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CANTAB59 November 2010

CANTAB59 November 2010 published on

** Please note that this is an archive of the CANTAB publication and contains out-of-date information **


Have you ever booked a holiday, well in advance, with a walking company, only to learn, a few days before you were due to make the final payment, that the trip had been cancelled?  Doubtless the company offered alternative venues, but no “second choice” ever seems so desirable. Looking through the brochures, it is my view that too many departure dates (sometimes 8 or 10, but frequently more than 4) are offered for each location.  It is almost as though the company does not expect to fill all these dates, and expects to shuffle customers around. But by that time, the hapless traveller has booked dental appointments and house painting around the calendar.

One solution is to arrange one’s own walking holidays, which we do invariably  in the UK. Only once in 40 years has a hotel or guest house let us down (and that due to illness, when an alternative was promptly arranged).  We have also been to France, Austria, Germany, etc under our own steam, but only because one of us has school French and a moderate amount of German, and it is known that excellent walking Germanic maps are obtainable. Elsewhere, I would be more cautious.

Spanish walking maps (particularly the military series) seem unreliable, and one would hesitate to wander in the hills without a word of the language. Away from the “Grands Randonnées” the French countryside’s signposting and waymarking seems distinctly ideosyncratic in places.

Have others been more venturesome, setting out into the wilds without a word of the language, and with maps which hardly measure up to our immaculate Ordnance Survey?

Janet Moreton

Therfield Heath in Royston
If you have visited Royston recently, you will have observed that the tennis courts on The Heath are being considerably enlarged. It seems the Conservators of Therfield Heath, on behalf of Royston Tennis Club, sought consent for the changes under The Commons Act 2006, section 38.

The Open Spaces Society objected because the proposals included floodlighting, and would “suburbanise the area and destroy the peace and tranquility of the common”, and conflicted with the spirit and letter of the award of 1912 by which the common is regulated.  This award allowed for the playing of games, but presumably less formal than the enclosures needed for tennis.  There is a right for public access over the whole of The Heath, under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000.

The inspector agreed that the works interfered with public access, but noted that the new courts replaced some that had been there 40 years.  She considered “there will be some effect on the public interest in relation to visual intrusion” but concluded that consent should be given.

(Reported in “Open Space”,
Autumn 2010, Vol.29, No.9 pp13-14)

Essex RA Area Secretary speaks on The Olympics in Greater London
Len Banister, the Ramblers Essex Area Hon. Sec., author of guides on walking routes, and member of The Ramblers Greater London Forum, gave a BBC interview last month, in a contribution to BBC London’s “2012 Lives” project.  Len was one of a number of people relating how their lives are being affected by the Olympic developments.

Len lives in Waltham Forest, and walks regularly around areas being redeveloped for the 2012 games.  At first he was very concerned when paths around the site began to be shut, but he does appreciate that safety is important while works are carried out.   The Olympic park will add some 15km of walking routes, including paths beside 5km of restored rivers that have been hidden for many years. Some 250 benches and 3300 seats will ensure that users will never be more than 50m from a seat in the park.  Len hoped that the result will not look too “clinical”. “We could lose some of the character of the footpaths we’ve had in the past, so I would ask planners to be very careful not to over-sanitize our walking areas in the future”.

Pub News

The Old Ferry Boat Inn, Holywell
Some readers may have seen the report in the Cambridge Evening News of 14 Oct. that Greene King, owners of The Old Ferry Boat Inn, Holywell were ordered to pay £10 000 in fines & costs by Huntingdon magistrates.  A council inspector had found dirty conditions in the kitchens and rubbish in the yard, after a customer complaint. Since the conviction, the manager had been disciplined, and £30 000 was spent on improving the kitchen.

The Red Cow, Chrishall
This Essex pub, on the route of The Icknield Way Path, is serving coffee & Danish pastries every Friday morning from 9 am – just the job for a morning break!

Parish of the Month – Arrington
OS Explorer Sheets 208, 209

Historical Notes
Arrington parish covers 550 ha, its clay soils at 25m above sea level in the south, rising to a chalk escarpment at 80m in the north, bounded by the R Rhee to the south and Ermine St (“The Old North Road”, A1198) to the east.

The land has been occupied for a long time. Some prehistoric worked flints were found near the church. In the north of the parish, a Roman burial was unearthed when a trench was dug for a water-pipe near Ermine Street. A baby with hydrocephalus was exhumed, wrapped in the remains of a pink & blue woollen shawl in a lead-lined coffin, containing replica toys and animals. One’s sympathies for the mother go back nearly 2000y.  Just south in Wimpole there was a Roman posting station for travellers, and it is thought that this elaborate burial was non-indigenous.

The village grew along the spring line by the church at the base of the escarpment, with hollow-ways and irregular earthworks indicating the original site. In Domesday the parish  is called Aerningtun, meaning  “the farm of Earninga’s people” (c.f. Ermine Street).  The village shifted later closer Ermine Street, when the Roman Rd once again became important after 1200.  The parish church dates from the C13 – 14th.

The parish was enclosed in the C13th and again ca. 1680 when the Crichleys enclosed the village into the Wimpole Estate in which it remained until the latter was broken up between 1891 and 1934.

Arrington bridge is the crossing place of Ermine Street and the R Rhee, well south of the village at TL 334 485. While the modern bridge was under construction, a gravel ford was revealed, in which were found Roman pottery, a knife, a spear, ox-goad and Roman horse-shoes.  The ford was the moot or meeting place of the Armingford Hundred in Saxon & Medieval times, although the first mention of a bridge is ca. 1285.  In 1663, the road from Ware to Huntingdon was the first in Britain to be made a turnpike and a new bridge was built at Arrington.  The C18th milestones record distances to London, Royston & Caxton.

The Domesday population was only 17, but there were 41 households by 1279.  There were only 20 families in the late c17th, and only 190 in the census of 1801. By 1996 the parish housed 370 people.

This has always been an agricultural parish, with passing trade along Ermine Street.  In the C18th, the Hardwicke Arms had a reputation as one of the best inns on Ermine Street!  Go and test its reputation after a good walk!

The path network
There are only 7 public paths. Footpaths 1, 4 and 6 all cross the same pasture field between Ermine Street & Church Lane, a continuation of Fp4 carrying the Clopton Way Path to join Croydon Fp7.  Fp3 is part of the Wimpole drive and, like Fp 2, carries part of the Harcamlow Way.  Fp2 leaves Ermine Street to the E just S of Wimpole Park. Bp5 leaves Ermine Street to the W to join up with a good network of paths in Croydon and Hatley.  And the unfortunate Footpath 7 is a dead-end, which your map will show ends two fields short of Croydon 23.

In more detail…
The paths in the pasture field

Fp1 leaves the Old North Road, A1198 between Wrags Farm and house no 57 (TL 327506), following a short track to a kissing gate, then SSW on a worn track in rough pasture to Church End, where it emerges along a fenced concrete footway between houses 12 & 14 (TL 326505), opposite the start of Fp4..

Fp4 signed “Clopton Way” leaves the closed end of Church End, at TL 326505 up 4 steps to a kissing-gate that leads W across open pasture to a kissing-gate in the hedge at TL 324505.  Beyond, the well-used path continues as a field-edge  with a tall hedge to right, passing the signed turn-off of Fp7 on the right at TL 322504. Behind the hedge are the buildings of a farm complex curiously like a fortress!  The path continues on a good track beside a ditch, ignoring turnings to the farm entrance, and a track at TL 316501 marked “private – no right of way”. The path crosses a wooden bridge to continue along the Clopton Way as Croydon fp 7.

Fp6 leaves Fp4 at TL 324505 to run NNE  down the pasture field to a stream, then through a metal kissing gate at TL 325506, and over a wet hollow on duck-boarding The route continues ENE as a narrow worn track through rough pasture, with hedge, fence & ditch to left, to join Fp 1 at TL 327506, by a wooden kissing-gate, near the rear of houses on the A1198.

Part of The Harcamlow Way
This LDP comes along the Wimpole Drive from the Hall as Wimpole Fp 5, along the tarmac driveway, becoming Arrington Fp 3, and emerging through the narrowest of the ornate gates onto Ermine Street.

Here, Harcamlow Way walkers turn left along the footway, passing the Hardwicke Arms (or not!), and where the hedge ends, joining Fp 2.
Fp2 goes through a signed gap in the roadside hedge at TL 329500, It goes ESE across an arable field. At TL 330499, the path reaches a hedge by a waymark post, passes through a gap and over a ditch on a culvert bridge to turn right and continue as Wimpole Fp 6

The only bridleway
Bp5 leaves the A1198 at TL 322522, signed “Public Bridleway Hatley 2½”.The path goes  W on 2m wide grass track with woodland edge to right .  When the wood ends the track continues with a ditch to left, eventually rounding a field corner to TL 309517, to a wooden bridge and the continuing Croydon Bp3. However, the true line of the RoW cuts the corner, sometimes indicated by waymarks and cross-field reinstatement.

The unfortunate dead-end
Fp7 leaves Fp 4 at TL 322504, a wooden sign,”Public Footpath Dead End ¾”.  This well-waymarked interesting path starts through a damp copse on duck boarding.  It emerges into a mown grass paddock, passes a new pond on left and continues NW along the field margin, with tall hedge to right then along a field edge up a hilly field for 700m, with open arable to left, & ditch & hedge to right.  In the top corner, TL 317510, a waymark post signals a left turn, to follow the field-edge SW for 205m, with a belt of trees to right.  The field-edge ahead at TL 315508 is signed “Private keep out” and a waymark post indicates that the path now turns right over a hidden culvert  to run for 25m through the strip of woodland, then over a ditch by a waymarked, timber plank bridge  The RoW then proceeds NW along a field edge with hedge to right, for 35m to another waymark on the first of a line of trees.  After 65m the line of trees ends and the path runs along the division between two fields, as a grass baulk.  After 205m, a 1.5m high notice signals “End of footpath – no public right of way“.  Ahead is a ploughed field, and two unbridged ditches interrupt  the obvious continuation towards the dead-end Croydon Fp 23;  to right a good grass track runs NE towards the buildings of Low Barn Farm & Mill Lane.

Efforts continue to seek a solution to this longstanding problem

Some Possible Walks from Arrington
Firstly, it is not easy to park in Arrington itself, and the carpark at Wimpole is suggested. Any walks therefore start off down the Wimpole driveway, emerging through the gates onto Ermine Street.

(a) A short circuit through the pastures.
From Wimpole gates, cross the road, and go up the minor road opposite. Just behind the ‘bus shelter, is a charming public garden, with a few seats.Continue along the road to visit the church, & village sign, which stand on a mound at the entrance to Church Lane. Go up Church Lane, and turn left up some steps onto fp 4 in the pasture. Continue ahead to leave the pasture by a kissing gate, and go SSW along the Clopton Way, still part of Fp4. Turn off on the dead-end Fp7.  The end of the path has a small grassy flat area where one could picnic. Return on Fp7, and back to the pasture, which cross on Fp6, emerging on Ermine Street. Pass some attractive almshouses in returning to Wimpole gates.   (4 miles inc.Wimpole Drive both ways)

(b)Kingston Pastures Farm, and Manor Farm, Croydon
Park in Wimpole, leave the drive ENE up the minor road, turning left to pass Kingston Pastures Farm, (or use The Belts path to reach the same point).  Follow the minor road W to Ermine Street at Round House. Turn S on the verge of Ermine Street & cross to join Arrington Bp 5. Follow its continuation (Croydon Bp3) then turn SSE at TL 303513 to join the concrete track, Croydon Bp6 to Manor Farm.  Beyond the farm buildings follow well-waymarked Croydon Fp7, then Arrington Fp 4 back to the pasture field. Emerge in Church Lane, then immediately turn left into the passage, back into the pasture to use Fp1 back to Ermine Street & Wimpole Gates. (8 miles)

(c) A Short circuit S of Wimpole Park.
Leave Wimpole gates, and turn left down Ermine Street. Beyond the last house on the left, turn off on Fp 2 (which soon becomes Wimpole Fp 6).  This is initially a cross-field path, and some people, finding it well-nigh impassable in Winter, use the field edge is a non-legal escape route. After 2 fields, cross into Wimpole Avenue, and join the estate paths, one of which leads straight back (due N) to the House. (2.5miles)

Alternatively go S on the Avenue to cross the A603 near the “Lazy Dayz” transport café. Continue S then SE on paths to Whaddon, from whence a substantial circuit can be made back to Wimpole via Orwell. (ca. 10 miles)

(d)The Clopton Way
The Wimpole Drive and Arrington Fp4 form the start of the 12 mile long Clopton Way, which passes through Croydon, the deserted village of Clopton, Tadlow, and ends at a carpark at Gamlingay Cinques.  (Marked on OS sheets, leaflet ex Cambs CC)

(e)The Harcamlow Way
Arrington Fps 3 & 2 form a tiny part of the Harcamlow Way, which is a 140 mile long figure-of-eight footpath, centred on Newport, and with extreme points at Cambridge and Harlow. The route was devised 20 years ago. (Marked on OS sheets, and the guidebook may still be available via Essex CC)

Cantab Rambler by E-Mail & Post
Cantab appears approximately 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 an A5 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 59 © Janet Moreton, 2010

CANTAB58 September 2010

CANTAB58 September 2010 published on

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


Volunteers wanted…
I understand we are shortly to have a Year of The Volunteer.  But before you all rush out to sell secondhand shirts in Oxfam, consider also the needs of the Ramblers’ Association, and indeed, of other environmental charities.

Membership is down, since with the recession people are cutting back on subscriptions. And there have always been those who walk by themselves, or with family or with a walking club, who believe their wants are satisfied without the Ramblers’ Association, and who forget the work this charity does to protect their interests.  If you are not a Ramblers’ member, I remind you that the subscription pays/has payed for the RA to fight path closures, to press for access to moorland and heath, and currently to work on the coast path. In Cambridgeshire, The RA was funding a transport consultant to support us in obtaining path crossings over the A14 at the Inquiry, until the new government cancelled the project.

But I address those who regularly send their membership dues to The Ramblers. Looking at the combined programme for Cambridgeshire Area, I find almost every Group has vacancies on its committee, sometimes masked by a single member occupying more than one post.  Consider the attendance at AGMs, when it is well-known that folk avoid the occasion, lest they be elected onto the committee. One concludes that the members-at-large feel committee members are a gene-selected race apart, and of course it is out of the question that they themselves should agree to serve.  For your information, we too are outdoor folk, for whom committees are a necessary evil.

If you think this is unnecessarily hard hitting, consider Cambridge Group.  Our much-loved Footpath Secretary for Cambridge City, Jack Lewry, died so prematurely just a year ago, still dealing with Cambridge planning matters affecting paths, almost to the last.  In spite of the efforts of the Chairman and Committee, this post remains unfilled, although maybe 100 or more Cambridge members live within the City itself.  In absence of a City officer, some things have had to be neglected. For example the University is planning development of a West Cambridge Site, and has repeatedly invited a representative of the Ramblers to its meetings, but we have been unable to respond, perhaps with future implications for paths on the site.

For those for whom Committee work is totally objectionable, there are other ways to serve the cause of keeping the path network in optimum condition. The role of volunteers in on-site footpath work is likely to be needed much more as financial restrictions tighten the purse of County Councils.

Roger and I are Footpath Secretaries for South Cambridgeshire District, the 100 parishes (with some 1300 paths) surrounding Cambridge City.  We have been in this post for ca.30 years. We did it as well as we could while we were both working, and before the advent of the Internet, which has made communications so much easier. Over the years, we do feel that our contribution, together with the work of others within the RA, and working with the County Council and local people, has made a difference to the Cambridgeshire path network.  In the 1980s and 1990s we were much helped by other people within the Group who turned out to help with path surveying and waymarking, and problem reporting.  Nowadays, volunteers are much thinner on the ground.

However, presently we are fortunate to have in our Group Tim Miller, who has become a “Footpath Guardian”, and regularly visits a small group of parishes, Over, Swavesey, Fen Drayton, Willingham etc., reporting problems to ourselves and to the County Council.  Tim is an experienced walker and map reader, and his reports are a model of clarity. Moreover, if there are problems such as blocked stiles or dumped cars, he has the spare capacity to return again later, and yet again if necessary, and report again until the problem is cleared. With 1300 paths to cover, we are not always able to repeat visits. Tim is able to work by himself, and so there is a small group of parishes that we do not need to visit so often.  And friends like John and Tessa Capes, regularly report upon problems around Sawston. How wonderful it would be if another 20 or even another 5 people appeared, willing to do a similar task elsewhere in the District!

We have reaped satisfaction and enjoyment from our path work, which is now a full-time occupation, but there have been other times of  frustration and weariness.  We would be happy to continue if there was more help.  We are no longer young, and aware that we come this way but once.  There are other activities we like to do.  If you are still reading this, think on these things. Cambridge Group is not alone in having these problems.

Janet Moreton

Afoot in the Mordens
Guilden Morden and Steeple Morden, between them, have 107 public rights of way, as well as large recreation grounds apiece, and young Woodland Trust Woods: White Ponds Wood by a stream behind Steeple Morden rec; and Tween Towns Wood in Guilden Morden, on low land beside the same stream.

In recent times, there have been changes to the path network, some of which are on-going.  This article aims to update you on a few paths in Guilden Morden, and to give an impression of the work that has been done by Cambs CC and of the complexity of the network. All problems described in the text are already reported to Cambs.CC.

Cobbs Lane
Byway 9 in Guilden Morden, shared with Steeple Morden as Byway 1, runs from New Road at Great Green TL 286446  to a bridge over the River Cam at TL 283463, leading to Tadlow.

This hedged lane, formerly deeply rutted and founderous in Winter was closed for many months while repair work funded by CCC went forward. The lane is presently in lovely condition. One of the hedges has been cut back, and replanted in places, and the surface of the route has been made good.  Do use and enjoy the autumn colours!  There is a Seasonal Traffic Restriction Order (with gates locked against wheeled traffic in Winter) hopefully preventing damage occurring again.

Fp 14 should turn off W from Cobbs Lane at TL 286448, to run between an electric fence and tall hedge, but is presently obstructed by overgrowth. A little further along, however, Byway 8 turns off W at TL 285452 as a grass track, which later becomes a narrow residential road, leading back to Guilden Morden. A third option, just before the bridge over the river, is to take  fp 2, at TL 283463, and follow the comfortable grassy field-edge, later continuing as a farm track, back to Green Knoll Barn, Guilden Morden.

Cold Harbour Farm
In 2005, a new path, fp 56 was created by agreement down the driveway to Cold Harbour Farm, to turn SW across an arable field as the existing fp 48.  At the same time, fp 48 was re-aligned away from a grassy baulk which ran close to the buildings to a mid-field position. The N end of fp 48 crosses the drive, now avoids a horse paddock, and reaches Ashwell Road at TL 276415.  The S end of fp 48 reaches the County Boundary ditch, to continue beyond as Ashwell fp 18.

Following the diversion, we were not pleased that the new line of  fp 48 was (and is) often not reinstated.  Worse, there is a sign put up at the top of the drive, on Ashwell Road, “Private Road, No Public Access“.  Now whilst it is true that fp 56 runs down the verge to the drive, and not the drive itself, this is a misleading and discouraging notice. There is a signpost finger attached to a roadsign on the opposite side of the road, a long way away, and often not observed by potential path users.  Cambs CC have now accepted that this is a problem, and have agreed to erect a “Public Footpath” signpost on the verge at the top of the drive.  Let me know if it has happened, or if you have any problems here, please.

Obscure paths mid-village
Guilden Morden fp 31
Footpath31 is an example of an obscure path, useful as a short cut from Byway 27 (Church Lane) to Buxton’s Lane, without walking along the High Street.  At TL 279437, the path goes down a narrow passage between trees to emerge after 30 m into a small arable field.  Fp32 continues ahead, also going to Buxton’s Lane, at TL 280434, but fp 31 turns half-right to run S across the corner of the field (usually cleared).  At the other side of the little field, TL 279436, the path crosses a hard track, passing a neglected farm yard on right, and goes through a narrow passage under an elder tree, to reach the rear of domestic gardens.  Here it enters a narrow way between gardens, continuing  S to cross the drive from High Street to house no. 57A at TL 2790 4354.  Beyond the drive, a mostly 1m wide passage leads S under trees, with garden fences to left & right eventually emerging between houses nos 1 & 3 on Buxton’s Lane (Byway 29) by a signpost at TL 2790 4344.  This is a good example of several narrow, and rather adventurous paths in the Mordens. This one is not recommended for the very substantial walker, or one wearing many layers of clothes, as it is only 0.5m wide in a few places, e.g. where it passes a tree!

Guilden Morden Footpaths 43 & 44.
These paths are almost opposite fp 31, on the other side of the High Street, and are an example of Cambs CC’s ongoing efforts to sort out some complicated problems in this parish.

Fp43 is not really a problem, except that it lacks a signpost, and it is quite well used by village people. On High St. at TL 278435, fp 43 starts through the wide concrete entrance to the yard of Home Farm. The RoW runs W on a clear space up to 10m wide in the hard-surfaced  yard between sheds and barns, to exit through a wide gateway. There used to be a waymark here, but the exit is now partially blocked by some old farm machinery, which Cambs CC has promised to get removed.  At TL 277435, it emerges onto  Bridleway 17 (Silver Street) at a T-junction.

Now for the really difficult one. Go across the yard on fp 43, and exit onto Silver Street.  Fp44 should turn SE through the middle of a barn, and take a devious route across a derelict field, and behind gardens, to emerge through the garden of house no 74 High Street, and meet High St between the gardens of houses 72 & 74.  The barn seems to have been there many years, possibly even when the path was added to the Definitive Map in the 1950s – perhaps it was an open-work structure then!  However, presently, it is possible to walk a few metres SW (left) down Silver Street, and enter the derelict field (weeds and old polytunnels) making generally for the rear of gardens of houses 58 – 66 High Street. Cambs CC has recently partially cleared and waymarked the entrance to the rear of garden of house no 74. It is possible to go through the garden, keeping at close as possible to the fence with no 72, and emerge through a gate.  Cambs CC has consulted with Cambridge RA Group and the landowners on a diversion of this path, and it seems likely that only the part affected by the barn will be diverted. In the garden, there was a hazard of a broken manhole cover, obscured by a flower pot close to the path, and  vegetation at the rear of the garden, but these problems are in hand with Cambs CC..

There are at least a dozen paths which emerge through gardens, orchards or paddocks in the Mordens, several now  waymarked and in good order; some like fp 44 being worked on; and a few still in a difficult condition. Guilden Morden fp 20 (behind Town Farm) is another path being considered for diversion. At present it is obstructed by a stable block.

I hope this article has given some insight into complexity of this locality, for which the use of the 1:25 000 OS sheet 208 is scarcely adequate.

New wood in Cambridgeshire
The Summer 2010 issue of the County Council magazine, “Your Cambridgshire” has an article on the planting of a new wood between Girton and Oakington. Some 400 volunteers planted about 3000 trees, but when the task is complete, 8640 broad-leaved trees and shrubs will make up the new community wood in the 46 hectare site.  New access arrangements will allow the public to enjoy the site.  The wood has been planted to celebrate 100 years of County Farms Estate.

Vandalism to Fleam Dyke steps
Sadly, the new steps at the Fulbourn end of Fleam Dyke, put up in the last year by Cambs CC for £5000, have since twice been vandalised. Repair cost about £500.

Parking News
At Brandon Country Park, Suffolk, where cars used to park gratis, there is now a charge of 50p on weekdays, and £2 at weekends.  The adjacent toilets & cafe are open until 4.30pm.

At High Lodge Country Park, Norfolk, the car parking is more expensive, £1.80 per hour, with a maximum of £10. Free parking is still available at Warren Lodge, in Rishbeth Wood.

Debden village, Essex, has a large carpark in front of the recreation ground, a popular place to start a walk.  Recently, a notice has appeared, to the effect that parking is limited to 2 hours, other than for users of the recreation ground.

It is reported that non-members of the National Trust, parking at Wimpole for £2, can get this refunded when making purchases in the shop.

The Pathfinder Long Distance Path
This 46 mile circular route, passing old wartime airfields, was created by the military in honour of the Royal Airforce Pathfinder Force.  The leaflet was produced in 1999, but I have only just got round to trying the route.  Details of the route may be obtained from The Pathfinder Project Officer, c/o The Central Registry, RAF Brampton / Wyton PE18 8QL.  Recent OS Sheets Explorer 225 and 227 have the route marked.

I walked (most of) it with friends, in sections, and using two cars.  If any readers have done it using public transport, or all in one trip, I should be interested to hear from you.  Day 1 was walked from Dry Drayton to Papworth Everard; then successive trips continuing to Godmanchester; to Broughton; to Bluntisham, and then to Longstanton.  The amount of road walking required was discouraging, so we missed out the part between Longstanton and Dry Drayton along the very busy road that connects with the A14 near Bar Hill.

On Day 2, we cut out 1km of road walking, by taking a pleasant route through Graveley churchyard, then continuing on a path through pasture to rejoin the road at TL 246643.

On Day 3, near RAF Wyton, we cut out 2km of road walking, by taking the bridleway from the A1123 on the outskirts of Houghton at TL 280726, then the footpath running approx. N across 2 fields to reach the A1090 just beyond the airbase.  This left another 2km of busy road, before we could turn off, thankfully, on the path towards Kings Ripton.

So we will not be able to claim our certificate for having done all the route (£2 from the address above) but we have visited some new sites and paths, and thought about the frantic and dedicated wartime activity in these now very quiet fields.

Cantab Rambler by E-Mail & Post
Cantab appears approximately 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 an A5 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 Cantab 58 © Janet Moreton, 2010

CANTAB57 June 2010

CANTAB57 June 2010 published on

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


This Month…
First, I have for you an article by Peter Dean on “Beating the Bounds”, an ancient custom revived in a few parishes, such as Little Shelford in South Cambridgeshire.

We are also much indebted to Peter for a second contemplative and thought-provoking article.
Where did he visit?

Janet Moreton

Bounds – Beaten or Unbeaten
Little Shelford Bounds Walk, 2010
Little Shelford, according to one authority (The Place-Names of Cambridgeshire, CUP 1943), takes its name from the River Cam crossing – “the shallow ford” -but there may be something in the fact that the Scaler family “owned” it as absentee landlords between C11th and C13th. Name and place are too close not to allow the possibility.

The Cam (or Granta) from its crossing with the M11 in the NW corner of Hauxton to the Dernford Mill bridge in the SE constitutes half the total length of Little Shelford’s boundary, an estimated 10 miles in all. The M11 takes about half the rest, but entry to that of course is restricted to mechanical transportation..  In a few places, the “Bounds” do come within immediate arms reach.

1. The bridge in Bridge Lane
2. Riverside walk at The Wale rec.
3. Dernford Mill
4. Whittlesford Road Crossing just before Spicers Pond.
5. The Whittlesford – Newton Road at Kidmans Plantation & also where the cinder path meets it.
6. At the Newton Road M11 underpass
7. At the Hauxton Road M11 underpass

Beating the Bounds weekend falls at Rogationtide, and was organised on Saturday 15 May by Little Shelford Parish Council Footpaths Subcommittee and the Little Shelford Local History Society. Some 30 people assembled for the start of the walk near All Saints Church, Little Shelford.

A similar event was held on the same day by Great Shelford, starting at St Mary’s Church, and the two groups met across the bridge in Bridge Lane.

Both parties carried out the ancient ritual of Beating The Bounds, rapping the ground with hazel twigs and claiming their territory.  The custom is believed to be originally of pagan origin, long before maps sealed and defined boundary lines, but has been subsequently acceptable to the church.  The Little Shelford party chanted:
We’re beating the bounds in the name of Little Shelford” (repeated twice)
To all we say: Go in Peace“.

Peter Dean

The event was recorded in the Cambridge Weekly News of 20 May, along with a happy photograph of the participants.

As well as marking its boundaries, the walk was in support of Little Shelford’s campaign for its footpaths.

Walking the Line in South Cambs
By Peter Dean
Cambridgeshire, so adjacent to and incorporating so much fenland, is commonly thought of as a flat county.  The fenland parts are, though you’ve only got to look at Cambridge itself with its Castle Hill up-gradient on the exit to Huntingdon or approach Ely from any direction and recognise its salients.  Nevertheless, generally low-lying though it is, it is not otherwise flat – it undulates, there is any number of small hills west, south and eastwards, its southernmost border at Royston boasting the tail-end of the Chilterns running away eastwards into another reputed flat county Essex – which, of course, also undulates most agreeably.

As a walker – one who wherever possible leaves the roads behind to strike out into traffic-free countryside – will tell you,  passage over the tracks and rights-of-way brings a constant shift of landscape view at human-eye level, long, short and medium.  In a very few steps you find a long vista has disappeared and you’re crowded in by a stretch of rising ground that cuts off any prospect but the little hillock or mound itself, only for you to emerge again in brief time to another prospect quite unlike the one you were looking at those few minutes before.

Let me take you on one such walk.  We’ll go clockwise round a circular route, traversing a sizeable portion of the village boundary, which roughly follows the river all down one flank.  We go north-west out of the village on the roadside pavement for a mile and a quarter (yes, I know, not the most enticing of starts, but things get better) until meeting the main arterial road into the city.  Turning due north here, we meet the (river) boundary line after about 250 yards where it crosses the road.   At this point we go east to make our way along a route more or less following the river, heading against the current.    But with what a difference!

Writing about another Cambridgeshire watercourse, William Potts [Proceedings of Cambridgeshire Antiquarian Society Vol. XCIV] memorably commented:

The natural courses of fenland rivers are remarkably convoluted…  original courses were 3 or 4 times longer than the path of a well-motivated crow.  A straight or fairly straight fenland river is the work of man’.

His words are wonderfully appropriate also to this location.  Human paths and routes have been formed usually through a compromise between directness and geography.  They make every attempt to stay as straight as they can – understandably since their purpose was to enable any journey to be accomplished with the least possible outlay of effort and time.  By contrast the river’s shape suggests the opposite – winding, looping, turning back on itself, with, in the section we’re meeting here, nary a straight stretch of any length to be found.  You walk the path alongside it seemingly initially and suddenly, as you were perhaps looking at a view that has opened up before you, perhaps trying to pick out some identifiable feature, it has wound away to a distance, almost become indiscernible under its low banks in the flat green meadowland.  Then, just as suddenly, it’s there at your elbow, glimpsed through a buckthorn or wild damson hedge lining the path, glistening down below, near enough now to jump into.  And even as you stare at it, putting one foot before the other on your walk, it swoops off in another extravagant bend and you’re not certain, such is the unrevealing nature of the contiguous countryside, which way it proceeds, having vanished round that corner, until your progress gives you an angle of view the better to decide.  But even then it’s a bit of a guess.

You only discover it made that general direction when it comes up close again half a mile later in your walk.   An OS map shows you the detail.  That well-motivated crow analogy comes to mind.  In terms of distance the man-made path lies somewhere inbetween.  And because it attempts as far as possible to follow the direction of the river, cutting corners across those loops and twists when it can, the track zig-zags, bringing thus the constant change of view, a different landscape and vista as you walk it.  Thus where at one point you have a view of gantries and towers and other tall buildings in the distant city, when you emerge from behind the long low bluff which cut you off from it all that has disappeared – you have imperceptibly changed direction and the new angle shows a tree-lined horizon and nothing to identify with your previous view.  It’s a surprise and a delight.  And behind you the river winds irresistibly northwards, like the zig-zag track you have trodden, determined by the invisible contours deep beneath your feet.

And at last with this panoply of views and impressions – the unfamiliar back of a familiar church now beyond the river shrouded in romantic willows and poplars; distant road-freighters cruising smoothly and soundlessly across on the motorway;  the mysterious underpasses for both that, when you come by one of those sharp zig-zags to it, and for the railway – suddenly you’re in slightly more recognisable country, another turn, another church and here’s the path coming to an end past the old farm buildings and you’re back with roadside pavement and turning west again and only the bridges to get over to the other side of the winding river in order to complete your circular walk.   The river will have done 5 or 6 miles:  you zig-zagging between the same two points perhaps two and a half:  that well-motivated crow not much more than a single mile.   Magic.

In all, a circular ramble of roughly four-and-a-half miles, not requiring the use of transport and production of c-oh-two to undertake it:  and the sort of thing that should be available in every community.

New Footpath / cycleway beside A1307
Between the Magog Golf Course roundabout, and the Wandlebury estate, a tarmac footway / cyclepath is under construction.  This will allow a safer and rapid (downhill) stride from Wandlebury Country Park, to the Babraham Road Park & Ride site (but watch out for speeding cyclists behind you. A pedestrian is in Addenbrookes’ with severe concussion, having been knocked down on a footway by a hit & run cyclist in Cambridge, as reported in Cambridge Weekly News, 22 April 2010).

A quieter route, from the rear of the Wandlebury Estate is, of course, by means of the Roman Road, a descent down Worts Causeway to the Beechwoods Reserve, and charming permissive paths inside the hedge to the rear of the P & R site.  The downside of this route, is, of course, the section down Worts Causeway from the Roman Road to the Beechwoods where there is no footway, and an unrestricted speed limit. Cambs C.C. is still to take action here.

This little piggy…
a mammal having short legs, cloven hooves, bristly hair, and a blunt snout used for digging…

Have you met a wild pig in the woods?  If so, were you charmed or alarmed?

An article in SAGA (May 2010), suggests that dog owners might not be too pleased to meet a wild pig, especially at this time of year, when there are little piglets to be protected.

Wild boars can weigh up to 500lb, and are possessors of 6 inch tusks.   The wolf is the boar’s natural predator in the wild, so sows with piglets loathe dogs, and will give chase. Wild pigs once roamed freely in the British Isles, but were exterminated by hunting by the C15th. Place names like Everton in Bedfordshire, and Eversden in Cambridgeshire may derive from “eofor”, the Anglo-Saxon for wild boar. Indeed, Little Eversden has a wild boar on its village sign.

How is it that they are back in the woods? They are certainly present in the Forest of Dene, Dorset, Devon, and Epping Forest. It seems they originally escaped from private collections, perhaps at the time of the hurricane of 1988, which brought down fences and enclosures.  As their natural habitat is woodland, they have bred most successfully since.

Has anyone encountered one? The article I read suggests that the risk to humans is low – but personally I would keep well clear, especially if there were piglets, adorable or otherwise.

Eversden Wood
This attractive woodland is topical, as it has recently been re-waymarked by a Karen Champion from the County Council, and local volunteer Clive Dalton,  with assistance from the landowner. In 1997, the whole parish was waymarked by RA Cambridge Group, together with a big local turn-out. Some of the old way-mark posts have been re-used, together with some smart additional ones, to clarify the routes within the woodland, and avoid inadvertent trespass..

Three points give public entry to the wood.
(a) On the S side at TL 345 529.
(b) On the W side of the wood, the point of entry is at TL 342 533.
(c) On the E side  at TL 349 532
Explorer Sheet 209 shows routes to these points from Eversden, Kingston, and the bend in the minor road above Wimpole Belts.

Eversden Wood is perhaps the dampest of all those in South Cambridgeshire.  Lying at the junction of Wimpole, Kingston and Eversden, on high, flat clay, perhaps this is the reason why the ancient woodland survived here untilled. Wellies are definitely needed to explore these woods in Winter.  At present, although pools persist on the rides, boots will suffice. The rides run between former coppice woods with standards, nowadays rather wild and unkempt.

Jealously guarded for pheasants, these woods also support a good selection of wild flowers in season.  In early spring, expect dog’s mercury (that indicator of ancient woodland), lesser celandines, and a few oxlips. Later, when we visited in May, we found a good spread of bluebells, ladies smocks, the yellow archangel, cowslips, bugle, ground ivy, greater stitchwort, pendulous sedge and wood sedge.. Young leaves on beech, hawthorn, field maple gave the rides a green glow. Later, there would be flowers of yellow pimpernel, silverweed, brooklime, figwort, red campion and angelica, as the leaves testify.  In mid-May, we saw some plants of early purple orchid, with spotted leaves, not yet in flower.

Where is waymarking much- needed?
Cambridgeshire County Council Team has acknowledged the need for more waymarking along paths in the County.  The Highway Authority has a statutory duty to signpost public paths where they leave a county road.

Waymarking along the length of a path is discretionary.  The County Council notes that the Local Access Forum regards waymarking as a priority.

Last Autumn Roger and I surveyed West Wickham, Horseheath and Balsham in South Cambs for further waymarking, and this was carried out by contractors early this year.  The Friends of the Roman Road and Fleam Dyke have waymarked a 25 mile route which has recently been promoted, also showing paths branching off along the route.

Do you have any suggestions? (Cambridgeshire only, please). If so, I will be delighted to pass them to Kate Day, at the County Council.

We have suggested, for example, that the long, cross-field path between Bassingbourn and Abington Pigotts is a prime candidate for re-waymarking, and this has been put on the waiting list.

Back issues of Cantab on CD
Thanks for the fan mail (to be shared with Norman De’ath, who did the index).  A cheque for £25 has gone to Ramblers’ Cambridge Group.

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 an A5 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 57 © Janet Moreton, 2010

CANTAB56 April 2010

CANTAB56 April 2010 published on

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


The theme of this month is “Past and Future”

A bad fit of countryside reminiscence has been brought on by a bout of spring-cleaning old Ramblers’ Association documents.

The countryside future, as determined by politicians, planners, landowners, climate change, environmental charities, writers, can even be influenced by walkers as evidenced by the Mass Trespass of the 1930s, and more recently by pressures bringing The Right to Roam, the South Downs National Park and hopefully soon more coastal access.

When canvassers darken your door, catch them on the hop by asking not only about Afghanistan and taxation, but what is their party doing about the countryside!

Living in the past
Turning out some old Ramblers’ Association docs (the sort that have an old-fashioned rucksac as the logo), I came upon a 1972 Catering Handbook for Southern Area,  which at that time covered Berks, Bucks, Essex, Hants, Herts, Kent, Oxon, Suffolk, Surrey and Sussex. (Cambs was part of the then Midland Area).  Priced 10p, but free to Members, it lists walkers-approved cafés and pubs, with some display adverts.  The number of inns and cafés is amazing, as are pubs willing to provide afternoon tea.

But I don’t hanker to return to those times.  We were walking regularly then, and the path network was generally poorly marked, and often obstructed, and in Cambridgeshire at least, the absence of a vital bridge along a path was not unusual.

Landscape Change in Cambridgeshire
Also in our archives, I came  across a County Council survey of landscape change in the county between the years 1970 and 1994. The survey covered areas in the small limestone belt to the North, the gravel soils, fenland, chalkland areas to the South, and the West and SE claylands. On the whole, the document makes for depressing reading, except in the matter of tree-cover in the county, which was already improving in 1994.

  • A total of 7566m of shelterbelt recorded in 1970 had been lost by 1985. Some 4000m of new shelterbelt were recorded between 1985 & 1994.
  • Some 11% of ponds recorded in 1985 had disappeared by 1994.
  • 14 copses were lost between 1985 & 1994. However 112 new copses were planted in that period (a copse having 3 to 300 trees).
  • Some 80%  of orchards were lost in the survey areas between 1970 & 1985. Landowners were often actually paid to rip them out.
  • Hedgerows were still in decline between 1985 & 1994, the survey indicating some 10 miles had become gappy in that period.
  • Cambridgeshire has the dubious reputation of being the least wooded county in Britain, with only 2% tree-cover in 1994. But the survey recorded 14% more woodland area in 1994 than in 1970, and the improvement continues, thanks to The Woodland Trust, Parish Councils, the County Council and private individuals & organisations.

Fortunately, nowadays tree-planting initiatives have been reinforced by awareness of the benefits of trees to combat global warming. Several local charities and parishes need volunteers for tree-planting days.  See particularly “Cambridge Past Present & Future” needing volunteers at Coton.

“Lies, Damned Lies, & Statistics”
Writing on ramblersnet, Roy Hunt disparages conclusions drawn from a Ramblers’ Volunteer Survey, to which just 644 members replied on-line.

As a parting shot, he says,  “Remember, more people die in bed than anywhere else – so all the time you are out walking you improve your chances of surviving another day!

“Towpath Talk”
This is a free newspaper, which is sometimes available at the office at Baits Bite LockAs the title suggests, it’s all about waterwaysIssue 52 of January 2010 has a front page article on a possible creation of a “national trust” for the waterways. 

On 17 December, British Waterways published its proposals “Setting a new course, Britain’s Waterways in the Third Sector”. The move to create a trust, rather than direct state control, has the aim of securing the future of canals and navigations in England and Wales, and has met with wide support  As a charity, British Waterways would be the 13th largest charity by income.  The waterways have been suffering from real term grant reduction since 2003, and without ongoing maintenance the 200 year-old network will once again go into decline.    The article speaks of 11 million visitors a year to the network, which doubtless includes lots of walkers as well as boaters, fishermen, birdwatchers,  and others.

The full report can be read on :

Mid-Anglia Line Station-to-Station Walks 2010
You are invited to join walks led by Ramblers’ Association volunteer Roger Wolfe on behalf of the Mid-Anglia Rail Passengers Assoc.
For more info. phone 01473 726649 or e-mail
All walks are on Saturdays; starting place and time are shown, and walk distance.

10 April Ipswich-Needham Market  Ipswich station forecourt 9.15; 11.5 miles
24 April Needham Market-Stowmarket  Needham Market sta.yard 9.30; 6.5 miles
1 May Stowmarket – Elmswell  Stowmarket sta forecourt 9.50; 7 miles
22 May Elmswell – Thurston  Elmswell station 9.45; 7.8 miles
12 June Thurston – Bury St Edmunds  Thurston station 9.50; 7.5 miles
19 June Kennett – Bury St Edmunds  Kennett sta 7.15 ; 8.5 miles; or Bury rail sta forecourt, 9.48 bus 312 to Barrow; 11.5miles
26 June Kennett to Newmarket  Kennett station 10.15; 10.8 miles
10 July Dullingham – Newmarket  Dullingham station 9.20; 7 miles
24 July Dullingham – Fulbourn  Dullingham station 9.20; 8.5 miles
31 July Fulbourn – Cambridge   Fulbourn Post Office 10.25; 8.5 miles
14 Aug Newmarket – Soham  Newmarket Rail Station 9.15; 11 miles
Aug 21 Soham – Ely  Soham memorial 10.00; 6.5 miles

Where to stop for coffee?
The following paragraphs are adapted from correspondence in ramblersnet, with acknowledgements to Malcolm Macdonnell, Brian Reader, Geoff Mullett, and others countrywide.

How does one interpret the use of a public right of way, when stopping for a coffee break? In East Sussex, 21 people on a walk were asked not to stop on a path for their coffee. The (presumed) landowner on a quad-bike spotted them from a distance & turned back especially to “challenge” their action.

Advice comes from the “Blue Book” (Rights of Way, A Guide to Law & Practice). It quotes Lord Justice Smith in his judgement in Hickman v Maisey (1900) who said “If a man, while using a highway for passage, sat down to rest himself, to call that a trespass would be unreasonable.  Similarly, if a man took a sketch from a highway, I should say that no reasonable person would treat that as an act of trespass.”

In a more recent case, DPP v Jones, The Lord Chancellor said “The public have the right to use the public highway  for such reasonable and usual activities as are consistent with the general public’s primary right to use the highway for purposes of passage and repassage”,  and went on to find a demonstration on the highway verge was legitimate usage and not a trespass.  However, he continued “On a narrow footpath, for example, the right to use the highway would be highly unlikely to extend to a right to remain, since that would almost inevitably be inconsistent with the public’s primary right to pass and repass”…

One of the authors of “The Blue Book”, John Riddall, published a detailed article for the Open Spaces Society,  reproduced in:

The John Muir Trust
As an enthusiast for the wide open spaces, coasts and mountains of Scotland, we are supporters of the John Muir Trust, which seeks to ensure that wild land is protected and  valued. See

Some  of the statistics from their 2009 Annual report are below.

  • 160 000 visitors used the path to the summit of Ben Nevis
  • 25 000 native tree seedlings were planted on Skye in 2009
  • 22 work parties contributed 520 conservation days
  • A project to control path erosion on Quinag has been completed

The huge outcry which greeted the decision to allow the Beauly-Denny electricity transmission line showed the 20 000 objectors were speaking for a much wider cohort.

Friends of St Etheldreda’s Reach
The Friends cordially invite ramblers walking in their vicinity to have tea or coffee and cakes in their hall between the church & the pub in the village centre. Toilets are also available.
Contact   phone 01638 742924

Parish of the Month – Hadstock
Although in Essex, Hadstock, 12 miles SE of Cambridge,  looks to its nearest shops and transport in nearby Linton, over the Cambridge border.

Once Hadstock had a market, and the village assumed a greater importance.  The  manor house is Elizabethan, with a central chimney having 8 octogonal shafts, and other fine thatched cottages cluster below the church.

The church is believed to be Canute’s “Fair Minster” built 1020, celebrating Danish victory over Edmund Ironside at Ashdon (“Assandune”) in 1016. The nave & north transept remain, but a C15th porch covers the original Saxon doorway, on which the old oak door was reputed once to have been covered by the skin of a Dane. (The church guide says that when the door was repaired, a piece of human skin was found under one of the hinges). The south transept was rebuilt in the C14th, and the west tower added ca. 1450.

Hadstock also has a possible association with the lost settlement of Icanho, mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as having a monastery founded 654.   Abbot Botolph was buried in Icanho ca 680. A large early Saxon grave was found against the E wall of the south transept, and it is known that the body of St Botolph was removed in 970, and relics distributed to Ely and Thorney Abbey. However, there are other possible contenders for Icanho, and I recommend reading the display board at the rear of the churchyard, describing archaeological investigations.

On the N side of the churchyard is St Botolph’s Holy Well, feeding a small pond.  Once a source of water for the village, it was declared insanitary before WWII.

Walks from Hadstock; Explorer 209
Hadstock has a complex network of paths. The following brief notes may be of assistance in designing walks.

From Linton, there are several approaches.
(1a) Cross the A1307 to Malting Lane, pass Malting Cottages & the stump of the old mill, and continue on “Chalky Road” (muddy lane) joining the road into Hadstock.  Turn off  at TL566452 by an old red-painted wagon wheel and footpath sign on the right, to reach the recreation ground by a narrow wooded path, then a field edge.

(1b) Opposite Malting Cottages, a signed path crosses a field, and should continue SSW up the arable field, and towards Hadstock rec.  Common practice crosses the bridge over the ditch at the end of the first field, and turns E along the field edge, then S up the hedge, continuing on the field path into the rec.

(1c) Cross the A1307 near the top of High Street, and start up the B1052’s footway towards Hadstock.  Beyond Linton Zoo, an asphalt path “Lens Path” climbs parallel and just above the road into Hadstock. Beware cyclists!

(1d) From the B1052 beyond the Zoo, at the same place where the tarmac path starts, TL 558460, a bridleway branches off SW.  Follow this to a bridge over a ditch at TL553453.  This, too leads to Hadstock.

Once in the village, a network of paths leads from behind the church.
(2) Follow one of these generally S, from the carpark behind the church, keeping close to trees behind large wild gardens.  The path turns into the trees to descend steps to the B1052 towards Saffron Walden at TL 558446. Go S (cautiously) down this road to the ‘Harrison Sayer’ nature reserve, at TL 557441.  The entrance is down an earth bank, to find unimproved boulderclay grassland on the site of a wartime airbase.  Flowers include wild liquorice, bee orchid, twayblade, fairy flax, blue fleabane, wild roses.

(3)  From the steps described in (2) turn back N on the B1052 for a few metres.  Find a seat by a pond overhung by a willow. Turn down the adjacent path, between a stream and garden hedge. At the end, TL 557 446, turn right, N,  to find a path back to the N end of the village, and the start of Len’s path to Linton Zoo.

(4) From the path described in (3) at TL557446, continue W on a waymarked path past Pen Farm, and thence to join the Icknield Way LDP which leads either back to Linton or to Great Chesterford.

(5) Continue on the B1052 past the Nature reserve described in (2).  Shortly, a signed bridleway leads W to join the Icknield Way LDP just W of Burtonwood Farm. Follow either the IW footpath, or Cow Lane into Great Chesterford.

(6) Between Hadstock Church, and New Farm Cottages, S of the road to Bartlow, there is a well-waymarked network of short paths worth investigating.  En route to Bartlow, use of the road between New Farm Cottages and the Bartlow Crossroads seems unavoidable. Unfortunately, the track of the old railway is not available.

(7) From the stile behind the church carpark, go SSE on a long cross-field path to Little Bowsers.  From here, a number of possible paths lead to Ashdon.  There is some waymarking, but the route is best not attempted unless the ground is dry, and the path has been reinstated. Alternatively from Bowsers, a byway may be located running WSW to Mitchells, and thence to Butlers Farm, and thus to Saffron Walden.

For all practical purposes, Hadstock can be assumed to have no transport, so routes are best designed from Linton, through Hadstock to Chesterford, Ashdon, or Walden.

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, & 2nd class 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 56 © Janet Moreton, 2010

CANTAB55 February 2010

CANTAB55 February 2010 published on

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


The “Godmanchester Case”:  a note on claiming rights of way
In the “Godmanchester Case” (formerly called the “Drain Case”, after the name of one of the appellants), the Ramblers’ Association took a claim to a Godmanchester right of way as far as the House of Lords – something not lightly undertaken – in a successful attempt to clarify a point of law that had, in their view, been misinterpreted by the courts for many years.  The background to the case, as reviewed in Footpath Worker*, Vol.25 (1), Sept. 2007, is that since the Rights of Way Act 1932, it has been possible to claim a public right of way along a route, if it can be shown that the public has used it without interruption for at least 20 years.  The law on this point (most recently set out in the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981) then says that the landowner can be presumed to have “dedicated” the route as public, provided that he has done nothing over the 20-year period, to inform the public that he had no intention to do so.  Landowners have used, and continue to use, various methods to show their lack of intention to dedicate.  These may be fences, locked gates or “Private” notices, but have also included letters written to lawyers, or to the County Council or, in the Godmanchester Case, an agreement instructing tenants “not to allow any footpaths to be created”.

What was established in the Godmanchester Case is that such tactics can only succeed if they are communicated to the public, so that people approaching the path are made aware of the landowner’s intention not to dedicate.  A private letter or agreement will not do, even if it is written to the Local Authority (whose officer will simply file it away without anyone knowing about it).

The value of this ruling is already apparent:  the latest issue of “Footpath Worker”, Vol. 26(2), Aug. 2009, has notes on 5 cases in which rights of way were successfully claimed, in Berks., Cornwall, Cumbria,  Bucks., and Derbyshire, and in 2 cases the Godmanchester ruling was crucial.
Roger Moreton

*Footpath Worker is a quarterly bulletin “for all concerned with the care and protection of public rights of way”, circulated to footpath secretaries within the Ramblers’ Association, or available by subscription from “The Ramblers, 2nd Floor Camelford House, 87-90 Albert Embankment, London SE1 7TW,

Footpath Worker is one of many initiatives funded by the Ramblers’ Association. Your RA subscription helps to keep it in print!

Parish of the Month – Orwell
Explorer Sheet  209
This pleasant village, 8 miles from Cambridge, is situated at the foot of the chalk ridge bearing an important prehistoric trackway, The Mare Way, which reaches a height of 90m at the northern boundary of the parish. The lower parts of Orwell are on clay, dropping to 20m near the River Rhee, its southern boundary.

Some 12 public rights of way lead around the village, and to neighbouring parishes of Wimpole, Whaddon, Meldreth, Barrington and Shepreth.  Use the public carpark at the foot of the village pit, and take time to admire the village, in the light of its history and setting.

Background to Orwell Parish
The parish takes its name from the spring S of Toot Hill, which has been partly quarried away for chalk. Orwell includes parts of the lands of 2 lost villages, Wratworth at the N end and Malton in the SE.  But before there were villages here, settlement occurred in very early times.

Prehistoric, Roman and Anglo-Saxon
Neolithic and Bronze age flint tools were found on the low land by the Rhee, and sherds of Iron Age pottery were collected before the golf course was built.  More Iron Age pottery & coins and Roman coins, broaches, a bronze javelin head and pottery (both local Nene Valley type and imported Samian ware) were discovered  near the river, where an old track led to a crossing place.  Excavations on sites just S of High Street  and in Chapel Orchard revealed Roman pottery. The A603 was a Roman Road.  Anglo Saxon finds in river dredgings at Malton included a Viking spear, key, spindle whorls, and axe-heads.

Middle Ages
The parish of Orwell included what is now Malton Farm, which was a hamlet with its own chapel.  Malton has evidence for Saxon settlement: it is on a ford over The Rhee, bridged in the C19th. Malton was part of the estate of the Tyrells of Shepreth, and was acquired by Lady Margaret Beaufort for Christs College. The scholars built their own house, and let the old manor.   Malton was already described as depopulated by 1428, and enclosure of its fields began in the C15th. A house was built at that time over an earlier rectangular moat.  Most of Malton’s chapel was pulled down in the C16th., when it was already ruinous, and had been used as a cow-shed.  The last traces of the chapel were obliterated in the late C20th, but signs of extensive moats are still visible, although nothing can be seen from Fp11, as it approaches Malton Cottages.

There are no clear manorial remains in Orwell itself, but a map of 1680 shows an area known as Lordship, with a large mound on it, possibly a castle.    This was levelled for a school in 1883, and when redeveloped, there were no indications of previous structures.  The site is recalled by the name “Lordship Close”, across the road from the church.

Village development
The main part of Orwell is along the High Street, aligned on an old trackway at the foot of the chalk ridge. The church stands at the W end, and immediately below it lies Town Green Road.  The name is all that remains of the Green, almost 600m long, but only 50 m wide.  The green was a deliberate addition to the village in mid C13th, when Ralph Camoys, the Lord of the Manor, was granted a (rather unsuccessful) weekly market & annual fair in 1254.  The green was gradual built over and enclosed.  In 1655 “Camping Close” at the N end (where the boys played) was given to a lawyer Thomas Butler, in exchange for help in protecting grazing access.  What remained by 1836 was divided by Inclosure and completely covered by cottages and gardens.

The brook S of the village (beside fp11) was straightened into a drain in 1837, after the parish was enclosed. The garden wall of No.30 High St is thatched and there are cottage gothic cottages.

Off the Malton Road on the village outskirts is the Millennium Meridian memorial, a handsome stone globe, with a small bench adjacent, wide enough for two close friends!

The Church
The earliest C12th church consisted of a squat tower, an aisleness nave and a small chancel. Part of the lower section of this tower remains.  In the mid-C13th, the tower was heightened, and a few years later, the N aisle was added.   In the early C14th, a S aisle and porch were built.  In 1398, the old chancel was removed, and rebuilt on a larger scale.  This was paid for by the rector, Richard Anlaby, as a memorial to his patron, Sir Simon Burley.  By the C19th, the church was in poor order, and passed through two massive restorations.

The present church, built of clunch, is mainly perpendicular, having an impressive chancel with fine windows. The finest feature is the roof, wagon-shaped in 5 slopes and with alternate bosses and shields carved at the intersection of 66 square panels. The church exterior is well-seen from Fp 5, which starts up a flight of steps beside the churchyard. Within, the altar table dates from the reign of Elizabeth I and there is a monument in the church to Jeremiah Radcliffe, one of the translators of the Bible.

Orwell Clunch Pit
The pit is an old quarry site of ca. 4 acres, approached from High Street either via Fp 5 next to the churchyard, and up Glebe Field or via Fp 6, adjacent to the carpark. An old may-pole once stood on the Toot Hill, above the clunch pit, which is now a nature reserve, and contains the prominent Millennium Beacon.

The Clunch Pit
This attractive pit has been owned by the Parish Council since 1974, and was designated by English Nature as an SSSI in 1985.  There was a major clearance of scrub in 1999, and short chalk grassland is maintained by use of grazing sheep.  This is a good place for wildflowers, including cowslips, scabious, knapweed, wild thyme, pyramidal orchids and bee orchids, and the yellow carline thistle.

Chapel Orchard
Next to the thriving Methodist Chapel on Town Green Road is a most attractive old orchard which is now a public open space. The owners, South Cambs D.C., had decided to sell the site for housing in the late 1990s.  After a local outcry, and the land was redesignated as a green space, with the Parish Council obtaining a 25y lease, and the site was formally opened in 2006.  Local residents have converted the wilderness to a charming wild park, with pathways and picnic tables. The old fruit trees have been pruned, and some of the grass trimmed. The wild-flowers here form a contrast to those of the short grassland in the Clunch Pit.  Using money from the Heritage Lottery Fund & SCDC grants, villagers have also restored the old spring and dip-well, from which Orwell derives its name: in Domesday, it was the Oreuuelle.

Village website
Where there was once a population of ca. 20 people at Domesday, the excellent village website now serves a population of over 1000 in the parish.  I have mined this for recent information on The Clunch Pit, and Chapel Orchard, for which grateful acknowledgement.

The Path Network
(a) The Northern circuit)
From the village carpark, TL 365 505, Fp6 runs up a gated lane to enter the Clunch Pit, where there is open access.  It continues, partly on steps up the E side of the pit, to the grass sward on the top, where it joins Fp5.

Fp5, leaves High Street at TL 363 505, and starts up a flight of steps beside the churchyard. It continues up Glebe Field, and enters the enclosure at the top of the Clunch Pit. Leaving the rear of the enclosure through a kissing-gate, it continues N, quite steeply down a fenced path to the A603.

Cross the A603, and turn right (W) for a few yards to the start of Fp2 at TL 363 510. This right-of-way (RoW) starts NE up a hard-surfaced drive, before turning NW beyond a bungalow, beside a line of trees, up Thorn Hill.  At TL 363 516, the RoW turns briefly left beside a lower crossing hedge, and then makes NNW across the arable field.  However, most users continue NW in the original direction by the tall hedge to Mare Way at TL 364 518.

Examine Explorer 209 carefully and it will be seen that two bridlepaths run along the course of Mare Way on the top of the ridge, one each side of a ditch.  The more southerly one is Orwell Bp 3. In fact, it appears to start at a dead-end at TL 365 516, then runs SSW to the junction with the Wimpole Road, by the large tanks at TL 352 524. The “double” path along Mare Way doubtless reflects the path’s original width and importance. (Sadly, Bp3 does not meet the A603.  Its failure to do so relates to the Inclosure Award, in 1836, when the bridleway was acknowledged, up to the point where it met a common.  When the common was enclosed, public access rights across it seem to have been lost.  A route crossing the A603, to link with the Whole Way was listed as desirable in the Cambridge Green Belt Local Plan in May 1984, but nothing ever came of it.).

From the junction with The Wimpole Road (Eversden byway 9) at TL 352 524, Orwell’s Fp4 is the start of the path going S to French’s Corner, and continuing as Wimpole fp 3 to Cobbs Wood Farm, and thence to Wimpole.  After sampling Wimpole Hall’s tea & scones, the walker might well return down the drive, and the track over the road, crossing a little stone bridge at TL 346 513, and climbing a stile towards Thornberry Hill Farm on Wimpole Fp4.  At the parish boundary, the continuation is Orwell Fp1, which runs along a field edge beside a tree belt, to reach the A603 opposite Fishers Lane. Alternatively at the stone bridge, continue ahead on the permissive path along the old Victoria Drive, within the tree belt, to reach the A603 at TL 359 507.  By either route, the circuit from the church to Wimpole Hall is ca.4 miles.

(b) The inner-village circuit
Again, starting from the carpark, go E along High Street, passing an attractive thatched wall, and several old cottages.  Start S on Malton Lane, noting  Barrington Fp1 soon turning off  left. (This pleasant path makes possible longer circuits, eg via Barrington, Shepreth, Meldreth, Whaddon and King’s Bridge, ca. 9 miles).  However, to explore Orwell’s paths, continue along Malton Road, here forming the parish boundary, admiring the Meridian Globe, and take Orwell Fp8 at TL 369 499.

This path is waymarked beside ditches, to bring the walker to Fp11 beside the deep drain.  To go S on Fp11 will lead to Malton Cottages, the last section being across an arable field, sticky in Winter.

Going  N on Fp11 leads back into the village, via Meadowcroft Way and Lotfield. (Note street names, if necessary to locate the start of the path in the reverse direction).  Continue N along Stocks Lane, to where Fp7 passes through a chicane in front of a thatched cottage at TL 361 502, to run WNW on tarmac between garden hedges. It crosses a residential road (Cross Lane Close) and continues in the same direction to emerge on Town Green Road at TL 362 503, almost opposite Chapel Orchard.  The short but interesting circuit from the carpark via Fps 8, 11, 7, and Chapel Orchard is about 2 miles.

(c) The southern paths
From the church, go S on Town Green Road. Part-way along, pass the Chequers Pub on the right, and a village store on the left. Continue past the recreation ground, where there are seats enough for a group picnic, and public toilets, generally open. Go past the junction with Hurdleditch Road, to Leaden Hill, which is the start of Fp10.  This path, at first an unmade residential road, runs SW to TL 356 496, then turns SE & S, going up and down a little hill, then beside a ditch, to be well-waymarked over Malton Golf Course. The path crosses a raised bridge over the River Rhee to continue in Whaddon parish.

For an Orwell circuit, however, after descending the slight hill on Fp10, turn left (E) on Fp12 at TL 361 490 along the S side of a hedge , crossing to the N side part-way along.  A bridge over the drain leads to fp 11, at TL 365 494, and the instructions in para (b)  allow a return to the church. (3 miles).

(Note that the route given for fp 12 is not quite on the definitive line, but is that in common use. Cambs C.C. is planning to amend the Definitive Map)

Fp9 is a continuation of fp 10 from TL 356 496, turning N to the A603. It is a rutted track, muddy in Winter.

Longer Routes from Orwell
A limited bus service (Whippet 75) follows the A603 towards Wrestlingworth.  A linear route can be designed on paths which lead via Whaddon, Kneesworth and Bassingbourn to Royston (7 miles+).

A circular route  (10 miles) from Orwell via Barrington, Harlton, Eversden and Wimpole is popular, although the cross-field path between Harlton Manor Farm and the A603 at TL 382 529 can be very sticky in Winter.

Orwell to Little Eversden, Comberton Church, Toft, Great Eversden and Mare Way gives a circuit of ca 9 miles, or 12 miles including a detour around Wimpole Belts.

Mid Anglia Line Walks 2010
Roger Wolfe of the Mid Anglia Rail Passengers’ Assoc., tel 01473 726649 sends details of a series of walks over the Summer. The first on 10 April, starts in Ipswich 9.15am station forecourt, 11 miles in Gipping Valley.  Find details of the other walks in next issue.

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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


Price 20 pence where sold Cantab 55 © Janet Moreton, 2010