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CANTAB70 November 2012

CANTAB70 November 2012 published on

** Please note that this is an archive of the CANTAB publication and contains out-of-date information **


Only one topic! The whole of this month’s issue is occupied with a parish on Cambridge’s frontier. With the onset of short daylight, I invite you to ramble nearer to home, and notice some new points of interest in a familiar village.

Janet Moreton

Parish of the Month:Fen Ditton
Lying just outside the urban eastern reaches of Cambridge, alongside the Cam, Fen Ditton is strategically placed for a rapid & easy escape into the countryside.

The land and its early occupation The parish lies mainly on chalk, with strips of gravel and alluvium along the river, and an area of gravel to the extreme south of the parish. Much of the present village makes use of its ridge ca 15m above sea level, but almost all of the rest of the parish is at ca 10m, apart from lower areas adjacent to the river, along the attractive water-meadows. Boundaries of the parish include the Cam, Quy Water and a drainage ditch known as Black Ditch.

Evidence of prehistoric occupation of the land is concentrated in fields near these watercourses, where Mesoliths and Neolithic flints occur at the junction of fen and slightly higher land, and several bronze age implements have been found near the fen edge to the north of the parish. However. there have been finds elsewhere including Neolithic polished stone hand-axes in both the Rectory garden and from Biggin Abbey, and a Bronze Age urn cremation at Ditton Meadows.

Fen Ditton and Horningsea parishes form a peninsula of high ground between the river and the fens which was cut off from dry land to the south by the construction of a bank and ditch, called Fleam Dyke. It is not certain when it was built, but early Anglo-Saxons were entombed in the ditch when it was almost filled, suggesting a date earlier than C6th. Elsewhere in East Anglia, dykes date from the Iron Age, and so too may this one. Another suggestion is that it could perhaps have been Roman, although unlike adjacent parishes, there are few remains from the Roman period. Immediately south of the Dyke, a large Middle Iron Age settlement was excavated in 1996. There were ca 300 pits here, containing animal bones and much pottery, hearths, and enclosures.

Fen Ditton is “Dittone”, meaning the village by the (Fleam) Ditch, first so named in a will made ca 950. By the late C13th, “Fen” had been added to differentiate it from Woodditton.

The irregular and peculiar boundary with Horningsea is due to division of the two parishes by the Bishop of Ely in 1412. Previously, although Fen Ditton was a settlement from at least the C10th, it does not seem to have been considered a separate parish, and is not mentioned in the Domesday Book or in the C13th Hundred Rolls. Some of the southern boundary with Cambridge has been adjusted in the C20th . Much of the parish was enclosed in a piecemeal fashion linked to fenland drainage in the C17th and C18th, and the remaining fields were enclosed by the official Award made in 1807.

Recorded Settlement & Development
In the C10th, Ditton was the property of Aelfgar, who left it to his daughter Aethelflaed on condition that it became church property on her death. She left it in her will to the church at Ely, in the late C10th. In the C12th, the land passed to the bishop, rather than to the abbey, and remained in this ownership until 1600, when taken over by the Crown. The Bishops’ C14th house is now known as Biggin Abbey

The original village settlement was mainly a strip running parallel to the river, with the church at the south end. Wharves were built between the Cam and the village, and from these several Fen Ditton merchants were involved in national and international trade. The north end was known as Green End, containing the village green, and was the likely site of the market granted to the Bishop in the late C13th. In the late Middle Ages occupation spread from the riverside to an E – W orientation along the line of the filled-in Fleam Dyke, to make use of higher ground and some of the substantial C17th houses along what is now High Street and High Ditch Road still stand on the flattened bank. No6 High Street “The Walled Cottage” provides a model for local materials using alternate courses of squared clunch and pink gault brick. Musgrave Farmhouse in the High Street is a jettied house of the late C16th, and Honeysuckle Cottage is a fine C17th property on High Ditch Road.

Among the buildings still lining the river, the Hall, south of the church, is a fine example of old red brickwork with shaped gables of ca 1635 – it was constructed on a grand scale round a late medieval timbered house.

The church, with walls of jumbled rubble and clunch has early C14th tracery of the tall chancel, a lofty C15th porch, and tower of 1881 by Pearson. Some authorities consider the chancel’s fine conception (originally 1316-37) has been ruthlessly restored by the Victorians. The rowing-eight weather-vane on the tower celebrates the village’s rowing associations. The Rectory presents a lovely red-brick front to the churchyard, 1711-32. There are two large Black Poplar trees in a paddock below the church, rare examples of Populus nigra v. betulifolia, of which only about 100 are known in the County.

Opposite the church is the short row of Almshouses, built in 1665-6 by a member of the Willys family; rebuilt by Thomas Bailey in 1877, and remodelled in 1968-9 with funds from the Chase Charity.

In isolation outside the village is The Biggin (or Biggin Abbey) which was built originally by Hugh de Northwold, Bishop of Ely in the mid C13th, in a palatial style, and used as a residence & a hunting lodge. It was a place for official business, and for entertaining royalty including Henry III, Edward I, and Edward II. By the mid C14th, the extensive property was in poor condition, and the building that survives was built mainly at that time, when its use had declined to a manor house. It was remodelled in the C17th, with walls of clunch & stone, now covered with concrete! In C17th, it was sold to the Willys family of Eye Hall in Horningsea, and in the mid C18th, it came into ownership of Thomas Panton.

Other important buildings include The Barn, a massive C16th structure now used for public events, but once used for trading and as the village Guildhall. One of the medieval wharves can still be seen between this building and the river, and there was another near The Plough off Green End Road, which was used by coal barges into the C20th.

On the outskirts of the parish is not only the abandoned and partly flattened section of the Fleam Dyke, but also the dismantled railway line, the former LNER (London and North Eastern Railway) that linked Cambridge to a terminus at Mildenhall, with a halt at Fen Ditton. This part of the line was laid in 1884 by the Great Eastern Railway Company, when Mildenhall was still a successful port on the River Lark. The line closed in 1964.

The population in the early C14th comprised 330 adults. In the C16th and C17th there were fewer than 60 families, probably due to loss of trading activities. In 1801 there were still only 337 people recorded in the census. Numbers grew in the C19th, reaching 680 in 1881, possibly augmented by the coprolite diggers active at Green End. The old village street was infilled with new housing in the 1950s, some replacing gaps of houses destroyed in WWII bombing. The population by 1996 had reached 730.

Walking around Fen Ditton
Map – OS Explorer209
The following walks take in many of the features described in the above paragraphs, which are marked by an asterisk. Numbered paths refer to paths in Fen Ditton parish, unless otherwise stated.

Around Fen Ditton’s Historic Sites The walk starts at the Newmarket Road Park-and-Ride carpark, which may be reached from The Grafton Centre in Cambridge using a frequent service. Within the P & R site, follow cycleway arrows to the rear hedge, where an attractive “Bicycle” arch leads out into fields. Turn left and follow the cycleway 50m to the corner. (This point can also be reached from Newmarket Rd, by a signed path starting beside the garage). Fp9 goes across the arable field to a gap in the opposite hedge. Descend steps to the former railway*, and take more steps up the other side. Go through a kissing gate into pasture, and follow waymarks through 3 more kissing gates, emerging into a residential road, and turn right onto High Ditch Road*.

Here, at the junction with High Street and Horningsea Road is the village sign, illustrating the church, an old plough, and a rowing eight. (The sign was being repaired when I visited – look for the new endpiece to the village name, showing a rose, carved in oak by Neil Horne). Down High Street, pass the Ancient Shepherds pub, and note The Walled Cottage, house no.6*, opposite. The Kings Head pub is on the corner of High Street & Church Street, and centrally placed is the village war memorial. Visitors to the church* seem likely to find it locked, but one can readily view The Alms Houses*, The Old Rectory* and the black poplars* from the road. Continue down Church St and Green End, and enter the recreation ground. Fp3 leaves the back of the rec, and runs as a field edge path behind gardens. Fp4 turns off left part-way along between fences. However, continue to the end of fp 3, where it joins Byway 5, then turn left, to Green End termination. (The other end of Byway 5 meets Horningsea Road).

Take Fp6 signed starting in a fenced defile across the field near a restored cottage, then across a meadow, to go under the A14 beside the Cam. Immediately, turn right below the A14, on Fp8 initially between hedges, later, signed across two arable fields The path passes quite close to Biggin Abbey*, which is, however, better seen from Fp6. The path joins Horningsea Fp 1 which leads via Fp7 to Baits Bite Lock. Do not cross the lock (unless seeking to rest on seats in front of the building on the far side), but turn left in front of a tall wooden fence, on Fp6, with a ditch to left. After a section through bushes, one walks beside the Cam. Continue under the A14 viaduct, retracing to Green End*.

Continue ahead to the church, then turn down Fp2, towards the river, passing the Old Manor House*, which unfortunately is not clearly seen from the path. Fp2 enters a kissing gate, and goes through riverside meadows, crossing a bridge over a ditch, and joining a tarmac cycleway. Continue on the cycleway under the railway bridge over the river (beware cyclists!) and thence into Cambridge, along the riverside as far as Saxon Street. Turn left here, and right into Beche Road. Pass the medieval Cellerer’s Chequer, and the old (haunted?) Abbey House opposite. Use the subway to cross Newmarket Road, and return to the Grafton Centre. (7 miles)

In wet weather, (and for much of the Winter) Fp2 through the meadows can be flooded. In this case, start down Fp1, signed down a cycleway opposite the church. Either continue on the (dry) cycleway, which goes under the railway bridge, or branch off to cross the railway on high steps at TL 473 599 , to join the route along Cambridge riverside.

The walk can be extended to about 11 miles, by crossing the Cam at Baits Bite, using the towpath to Clayhythe, where cross the river, and return using the Fen Rivers Way route through Horningsea.

If, in addition, one continues further round the Cambridge riverfront past Jesus Green, The Backs and Coe Fen, a distance of 14 miles might be attained, if not overtaken by the darkness of a winter’s afternoon!

Fen Ditton’s other paths
Fen Ditton has 14 numbered paths on the Definitive Map, but several of these are short sections of longer paths between Teversham and Horningsea or Stow cum Quy, and have been described elsewhere. However, one other circuit is possible using Byway 14 in Fen Ditton.

Low Fen Drove Circuit
Start from Fen Ditton Church*, where there is limited parking. Follow the route described towards Baits Bite Lock, but turn East on the path towards Horningsea. On reaching the road, turn right (South, away from Horningsea) as far as a bus shelter, where cross the road, and follow Low Fen Drove Way (Byway 14) to Snout Corner, passing the site of an old windmill. Veer right to cross the line of the old railway*, continue to Honey Hill, and pass over the A14 to reach High Ditch Road. Turn right to return to Fen Ditton. (Note: Low Fen Droveway can be wet and muddy in Winter). (6 miles)

The Fen Rivers Way This long distance path between Cambridge and the Wash, has a dual route (i.e. on both sides of the river) between Cambridge and Ely. The route on the east bank uses Fps 2, 3, 6 and 7 as it passes through Fen Ditton, and is waymarked accordingly.

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 a large SAE, and a 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


Cantab 70 Price 20 pence where sold © Janet Moreton, 2012.

CANTAB69 September 2012

CANTAB69 September 2012 published on

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


The Summer of the Nettles
Sometimes, they have been 9 feet high, tangled together with bindweed, brambles, or various arable weeds at the edge of a cereal field, making paths impassable.

Last year Cambridgeshire County Council made three cuts on selected field-edge paths, in May, July and again in the Autumn. This year, when weeks of Summer downpours after drought caused the vegetation to reach for the sky, there were only two such cuts, the second starting in September. Through the Summer, Cambridge RA Group advised walkers to wear long trousers, and if necessary to walk in the crop, such as down a spray line. The Highways Act, 1980, in case of an obstructed path, allows one to take the nearest reasonable alternative. The Group has been concerned about accidents: people falling over in the tangled weeds, or taking to the nearest, possibly hazardous road.

The Highways Act also gives the County Council the obligation to maintain public rights of way. This year, Cambs CC claimed there was no money available for more path maintenance. We note that the County cuts 25% of the network, although some of the other paths are maintained by local parishes, landowners, and other agencies. We also note that, after reorganisation, the County Council’s Countryside Services Team is now part of the Highways Department. There still seems to be plenty of money to cut the roadside verges every six weeks!

Some field edge paths are now being cut in September, although several paths which we have reported as being presently impassable, have been refused treatment, on the grounds that they are not on the list for cutting, and there is no money to include them this year.

Whilst everyone knows that local government spending is restricted, we think footpaths and bridleways should receive more priority. Walking is a very inexpensive form of recreation, open to most people, and the cost of maintenance is relatively small.

Now the harvest is in, and the problem is less acute, do not forget your sufferings in July and August. It is no use writing to the rights of way staff at the County Council, who are using all the resources available to them. Please address your concerns to your County Councillor. Do it soon, so that next year, footpaths may have a fairer share of the funding.

Janet Moreton

The Future of England’s Forests
The report of an independent panel on the future of forestry, was issued in July. The panel was set up following the furore over the government’s planned sell off of public forests last year.

Recommendations include
— An adequately funded and staffed public forestry body, free from political intervention.
— Developing and investing in the services which are currently supplied
— Expanding our National Forest Estate
— Retaining GB –wide functions
— Recognising the continuing need for a forest research body.

In response, Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman assured “Our Forests will stay in public hands”.

We hope so.

(Synopsis of an item in “Prospect” Aug 2012).

The Woodland Trust – 40 this year
The Woodland Trust Charity is celebrating its 40th year, since its founding in 1971 by retired agricultural machinery producer Kenneth Watkins. By 1981, the Trust owned 80 woods. After 30 years, it was caring for 1135 woods, and had planted 5 million trees. After 40 years, the Trust cares for 1276 woods, covering 23 580 ha (58 267 acres), and has planted 16 million trees. All the Trust’s woodlands are open freely to walkers and other quiet recreational users on foot.


Parish of the Month –
Thompson, Norfolk
Explorer 229

Walkers of the Peddars Way will have passed through this quiet parish, but may not have left the ancient trail to visit the village. Neither will users of the Pingo Trail, encouraged to use a small carpark off the A1075, have gained any impression of the wider landscape.

Pause a while to learn the history of Thompson, and vary your walks in this quiet area.

The Peddars Way ancient trackway runs NNW from Thompson Water, right across the parish. An old track, perhaps a few thousand years old, formed a basis for the Roman Road, built immediately after the Boudican revolt of AD 61. Although primarily of military importance in Roman times, communities sprung up beside the road. Large quantities of Roman material were found at Brettenham, and there may have been an Iceni/Roman town at Salham Toney.

Thompson is believed to have a Danish origin, at Tumi’s Tun, the homestead of Tumi. Thompson’s most important historical period could be dated 1350 – 1541, at the time of its Collegiate church. St Martin’s Church is claimed to be one of the finest examples of the decorated style in East Anglia, and is usually open for inspection. In 1350, the building was endowed as a Collegiate Church by brothers Thomas and John de Shardelowe. They established a community of 6 monks in a chantry building, the remains of which are still evident in College Farmhouse. After The Dissolution, the college became a manor house and farmhouse. The church was restored by the Lord of the Manor, Robert Futter in 1648, and again facing ruin in 1913, it was restored again by the Rev Kent at Merton, and his friend Duleep Singh.

The College Farmhouse and its very attractive grounds, can be seen from the roadside in the village. The Chequers Inn, an old thatched building, dates from the early C17th. Other points of interest include The Village Sign, unveiled in 1977 to mark the Queen’s Jubilee. Figures of a Roman Soldier, a monk & a goose-girl represent elements of Thompson’s history.

Forestry and Military Danger Areas
The parish is low-lying, with a sandy soil overlying chalk. Agriculture, forestry and military exercises account for the greatest land use.

Thetford Forest dates from 1922, and a substantial proportion of Thompson parish is under conifers. The military took over the Stanford Battle Area before WWII, after trees had been planted, and a proportion of the parish is still a “no-go” area, clearly marked with Ministry of Defence “Danger Area” notices. A glance at the map shows adjacent parishes such as Tottington, with its abandoned St Andrews Church, and Sturston, seemingly entirely within the military fence. Several villages were evacuated at the time, some 1000 persons being displaced. When you visit Thompson, spare a thought for these poor people, almost like latter-day victims of the Highland clearances.

Natural History
Thompson Common is owned by Norfolk Naturalists Trust, and the artificial lake, Thompson Water is part of the reserve. The Common is known particularly for its pingos. Pingos derive from the freeze / thaw cycles of the glaciations during the Devonian period. Each circular pool was originally formed by freezing water on top of a groundwater spring. The repeated addition of ice caused a dome of surface gravels. When the ice melted, the middle of the pingo collapsed to form a hollow. Any sediment which flowed off formed an encircling rampart. Where a pingo is in open grass, it looks attractive with clear water and flowering vegetation. The pools of stagnant water under the trees are a breeding ground for mosquitoes, so insect repellent is a must for Summer visitors.

In late Spring, the reserve is well-known for its interesting plants, including water violet and amphibious yellow-cress growing in the pingos, and Southern fen orchid, and pyramidal orchids flowering in the immediate locality. Some 70 to 80 species of bird are said to nest in the forest area, of which the rarest is the stone curlew, which chooses areas of open ground. Don’t get too hopeful about seeing one of these – they are said to be extremely shy.

Walking opportunities.
The Peddars Way runs from Knettishall Heath to Holme next the Sea, where the path turns east, becoming the Norfolk Coast Path. Thompson is thus about 10 miles north of the start at Knettishall Heath, and a detour east from less than a mile north of Thompson Water at TL 908 961 would take the rambler to Thompson village, which has B & B accommodation:
College Farm 01953 483318

Thatched House 01953 483577
Lands End 01953 488070

Otherwise sections of The Peddars Way can be taken into circular walks, as described below.

The Pingo Trail, 8 miles
Walkers are advised to start the Pingo Trail at a small carpark off the A1075, at TL 940 966. This point is a few hundred yards N beyond the turning to Stow Bedon. A display board for the route describes the track of the old railway which forms one limb of the walk, and the special wildlife of the locality.

Set off SSW down the line of the former track of The Great Eastern Railway in a wooded setting, with shallow pools at intervals on both sides of the track. Duck-boards are provided over the damper areas. Continue on a more open stretch past Crow’s Farm, and back into the woodland as far as Hockham Heath where, at TL 927 925, one meets a minor road, which is followed NW for 400yd, to a junction where The Peddars Way is joined, going NNW along a road that later becomes a byway. Follow this former Roman Road to Thompson Water. At TL 912 950, a waymarked track turns off right through the undergrowth. The path, well signed, winds through the wood, later following beside a watercourse, then emerging into meadows at TL 926 953. It continues NE across the rough grassland, passing a couple of pingos, and reaches a lane at TL 928 956. Follow the fenced lane, which widens, becomes tarmaced and passes Butter’s Lodge. Just before a road junction, a waymark at TL 934 967 indicates a right turn into woodland , which is well-waymarked on a winding route through the woods, scrub and grassland of the reserve, back to the carpark.

Thompson Village circuit. 4 miles.
Drive to Thompson church, where some parking is possible at the rear. Walk through the village, passing the very attractive College Farm. At TL 935 968, turn NW up Drove Lane, which follow to the minor road at TL 927 976. Turn left along Griston Road for 200yd, to return to the church on a public footpath. Perhaps take a rest in the churchyard!
For the next loop, go SW along the road to Pockthorpe Green (which is a wonderful large open common and recreation area) and take the path at TL 923 966, going S from a road junction by the school. At a junction of tracks, turn left on a bridleway, first along a field edge, then across a field to Butter’s Lodge. Turn left and follow the road back to the church.

Thompson to Thompson Water
5 miles
From Thompson Church, take the road SW to Pockthorpe Green, and go to the road junction at TL 919 961, then W on the dead-end road to join the Peddars Way. Turn left to go SSE to the turning to Thompson Water. Pick up the Pingo Trail, (as described above), and return to Butter’s Lodge, and thence by road to Thompson.

Thompson and Merton. 7.5 miles
From Thompson Church, follow quiet roads generally W to the Peddars Way at TL 908 961. Follow this long distance path N to near Merton at TL 901 991.
Here, turn right into Merton village. At TL 908 987, take the bridleway S then E to the B 1110 at TL 913 981. Turn left, then right at a crossroads, and follow the road generally E to a T-junction at TL 924 989.Turn right for nearly a mile, then right again and shortly left at TL 927 976 down Drove Lane. Cut through at TL 933 971, to return straight back to the church.
Note that this route is less scenic, but may be useful to those wishing to walk a section of the Peddars Way as part of a circuit.

Quotation of the Month

Come ye thankful people come,
Raise the song of harvest-home.
All is safely gathered in
Ere the Winter storms begin;

George J Elvey (1816 – 93)

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 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


Cantab 69 Price 20 pence where sold
© Janet Moreton, 2012.

CANTAB68 June 2012

CANTAB68 June 2012 published on

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


Wind Turbines Wind turbines are in the news, both the land-based and off-shore types. The Ramblers’ Association policy is to consider each case on its merits, putting the burden on local groups for making the decision. Cambridge RA Group supported Linton and Great Chesterford Parish Councils in their successful campaign to prevent the erection of turbines on the ridge of high ground on the parish (and county) border. Important factors in the decision appear not to have been so much any impact on the landscape, but the effect of such structures on aircraft navigation at Stansted, and on rare bats in nearby Hildersham Wood. When a scheme for a group of turbines was put forward on land above Balsham, there was no local campaign, so the Ramblers’ Association made no comment. These tall structures are now being erected, and are very clearly visible from the Fleam Dyke, and the historic Fox Road track.

I have looked into the views of other countryside organisations, and attempt to present the tone of their views below.

Janet Moreton

Council for the Preservation of Rural England, CPRE
In its magazine, “Countryside Voice”, Spring 2012, CPRE publishes a debate between opinions on both sides. One objector (Adrian Snook of Northants) felt that the Government was putting undue emphasis on wind power to solve the UK’s energy problems. He was very upset that 5 wind turbines, 410ft tall were allowed in a rural site, in spite of concerted local opposition. He writes: “Rural communities have grown to perceive the whirling blades as a symbol of oppression”.

On the other hand, Rachel Coxcoon, (Head of Local & Community Empowerment, Centre for Sustainable Energy), cites a CSE report, “Common Concerns about Windpower”. She contends that landscape impact is a subjective challenge that rightly remains at the heart of the debate. She compares objections to that raised by Victorian railway expansion. Ms Coxcoon concludes that community ownership and control are a key to unlocking the acceptance of large-scale renewable energy.

South Downs Society The South Downs Society supports “clean green” energy from wind, but wants to protect the South Downs National Park. Its concerns relate not only to possible wind farms on land, but also those off the South Coast.

Energy giant EON is proposing a new offshore windfarm (the Rampion) in the English Channel within sight of the coast and the South Downs. The 100-200 turbines up to 210m high will be 13 – 23 km out to sea. Electricity will be brought to shore through underground cables between Worthing and Lancing, then carried underground to connect with the national grid near Bolney, Mid-Sussex. It will mean digging a huge trench across the South Downs for the cables. The South Downs Society is pressing EON to bury some existing overhead wires in the trench, and to start the tidying up of the old Shoreham cement works, alongside the trench.

This scheme is still at the consultation stage, but on a recent visit to Wells-next-the-sea, Norfolk, we were able to see the on-going development of another off-shore wind turbine project, which gives insight into the numerous factors involved.

Sheringham Shoal – SCIRA Offshore Energy
When we visited Wells in March, we called at the local office of the company, and obtained publicity material, from which these notes are derived.

By the early Spring, it seems some twenty offshore turbines were already in position, (although they were not visible from the coast at Wells). Offshore wind farms are notable by the tall turbines above the waves, but of equal importance are the subsea components – foundations, cables and associated equipment, and the land-based facilities. Initial preparation works had started on the site of the Sheringham Shoal operations and maintenance facility on the Walsingham estate in Egmere, 3 miles south of Wells. In Wells, we saw the new Outer Harbour in the sand near the lifeboat station, serving the offshore operations, with a fleet of 3 or 4 vessels.

An underwater trencher specially re-engineered for Sheringham seabed conditions was about to begin burying cable between the windfarm and the coast at Weybourne, using a technique tested to have “least impact” on the marine environment.

An offshore community of ca 180 people is living and working in the Greater Wash, on a floating hotel,”Wind Ambition”, a former Mediterranean ferry of 153m, adapted for accommodation. This has minimised boat and road traffic to & from the Wells Outer Harbour, as workers mostly now join/leave the vessel on its monthly visit to Harwich.

I noted, from the handouts, that Sheringham Shoal Community Fund has awarded funds to Bacton on sea Village Hall towards the installation of a 5kw wind turbine to help reduce the hall’s carbon emissions. The 1st Mundsley Air Scout Group was awarded funds towards installation of 20 photovoltaic panels on the roof of the new scout hut. The Sheringham and District Preservation Soc was granted funds to replace the current lighting in the Heritage Centre and Shell Gallery. There was no mention of any objectors…

Suffolk Offshore Wind Farms The Suffolk Wildlife Trust magazine of May 2012 gives a resumé of ongoing proposals for wind farms off the coast of Suffolk, which I venture to summarise.

A “Greater Gabbard” project is already under construction, and I have no further details. A new proposal called the “Galloper” project forms an extension of Greater Gabbard, and consists of a further 140 turbines, so clearly this is a major offshore initiative. The planning application for this development is currently being considered by the Infrastructure Planning Committee, and the decision expected later this year.

A second new proposal, The East Anglian Offshore Windfarm (EAOW) is even larger, and is to be brought forward as six projects. The first of these, East Anglia one, comprising 333 turbines, is expected to be submitted before the end of 2012.

Suffolk Wildlife Trust notes that offshore wind farms have the potential to disturb marine environments, such as birds and mammals, and the sea bed, and also necessarily affect terrestrial environments, as trenches are dug, and cables laid to connect with the national grid.

So it is clear that the environmental lobby of coastal counties has plenty of work on its hands to engage with the planning process to try for the best possible outcomes for the countryside and wildlife.

Breckland Nature Reserves and CountryParks -Explorer 229 Instead of a “Parish of the Month” we explore the Breckland area spanning the Norfolk – Suffolk border. This is the land of the rare stone curlew, whose love of “blasted heath” makes it seriously short of habitat now most of Breckland is under conifers. Here are some ideas for visits, even if many of the sites are more trees than open spaces.

Knettishall Heath
At the beginning of the year, Suffolk Wildlife Trust put out an urgent appeal to buy Knettishall Heath. Thanks to the generosity of its members, and other East Anglian friends, this large reserve (formerly 360acres, now enlarged) was purchased from Suffolk County Council.

Walkers will know the site as the termination of the Icknield Way long distance path, and the start of The Peddars Way. An information site, waymarked circuits, car park, and toilet block were part of the purchase, and RA Cambridge Group sent £50 towards maintenance.

Knettishall has a mix of habitats including areas of heath and chalk grassland. It is one of the best examples in the Brecks of so-called “patterned ground” in the form of vegetation stripes. These were created by repeated freezing/thawing at the end of the last ice age. Interesting plants include: meadow saxifrage; spring sedge; maiden pink; and unusual liverworts. Exmoor ponies are used to keep down young trees and bracken overcoming open habitats. Visit soon!

Lackford Lakes Suffolk Wildlife Trust also owns Lackford Lakes reserve, with a very splendid information centre, car park (small charge), and walks through the reserve to a scattering of about a dozen bird hides overlooking the old quarry lakes. This is also a good site for studying Breckland flowers on the bare sandy areas, varying in size from the tiny Breckland speedwell to the striking pink & blue Vipers Bugloss, often 2 feet high. A permissive footpath runs from Lackford Church to the reserve, so it is possible to walk from Lackford Lakes to West Stow Country Park, without using the dangerous stretch of main road from the approach drive to Lackford Car Park.

Other areas in the Brecks include nature reserves, other than those in the hands of the Suffolk Trust. These include:

Brandon County Park. This attractive area, adjacent to Brandon Park Hotel and rest home, about 2 miles out of Brandon, is surrounded by Forest Enterprise woodland, with access. It is run by Forest Heath District Council, with Suffolk County Council. There is a café and information centre, toilets and parking (small charge). A number of short waymarked walks are available within the park, visiting a walled garden, lake, mausoleum, tree trail etc, and incorporating a nature reserve. Much longer walks are possible, taking in the wider area of forestry on both sides of London Road, and linking with walks around High Lodge.

Thetford Forest Park High Lodge Forest Centre, over the border in Norfolk, is run by Forest Enterprise, from the Forest District Office in Santon Downham. Children’s playgrounds, tree walks, a maze, cycle hire, forest drives, information centre and café make Forest Lodge a “something for everyone” place. But there is plenty of good walking on waymarked tracks. Beware of the kami-kazi cyclists!

Around Santon Downham The Forest District office in Santon Downham is a source of leaflets and information in working hours, and an information board is available in the free car park outside the public toilets. Various waymarked walks are promoted, including nature notes. St Helens Car Park on the other side of the river, gives access to a further range of waymarked forest rides. Grimes Graves (English Heritage) to the north, is mostly about prehistoric flint mining, but with notes on natural history.

Fen Drayton At the end of May, I enjoyed an excellent walk around the Fen Drayton lakes, and along the busway-bridlepath, particularly admiring the huge variety of flowering plants along the busway verges. At the station for the RSPB, one can pick up a plan of the paths around the lakes. In the reserve, I visited the new “Coucher” hide, looking out over Moore Lake (and indicated by a red square on their plan). Here was advertised The Three Tuns pub in Fen Drayton, now open from 10.30 am daily, and serving tea, coffee, cakes etc. (Tel 01954 230 242).

As I was intending to walk into St Ives, and patronise the excellent “Nuts Bistro” café, I did not try the pub, but walk leaders may wish to note it.

Guided Busway Art Those of you who have walked along parts of the guided busway between Cambridge and St Ives will have noted that, in general, it is not provided with seats, other than rather inadequate “shelves” in the ‘bus shelters. Along the route there are, however, occasional short sections of curious brick wall with lettering, at a convenient height for sitting, or resting a rucksack, while consulting the map. On visiting the waiting room at Longstanton, I discovered from a leaflet that these are in fact works of art.

Handmade bricks from Cambridgeshire Tile and Brick Co., Burwell, on a base of Staffordshire Blue bricks, were fashioned by artist Jo Roberts into thought-provoking sculptures. There are 13 little walls along the route, each with a unique lettering. Each wall has specially pressed bricks with a selection of words chosen from suggestions by pupils at local schools, residents, and parish councils. The wet clay was moulded into a brick, and while the clay was drying the words were impressed with wooden Letterpress letters.

Next time I pass, I will not only put on my reading glasses to study progress on the map, I will “read” the walls!

Eversden Nev Fraser is looking for evidence that the old railway line going west from the Comberton road at TL383 544, west of the Lords Bridge Radio Telescope, has been used as a footpath, since the line was closed in 1965. Anyone with information is invited to contact Nev direct on

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 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


Price20 pence where sold Cantab 68 © Janet Moreton, 2012

CANTAB67 April 2012

CANTAB67 April 2012 published on

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


Editorial With current political discussion about Toll roads, this month’s article by Ken Hamilton is topical! Then take yourself to South Cambridgeshire’s far east for a Spring exploration of Weston Colville.

The Hauxton and Dunsbridge Turnpike The following interesting piece was received from Ken Hamilton last January, just too late for the February issue. Ken refers to the popular Christmas Eve walk of RA Cambridge Group, attended by 38 walkers.

“Kathy and I recently led a walk from Frog End, on the edge of Shepreth parish, starting from outside the Green Man pub in Dunsbridge Turnpike. I knew there was also a road sign on Shepreth crossroads a mile down the road to Cambridge, and the unusual name induced me to do a little investigating.

Turnpike Trusts were first established in the early 17th century, by private Acts of Parliament which allowed their trustees to exact a toll on road users, in return repairing and maintaining the highways. The Hauxton and Dunbridge Turnpike Trust was created in 1793 on an existing road running from Cambridge to Royston, with two tollhouses – one at Hauxton and the other at Dunsbridge. The road is the present day A10, still marked as Dunsbridge Turnpike on maps and road name signs around Melbourn. Asking people where Dunsbridge was proved unprofitable, and even experienced ramblers had no idea. However, the Dunsbridge Turnpike crosses the River Shep hard by the Dunsbridge Business Park. That this is the site of the original Duns Bridge seems a reasonable inference. There are a few tales about the Trust in the files of The Cambridge Chronicle. One is of the unfortunate accident suffered by Mr Cann, the tollkeeper at Dunsbridge, who one January day in 1810 was badly injured when his gun burst in his hand. He was taken to Addenbrookes Hospital, where his hand was amputated. Further news on his recovery is not forthcoming in the files.

The Trust, along with all other Turnpike Trusts around the country, was wound up in 1873, and the road and all the assets of The Trust were taken over by Cambridgeshire County Council. Toll gates were removed and free access to travellers was now the rule. As might be expected, this was a cause of celebration by all who used the roads (though probably not by the toll-keepers!). Inhabitants of the parishes traversed by the road no longer had to contribute a set number of days labour to maintaining the roads, and landowners were no longer responsible for funding their upkeep.”

Ken writes “I am still seeking information on The Trust. I do know records are held in the Leicestershire County Council archives, and Trust minutes at Cambridgeshire University Library, but if any reader can point me in the direction of more information, I will be extremely grateful”.

Parish of the Month – Weston Colville OS Explorer Maps (209), 210
In the far SE of Cambridgeshire, this long narrow parish stretches nearly 6 miles, adjacent to the Suffolk border at one end, and Six Mile Bottom at the other. Church End is named for the parish church, and has a windmill, and arts centre (formerly a school) whilst a mile away, Weston Green has the Methodist Church, small shop, and The Reading Room (parish hall).

The Essex River Stour rises in Weston Green at a ford and footbridge. Elsewhere are to be found ponds and moats, water being readily retained in the heavy boulder clay soil overlying the chalk.

Like almost every parish in South Cambridgeshire, traces have been found of prehistoric occupation, including two Neolithic axes and Mesolithic worked flints (on the border with West Wratting). Alison Taylor* quotes a possible Bronze Age ring ditch by the west boundary, and finds of early Bronze Age pottery just east of the church. The Roman Age is represented only by small amounts of pottery found in disturbed soil during excavations of a moat. However, early Anglo-Saxon pottery fragments were found in quantity on a high point half-way between Weston Colville and West Wratting, suggesting an early settlement.

Coming to historic times, in the late C10th a manor at Weston was given to the Abbey at Ely. The original manor house of Colvilles was probably sited west of the church, near a fragmentary moat adjacent to the present Weston Colville Hall. Another Anglo-Saxon Manor was Moynes, surrounded by a moat, at a site now known as Mines Farm. There was a daughter site, with a moated manor in Great Coven’s Wood.

Nowadays, Weston Colville is but a small village, with a few houses at Church End, and a modest settlement at Weston Green. In 1086, Domesday records ca 200 people and, up to the C14th, the parish was quite densely populated, after which there was a sharp decline, due to Black Death and famine. In 1377, the population was ca. 155. When a map was made of the parish in 1612, there were only 6 houses near the church, 18 at Weston Green, and more houses than at present scattered along the road between. More exact population census records of 1801 (318) and 1851 (574) plot the modest rise in residents declining to a figure of 430 in 1996, small for a large parish of 1300 ha.

Points of interest On the little triangle of green in front of The Reading Room is an attractive village sign, commemorating the wartime airfield, at the edge of the parish, now restored to farmland.

Turn along Mill Hill to Church End, to pass very soon an attractive landscaped pond, and, nearer Church End, a windmill. The restored church contains interesting brasses. In the churchyard is the base of a C15th cross.

Near Church End, an unsigned track turns off at TL 621 528 to Lower Wood, a Wildlife Trust nature reserve, which can also be accessed from the other end via Bridleway 14. This damp old wood is predominantly ash, which was once coppiced. Flowers include water avens dog’s mercury, oxlip, and bluebell. (Unfortunately Great Covens Wood to the north, and containing ancient moats, is private).

*Alison Taylor – Archaeology of Cambridgeshire, Vol 2. Publ. Cambridgeshire County Council 1998.

The paths of Weston Colville
This parish has no fewer than 24 paths, mostly in quite good order, signed and waymarked.

A small signed carpark is available opposite the Reading Room, Weston Green, at TL 625 523, although presumably its primary purpose is for Reading Room users. Otherwise, some parking may be made considerately alongside the recreation ground. Parking is more difficult at Church End

Paths from Weston Green
From Weston Green, by the Methodist Chapel , Fp 11 is signed on Chapel Road at TL 6233 5224, and leads along a good headland to Wratting Common Road, and thence to paths of West Wratting or West Wickham. An alternative route to West Wratting Common Road is via Fp 12. This starts up a driveway signed “Lakeside”, and “Alberta” at TL 6277 5215. Once behind the gardens, turn left and follow good headland as far as a footbridge & copse at TL 6236 5159, then continue SSW beside trees, then across an arable field to Wratting Common Road.

Starting again in Weston Green, Fp 13 leads across the rec to the end of Horseshoes Lane at TL 6282 5241, where two paths to Willingham Green are available. Bp 14 starts North: the RoW starts so narrowly between hedges, that it is dangerous should you meet a horse. Instead, a permissive footpath is signed running alongside it. Beyond the hedged section, follow the waymarked field-edge path.

Byway 15 crosses the infant R Stour at a ford, with a concrete bridge provided for walkers. Also from near the ford, Fps 16 and 17 run behind the houses.

Still in Weston Green, Fp 18 starts as a narrow way between garden hedges at TL 6278 5215 off Common Road. It continues as a field-edge path, later Fp 20, leading via Cocksedge Farm to Carlton Church.

Also off Common Road, at TL 6282 5210, Fp19 leads over a footbridge to run behind gardens, only to re-emerge onto Common Road a little further SE. Persist down this road to TL 6320 5169, where Fp 21 starts across an arable field, cutting off the corner of a road, on the approach to Carlton Green.

Finally, in this locality, path connoisseurs will appreciate Fp22, (which joins West Wratting fp 16 and West Wickham 20). This meandering path in 3 parishes wanders around the boundary of the former wartime airfield. Used in dry weather, when the crop is still short, this is an amusing exercise. When the author tried the route in June last year, it was perfectly reinstated. Presumably the farmer also has a GPS!

Paths from Weston Colville Church End
From the B1052, just SW of the church, Fp 8 is signed through a kissing gate at TL 6151 5301 into a pasture field, which often contains placid cows. A second kissing gate leads into arable, where the path continues due S, leading through a belt of trees and towards The Grove in West Wratting. A feeder path, Fp 9, starts off Mill Hill Road, beside the windmill at TL 6202 5291, corners the wood at Hill Crofts, and joins Fp8 at TL 6148 5264.

Older maps do not show Fp24, which leaves Fp8 at TL 6144 5239, running ESE in front of the plantation. It continues along a field-edge track to meet Chapel Road at TL 6185 5212, and then continues SW inside the roadside verge to connect with paths leading towards West Wratting.

Returning to Mill Hill, Fp7 starts to the N of the road, signed beside a house driveway at TL 6195 5301. This popular dog-walking path joins the B1052 at TL 6199 5345, at the driveway to Moat House. A branch path, Fp 6, turns off Fp7 at the plank bridge at TL 6202 5312, and returns towards the B1052 nearer the centre of Church End at TL 6179 5325 between two houses.

Opposite this point, Fp5 ‘s signpost at TL 6177 5327 is often obscured in a tall hedge. The path is clear enough, going NW, at first on a grass headland beside a ditch & hedge. Beyond the crossing with Fp10 at TL 6138 5355 there are cross-field sections, sticky on the heavy clay, before attaining Grange Road at TL 6041 5393.

Fp10 is a relatively new addition to the network, and may not be shown as a RoW on old maps. It runs N from the B1052 at TL 6134 5309 on a farm track, to become Carlton Fp22, which joins part of the Icknield Way Path, Carlton 2, at the barn shown on maps as “Cricks Farm”.

The Outliers Those few readers who have been diligently following this exercise on their maps, will wonder what has become of the remaining paths. Because parishes in this Hundred are long and thin, drawn out giving each access to the predecessor of the A11, path numbering is rather obscure.

So Fp2, between Lark Hall, TL 5853 5479 and the minor road at TL 5916 5422 is numbered in Weston Colville. Similarly, the long path, Fp1, from the N end of Fox Road, TL 6011 5456, follows hedges and field boundaries to the outskirts of Six Mile Bottom. Byways 3 and 4 are two short sections of Fox Road which continues S all the way to Balsham.

Byway 23 is a short section of the Old Cambridge Road, which runs westwards from Lark Hall, to meet the A11 close to the Fleam Dyke Crossing.

Did you know?
Some 200 walks are available to be downloaded on the National Trust website. Most popular is The Bath Skyline walk, and the “most challenging” is said to be a 10 mile walk in the Manifold Valley, Derbyshire. Information:

WANTED Reports of usage of a Harlton Path
A (non-public) footpath that has been used for at least 40 years that we know of, was closed in January and the stile removed. It is a short path and goes from the back of Harlton Churchyard to join with public footpath No.1 that goes from Haslingfield Road to Washpit Lane. If you have ever walked this short path from the churchyard, can you please e-mail me on or get in touch with Roger or Janet Moreton. Thank you.

Susan Schofield

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 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


Cantab 67 – Price 20 pence where sold © Janet Moreton, 2012

CANTAB66 February 2012

CANTAB66 February 2012 published on

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


It is always good to have feedback from an article (“Outdated Cambridgeshire Walks’ Guides” in the December issue of Cantab Rambler) and we will all be indebted to Roger Wolfe for sharing his reminiscences on the mid-C20th availability of maps and guidebooks for walking in Cambridgeshire and the wider East Anglia. Litlington is this month’s parish, offering relatively dry cross-field walking on chalk soils.

Janet Moreton

Letter to the Editor- Roger Wolfe, 11 Nov. 2011 More on Earlier Guides and Maps
“I was particularly interested in your review of footpath guides, a fascinating and rather neglected aspect of the pleasures of country walking. It’s interesting to speculate what our rambling predecessors got up to and what the East Anglian countryside was like to walk through in the 1930s.

Perhaps the question is partly answered by the ‘Cambridge and District Footpath Map’ published by the Cambridge Preservation Society in 1936. At two inches to the mile it shows a lot of paths and tracks not on the modern definitive map, but also omits quite a few routes now public. The inside cover has some interesting advice, e.g. “Any footpath connecting two spots open to the public is as a rule a public footpath.” Such optimism!

Also from the 1930s is a booklet entitled ‘Rambles in Cambridgeshire’ published by the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) price 6d (2.5p). The county definition is somewhat elastic, ‘Cambs’ extending well into Essex and Suffolk on several walks. What a pity to have been born too late to have enjoyed the 18 mile Mildenhall to Ely ramble making use of the ferry at Barway! (‘Walking tour ticket 2s 8d third class, any day any train from Cambridge’.) It’s interesting that many of the walks featured ventured into Fenland. The average distance of all 14 walks in the booklet is 15.5 miles, so it seems the earlier generation of walkers must have been a pretty tough lot.

The earliest post-WW2 walks booklet I can remember (about 1957) described rambles in the Saffron Walden area, several of which extended into Cambs. The author claimed that the walks could be followed in the opposite direction to that described simply by substituting left for right and right for left! Sadly I don’t have a copy and don’t recall having put this formula to the test.

In the early 1960s I did a series of walk descriptions for the ‘Cambridge Daily News’ as it was then. Each walk was based on public transport in the local area. The paper declined to publish maps for fear of infringing OS copyright and the sub-editors thought nothing of omitting whole paragraphs of crucial description if they needed extra space for other material! As your Cantab comments make clear, in those days it was a challenge to find usable paths for publication.

The inclusion of public rights of way on OS maps in the mid 1960s was of huge significance and I well remember looking at the new, specially produced OS ‘Tourist Map of Cambridge’ (1965, one inch to the mile, ten bob) and seeing for the first time where we could (and could not) walk as of right.

The huge increase in car ownership in the 1960s and consequent decline in rural public transport caused a significant shift in the way that ramblers in Cambs and neighbouring counties experienced the countryside. Point to point walks were replaced by circular routes from convenient (and sometimes not so convenient) car parks. Ironically, walk planners who had previously been limited by the availability of train or bus services are now constrained by finding adequate parking places for group and club outings. However, rising fuel prices, increased parking charges and environmental concerns have caused a small revival of the use of surviving rural rail stations as gateways to the countryside. A series of leaflets has been produced by the Mid Anglia Rail Passengers’ Association (MARPA) describing walks between each of the stations served by trains on the Cambridge to Ipswich line (also Bury St Edmunds to Ely) with a bit of help from local bus services at places like Soham and Fulbourn where intermediate stations have closed. The leaflets can be downloaded from

My, isn’t your rucksack heavy?
This is not usually a comment directed at me, but to Roger, apparently toiling along under a huge load. I have been threatening for some time to make him turn it out, and discover the reason for the bulges, and this is what I found.

The Rucksack weighed empty at 0.70 kg.

Food and drink. A full stainless steel flask of coffee, and a 300ml plastic bottle of water weigh 1.30kg. Food for the day, (biscuits and cheese, fruit, cake, cereal bars) might add up to 0.75kg.

Spare clothing. This is very much a seasonal thing, but taking into account approved outdoor safety standards, assuming one is already wearing a fleece, one might also have with one: waterproof jacket (0.50kg) and overtrousers (0.25kg), waterproof mittens (0.10kg), gaiters (0.20kg), scarf (0.10kg) spare socks (0.10kg), spare woolly (0.25kg), hat (0.10kg).

Accessories. 2 Maps, notebook, pen (0.35kg), GPS (0.10kg), mobile phone (0.10kg), wallet money and keys (0.30kg), first aid kit, comb etc (0.20kg), folding aluminium umbrella (0.20kg), secateurs (0.25kg), small torch (0.20kg), monocular (0.10kg), sit mat (0.10kg), rucksack cover (0.10kg)

I weighed these roughly on the kitchen scales, but accuracy is not important as different varieties of items would vary considerably in weight. A waterproof jacket might vary between 0.30 and 0.75kg, for example.

So the clothing in the rucksack weighs 2.05kg unless it is cold and wet, when you will be carrying it on your person! Roger’s food and drink weighed 1.6kg. This could have been less without the water bottle, or with a smaller flask of coffee. The accessories, individually, mostly weighed about 100g each, but together weighed 2kg. A surprise is how much money and keys weigh one down, and that two Landranger maps weigh 0.25kg.

So the grand total makes 6.35kg (or 14lb). My, isn’t your rucksack heavy?

Parish of the Month – Litlington
Explorer Sheet 208
Location and History. Litlington is one of the parishes on the chalk, with Limlow Hill to the south of the village, rising to 60m. The parish extends south to the A505, one of the lines of the ancient Icknield Way. Ashwell Street (or “Strete”) has a mile of its length in the parish, passing from Steeple Morden to Bassingbourn. This green lane is, like the A505, of prehistoric origin, part of a strand of tracks leading across England from Wessex to East Anglia. To the north of the parish, the little stream “Mill River” separates Litlington from Abington Pigotts. The open fields were enclosed following an award made in 1830, and the Cambs definitive map of 1953 left Litlington with a sparse 10 paths.

It seems that in Roman times, Litlington may have been an important, wealthy settlement, but traces of earlier occupation go back to the Mesolithic Age, with worked flints and 3 axes found on the site of the village. The Bronze Age is heavily represented by 16 former barrows (now only visible as ring ditches, and identified by aerial photography) along the southern route of the Icknield Way. An early Bronze Age dagger was found in the village, and lumps from a bronze Ingot (indicating bronze workings) came from Limlow Hill. On older maps, a tumulus is shown near the summit of Limlow Hill at TL 323 417, almost on the line of fp 9.

Finally, an Iron Age settlement preceded significant Roman sites. On Hill Farm, just N of Ashwell Street, small squarish enclosures showing as very slight banks and depressions may belong to this period. Mile Ditches (3 banks and ditches, crossing the Icknield Way and running through the E edge of Litlington) are defensive earthworks of Iron Age date, and extend from an upstanding round barrow on Therfield Heath, for about 1.5 miles to the Springs at Bassingbourn. The ditches were silted up from Roman times, and were finally levelled in the C19th, but can be seen as massive dark parallel lines in bare soil.

Cambs’ most important Roman cemetery was at Litlington, found during gravel digging in 1821. The then vicar’s wife made drawings from 80 cremations, lying in rows 1m apart. Some urns were in wooden boxes of which the iron nails and bronze lock plates survived. Other burials were accompanied by grave goods, eg handled flagon, storage jar, and samian cup. There were also ca 250 inhumations, with findings of pottery and glass vessels, glass beads, and coins. Nearby was a stone chamber containing a stone coffin, which can now be seen outside the W end of the church. The “Romano-British” burial ground is shown adjacent to Ashwell Street, at TL 314 420, just west of a crossing track.on the 1956 OS 1st series 1:25 000 sheet. Sir Cyril Fox refers to “a walled cemetery in a field known, from time immemorial, as Heaven’s Walls”.

The 1956 map shows the site of a C4th Roman Villa on the SW edge of the village at TL 313 425. The villa was excavated in 1829 and 1881. It measured 100 x 120 m, and contained 30 rooms around a courtyard, hypocaust, bath, and at least 1 mosaic pavement. All records of the excavation were lost. The rectangular layout of the village, together with the evidence of the Roman villa, may indicate that this village originated as a Roman settlement.

Later, the village seems to have developed from 2 settlements, Church End and South End. In the Middle Ages, Dovedale Manor House stood in a moated site at Bury Farm. The rectangular enclosure contained fishponds, fed by Chardle Ditch. Much of the moat has been levelled, and can only be seen as dry depressions in the field. In 1428 the property passed to the Pigotts of Abington Pigotts. The moat of The Bury is shown at TL 312 432, just beyond Bury Farm, north of fp 5, probably in a grassy paddock. Huntingfields Manor House, off Church Street, was first recorded in 1337. The moat around the present house, which dates from the C16th, only survives as a widening of the stream.

The C13th church is of interest and has a medieval pulpit and fine caved oak chancel screen of that period. Inside, there is the stone head of a scold-in-bridle, ca. 1330 as head-stop to a moulded arch in the N arcade. Old bosses in the roof are picked out in gilt .

In the village stands an old brick lock-up in Middle Street, TL 312 428. A small triangular village green at TL 313 426 contains 2 seats, and an attractive village sign.

Pub and shop are located on Church Street.

Walks suggestions from Litlington
Walks are described from the church. There is a little informal parking here on the verge of Litlington Road (avoid Sundays). There is a car-park for the village hall on Meeting Lane, but it would seem best to seek permission.

The main aim is to describe how best to leave / return to Litlington. Extended walks in Bassingbourn were described in Cantab 34, Jan. 2006, and those in Abington Pigotts in Cantab 20, Sept 2003.

Most of these routes involve a proportion of cross-field arable paths on chalky land, generally less sticky than the heavier claylands to the north of Cambridge.

(A) Ashwell Street, Royston and Therfield Heath. 6 miles, or 9 miles with diversions
From the church, walk SSE along Royston Road to Ashwell Street. Fp9 is signed going SE, climbing Limlow Hill, to cross seven arable fields, generally well marked, reaching Bassingbourn Bp16 at TL 334 411. Follow this S carefully over both the railway crossing and the A505 to the Little Chef. Go a little way up the Therfield road, and turn left to walk along the Heath, into Royston. (A detour into the Nature Reserve from TL 337 400 is rewarding). Visit Royston, or turn down at lane at TL349 406 to Green Drift. Cross the railway, continue on a fenced path through the industrial site, cross the bypass, and continue NNW on Bassingbourn fp 18 to Ashwell Street. Turn left, and return to Litlington.

(B) Visiting Bassingbourn and Abington Pigotts. 7 miles
From the church, walk along Church St to Cockhall Lane, and take Fp7 SW to join Ashwell Street. Here turn left along Ashwell Street, crossing Royston Rd, and continue along Ashwell Street to TL 331 426, where a kissing gate gives access to a permissive path going N to Wellhead Springs. Turn right in front of the Springs, and follow the path to South End., Bassingbourn. Continue N over the crossroads to visit Bassingbourn Church, and go beyond Church End to The Mill, TL 326 443. Take the path going SW, then generally W across seven fields to Abington Pigotts. (This sounds formidable, but has recently been re-waymarked: excellent when frozen, or in short young cereal). The Inn is recommended. Take footpaths to Down Hall, TL 315 437. Just beyond, take the signed path through the grounds of the watermill house. Crossing a ditch on a bridge, the path continues as Fp2 in Litlington, reaching the road at TL 309 433. Go S down the road, and turn left on Fp5 past Bury Farm. Continue through paddocks, emerging in Litlington on Meeting Lane. Turn right to inspect the old lockup.

(C) To Upper Gatley and Morden Grange 5 miles. From the church, take Royston Road to Ashwell Street. Turn right (WSW) along this fine green lane, as far as Upper Gatley End. Here turn S on a track towards Morden Grange Plantation. At TL 297 405 it is possible to walk forward to the junction at TL301 400 or, more interestingly, follow around the other side of the plantation next to the concealed chalkpit, passing over a conveyor belt. In either case, walk beyond Morden Grange Farm to TL 313 406, where turn N, and follow the grassy track to young woodland, to emerge on Ashwell Street. At TL 311 417, take Fp7 back to Litlington village. n.b. This is a “clean” walk. (It is possible to extend this route to Ashwell station at Odsey, to give distances up to 10 miles.)

(D)To Abington Pigotts and The Mordens 4 miles, or much more!
Opposite the churchyard on Litlington Road, a signpost points W along Fp3 across an arable field, generally well walked. Mid-field, Fp4 branches off at TL 306 428. Follow Fp4 W into Steeple Morden parish, passing through a belt of trees, and going uphill in an arable field to join a track at TL 311429. Follow the track N, then around bends by a ditch and field edge, to a bridge over Cheney Water at TL 298 435. Turn right on the brookside track towards Down Hall Farm. Take the track N to Bible Grove. Here, either turn right into Abington Pigotts, or left along Bogs Gap Lane to Bogs Gap, Steeple Morden, TL 292 435. Many options are possible for visiting the Mordens from here. The shortest variant involves turning left along the lane to Brook End. At Hillside Farm, TL 292 428, turn E on a track to meet your outward route at a corner, TL 301 429. Turn S on the track to Litlington Road, and return to the church, taking care on this rather busy road.

The Mordens, between them have an excellent network of over 100 paths. A typical circuit from Litlington taking in both villages would give a walk of 8 to 12 miles.

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 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 Cantab66 © Janet Moreton, 2012