are based partly on”Archaeology of Cambridgeshire”, Vol. 1 by Alison Taylor, Publ. Cambs.C.C. 1997

Quotation of the Month
from John Clare-the Helpston Poet, 1793-1864
“Swamps of wild rushbeds and sloughs squashy traces,
Grounds of rough fallows with thistles and weeds,
Flats of low valleys of kingcups and daisies,
Sweetest of subjects are ye for my reed;”…

(This is part of a poem published in “Rambles with John Clare”, by Daniel Crowson, Publ. by C.E.Cutforth, Helpston, 1978, and now, sadly, believed to be out of print).

Cantab Rambler by E-Mail & Post
Cantab usually appears every two months. A large number of you now receive Cantab by e-mail. By hand, 20p is appreciated towards the cost of paper and ink. If you would like to receive an issue by post, please send a large SAE, and a 20p 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 20 pence where sold

Cantab 41  © Janet Moreton, 2007

CANTAB40 February 2007

CANTAB40 February 2007 published on

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


It has been suggested that there should be some sort of fanfare for this, the fortieth issue of Cantab Rambler. I can only say that it is generally well-received, and that the number of people receiving copies by e-mail continues to increase.

The first issue appeared in November 1999, and led with changes to the path network, including developments at Cambourne.  It went on to review the Bedfordshire “Kingfisher Way”, and the Cambridgeshire Pathfinder Long Distance Walk. RA Cambridge Group’s Millennium Project of resurveying all the District’s paths was discussed.  Parish of the Month was Haddenham.  The next Cantabs were in July, September and December 2000, but by 2001, issues were appearing more frequently.

I now generally manage 6 issues per annum, though not necessarily at precisely two month intervals. The  most popular single articles seem to be “Parish of the Month”, although clearly Cantab is a useful forum for notices of path changes and discussion of local issues.

This issue has a “Letter to the Editor” which is fairly unusual.  Do write with news, opinions, and items of rambling importance.  I may have to shorten any lengthy offerings, as four sides of A4 is the ration! Thank you for your continued support.

Janet Moreton

Quotation for the New Year
Reconnect with the natural world. Go for a walk. Get wet.  Dig the earth”
…..Archbishop Rowan Williams

Fifteen Years of Buns!
Cambridge RA Group has a tradition of a yearly “Bun Walk”, held around the New Year period, and which adds a little jollity to what may otherwise be a damp and muddy time of year for walking in the countryside.

The first record I have  is of a “Mince Pie Walk” on 29 Dec.1990, when 8 people braved snow showers, to eat mince pies in the inadequate cover of a copse near Cockayne Hatley. Three years later, when we were still calling it a “Mince Pie” walk, the venue was Barrington, in pouring rain.  The occasion was scheduled as a figure-of-eight, but in the circumstances, the 8 people who turned out opted to do the morning 6 miles only! The leader returned home with a crumbling bundle of residual fragments of mince pie, which were eaten as “pudding” with cream or custard for the next two or three days. Thereafter, the occasion turned into a “Bun Walk”.

On 21 Jan 1995, we record wind and heavy rain for a 7 mile walk at Wicken, with a turnout of 10 people.  On 30 Dec 1995, a figure-of-eight walk at Over was nearly snowed off, the roads being treacherous.  However, the 10 people who braved the weather, voted it a memorable occasion. Some 25 turned out to Swavesey on 28 Dec 1996, for a fine, frosty walk, with the trees decorated in hoar frost.  Fifteen people joined the walk in drizzle at Bassingbourn on 27 Dec 1997 which was combined with Royston RA Group.

From here on numbers joining this (and many other walks of the Group) started to increase.  There were 20 folk on a cold dry day at Rampton on 8 Jan 1999, for a 10 mile walk.  On 8 Jan 2000, 18 set off from Coton, for a walk which included the Cambridge Backs, on what my diary describes as ” a lovely day”, and a grand start to the new Millennium.

The rich fruit cake ran out, and had to be supplemented by chocolate biscuits on 6 Jan 2001, when 59 people signed on for the cold start of the Fen Rivers Way first section from Byron’s Pool to Waterbeach.  We celebrated a 60th birthday on 12 Jan 2002, on “Roger’s Cake Walk”, when 36 people (including two RA members from the South of France) enjoyed a 9 mile walk from Eversden.

By the 18 Jan 2003, Cambridge Group, joined by several other walkers from East Anglia, were part-way through a sectional exploration of the West Anglian Way.  We accomplished the 10 mile length of towpath between Bishops Stortford and Sawbridgeworth in fine weather, and this time did not run out of cake!

Again there was mild weather on 10 Jan 2004 at Linton when 28 people fortified themselves with cake for a 10 mile walk. The turn-out was 17 people on 8 Jan 2005, for an 11 mile walk at Barrington and Shepreth, when the weather remained dry, but the wind was strong enough to almost blow the cake out of our hands. Then last year, on 7 Jan, there were flurries of snow at Newport, when 18 people walked a 10 mile figure of eight loop.

And this year?  Some of you readers will recall this only too well.  There were 22 of us, who on Sat 6 Jan started a 9 mile walk at Burwell and Reach. It rained hard all day, and very understandably, some opted to miss the afternoon. Question – how many wet people and their rucksacs can picnic in the bus shelter at Reach?  (answers on a postcard please).

Seen in “Blacks” – Buy one, get one free!

Letter to the Editor – using buses
From John Andrews, Suffolk., who writes in response to Cantab 39
“I was particularly interested in the piece about buses, as I often try to use them when out and about alone.  They can present problems and I have decided that it’s a bit risky relying on a bus to get you back to where you started from; safer to use the bus on the outward journey, then, if it doesn’t materialise, at least you aren’t stranded!

On one occasion a bus I was depending on to get me back from Fordham to Red Lodge – from where I had walked – simply failed to appear and I had to call a taxi.  At least, I managed to get the bus company to refund the taxi fare.

However, the most memorable experience to date was getting on a bus at Stanton (between Bury St Edmunds and Diss) and asking for a ticket to a village on the route – only to be asked by the driver to tell him where it was, because he had never been that way before!  We did eventually make it – after a few wrong turns, but when I studied the timetable later, I realised that we had completely bypassed two villages where he ought to have called – I wonder how many would-be passengers were/are left in the lurch by this kind of farce?

Further linear walks –
For those of you not discouraged by John’s experiences, (or indeed, by my tales last issue of a missing bus to Saffron Walden), here, by request, is a further walk, “on the buses”.
Impington to Milton Country park
Explorers 225, 226 10 miles
Out  – Citi7, Emmanuel Rd, 09.30;  Back – Citi2, Milton opposite Tesco;  (Cambridge Citi 2, 7 both every 10 minutes)

Alight Impington Village College. Turn right into Butt Lane, and pass the superb parish church on left. Continue along Milton Road to the crossing of Mere Way (the Roman Akeman Street). Note the access land field on the right along the road, which allows one to walk on the adjacent grass.

Turn left (NNE) along the byway, until an access sign at TL 465638. Here, either continue along the byway to Landbeach, or, better, turn left along a signed grassy field-edge, then follow waymarks through attractive young woodland. (Note at one point, the path does an unexpected loop half-back on itself!).  Emerge from the woodland TL 460 649, and follow the track N to TL 461 657, where it joins another track at a T-junction.  Cross the ditch on an earth bridge, and turn right, passing in front of the hedge in front of Rectory Farm (buildings). Turn left (NNE) and right (WSW) at a field boundary. Pass out to the road (S) down an narrow file between trees to the corner of Akeman Street (TL 472 652).  Walk E towards Landbeach Rec., detouring to visit the historic site of the Manor of Brays (display board).  From opposite the village sign, walk the footway of Waterbeach Road. Cross the A10 with care, and continue down the cycleway opposite on a dead-end road. Either visit Waterbeach’s village green (shops, pubs, seats), or take a short-cut opposite across the extensive rec, emerging on a lane between bungalows.

Turn right, passing the parish church, and use the railway level crossing,  Just beyond, turn into the station carpark on the right, and exit diagonally into Cow Hollow Wood. Walk right, and left over a bridge, and follow the path up to Clayhythe Bridge.  Joint the River Cam Towpath on the left.  Walk to Baits Bite Lock.  After resting here on the seats, turn back to Fen Road, which follow over the level crossing.

Find the entrance to Milton Country Park on the left, and follow the paths through to the visitor centre, toilets and exit.  Walk up towards Tesco Supermarket, where find the bus shelter for Citi2 near the roundabout.

“Walks in and Around Shudy Camps”
A new guide by Roger Lemon
This excellent walks book, illustrated with attractive photos of the parish, is produced by the Roger Lemon, the Chairman of the Parish Council, and active representative of the County Council’s Parish Paths Partnership Scheme.  Roger, with the backing of modest funds from Cambs.C.C., has been responsible for transforming the local network of paths in the last few years.

Here we have a set of six well-described local walks of between 1.5 and 4.6 miles, each with a clear route map.  More ambitious walkers can easily combine walks to give a longer circuit. We can vouch for the good state of these paths, but be aware that there are a few cross-field sections.

To obtain your copy, send £2.50 to
Roger Lemon, Brecklands, Main Street, Shudy Camps, Cambridge, CB1 6RA.

And thank you and your team, Roger, for all your hard work!

Parish of the Month – Shudy Camps
Reading the new walks guide, led me to study Shudy Camps in “Archaeology of Cambridgeshire” (Vol.II) by Alison Taylor.
(Publ. Cambs.C.C., 1998)

The location, bordering both Suffolk and Essex, is mostly above 100m, with fields of chalky boulder-clay overlying chalk. The parish was once heavily wooded (as recorded in 1086) but during the C18th there was extensive felling.

A major C7th Anglo-Saxon cemetery was excavated near the Bartlow border in 1933. There were at least 145 burials. Although by then the population would have been Christian, old pagan traditions seem to have lingered, as over half the bodies were accompanied by grave-goods, incl. spears, jewelry, small wooden boxes, spindle whorls and iron shears.

In medieval times, settlement was scattered across the parish, mostly around seven moated sites, such as at Lordship Farm, Barsey Farm, Hanchetts, Shardelowes, Nosterfield Manor, and at Mill Green. All these are still represented by a farm or houses.  By the C16th, there was a hamlet called Rowhedge near the church, and a larger hamlet, Newton, along the village street. The original layout of the latter, before modern development, suggests that it grew up along the verge of an old drove-road.  One of these old houses Bramleys, is a C13th aisled hall.

During the C18th, Sir Marmaduke Dayrell acquired Hanchetts Manor, built a mansion in Shudy Camps Park, felled woodland, and bought up much local land & property (reportedly generating considerable local ill-feeling).  Only the Bridge family at Nosterfield End withstood the engulfment.

Back in 1086, there were at least 22 villagers; this had risen to 85 families by 1279, a population later reduced by the Black Death. By the census of 1801 there were 349 residents; 418 in 1831; then a decline.  In 1996, the population was 300.

The paths  ( see Explorer 210)
There are 20 numbered paths in the parish, all generally in impeccable order. This was not always so.  In a survey of 1982 by Cambridge RA, only 6 of the paths were deemed usable. The only problems to be encountered now are on cross-field sections,  which, are bound to be sticky on the chalky boulderclay in wet conditions, and on which there may sometimes be a delay between cultivation and path reinstatement.

Bp1 is part of the long bridlepath between Cardinals Green, Horseheath, and the Bartlow Road. Fps 2, 3 form an attractive closed loop visiting the edge of the residual Northey Wood from Main St.  Fps 4 & 6 provide a route N from Main St to the road  by Cardinals Farm, and Fp5 from Main St to the same minor road between Shardelows & Mill Green. Fp7 cuts off a road corner across an arable field, when approaching Main St from the water tower. Fp8 gives fine views of the house, when crossing the edge of Shudy Camps Park.  Fp9 from Mill Green, and Fp10 from Priory Farm, meet at a strip of woodland, TL 633 453.  From this junction Bp11  goes N to join Horseheath 19 en route to the A1307, and also goes E to Barsey Farm and on to Nosterfield End.  Fp13 gives an alternative route to the road, by Rumbold’s Chase Farm.  Bp12 is a spur from Bp11 towards Hanchetts Hall.  Fp15 leaves Church Road opposite Glebe House, crosses pastures and continues S as Castle Camps 6.  Fp17 is a path (diverted 1992) leaving Blacksmith’s Lane between new residences and emerging from between gardens, to cross a arable field to Castle Camps Byway 7Fp18 is a second path further W going S across the arable to join this sunken byway.

Fps 16 & 19 start from Goodwoods. Fp16 goes SE towards the border with Haverhill, continuing as Fp20 S along the boundary. Fp19 runs SW towards Castle Camps village.

(I did not forget fp 14 – it was legally extinguished in 1995).

The Walks
Roger Lemon’s book makes this section very easy. Buy the book, and follow the walks!

In the previous issue of Cantab, a walk of 10 miles using public transport was suggested from Haverhill to Linton, which passes through Shudy Camps.

For walks starting in the village, the book recommends no parking sites. I would tentatively suggest roadside parking near the church, but not on Sunday mornings. So starting near St Mary’s Church try Walk 2 (Camps End, Millennium Wood, and Castle Camps Village), extending perhaps further on the complex network of Castle Camps paths.

Or why not start at the village sign on Main Street, and combine Walk 1 (Northey Wood), as a figure-of-eight with Walk 3, from the village sign to Cardinals Green, “The Willows” and Mill Green.

Walk 5 (Barsey Farm and Nosterfield End), and Walk 6 (combining a visit to the churches in both Shudy & Castle Camps) are both delightful walks in themselves, but should one wish to venture further, again it is suggested to extend in the Castle Camps direction, where there are many more paths to explore, without the need for much road walking.

A final point – Castle Camps has a recreation ground with a publicly available parking area.  If visiting both villages, it might be better to park here.

New Approach at Lackford Lakes
Explorer 229, Thetford Forest & The Brecks
Many readers will know Suffolk Naturalists’ Trust reserve beyond Lackford village on the A1101, approached by a track turning off the road at TL 801 702.  However, anyone who has ever attempted to walk here from Lackford along this narrow, busy section of road will know it is fraught with hazard, and thus it has always been difficult to incorporate visiting  the reserve into a larger circular walk, taking in West Stow and the Kings Forest.

There is now a new footpath from beside Lackford Church, giving a fenced, grassy way across fields into the reserve, near the visitor centre and toilets. Within the reserve, there are at least 6 bird hides, and many well-placed seats, giving views across landscaped quarry lakes, and some 2 miles of attractive footpath.

In Winter, plenty of wildfowl attract visitors. Wild flowers are excellent here, too, with an orchid meadow, many species of Breck plants, and I have seen the uncommon Dittander.

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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


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Cantab 40  © Janet Moreton, 2007