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CANTAB83 December 2015

CANTAB83 December 2015 published on

** Please note that this is an archive of the CANTAB publication and contains out-of-date information **


Access for all? – Transport
The Christmas/New Year festive season, which regularly throws up 4 or even 5 days almost without public transport, has reminded me of those forcibly confined to barracks (or at least to within walking distance of home), and the state of particularly the bus service, in and around Cambridge. The author lived in a car-free household until the age of 50, and every Christmas, with some valuable free time off work, was deeply frustrated by the inability to go further than her legs would carry her. At that time, this might have been 15 miles or so, but it was still very aggravating!

Within Cambridge, there is, at least on weekdays and out of holiday periods, a reasonable bus service. Certain routes out of Cambridge are well served: City 13 to Linton and Haverhill runs a half hourly service; Bedford, St Neots, Cambourne and Huntingdon are well served, and of course the guided bus provides a wonderful service about every 10 minutes to and from St Ives, and the splendid recreational area provided by the Fenstanston Lakes. And I should mention a special Sunday service to Wimpole and Gamlingay which runs a couple of times a day on Summer Sundays, especially for walkers and cyclists.

But the weekday bus service to Saffron Walden only runs once an hour, and the big village of Balsham has a very poor service. Worse than this, there are places in Cambridgeshire that are lucky to have a couple of buses a day.

On the whole, residents of Cambridge City who want to take a country walk using public transport can do fairly well, so long as they accept there are places not reachable. However, someone living in one of the villages, even if that village has a good bus service, will probably find themselves required to go into Cambridge and out again, to reach the start of a public transport walk in another village. These remarks would apply, similarly, I believe, to those living in villages around, say, Peterborough and Huntingdon.

I do not know what proportion of ramblers living in Cambridgeshire do not have access to a car to get them to the start of a walk. The RA Cambridge Group programme puts on a reasonable number of public transport walks. The programme suggests that offers of lifts are often available for car-start walks. Do people think that the programme has got the proportion bus-/car- start walks correct?

Access for all – The Less Able
There are walkers and walkers. There are those who might be members of The Long Distance Walkers Association, for whom twenty miles in a day might be routine. And there are those for whom two to four miles in the countryside constitutes a pleasant if challenging walk, that, for reasons of strength, age or disability, they are just able to manage.

But where to take such a walk? Each person with a disability is different. Typical problems relate to poor surfaces, steepness of ground, steps, fast roads to cross, and obstacles such as stiles.

Reading the Ordnance Survey Explorer map can be used to give the first selection of a route. Measure the route for the distance, look for points of interest or refreshment, check there are no major obstacles, and no contours close together indicating a steep slope (what in Cambridgeshire?). But the map will not tell us where there are stiles.

In some respects, a walks guide to an unfamiliar area may be more helpful, specifically mentioning the location of stiles, seats along the way, etc. But remember that a year may pass between the path inspection and publication date, and much longer if the guidebook has been languishing on your shelves, or in a library.

The greater the disability, clearly, the greater is the potential access problem. Making the countryside enjoyable and reachable is about more than provision of wheelchair access or specially adapted toilets. Above all, it is about consistency and continuity. There is a huge bridge over the A14 at Hardwick, giving potential power-assisted wheelchair access to the long footpath going to Dry Drayton. But beyond the bridge, further progress on the rough path would be most problematical for such a buggy, and has proved very hard going for someone limping on a stick.

Over the years, improved access for the less able has been the aim of many organisations, such as The Fieldfare Trust, and including The Ramblers’ Association. Both the local RA Cambridge Group and Cambridge Rambling Club have recently been able to assist the County Council and local parishes by providing funds for seats and a stile.

What can ordinary ramblers do? Please report any obstructions, like fallen trees to the County Council. You may be able to struggle past, but others might have to turn back. If leading a walk, I suggest it is helpful to state if the route is stile-free, and give an indication of the pace. Similarly, I appeal to walking guide authors to give details of stiles or other potential difficulties, and to note the presence of seats along a route. Give distances, rather than time for a walk, as a lame person may walk at half the normal pace.
Janet Moreton

Parish of the Month – Cherry Hinton
Since 1934, Cherry Hinton has been part of Cambridge City, so you will not find its boundaries defined on Explorer 209. In times past, it was a separate parish, occupying the West corner of the Flendish Hundred.

The War Ditches, a hillfort 55m in diameter, stood at the top of Limekiln Hill (TL 484 557) where prehistoric activity was concentrated. Late Bronze Age barrows were discovered within the ditches of the chalky fort. The upper layers of the fort reveal late Iron Age pottery. Its single rampart failed to save its inhabitants from massacre ca 50AD. In Roman times, the War Ditches site was reused as a farm of 110AD, including 4 -5 buildings, rebuilt in the C2nd & C3rd, and many Roman coins were found. Roman buildings were also discovered on the site of The Church of the Latterday Saints on Cherry Hinton Road, and, in the north near Church End, a Roman villa was excavated in the 1980s.

Time moved on and the Bronze Age barrows in War Ditches were reused in the C7th as Anglo Saxon burial sites, with grave goods, including a crystal ball, sling, and spear head.

Cherry Hinton used to consist of separate settlements at Church End and Mill End, separated by land prone to flooding. In 2000, a Saxon Church was excavated at Church End, along with a cemetery of over 650 Saxon burials. Mill End had at least one watermill. The village green at Mill End surrounded Giant’s Grave (source of the brook) and stretched north down the present High Street beneath the Unicorn pub. Mill End had Rectory Manor and Netherhall Manor.

By 1066, Hinton was held as a manor by Editha The Fair. Her land was confiscated following the Conquest, and given to Count Alan of Brittany, as part of the honour of Richmond. Eventually, part of the manor passed to the Fitz-Hugh family, and held in direct succession for 350years. There were closely related manors called Uphall Manor and Mallets Manor in Church End, dating from around 1100. All the manors of Cherry Hinton had disappeared by the late 1700s. The marshland between Church End & Mill End was drained after Inclosure in 1810. Other marshes west of the village between Trumpington Drift (Queen Edith’s Way) and Cherry Hinton Brook, were drained 1825 & 1869. Of several streams, the only visible survivor is Cherry Hinton brook, a R Cam tributary, arising SW of the village at Giants Grave. The bridge that carries Daws Lane over the brook, north of Cherry Hinton Hall, was known as White Bridge.

The high quality chalk subsoil made for a thriving clunch and lime burning industry until early 1900s, and the former cement works and its pits have left a considerable impact on the parish.

The short-lived Chesterford to Newmarket railway built in 1847 passed through the SW of the parish. Taken over by the Great Eastern railway in 1851, it closed in 1858. By 1928, traces of the route, now Mamora Road had vanished (although the deep cutting of the railway can been seen crossing Fleam Dyke).

Reliable water supplies have made Cherry Hinton a good site for settlement since prehistoric times. In 1852, Cambridge University and Town Water Co. obtained an Act of Parliament for water to be piped to a high level reservoir at Madingley from the spring-head at Cherry Hinton. The project was completed 1855, with a reservoir on Limekiln Hill and a pumping station on the south side of Fulbourn road. By 1883, demand required two further wells. After a typhoid scare in 1907, the pumping station was replaced by one at Fulbourn. The Waterworks Co handed over the springs to Cambridge City Council in 1941, and the reservoirs have continued to supply the City since.

In 1086, 41 peasants lived in Cherry Hinton; by 1279, there were about 174 tenants; in 1377, 185 people paid the pol tax; and in 1664, there were 60 house-holds. In 1821 the population was 474, going up to 1537 in 1891. This was the start of suburban development, so that by 1901, the population was 2597; by 1921, 4269; and by 1961, 11201. Several suburban roads were laid out between 1889 and 1928 (Mowbray, Perne and Brook roads). In 1938, the Queen Edith’s Way to Coldham’s Lane section was made a ring road. By 1998, there were over 200 streets in the parish, many of them cul de sacs (so don’t go exploring without your street map!).

Afoot in Cherry Hinton
Amidst all the modern housing, it is worth looking for some attractive old buildings in Church End. The present church, St Andrews (in clunch and Barnack stone) dates from ca 1100. Its early English chancel was described by the Pevsner as “best”. At Church End, one timber-framed thatched cottage survives from the C16th. North of the Church, Uphall House is also C16th timber-framed, with a central chimney stack, but was extended in 1830. To the SW, Church Hall Farm has a late C17th 2-storey wing, with an C18th single storey E-W range. On the NE side of High Street, are C17th & C18th houses, and the 2-storey Glebe Cottage, C16th timber framed, remodelled in the C19th.

Nature Reserves
For the outdoor person, the jewels in Cherry Hinton’s crown are the nature reserves, managed by the Wildlife Trust. Limekiln Close, 2.6ha of medieval chalk pit, lies at the foot of Limekiln hill. It consists of chalk grassland, scrub and woodland, and is accessible in 3 places through handgates. Continue a short distance up Limekiln Hill, to come to East Pit, opened as a reserve in 2009, and giving a complete contrast to the wooded Limekiln Close, since it displays cliffs of bare chalk, and bare chalk paths, yearly becoming more colonised by characteristic chalkland species. At the top corner of the pit is an interpretive board for the War Ditches site, and other display boards explain the exposed chalk layers and plant life. Cross the road, and enter the caravan site. Between the driveway and the roadside, a very steep, almost mountain- like path ascends in the trees. Emerge in West Pit, a small reserve known for its superb displays of wild flowers between May and August. A conventional exit through a kissing gate leads onto Limekiln Road. It would be nice to recommend a walk up Limekiln Road & Worts Causeway onto the Via Devana, but neither road has a footway, and both are dangerous.

Cherry Hinton Park and pathways
This is a popular spot for dogwalkers, and the shady trees and pond provide an attractive venue for mothers with young children come to feed the ducks. Out the back of the park, a tarmac footpath leads to the Citi2 bus stop in Walpole Road. A branch path, turning off right behind the park, becomes City Fp 1, following Cherry Hinton Brook past allotments, and emerging at Brookfields, opposite the foot of Mill Road. Also from Brookfields, City Fp2 runs E-W past the former cement works lake & quarry, in a fenced defile, crossing the railway (becoming Fp3) & continuing generally east, still largely contained between fences. Meeting High St near the level crossing, it continues near the railway behind Tesco, acquiring a more open aspect. This route, now in Fulbourn parish continues to join Fulbourn Old Drift, past the Ida Darwin Hospital and giving a quiet route to Fulbourn village.

The Definitive Map for Cambridge City shows a number of other short paths in Cherry Hinton, now largely short-cuts through housing. Other such pedestrian through-ways are shown in the County’s “list of streets”, and are better tracked in a street map or good street atlas, than on OS 292. The unfortunate path City 109/ Teversham 2, was diverted as a footway around the fence of Cambridge airport.

Cantab Rambler by E-Mail & Post
Cantab usually appears some 4 times per annum.. 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, 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
Cantab83 © Janet Moreton, 2015.

CANTAB82 August 2015

CANTAB82 August 2015 published on

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


Old Man River…
Roger & I met recently with Karen Champion, to celebrate the installation of new self-closing and kissing gates along the bank of the Old West River between High Bridge Aldreth and the Haddenham pumping engine and an almost stile-free route on both sides of the river between The Lazy Otter and the Newmarket Road, Stretham. Sadly, there is one stile left on the village side of the river close to Bridge House due to lack of space for a kissing gate. Although a self-closing gate would have fitted, the cattle owner was nervous of the gate being propped open to accommodate fishing gear.

Karen is Cambridgeshire County Council’s Public Rights of Way Officer for the whole of East Cambs District, and this project involved much work liaising with several different landowners along the route. Seen on a fine May morning, with clouds scudding across the landscape, the extensive views from the well-mown river bank were a compelling invitation for a good walk, and the Lazy Otter” on the river bank near Stretham is a good place to appease the appetite so engendered.

We talked about the huge density of paths (over a hundred) in Soham, where a group of volunteers have, over the years, installed very many new bridges and gates. Sadly, this group of volunteers has now disbanded as they have become physically less active.

Karen also deals with path matters in the “paddock belt” of East Cambs, and described recent surface improvements and hedge trimming on Gypsy Lane (byway 10) and bridleway 13 in Dullingham. Other path improvements are in Brinkley, and over the District border in Carlton, South Cambs, in association with Karen’s South Cambs colleague, Peter Gaskin.

Why not take a fresh look at East Cambridgeshire? Cambridge Group’s books, “Walks in East Cambs” and “The Fen Rivers Way” are still in print, and available from Lisa Woodburn, tel 01223 245566.

Karen is keen that walkers report East Cambs faults, using either CCC’s call centre 0345 045 5212, or on-line

I must admit I find filling in these forms on-line time-consuming and tedious, especially with several problems in one parish, repeating details common to all, but do give it a try, as the Highways Department refuses to accept complaints by other written means. This must surely reduce the number of complaints going into the system.

Parish of the Month, Stretham
Explorer 226
This parish, South of Ely, is centred on the crossroads of the A1123 and the A10, the latter generally following the line of the Roman Akeman Street north from Cambridge. The fenland sections of this Roman road are thought to have been submerged from the C4th to the C17th. Its successor, turnpiked in 1763, entered the parish at what is now a layby beside the bridge over the Old West River.

The centre of Stretham, The Market Place, has a little triangle, graced by a stone market cross, which, amazingly, has survived since the early C15th. Many of Stretham’s ancient buildings were destroyed in a disastrous fire of 1844. Dates of rebuilding after the fire can be observed from the dates of houses along Top St. A survivor of the fire, the large red-brick house dated 1770 at Plantation Gate, may give an impression of the type of many properties that were destroyed.

What did survive is the church, dating from ca 1400, with a perpendicular stone spire. The spire & tower are relics of the original structure, following major Victorian renovation Parts of the adjacent rectory date from the C14th.

A converted windmill, with a 4-storey tarred brick tower, at the north end of Stretham, TL 512749, is a local landmark.

Stretham’s rarest feature is the Beam Engine, housed in a pump house on the banks of the Old West River, reached via Green End, and used for fen drainage. Built 1831, the engine powered a 37ft diameter scoop wheel, which lifted water at 124 tons per minute. It was last worked in 1941. There is a typical 3-part engine house, the engine (built by Butterley Co.) placed between the boiler-house and the scoopwheel house. Double piston valves were installed in 1909. This impressive engineering construction is open to the public at advertised times.

Stretham has a good selection of public paths, connecting with Ely, Little Thetford, and Wilburton, and allowing shorter strolls around the village.

Stretham lies on the route of two long distance paths. One of these is:
The Fen Rivers Way, running from Cambridge to Kings Lynn, ca 80 km.
Details are available in a small handbook of the same title, available from RA Cambridge Group (tel 01223 245566).

Other walks in the locality are described in “Walks in East Cambridgeshire”, also available from RA Cambridge Group.

The other long-distance path is:
The Black Fen Waterways Trail
This is a circular walk of 105km, passing Stretham Old Engine, and going through Ely, Littleport, Downham Market, Outwell, March, Chattris, Sutton, and back to Stretham. A leaflet was available in 2001 from The Fens Tourism Group, Spalding tel 01775 762715

(Note that the Black Fen Waterways Trail is not to be confused with the Brown Fen Waterways Trail, a circuit of 107 km, passing through Boston, Fosdyke, Surfleet, Spalding, Croyland, Donnington, and Swyneshead.. Yes, I know these places are in Lincolnshire!)

Back in Stretham, the village has excellent facilities, including a bus service to Ely and Cambridge. In the village, the Red Lion and a fish & chip shop are available to sustain the inner man. Along the riverside, are the Fish & Duck, by Holt Fen Bridge, and The Lazy Otter on the Old West River, just off the A10.

Various short walks are available from the village.

(a) From Chapel St, cross the A1123, go down Green End, turn right towards Fieldside, but turn off left (S) onto Fp 20.
Meet Everitts Drove. Turn left, then right onto Green End, and continue to Stretham Old Engine on Old West River. Return to the village along Green End. (2 miles). Alternatively, continue SW on the N bank of the Old West, to lunch at the Lazy Otter, returning on the other bank to Stretham Old Engine. Cross the river, and walk up Green End, (total 6 miles).

(b) Follow route (a) to Everitts Drove.
Turn SW to the Fruit & Vegetable shop on the A10. Go carefully SW on the A10. Cross with great care to join fp 18 past Red Hill farm to the A1123. Turn right, cross over with care, and turn left onto byway 13. Turn right along Mill Drove, and cross the A10 to re-enter the village near the windmill. (total 5 miles)

(c) From the church, take Chapel St, left into Chapel Lane, left onto Reads St, right into Goose Lane, left on Brook Lane, and right onto Plantation Gate. You should now be at TL 516 746, and the start of Fp4, which will lead you into Little Thetford parish. Detour on the branch path S at TL 529 750 to visit Holt Fen Bridge, (built as a result of much campaigning), or continue into Little Thetford. Return on The Burying Way, signed in Little Thetford.. This track was once used to carry coffins from Little Thetford to Stretham for burial. Little Thetford has its own church these days. (5 miles)

Permissive Paths
I recently received some enquiries about permissive or “permitted” paths, and how to find out about them.

There is no simple answer to this. Cambridgeshire County Council does keep a register of those permissive paths where they have been notified by the landowner, but this does not include all paths not on the Definitive Map, nor is the information readily available, although one may enquire about specific paths.

Some of these paths are registered under Higher Level Stewardship Scheme, and information on these is available on the Internet.

Other paths are quite informal, and are perhaps better called “customary” paths. Some, such as several at Longstowe, are signed “Estate Paths”. Some paths are described in local leaflets put out by a parish council, or perhaps a park owner, and may be available in a local shop, or the erstwhile phone box, as at Guilden Morden. Some parishes have useful and attractive path display boards, which may include information on permissive paths. Indeed, several permissive paths in Cambridgeshire have individual display boards showing routes and path availability, but this degree of information is unusual.

Generally, permissive paths, other than those contracted via the Higher Level Stewardship Scheme for a finite length of time, can be closed to the public at any time, at the whim of the landowner.

A route on the riverside meadows near Fen Ditton was recently closed without notice by Gonville & Caius college, having been available without question for many years.

Some paths, (e.g. Part of the Bedfordshire Greensand Ridge Walk near Northill, or part of The Nature Trail at Lackford, Suffolk) are only open at certain times of year.

Ordnance Survey Explorer sheets do in theory have a category (brown dots) for permissive paths, but very few are indicated on the sheets covering Cambridgeshire.

I sympathise with the gentleman who prompted my putting these thoughts together and agree that one can see waymarks for the start of an unfamiliar permissive path, and have no idea where they may be leading….

Janet Moreton

The Cambridgeshire RA Walking Programme
Going back at least to 1993, Cambs RA has enjoyed a printed walking programme containing the walks of the constituent groups. Over the years, many people have been involved in making this possible, including those who lead walks, the programme secretaries of each Group, the programme co-ordinator, and those getting the material checked and printed, and posted to each group member. Many Groups will remember happy evenings stuffing envelopes when it was their turn to send out the programme, often to the accompaniment of coffee and cake, or perhaps a glass of wine.

Sadly, it seems likely this is to cease. With the exception of East Cambs Group, the groups are continuing to produce their walking programmes, and these will be available on line, as they have been for the last few years. But there will be no co-ordinated printed programme this Autumn.

The reason goes back to the Cambs Area AGM held last Spring, where no-one came forward to be Area Chairman. RA Headquarters have taken the view that without a Chairman, there is no Area organisation, and therefore they will not fund or support a Cambs Area printed programme.

Lisa Woodburn of Cambridge Group has been willing to co-ordinate the set of group programmes, but in absence of funds for posting, it seems very unlikely that the usual booklet of county walks will go out.

It is hoped that RA HQ will pay the groups to circulate their own programmes. Yes, it is possible to view the programmes on the websites, but not everyone has a computer, and if they have a computer, they may not have a printer. The booklet of walks in something received by each member, part of the “togetherness” of the group, giving a more real feeling of community than the membership of the Ramblers’ Association as a whole, valuable as this is. We have sat companionably over our lunch on a Saturday walk, with our programmes open, discussing who will be able to come next Saturday, and who is the new leader in a few weeks’ time… I have a shelf full of old programmes, which have been used on at least two occasions when giving evidence of usage of a disputed path at a public inquiry.

My personal feeling is that RA HQ have treated us shabbily in this matter. Comments are invited.
Janet Moreton

Cantab Rambler by E-Mail & Post
Cantab now appears four times a year. 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. 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
Cantab82 © Janet Moreton, 2015.

CANTAB81 May 2015

CANTAB81 May 2015 published on

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


Time to look further afield
My first item indicates how important is access to local greenspaces, as shown by a recent government survey. If course, we all walk locally, and most ramblers’ group walks keep closer to base in the Winter, with the prospect of short day lengths and possible poor driving conditions. However, with Spring advancing, every year we lift our heads from the muddy puddle in front of us, and say, “time to look further afield”.

Janet Moreton

Government survey shows more people spend time outdoors.
The annual report from the Monitor of Engagement with the Natural Environment reveals that adults in England made 2.9 billion visits to “natural environments” between March 2013 and February 2014, which is the highest number for 5 years.

Some 58% of the population claim to make one or more leisure visit per week to the great outdoors, with green spaces near their homes becoming increasingly important. Some 96% of respondents to the survey agreed that having green spaces close to where they lived was important. Respondents also agreed that being outdoors made them feel “calm and relaxed” and the proportion agreeing that a visit was “refreshing and revitalising” was at its highest in the most recent survey.

Given the huge numbers of people who can be seen driving to visit shops on Sundays, this report is encouraging. I do not have a figure for how many of these people actually go for a walk.

Norfolk Coastpath
Last year, the Secretary of State for DEFRA approved 41 km of new coast path between Sea Paling and Weybourne. Work to implement the new route , including new signs and gates has been taking place since then. Walkers will be given new rights of access to foreshore, beaches, dunes and cliffs, and crucially, the path will be able to “roll back” if land erodes or slips, enabling a replacement route to be put in place quickly, where necessary. This solves longstanding difficulties with maintaining a continuous route along the coast. As well as enabling visitors to enjoy new coastline, improved access will help support local economies, attracting more visitors and increasing associated spending in seaside businesses.

Natural England worked with Norfolk County Council to hold a launch event in Trimingham, attended by the local MP Norman Lamb, who opened the new route officially. The local HM Coastguard teams took part in a sponsored walk of the new section, and raised money for Guide Dogs for the Blind charity.

(Info Essex Area News, January 2015)

Theydon Bois, Essex
I have not seen the large earth mound adjacent to the M11 in Essex, but “Broadleaf” (Woodland Trust’s magazine) of Autumn 2014 reports on this monster modern earthwork.

At two metres high, it is not a competitor of prehistoric Silbury Hill, but nevertheless is startling.

Woodland Trust’s Christina Joachim, and landscape sculpter Richard Harris created the circular earthwork, topped by concentric pathways in bright white chalk.

There are 5 concentric banks to walk on, each higher than the last. Once the earth has settled, individual tree species will be planted by each path, including hazel, hornbeam, lime and birch. In the centre will be a calm space offering shelter from wind and M-way sounds. Grass has been sown, and the trees will be coppiced at intervals to open up views, which stretch to the City of London. The mound is designed to be clearly visible from the adjacent motorway.

Woodland Trust bought the Theydon Bois site in 2006 planted 90ha of new native woodland. DEFRA and Greenarc were planting trees in Essex at the same time, and a co-ordinated effort produced the celebratory artwork.

Has anyone seen this?
Tell us what you think.

Rothschild Way
Andy Mackey kindly supplied the following information on the new Rothschild Way.

“A couple of years ago, Adrian Kempster, Hunts Ramblers Footpaths Officer and a good friend, told me of his idea for a long distance walk to support and raise the profile of Wicken and Woodwalton Fens.

“Adrian is involved with the Great Fen Project. He said he wished to plan a route linking the two. We looked at the map on my PC, and Adrian decided that a small group of Hunts ramblers, with a bit of car shuffling, could walk it in a few stages.

“Adrian thought Rothschild should be the name, as Charles Rothschild had owned, then donated these fens which were the earliest nature reserves in England. Adrian eventually got the approval of the Rothschild family to use the family name. With yet more hard work, Adrian got some waymarker labels designed and made, together with permission from the County Council to fix them to the existing posts. Out we went again, this time with white spirit, glue, hammer, nails and labels, and walked the route again fixing the labels.

“In June 2014, Adrian led a group from Wicken Fen café to Woodwalton Fen, the whole 38 miles in one go. I think they did well, don’t you?

If you fancy walking some or all of it, Google Rothschild Way for details. Good luck and enjoy it!”

Andy Mackey

Editors note:
The historic link between the two reserves is that Charles Rothschild bought part of Wicken Fen in 1899, and Woodwalton Fen in 1910. Rothschild formed the first society in Britain concerned with protecting wildlife habitats in 1912.
For further information on the walk, try

Open Streetmap defines the route with a series of grid references. The route touches on Ramsey, Somersham, Bluntisham and Earith.

Northwest Cambridge
Cambridge residents are aware of the vast site for development in the Northwest sector, said to be the largest capital project in the University’s 800-year history. The first buildings to be completed will be for the University’s first primary school due to open this Autumn, followed by a GP surgery and affordable homes.

The plans include 700 affordable homes to rent by University-attached personnel, and 400 homes for sale, shops and supermarket, an “energy centre”, and of most interest to ramblers, open green space. It is hoped that a considerable amount of new access will be available. Watch this (green) space!

The Icknield Way Association –  an update
The Icknield Way path runs from Ivinghoe Beacon to Knettishall Heath, passing through half-a-dozen eastern counties, including, of course, Cambridgeshire. It is a recognised regional route, and receives some funding, via the relevant Highway Authorities. Guidebooks are available for The Icknield Way Trail, which provides an accessible route for horseriders and cyclists, as well as pedestrians.

The Icknield Way Association produces its own guidebook for walkers, regularly updated, and wardens the route, doing waymarking, minor clearance, and reports problems to the appropriate county.

Members of the IWA look forward to its newsletters – now distributed online, and to the AGM, located at a different point along the route of the Icknield Way each year. The IWA also runs a few walks annually, including select parts of the route in short circuits.

For details of the guidebook, membership. or problems along the route, do contact the Secretary, Sue Prigg,

The 2015 AGM is to be held in Cambridgeshire, at Great Chishill, on Saturday, 3 October.

The Ridgeway National Trail –  an update
The Ridgeway begins where the Icknield Way leaves off – at Ivinghoe Beacon in Buckinghamshire, and sets off through several counties to Avebury.

A press release, dated 1 April 2015 gave details of a new organisation, The Ridgeway Partnership, which will be responsible for the future management, development and promotion of The Ridgeway National Trail.

The Ridgeway Partnership comprises Oxfordshire County Council as the lead partner, the other local authorites through which the Trail passes, Natural England, North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Chilterns Conservation Board, and several organisations representing users. Natural England will continue to provide most of the finance for this and other National Trails. The Partnership is in process of engaging a Ridgeway Officer, who will be the single point of contact for The Ridgeway. The Officer will attract investment, lead on development issues, co-ordinate maintenance, liaise with stakeholders and respond to public enquiries and complaints.

Maintenance of the Ridgeway will continue to rely heavily on the National Trails team and its volunteers. Ian Ritchie, Chairman of The Friends of the Ridgeway, responded to the news. “The partnership represents a great opportunity to bring the delights of the UK’s oldest path to a much greater number of people, pursuing a wide range of activities. It is a wonderful asset so close to large centres of population. The Ridgeway has some spectacular scenery and unparalled prehistoric sites such as the Uffington White Horse and a series of Iron Age Forts along its length. We aim to encourage more people to get out and walk, cycle, ride or drive horses along it, and we want to introduce it to young people and make it accessible for the less mobile and those with disabilities.”

The North Chiltern Trail
A new circular footpath has been created in the North Chilterns.

It will provide a 42 miles (67 km) circular walking route through the Chilterns in parts of Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, including parts of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Starting at Lilley, the route follows the Warden , Galley and Pegsdon Hills, Great Offley, Preston, St Paul’s Warden, Whitwell, Peter’s Green and Breachwood Green.

There are frequent opportunities for refreshment, as well as good views, and archaeological sites.

For more details, see

Last year’s weather…
In 2014, Cambridge weather (as recorded at The University Botanic Garden), was somewhat wetter than average with 618mm of precipitation. The wetter months were January, February, August and November. The heaviest rainfall was recorded on 8 August, when a thunder-storm brought 33.7mm. In March there was a sustained dry period with no rain for 2 weeks. April was dry, and, in September there were 11 continuous days without rain.

Weather readings have been taken continuously in the Botanic Garden since 1904. The annual rainfall in the Cambridge area over the period 1961 – 90 averaged 563mm, which makes the area one of the driest in Western Europe, north of the Pyrenees. There is quite a wide range from year to year. For example:
In 2011 the annual rainfall was 380mm
In 2012 the annual figure was 813mm.
Generally the rain falls fairly evenly throughout the year, with the wettest month by a small margin being August. However, evaporation usually exceeds rainfall in Summer.


Near Cambridge – Magog Down on May Day

Now is the Month of Maying, and how pleasing to see on May Day (the real 1 May, not the Bank Holiday), several bushes of hawthorn or “May” just in full bloom, for its namesake day.

More obviously spectacular are the sheets of cowslips, the best I have ever seen, here, or elsewhere.

Cantab Rambler by E-Mail & Post
Cantab now appears four times a year. 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. 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

Please note new e-mail address
Cantab81 © Janet Moreton, 2015.

CANTAB80 January 2015

CANTAB80 January 2015 published on

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


Welcome to a New Year of Cantab Rambler. A straw poll tells me that “Parish of the Month” is the most popular regular feature, together with up-to-date information on the state of local paths. So this month, we visit Swaffham Bulbeck in East Cambridgeshire, having first heard from Jill Tuffnell, about the work of the Local Access Forum.

Janet Moreton

Cambridgeshire Local Access Forum – Jill Tuffnell writes:
Cambridgeshire Local Access Forum (LAF) is a statutory body established under the Countryside and Rights of Way (CROW) Act 2000 to advise on “the improvement of public access to land in that area for the purposes of open-air recreation and the enjoyment of the area”. Members are volunteers who are recruited and appointed by Cambridgeshire County Council; they are selected to represent a wide range of interests, although they are not formal delegates. I represent walkers; other members represent youth groups, people with disabilities, horse-riders, cyclists, off-road trailbike riders, environment trusts, farmers and local councillors. We currently meet four times a year, although many of us have liaison responsibilities and attend consultation groups and events. The LAF is a statutory consultee on a wide range of issues, including strategic land-use plans, DEFRA plans, highways and other transport proposals and anything else affecting rights of way and public access. We are kept very busy reviewing the implications of the huge amount of development planned around the county.

In recent months the LAF has had presentations on a major programme of new off-road cycleways in Cambridgeshire, many of which also provide safe walking for ramblers. These include the cycleway from Wandlebury to Babraham along the A1307, a cycleway alongside stretches of the A10 and a route alongside the A505 from Whittlesford Station to Abington. We have also discussed rights of way in and around the new town of Northstowe as part of the ‘phase 2’ development plans, suggesting that the road across the former Oakington airfield should be adopted as a bridleway. We also supported the creation of a major ‘green link’ through the heart of the new development. We have considered detailed proposals to remove all level crossings on the East Coast mainline railway, attending a number of presentations on options. Some crossings are to be replaced with bridges or underpasses, but others could be lost completely. The A14 plans are also a big topic and we have discussed the implications for rights of way. There has been particular concern over ‘legacy’ issues – i.e. what happens to truncated RoWs which have been unusable since the current A14 dualling was completed.

We monitor work undertaken by Cambridgeshire County Council that impacts on rights of way and land with public access. This ranges from keeping a close eye on how ‘development gain’ from new planning developments is being spent on improved access to reviewing the budgets of two key groups of Council staff.

The first group maintain the Council’s ‘Definitive Map’. Recently a large piece of work concerned with legally rectifying anomalies between what the Map records and what is actually on the ground has largely been completed and the team is again looking at possible improvements to our rights of way network under a nationwide project termed ‘Lost Highways’. Any action to add paths to our network under this scheme must be completed by 2026. This seems a long way off, but very little has been achieved in the ten years since the project started.

The second group of CCC staff are involved with the day to day maintenance of our rights of way. Although budgets for maintenance work on the ground, including cutting field edge paths (which are the responsibility of the highways authority) and replacing broken signs, bridges etc, are likely to be protected in 2015/16, more staff cuts of at least £50,000 are currently the subject of consultation. If the proposed cuts go through the sole management post will be lost and there will be just 3 rights of way officers covering the entire county. In response, the LAF has expressed its grave concern about these drastic cuts. The detailed knowledge on the ground, which is so critical if our rights of way are to be maintained as ‘fit for purpose’, is under threat. Improving the network would become a pipe-dream.

On a personal note, I have a link role with respect to the National Trust in Cambridgeshire. I have written to the General Managers of both Wimpole and Anglesey Abbey/Wicken Fen with the aim of achieving much greater publicity for – and hence awareness of – permissive paths. I have met with Wicken Fen staff and the website publicity of routes will be improved. I have also met with the General Manager of Wimpole and it is pleasing to report that substantial expenditure is planned to improve the well-used path through the Belts. I have been sent a map of existing and potential permissive paths on the estate for comment. And, although it is unlikely that new rights of way will be created, the Manager is willing to have the agreed permissive path network depicted on OS maps.

Jill Tuffnell, 27 November 2014

Parish of the Month –
Swaffham Bulbeck

History of the village
Like most Cambridgeshire parishes, Swaffham Bulbeck has signs of prehistoric occupation. Prehistoric round barrows and ring ditches have been found at the SE end of the parish, and there is a site of a late Bronze Age settlement on Middle Hill, on the Bulbeck / Prior boundary, TL 576 623 (inaccessible on private land).

The Romans built 4 canals connecting villages on the edge of the chalk to the Cam: these are the lodes at Bottisham, Swaffham Bulbeck, Reach and Burwell. There was a Roman settlement near the site of the Benedictine Abbey at Commercial End.

Swaffham Bulbeck’s name derives from a farm of settlers from Swabia. Then, soon after 1066, the bulk of it became the estate of Hugh de Bolbec. Their house was probably Burgh Hall, TL 556 620, now an attractive Wealden house of c1500 within the remains of a moat up to 15m wide.

At the bottom of Commercial End, at the junction with Cow Lane, peer over the gate to look down the drive at the site of a small Benedictine Priory of nuns, dated about 1300. A vaulted undercroft survives , the walls of clunch and early black flush-flintwork are incorporated in an early Georgian house.

In the main village, the broad aisled church (TL 556 623) is constructed largely of clunch, originally C13th, much being rebuilt in the C14th. There are 36 medieval carved benches.

The vicar of Swaffham Bulbeck, when he went to live there in 1823, wrote that the “marsh miasma” (malaria) was so prevalent among the poor of the village, that it was necessary to keep in hand a constant stock of proper medicine (opium pills) for their relief.

Opposite the church, a C15th house had its open hall divided horizontally in the C16th. North past the turning to Lode, at a corner, Lordship Cottage faces S over a green, with only 2 front buttresses testifying to its C13th date. The green and recreation ground are bordered on one side by a thick belt of trees, with the moats of the original Lordship House. The “Denny Moats” are described in an information board.

In 1766, the drainage of 7000 acres of fenland and low ground between the R. Cam and the uplands of Bottisham and Swaffham Bulbeck was effected by commissioners invested with powers to tax the district, to cut lodes, to erect engines and staunches, and to licence occupants to construct mills. The elaborate drainage system with moats and sluices was used to create lush watermeadows.

Commercial End is as big as the parent village. Swaffham Lode gave access to the fenland waterways, and flourished with transportation of heavy goods from the late C17th. The port is known to have imported wine, timber, salt and coal, and exported grain, flour and malt. In 1821, a New Cut improved the link with the R. Cam via the village lode and the cut ran towards the fen from a large C17th wharf (still partly intact, but on private land).

However, its main development as a fen port was due to Thomas Bowyer, who provided buildings to accommodate a substantial trade in the first part of the C19th. Many of the buildings have been demolished or converted, but several of the rather grand houses remaining have an interesting history. The Merchant’s House, in red/buff brick is late C17th, but was extended in the C19th to provide a counting house, and overlooks the wharf. (TL 557 633). Behind it is a large 2-storey granary (now a private house) dated 1815, with wall anchors in the form of TB. Next door is a 2-storey granary, (C19th). Opposite the Merchant’s House is the former malting’s kiln, with a tiled conical roof, and now an attractive house.

Later, Swaffham Bulbeck had a railway from Mildenhall to Cambridge, of which few signs remain. There was a station at Swaffham Prior, and local people used a pleasant path there, now sadly defunct.

The Parish
Swaffham Bulbeck is a long, thin parish, aligned NW, SE, and awkwardly placed on Explorer 226, and spilling over onto Explorer 209. Do turn up the maps to consider the parish layout. First, inspect Sheet 226. Like several of the fen parishes of East Cambridgeshire, in times past it was essential for each parish to have access to the R. Cam, in this case reached by water along Swaffham Bulbeck Lode, reaching the Cam at Swaffham Lock, by Lode Farm.

The parish boundary runs on the South side of Swaffham Bulbeck Lode. There is a little bulge in the parish boundary for Swaffham Poors Fen. On the North side of the lode, is Swaffham Bulbeck Fen, enclosed by the parish boundary of Swaffham Prior along Whiteway Drove and continuing Rail Drove, all the way to the Ouse near Commissioners’ Farm.

Similarly, all the East Cambs parishes south of the Ouse, Lode-with-Longmeadow, Swaffham Bulbeck, Swaffham Prior, Reach and Burwell have this long narrow format.

Going SE from the village, (as shown on Sheet 209) the parish boundary goes through the grounds of Bottisham Hall, passes Howes Plantation, and follows a wooded strip towards Whiteland Springs. It then meanders (presumably along former field boundaries) to continue beyond the Old Newmarket Road, which would, in times past, have given the parish a share in the maintenance of the major roads to Exning and Newmarket. Returning NW, the parish boundary passes North of New England Farm, and continues in a straight line to cross the B1102 just beyond the turning to Commercial End.

Outline Walks
Parking is available in specified places on the village green. Please park thoughtfully.
(a) Walk along the back of the green (Fp6), and turn into Lordship Farm on Fp5, cutting a corner of the road. Walk through Commercial End, and turn left into Cow Lane and continue to Cow Bridge (seat). At the signpost, turn left along Fp 4, which starts as a grassy field edge, but later crosses a short section of arable field, to reach the footway of the B1102 near Gutter Bridge. Turn left and walk back to the rec. (2 miles)

(b) Enlarge walk (a) by continuing along Cow Lane to the turning to Forty Acre Drove.
Take the signed footpath W on a strip between fields towards Longmeadow Hamlet, part of Lode Parish. Continue on a signed hard path into Lode rec., and take one of several well-signed paths to Anglesey Abbey. Return to Longmeadow, and make a pleasant detour round Cranney Drove and Docking Drove. Return to Cow Bridge, and take Fp 4 to Gutter Bridge. (6 miles)

(c) Take the High St towards Stone Bridge, continuing to a path at TL 549 613. Follow this to Bottisham, find the path between housing to the church, and follow the village road E to the A1303. There is a residual footway, to take you to TL 560 600, where Bp 15 (created 2004) takes you North. For a “clean” Winter’s walk, continue to Swaffham Heath Rd, where turn left to Swaffham Bulbeck. Or turn left at TL 567 612 for a sticky walk to Park End. (6 miles)

(d) Some long bleak winter walks may be had using parts of “The Lodes Way”, and feeder routes, shown in a National Trust leaflet of that title. Circuits involving part of Swaffham Bulbeck are as follows.
(i) From Cow Bridge, go NNW along the E bank of Swaffham Bulbeck Lode, Turn left at White Fen (attractive picnic site). Continue on a newly-made cycleway and down White Fen Droveway, and turn left along Fen Rd into Lode. Return to Swaffham Bulbeck via Longmeadow. (6 miles).
(ii) Alternatively, after resting at the White Fen picnic site, turn right past Slades Farm, and right again on Whiteway Drove to Swaffham Prior. The main road between Swaffham Prior and Bulbeck has a footway (6 miles).

(iii) Clearly, for the strong walker, extensions via Reach, Burwell or Wicken are possible, or a rougher continuation along Swaffham Bulbeck Lode to Swaffham Lock, part of the Fen Rivers Way to River Bank, to return on hard droves to Whiteway Drove and Swaffham Prior & Bulbeck (10 miles upward)

Cantab Rambler by E-Mail & Post
Cantab now appears about 4 times a year. A large number of you receive Cantab by e-mail. If you would like to receive an issue by post, please send a large SAE.

Offers of brief articles will be gratefully received.

Cantab is also available on website:

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
Cantab80 ©
Janet Moreton, 2015