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CANTAB52 August 2009

CANTAB52 August 2009 published on

** Please note that this is an archive of the CANTAB publication and contains out-of-date information **


Once again, my faithful readers are missing a Midsummer edition, because I have been away often in sunshine and showers over this period,  and when actually at home, rights of way work has become pressing!  So apologies, and I hope you will find this issue interesting.

I hope to use this space to bring you up-to-date with changes in the South Cambs path network.  Where walking is concerned, knowledge equates to enjoyment of a good walk. Even if you are the proud possessor of the latest OS sheet, it may not inform of the most recent path diversions and other changes.

Happy walking
Janet Moreton

Seasonal Traffic Regulation Orders, (TROs)
Cambridgeshire County Council has, within the last two years, confirmed a whole suite of TROs, affecting numbers of byways in South Cambs. District.

For several years, the RA had complained of the state of byways, churned up by  recreational vehicles, “4x4s”, so that enjoyment by other types of user: horseriders; cyclists; and walkers became impossible.  The County Council over some 10 years has spent quite a lot of money trying to improve these routes, so that they stood up to all-purpose Winter usage, but to no avail.  Consultations went on, mostly through the good offices of the Local Access Forum (LAF), and finally it was decided to apply TROs to a number of byways in the Winter months only.

The Orders have been made, and now confirmed – you may have seen the mud-spattered notices posted in the countryside. Signs have been put up, as have barriers and lockable gates, with a gap at the side to allow access by permitted Winter users.

However, local landowners have been given keys to the barriers, so that they may continue to take their tractors and other farm equipment along the byways all year, so in Winter, you may still find water-filled deep ruts in places. In some cases, the County Council  has not simply relied on the passage of time in a lane undisturbed by anything larger during Winter than a motorcycle (still allowed on a lot of byways in Winter, due to the persuasive arguments of the Trail Riders Fellowship), or the occasional heavy horse!  Money has been spent on improvements to path surfaces, placing of informative display boards, new bridges, and hedge trimming.  In the parishes adjacent to Longstanton, some funding has derived from central government “growth area funding” associated with the Northstowe development.

RA Cambridge Group would like to know how walkers think the new regime is working this Winter, so I would be glad to have details of your experiences.  In particular, can we have reports of any places where vehicles are side-stepping barriers, or breaking them down?

Where are these improvements?
Look for the parish on your map and  identify the byway symbol.  It seems overly complicated to bespatter the text with eight-digit grid references!

If you want to identify path numbers, see:

Balsham 4 – Linton 23 – West Wickham 1
(These are all parts of the Roman Road, known as Wool Street or the Via Devana)

Bourn 1 (The Porters Way was closed to allow remedial work)

Carlton Byways 7, 9 and 12  (i.e. all the byways in the parish), and Weston Colville 15, leading off Carlton 9 towards Weston Green.

Steeple Morden  1 – Guilden Morden  9
(These are both sides of Cobbs Lane, leading N to Tadlow Bridge.  Note that this route was also closed for many months to allow improvements to be made, and may not yet be open, even to pedestrians)

Rampton 5 – Westwick 3 (Cuckoo Lane)

Cottenham 12 (Rampton Drift)

Landbeach 3 – Milton 3 –
Impington 3 (Akeman Street)

Rampton 4 (Reynolds Drove)
Rampton 2  (Pauleys Drove)

Rampton 1 – Willingham 8
(Haven Drove)

Willingham 9 –  Haddenham 22
(Aldreth Causeway)

Also in East Cambs,
Haddenham 15, 29, 30 &
Wilburton 10  (Fen Side)

What byways are not closed to vehicles?
In spite of repeated requests by ramblers, Fox Road north of Balsham remains open to all traffic, all year.  In Winter, this means the chalky surface becomes rutted and muddy, and in places with deep holes filled with water. In spite of its status as part of the Icknield Way Regional Route for walkers and horseriders, no seasonal closures have been applied on this path.

Also part of the Roman Road between the B1052 and the Hildersham – Balsham road  remains open to vehicles.

Confirmed Diversions

OS Pathfinder 209, Bourn fp 14 (TL 325 564 – 325 559).
The path runs from behind Bourn church, across the grass in front of Bourn Hall, passed through the garden of a bungalow, then across an arable field to Fox Road The section through the garden now goes through an adjacent grass field, fenced away from horses.  It will be clearly waymarked.

OS Pathfinder 209 Croydon fp 19   TL 311 492 – 308 486,
The path runs from High St, diagonally SSW across an arable field to a bridge and stile in the opposite corner.  Previously it turned right along a field edge then left by a hedge, to emerge along a short grassy lane to Larkins Road.  The middle section of the path, beyond the arable field has been diverted to run between fences of newly extended gardens.  Note that following RA representations, a condition has been written into the Order that all hedges are to be planted at least 2m away from the footpath to ensure that future growth does not obstruct the path.

Swaffham Prior Fen’s Little Chapel
A place of worship was recorded in Swaffham Prior Fen in the 1830s, but the present building, in the far NW of the parish a mile from Upware, near the River Cam at TL 531687, was built in 1884.

The 1881 census shows that some 130 people lived in Swaffham Prior Fen agricultural community, benefitted by a post-office, shop, and “The Jolly Anglers” inn over the other side of the river.  The chapel was well-supported in the C19th, and well into the C20th, until 1958, when the Methodist Church decided to sell the property. It was bought by Edward Palmer Brand of Ramsey, but regular Sunday services continued until 22 November 1959. The building was conveyed to a group of trustees in 1969, who have cared for it henceforth, as a non-denominational chapel.

Services are held occasionally, but it is best known for the harvest festival  held  at 3 pm on the first Sunday in October. An appeal this year raised £8000 for reslating the roof.

The Saffron Trail
This is a walk of 72 miles, from Southend on Sea to Saffron Walden. Redbridge RA Group has recently revised a booklet by Dave Hitchman, originally published in 2004. It is attractively-produced, with clear sketches and route directions, and I look forward to following it on the ground..  A copy was obtained by post from Roger Young, 16 Windsor Road, Wanstead E11 3QU, cheques to Redbridge Ramblers, for £3.50. It was disappointing that Saffron Walden Tourist Office had not heard of the publication.

A Satisfactory Result
I was recently very pleased to receive a letter from Chris Pagan, a RA volunteer from Ware, Herts.

You may remember that in 2005 you sent me user evidence for part of the Stort towpath near Harlow, which wasn’t recorded on the Definitive Map, and for which I had applied for a modification order, and was appealing against the county council’s decision to refuse to publish one.  Although I hadn’t got enough user-evidence, I had a copy of the promotional leaflet published by British Waterways encouraging people to walk along the Lea & Stort towpaths, and the inspector ruled that the leaflet constituted intention to dedicate a public footpath.  So the modification order was published, and it’s just been confirmed unopposed.

The delay in publishing the order was due to the Definitive Map and OS maps, showing a short length of cul-de-sac footpath apparently along the towpath near Latton Lock.  This had to be investigated first…”

So all’s well that ends well, and congratulations to Chris.

The path, incidently, is part of the West Anglian Way LDP from Cambridge to Cheshunt, copies available for £2.50 from David Elsom, 91 Cambridge Road, Great Shelford, Cambridge, CB 22 5JJ.  Cheques payable to Ramblers’ Association, Cambridge Group, please.

A Reserve with a Bus-Stop
It is not “news” that the RSPB bought Fen Drayton Lakes in 2007, and is keen to attract local people to enjoy the Winter spectacle of thousands of wild birds. Now the Guided Busway is nearing completion, it is time to remind walkers that there will be a “stop” here, especially for the reserve, and, of course, for the extensive  network of paths around the reserve, and to the wider network, to Swavesey, Fen Drayton, Fenstanton, and the Great Ouse Riverside.  And the good news for us wrinklies is that we may use our bus-passes!

Little Chesterford – a new path
I am indebted to Jill Tuffnell for the information that a new, waymarked route through woodlands links Little Chesterford with Little Walden.  I have no information on the status of this route (seemingly on land owned by Chesterford Park), waymarked with yellow arrows and with no observed disclaiming notices.  The following grid references are approximate, as I had failed to carry my GPS when enjoying the bluebell woods last Spring.

Behind the bus stop on the B184 at Little Chesterford, a flight of steps leads up the bank to a gate in the fence, TL 519420.  The path skirts a small fenced enclosure, then goes ENE beside a hedge, parallel to the private road to Chesterford Park.

At TL 527422 it veers NE, passing a small wood, then continues in the same direction up a fenced defile. At TL 529426, it turns E on a farm track, then shortly enters a narrow band of woodland, continuing approx ENE to TL 535427, where the trodden track turns S, still in woodland. At TL 535 424, the route turns E, keeping close to the north edge of woods, to emerge at TL 539 424 on Petts Lane leading to “The Crown” at Little Walden.

We made a pleasant circuit passing Byrds Farm, then visiting Saffron Walden, returning via Catons Lane, and the footpath to Springwell and thus to Little Chesterford.

For notes on walks and points of interest around The Chesterfords, see Cantab Rambler of April 2004.

Stile-free parishes in South Cambs
During the last few years, Cambridgeshire County Council has had a policy to replace stiles with kissing gates, where possible, and funds permitting. The modern gates are generally of a metal type, with a wide “swing” so there is no need to remove rucksacs.

Kate Day, Countryside Access Team leader, is presently compiling a list of “stile-free” parishes in S.Cambs, including:.

Bar Hill;  Bartlow; Childerley;  Croxton;  Eltisley;  Harston;  Hauxton;  Histon;  Ickleton; Impington;  Milton;  Newton; Oakington; Pampisford;  Stapleford; and Teversham.

There are now good numbers of kissing gates in other parishes, but those unable to climb stiles should note there are several instances of a gate into a field, followed by a stile at the other end!  This may be a temporary situation, perhaps because one end of the route is in one parish, and the other end in another parish…

Go & See – Splendid Scarecrows – The Bassingbourn cyclist
Scarecrows are still quite often used in fields of peas, beans, or oilseed crops, as a pleasant relief to passers-by from noisy bird-scarers.  More frequently stuffed figures in old overalls and a flat cap supplement strings of rattling, shiny aluminium foil lids or discarded CDs in allotment gardens and vegetable patches.

The most magnificent scarecrow  we have seen (and apparently on permanent display) is in a private garden fronting the road at North End, Bassingbourn, ca. TL 330449.

A scarecrow in a top hat rides a penny-farthing bicycle!

See this and pleasant countryside on a walk from Bassingbourn, parking alongside the recreation ground off South End.  Walk up past the church, to join a footpath right, giving onto one running N, to turn onto the dead-end road, going W to pass the scarecrow, then to North End.  Continue to Shadbury End, then S and W to try a long, footpath across seven arable fields to Abington Pigotts.  This is a real map-reading challenge, but try it before the fields are too sticky.  In Abington Pigotts, notice the newly painted sign for the “Pig & Abbot” and try its refreshments!  Return past the wonderful gateway at Down Hall Farm and the footpath through the Mill Cottage garden, to reach the road to Littlington.  S along the road, find a path E to The Bury, and thence into Litlington Village.  Make sure you spot The Old Lockup, and find a seat on the village green, by a sign illustrating the former connections with WWII airfields. Walk SSW on a good path to Ashwell Street, and return to Bassingbourn via a permissive path past “The Springs”.  (7 miles)

The route can readily to extended to 10 miles, by continuing from Abington Pigotts along Bogs Gap Lane to Steeple Morden, and returning along Ashwell Street.

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

This is a privately produced magazine, and the views expressed are solely those of the editor, or of the author of an individual item. Janet Moreton 01223 356889


Cantab 52 – Price 10 pence where sold © Janet Moreton, 2009.

CANTAB34 January 2006

CANTAB34 January 2006 published on

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


I send best wishes for a year of pleasant and adventurous rambling to all readers!

This month the focus is on the Royston area, with two informative articles from members of Ramblers’ Association Royston Group, concerning Bassingbourn cum Kneesworth (in fact a Cambridgeshire parish), and the Baldock Bypass, and the way it will affect (and generally improve) walking opportunities in the corridor between Royston and Baldock.

“Parish of the Month” is Bassingbourn, with special emphasis on its history, and new woodlands.

In November, your editor attended the first day of a Public Inquiry into Hertfordshire County Council’s Order to extinguish Footpath 16 in Therfield. I wish I could have attended the Inquiry on further days, for this was a complicated case, and the issues involved more than the closure of the single path involved.  We await the judgement on this, but I take the opportunity to say that if you have the chance to go to a public inquiry on path issues, then do so, as it is a very revealing exercise, and the presence of ramblers supporting their Footpath Secretary, or staff member from the RA’s Head Office gives a good impression of a general interest by ramblers in the proceedings.

Janet Moreton

Quotations of the Month
“Earth is innocent. Only the use we make of it mars it”

Ellis Peters, The Cadfael Chronicles

Footpath 19 – Bassingbourn Barracks
In a more innocent time military homes were built alongside the public footpath which passes through the grounds of Bassingbourn Barracks. This was convenient for both military and civilian personnel wishing to travel quickly and easily to our village shops, post office and schools. However, during the heightened security which accompanied the resurgence of the IRA threat in the 1980s the gates at either end were locked and a notice was put into place which gave the telephone number of the Guard Room so that walkers could ask to be let through to walk on this right of way.

These notices have been missing for some time but the Commanding Officer has quickly complied with my request to replace them. The number on the gates is 01223 204331. This may be rung at any time. Walkers may telephone either on arrival at either gate or beforehand, giving the time they would like to be met.

For those who don’t know, or have forgotten about this path it is easy to find. Walk along footpath 6, otherwise known as the ‘Back Lane’ which runs from the Green to Guise Lane parallel with North End, passing along the stream behind the Church and gardens of the houses. At about 200 metres from the Guise Lane end, a ditch or ‘drain’ edged by a few trees runs off to the east, towards Kneesworth [Map reference 332448].  Walk along the north or Guise Lane side of this drain. Walkers are allowed about 2 metres of space* at a headland so are entitled to walk along the edge of the field. The path crosses a farm track and swings north-north east following the drain to the gate in the Barrack’s fence.

The path meets the Old North Road almost opposite the gap in the hedge which leads to all footpaths and permissionary paths to the east. These pass around Kneesworth, Whaddon, Meldreth, Orwell and the Wimpole Avenue, giving direct routes which avoid walking along the main roads.

The Cambridgeshire Countryside Access team have promised to put a small by-way sign at the point where  footpath 19 leads from the Back Lane. There is already a sign near the Barrack’s entrance on the Old North Road, however it is partially concealed by the hedge and is misaligned at the moment.

The Access Team are working hard at the moment to find a sensible diversion to Footpath 19 which will avoid the MOD land.

I should just like to add that we are very well-served with footpaths in Bassingbourn. However, there is no right-of-way into the barracks through the gate at the end of Guise Lane.

Please use the correct route!

Sue Hedges, 23 Oct. 2005

* Actually, 1.5m minimum or as specified on the definitive path description. However, South Cambs. D.C and Cambs. C.C. require a minimum of 2m width for all new field-edge footpaths.  Ed.

Baldock Bypass

Although the bypass is not scheduled to open until August 2006, all the rights of way bridges are now open so that one is now able to walk this very beautiful area again without having to make detours. The bypass goes in a tunnel through the Weston Hills to minimise the environmental impact.

At TL276359 where one crosses from Wallington by Bygrave Lodge Farm to Bygrave, there is now an underpass to take one safely across the A505.

At TL261342 a bridleway bridge, requested at the Public Inquiry, is now in situ enabling both walkers and riders to continue towards Clothall on the original right of way without the dangerous and unpleasant detour via a roundabout on the bypass, which had been originally proposed. A path has also been created from this bridge to the Clothall Estate at Baldock. Continuing on the right of way southwards one crosses Wallington Road, which is now a bridleway only, the road having been severed by the bypass.

The path out of Baldock at California TL248342 was not walkable for part of its route when I attempted to walk the path on 26 November but a diagonal path was requested and agreed at the Public Inquiry, which will take one to a new road bridge to reach Warren Lane. This should become available in due course.

A short distance out of Baldock, a bridleway bridge at TL255329 takes the Icknield Way towards Clothall.

In the Weston Hills there is a footbridge at TL252322, which was officially opened on 28 July at a ceremony attended by several members of Royston Group. A photograph of the event appears on the front of Royston RA Group’s current programme.

Near the Letchworth Gate (Junction 9 on the A1(M)) a bridleway from Weston by Lannock Manor Farm crosses the A6141 to a permissive bridleway on the other side of the road. At the Public Inquiry I asked for an underpass here as it falls steeply on the Baldock side. However the officials from the Ministry of Transport based in Newcastle saw no need for an underpass as riders and walkers would be able to cross safely via a grass strip in the middle of the road towards Junction 9. At the moment the area around the bridleway from Weston looks a total mess but a crossing on the level is, I understand, to be provided which should make it, hopefully, a little less hazardous to cross.

David Allard

STOP PRESS – Just before going to print, David Allard reports that Herts C.C. have extended the temporary closure of these bridges until May.

Parish of the Month –
Bassingbourn cum Kneesworth
OS Explorer Sheets 208, 209
This large parish of over 1500 ha lies mostly on chalk, and is thus well drained for Winter walking, and is popular with ramblers from both the Cambridge and Royston areas.

The Domesday Survey describes Kneesworth as part of Whaddon parish, but it was a separate hamlet by the C13th, and  not united with Bassingbourn until 1966.  Kneesworth’s open field system was enclosed in 1842, whereas the fields of Bassingbourn were enclosed by an Award of 1806.

The centre of Bassingbourn is nearly a mile from the cross-roads at Kneesworth, along The Causeway – a weary road to walk, although it has a footway, and a strategically placed seat near the burial ground.  The village sign is neatly sited on the Green, not far from The Hoops public house, and the chimney of the small village gashouse  (TL 336 440), dating from the C19th, and an adjacent former agricultural engineering works of 1873.  Tactful redevelopment of the site has recently been completed, with plaques giving a brief history.

The Church stands away from the High Street, up Church End. The main body of the building is C14th, with a tower some 100 years older, and a Perpendicular oak porch.  South from the church, the Village College, opened 1954, occupies a spread of buildings set in wide recreation grounds, and acting as a centre for village social and educational facilities, including the library.

There are 24 rights of way within the parish, and a number of permissive or customary paths, making a substantial network, mostly in excellent order. The only path with a persistent problem is Footpath 19, linking the two parts of the parish, and discussed in our leading article.  The crossing of the A1198 (otherwise Ermine Street, or The Old North Road) needs care, and is safest in the 20 mph zone at the junction of The Causeway & Ermine Street, although elsewhere, at least there is good visibility.

The parish is crossed by Ashwell Street, the remnant of the various tracks of The Icknield Way prehistoric trade route. Sections of this path in the parish are grassy or hard, and (thanks to traffic restriction orders) largely traffic-free, save for agricultural vehicles, as the way runs pleasantly between intermittent hedges. To the east, the track runs to Melbourn: to the west it continues past Litlington and The Mordens to Ashwell.

From Ashwell Street, turn north up Spring Lane or South End, to return to Bassingbourn centre, with its network of well-signed inner-village paths, between housing and attractive young woodland (1). Field paths off Ashwell Street at TL 346 432 short of the junction with the A1198 lead across fields to the health centre and the village.

Leaving Ashwell Street to the west of the village,  a kissing gate at TL 330 426 gives access to a permissive path, leading north through a narrow belt of new woodland (2) and along an older treeline towards the Springs, and thence back to the Village College.

A track starts south from Ashwell Street, at TL 341 430 (almost opposite the end of Spring Lane) going towards Royston, crossing the bypass, and continuing on a dingy path through the industrial estate to emerge over the railway onto Green Drift.  This is a relatively fast bolt-hole to Royston station, but parts of the track may be muddy in Winter.

Further west along Ashwell Street, at TL 327 425,  another route south on a field-edge bridleway leads across the railway line and the bypass to the Little Chef on the outskirts of Royston. This gives an excuse for a stop for tea, before ambling into the town along the heath…(An alternative “finish” may be made on a sticky cross-field path turning off by a waymark at TL 334 410, taking steps up and down the bypass, and stiles over the railway).

From either behind the village sign in Bassingbourn, TL 336 440 or, alternatively, beside the church wall, TL 330 441, fenced paths lead to a field edge route north to Guise Lane. Thence a circuit may be  made via North End and Fen Road. The “John o’Gaunt” Inn is closed long since, but there is a seat at the road junction!  (John o’ Gaunt’s Castle shown on old maps at North End, ca TL 325 452, see  the 1937 1:25000 series, was in fact  built by Warin de Bassingbourn in 1266.  The site was damaged by coprolite digging in the C19th, and nothing is visible from the road).  Return via one of two paths going south through Shadbury End, and Church End.

More energetic walkers may turn off west at TL 325 442 before reaching Church End, taking cross-field paths to Abington Pigotts. The route starts off well on a hard track, makes across a field to a bridge/hedge gap, and continues across 5 further fields, with occasional waymarking. This can be a fine tramp in Summer, but only recommended in Winter when the ground is frozen! A return may be made via Bibles Grove, Down Hall, and the paths of Litlington to Ashwell Street and Bassingbourn.

Long distance walkers doing the Harcamlow Way approach the parish along Ashwell Street, cross the A1198, and, beyond the nurseries, turn north up a field edge path, shirting a wood, and later, Kneesworth House Secure Hospital. The path emerges on Chestnut Lane past the farm shop, and turns towards the Kneesworth crossroad. Just before the junction with the A1198, the route goes north over a stile, and passes a new reservoir, before reaching the parish boundary with Whaddon, at Dyers Green.  The Explorer 209 OS sheet shows the Icknield Way Path along Ashwell Street, but recent guides give the preferred option for the Icknield Way Walkers route peeling off at Baldock, for an upland route to Royston via Wallington.

Note (1) & (2) refer to woods mentioned in the item below.

Woods of Bassingbourn
The following is updated from an article “The New Woods of the Cam Valley”, which first appeared in the Cantab Issue of October 2001.  These woods, mostly planted under the aegis of The Woodland Trust, were mostly still fairly small 4 years ago. However, within the last year, all have shown a growth spurt, possibly thanks to the pleasant warm Summer, and now contain respectable young trees, 10 – 20 feet high.

One of the woods within Bassingbourn can be found just off Ashwell Street. Halt beside a kissing-gate at the side of the byway.  A permissive path leads across an arable field to a dip in the chalk downland.  Here, the County Council has planted Clear Farm Wood, TL 330 427, (2) with trees now 10 foot high, well-fenced against rabbits.  Stiles lead in and out of fences, and the path leads on to the wooded springs behind the village college.

Continue into the village, to visit Keith Wood, TL 337 428 (named after a former parish clerk), and Ford Wood, TL 334 435. Both of these attractive woods (1) are now quite well-established, and blend well with the dog-walking network of paths behind the village recreation ground.

Finally, off Spring Lane at TL 336 435 is a newly planted strip of woodland, with a notice “welcome” and an invitation to walk this way. How nice!

Quotations of the Month
“The roads lead always two ways, hither as well as yonder”

Ellis Peters, The Cadfael Chronicles

Cantab Rambler by E-Mail & Post:  Issue 34.
Cantab usually appears every two months. A large number of you now receive Cantab by e-mail. By hand, 10p is appreciated towards the cost of paper and ink.  If you would like to receive an issue by post, please send a large SAE, and a 10p stamp.

Offers of brief articles will be gratefully received.

This is a privately produced magazine, and the views expressed are solely those of the editor, or of the author of an individual item. Janet Moreton 01223 356889


Issue34; Price 10 pence where sold

© Janet Moreton, 2006.