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CANTAB39 December 2006

CANTAB39 December 2006 published on

** Please note that this is an archive of the CANTAB publication and contains out-of-date information **


A feature in the December issue of  “Country Walking”magazine, illustrates two  mature gentlemen with walking poles ascending the slopes of a frosty hill.  So, yes, even though most of the walking gear adverts are posed by folk in their early twenties, the walking press are aware that there are numbers of seasoned (and even old) ramblers still treading the turf, so two handsome, silvery haired gentlemen may be selected as role models… We retired persons are the walkers with time to get out in the countryside more than once or twice per week, and are on the lookout for up-to-date information on new walks and equipment, travel and refreshment, and environmental issues.  Country Walking and other national magazines try to fulfill this function for the whole of the UK – in a more humble way Cantab attempts to update you on the local scene.

Part of this issue specifically addresses those of us who are over the magic “60”. This means, in Cambridgeshire at least, we have, since October, just acquired a free bus pass, allowing us to travel gratis throughout the county, and over the borders to Saffron Walden, Newmarket,  Biggleswade, Royston, Market Deeping, Downham Market, Kings Lynn, and even Stamford.  On weekdays, we may not use the pass before 9.30am, so the more distant locations are perhaps not very practical if a long walk is planned.  So here is an opportunity to save money, leave the car in the garage, be environmentally “green”, and try some linear walks not accessible by car. Here is how we got on…

General Comments – “free” buses
Living in Cambridge some 15 minutes on foot from Drummer Street bus station, Roger & I are probably as well-placed as any to try the free bus options for country walks.  The first step was to gather a bunch of timetables from the bus station.  We studied these at home, and decided in the first instance, that services of interest were those of frequency at least once per hour, and preferable half-hourly or better.

Stagecoach Citi7 runs every 10 minutes during the day from Cottenham to Sawston, some buses continuing further to Whittlesford, Duxford, etc and, once per hour, to Saffron Walden.  We tried this first.  Like many services, the bus took a very long time from Emmanuel Street to the Railway Station, and we resolved in future to walk to just beyond the station to catch it – almost faster on foot!  Later, we found that the buses “clumped” in busy periods, but seldom had to wait for this service more than 20 minutes. However, on one cold morning in October, aiming to catch the Citi7 to Saffron Walden in Sawston, we waited half-an-hour in vain – it never came, to the distress of 8 potential passengers at the war-memorial.

We had no problem with Citi10 running every half-hour out to Bottisham, Lode, The Swaffhams & Burwell en route to Newmarket. We have used it successfully several times, including to visit Anglesey Abbey. An excellent service provided by Huntingdon & District “Huntsbus”, leaves Drummer Street about 3 times/ hour for Fenstanton, St Ives, Hartford & Huntingdon.  We used this even before it was free!

Citi 13 runs to Haverhill via Addenbrookes, Babraham, Abington, Linton & Horseheath, again with a half-hour service.  One dark November afternoon, emerging from the café at Abington, we just caught a Citi13, passing either 15 minutes late, or 15 minutes early!

The dark cold days of November & December are perhaps not the best season to wait in chill winds for a bus, but shelters exist in the larger villages.  Sometimes there is only a bus-stop on the side towards Cambridge, so going in the other direction, one has to wait opposite, without a shelter.  One final point to remember is the additional walking you may need to do, to reach the bus-stop before you start (and finish) your walk proper. This may amount to an “overburden” of say, 2 miles, and should be allowed for in the energy equation!

Having sounded cautionary, we enjoyed several free trips, and good walks, two of which are outlined below.  We will continue our investigations in the Spring, and should there be a demand, will extend the linear walks suggestions.

Example Linear “bus walks”

Saffron Walden – Sawston 11miles
Explorer 194, 209.
Citi 7 from Addenbrookes 9.32 or Sawston Memorial 9.52
Alight Saffron Walden centre. Visit parish church, make for Catons Lane (football ground). Footpath N uphill crossing Westley Lane, turn W near Four Acre Grove to Springwell. Cross B184, path opposite to Lt Chesterford, footpath to Gt. Chesterford. From railway crossing, detour S on bridleway over M11 bridge up Coploe Hill, turn W on field-edge bridleway to Coploe Rd, descend past Nature reserve to Ickleton. Pass through rec, use Butchers Lane, & take paths to & beside railway & across meadows to Hinxton Mill. Take road over level crossing & ford to Duxford (short cut across rec & note nature reserve & 2 churches). Take road (with footway) towards Whittlesford station. Either straight ahead on footway of Duxford Rd, right alongside the rec, & footpath over meadows, railway & bypass to Sawston, bus-stop opposite bakers near Memorial.
Or Detour via Chuck-a Bush Farm, to visit Whittlesford & church.

Horseheath to Linton, 9 or 7 miles
Explorer 209, 210.
Citi 13 from Drummer Street 9.35
Alight Horseheath village green. Take path or road to Cardinals Green. From Allington Cottages, a cross-field path joins a bridleway going E, then SSE. After a mile, through a copse, a branch path W leads to Mill Green, Shudy Camps. Amble past the watertower, down into the village. A path from the village sign (and seat) leads back towards Cardinals Farm, and Cardinals Green. Take the bridleway (Harcamlow Way) towards Bartlow, where visit Roman burial mounds & church.  From church, use the new footpath along private road through housing & barn conversions, then road towards Hadstock.  Turn off on Chalky Road (track) to Malting Cottages.  Cross A1307 & walk to Mill, church & High Street. Join bus at the shelter near village sign. Omit detour round Shudy Camps for shorter walk.

Latest on Cambridgeshire Byways
Readers will recall the ongoing campaign to improve the state of byways for walkers.

Regarding the Roman Road, the “Via Devana”, or Wool Street between Balsham and Horseheath, some progress has been made in that a short section, ca. 150m, by the junction with Woodhall Lane has been made up with tarmac planings, improving what was probably the worst section.  However, the continuing stretch to the B1052 remains rutted and almost impassable in deep mud.

To the North of Balsham, the byway, Fox Road, is in an even worse state, from about half a mile out of the village, up to its junction with Six Mile Bottom Road.  We tried to use this path on the shortest day of the year.  Deep mud & ruts surfaced the path in places, while in others, huge puddles filled the byway: thick fog added to the air of intense gloom…. Near Green End Farm, the surface seems to be contaminated with deep, especially sticky clay.  We escaped into the adjacent cultivated field, in order to make progress at all.  Discussions, we understand, are being had between the County & Parish Council and local farmers.  Meanwhile, walkers of the Icknield Way LDP are getting a pretty shabby deal, on what is Cambridgeshire’s only Regional Route.

Elsewhere, progress is a little better.

In Rampton, we have a report that the historic section of the Aldreth Causeway is closed to vehicles for surface repair work, but remains open to walkers and horseriders.  We are still awaiting legislation for regular Winter closure to traffic of this and other byways. We also learnt that work is in hand on grading & reprofiling Reynolds Drift (by way 4) & byway 5 to Cuckoo Drift . The paths are closed to vehicles but still open to walkers & riders.  The contractors are also going to provide a better surface for Pauley’s Drove, Byway 2.  In Longstanton, a Council officer reported on 15 December on work  grading & reprofiling byway 7, using funds made available to integrate the Northstowe new town’s paths into the network. Meanwhile the byways will be closed to drivers, but open to walkers and horseriders.

We used Porters Way near Kingston in early December.  Surface improvements were made a couple of years ago.  The end leaving Old North Road opposite the Red House pub is now in very good order.  The other end, approaching the B1046, is deteriorating, in spite of clearance & French Drains. It is already rutted and rather muddy, but still easily passable in walking boots.  In Knapwell, Thorofare Lane had clearance and surface improvements last year, and is currently pleasant and easy underfoot.

We recently attempted a comprehensive survey of the byways of Melbourn.  These were mostly in good condition, being on well-drained chalk.  Sadly, most are dead-ends. Unfortunately, we were unable to use Melbourn Byway 19,  off New Road, as it was at that time totally blocked by caravans.  A Council officer informed that he was in progress of getting these removed.

Congratulations to Duncan!
Cambs RA member, Duncan Mackay has recently won second prize in the Kendal Film Festival on his short film, entitled “Is it Right to Roam”. He writes, ” I took a group of young film makers from The British Schools Exploring Society round several farmers in the Lake District, and asked them how the right to roam legislation was working now that it is two years old.  I’m sure you can imagine the sort of reactions we got.  It made a very good film and we had great fun doing it.  In fact, I was surprised how reasonable some of the farmers were.  There was much less opposition than one might suppose.  You can see the film on the Kendal film festival website, under the film school section”.

Parish of the Month – Ickleton
As the name suggests, the parish lies on the historic line of the Icknield Way.  However,  the walkers’ LDP does not pass through the village, but instead descends Strethall Field, and takes the available bridge crossing of the M11, into Great Chesterford, continuing to Linton and, untimately, Knettishall Heath in Thetford Forest. Ickleton has almost no public footpaths outside the village envelope, the cottages and village paths are attractive, and worthy of investigation.

Neolithic flint tools were found in the Coploe Hill area and below the A11, and a Neolithic axe was found during excavations of a Roman Villa. The chalk ridge along the S border of the parish was formerly the site of barrows, which once marked much of the Icknield Way route. A Roman villa, sited S of the village was excavated in the 1880s.  It sounds rather luxurious, having at least 17 rooms, some of which were decorated with painted plaster, with fleur-de-lys, wild rose and dancing girls.

There was a small nunnery in the village intil 1536, when it was dissolved.  The present Abbey farmhouse, dating from the C17th, has a medieval doorway, and a barn with C14th woodwork.  The parish church was built about 1100, using some Roman materials. Following arson in 1979, restoration revealed C12th wall paintings of Christs’s passion, and martyrs,  and a C14th Doomsday over the chancel arch.

The medieval village consisted of only the main street, Abbey Street, on the line of one of the tracks of the Icknield Way. A quarter-mile N was another settlement, Brookhampton, now lost.  This too was on one of the Icknield Way tracks, that forded the Cam before reaching Hinxton. Weekly markets & an annual fair were held between the C13th & C19th. Today the village has many thatched  and half-timbered cottages.

The open field system ended with Inclosure in 1814.  Presently, there are 12 public rights of way in the parish, and the Nature Reserve, Coploe Hill Pit, permitting public access.  The latter is reached from Coploe Road at TL 493 426.  The gate gives into a shallow disused chalk pit, largely grassed over, with attractive flora in Summer.

Ickleton Suggested Walks…
Start at the rec., where there is some parking.

To go N from the village, start on Fp5, on Butchers Hill at TL 494 440.  Find the start through a metal gate in a high brick wall.  The signpost is inside! This attractive path runs NW in a narrow lane between banks, then through horse-paddocks., crossing a bridge, and through kissing gates, to join Bp 2, at a crossing of paths, TL 491 444.  Bp2 continues NNW,  first as a lane, then a grassy baulk between open fields.  At the parish boundary with Duxford, the bridleway continues as a footpath – is this where one slings the horse over the rider’s shoulder?  A route continues into Duxford village, alongside the chemical works, on a path behind Duxford Road hedge. Visit the interesting inner-village paths between flint walls and old houses in Duxford,  the little village green, and 2 churches.  Return SSE on a quiet lane past the other side of the chemical works.  Just before the level crossing at TL 488 454, a path in Duxford will lead you back to Ickleton Bp 2 and your outward route. Do not seek the path shown crossing the railway at TL 491 451 – this has been obstructed by the railway fences for years, in spite of our continued objections.  Instead cross the footbridge by the deep ford, and continue towards Hinxton Mill. (The mill is owned by the Cambridge Preservation Society, and open on some Summer Sundays).  A path leads past the buildings, and drops down into the watermeadows, which cross diagonally.. (Note that the meadow paths are sometimes flooded in Winter, but permissive field-edge alternatives are available).  Both routes reach the railway at TL 493 448, and Ickleton Fp3 starts here  along-side the fence, in an attractive defile between bushes. On reaching the road, cross the level-crossing, and immediately take the signed Fp 4 diagonally across a pasture. Emerge on Brookhampton Road, to find Fp11’s kissing gate almost opposite, to lead you back to the bridge for Fp2 at TL 493 442, and your outward route.

Back in Butchers Hill, cross to find the signed Fp6, between “Dove Barn” glimpsed through an ancient wooden archway, and “Lane End”. Pass through a passage between high flint walls, to emerge  on Church Road, with the church to the left. Turn right for the village shop & the rec. (4 miles).

Fp8 is a signed footpath crossing the rec. from Frogge Street, into Back Lane. This is a good way to get to Coploe Road, and visit the nature reserve, or a route to join the Icknield Way LDP.  Note there is also an unofficial way out of the rec. in the S corner, to join Fp9 , which circles back to Frogge St  to emerge at TL 496 435. The official start of Fp9 is in Southfield Close.  (If you continue down Frogge Street footway towards Gt Chesterford, you will past a Trout Fishery, which sells fish, and has a café). Further down the road,  just a few metres of the start of the Icknield Way path at the edge of Gt Chesterford, by the railway crossing is actually Byway 10 in Ickleton.

Another possible circuit to Hinxton may be made using Byway 7, which leaves the end of Mill Lane at TL 497 440, and crosses the railway  by a level crossing. Beyond, the most noticeable feature is a nature reserve notice, with a made-up path going off left, with the remark that it is available to persons coming from Ickleton or Hinxton.  This attractive & useful (non-definitive) path leads behind the Genome Centre, and inside a hedge beside the Ickleton Rd, and constitutes the most attractive route to Hinxton.  However, the right of way continutes ahead on short grass, soon crossing a footbridge over the R.Cam or Granta. Beyond, the path continues as Hinxton Byway 3, using the sewage works concrete road, and emerging just beyond Stump Cross roundabout.  By passing on the verge in front of the entrance to the Genome Centre, one can turn left down New Road into Hinxton, near The Red Lion.  This time, return over the level crossing at TL 494 445. Walk down the road, and from the corner by the old cemetery, take Fp1  SW along the lane and down a hedge-line onto the footway of the B1379 Duxford Rd.  Return S, passing the site of Abbey Priory on the W, near the crossroads. (3.5 miles)

Best Wishes for Christmas, and for excellent walking in 2007.

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 spare 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

Issue 39 © Janet Moreton, 2006.

CANTAB38 September 2006

CANTAB38 September 2006 published on

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


This month, the situation so far with the South Cambridgeshire “Byways” petition is detailed. Progress is slow, but we are hopeful of an eventual positive outcome. Experience has suggested that nothing in which local government is involved moves swiftly!

Long-term readers of “Cantab” will recall our East Anglian Rivers theme in past years. The Fen Rivers Way project took us in sections along the Rivers Cam and Great Ouse from Cambridge to Kings Lynn, and the West Anglian Way followed the Stort Navigation for much of its length. In this issue, we thank  David Elsom, Chairman of the RA Cambridge Group, for an introduction to walking The New River Path, following the water-course from Hertford to Islington, as enjoyed by some members of Cambridge Group earlier this year.

Janet Moreton

The Progress of the Byways Petition
What it was
During walks last Autumn, RA Cambridge Group circulated a petition amongst its members, and to other groups walking in the Cambridgeshire Area. The petition read:
“A number of important Public Byways in Cambridgeshire are impassable to walkers and riders during the Winter, having been turned to morass by irresponsible use of recreational motor vehicles.  We, the under-signed call upon Cambridgeshire County Council, as Highway Authority, to apply seasonal traffic restriction orders to more of such byways, especially the Aldreth Causeway (Willingham Byway 9); Fox Road (West Wratting Byway 1 and Weston Colville Byway 4) and the Roman Road near Balsham (Linton Byway 23 and Balsham Byway 4).”

The Aldreth Causeway going towards the Isle of Ely, was Hereward the Wake’s Road, and like Fox Road, and the Via Devana (more properly Wool Street) have historical and archaeological significance and well as walking routes.

Thanks to those who signed it
Cambridge Group were indebted to the 350 walkers who signed the petition. It was clear that 100% of those approached supported the issue, and we could have gone on obtaining signatures indefinitely, had we but been able to contact more members. However, it was decided to finalise the petition in January 2006, and to present it to Cambridgeshire County Council.

When presented
Having located the correct person within the County Council to receive our petition, it was 20 March 2006 before a date could be arranged to present the petition to Cllr Mac McGuire, Cabinet Lead Member for Highways & Delivery, on the steps of Shire Hall. We were pleased that a representative number of walkers turned up, and to two cyclists, emphasising the different types of user affected by the issue.  Subsequently, Cambridge RA Group S.Cambs Footpath Officers discussed the petition with Kate Day, the County’s Countryside Access Team Leader on 30 March. On 18 April, Roger Moreton, for RA Cambridge Group, was invited to speak on the petition for 3 minutes to The County Council’s Cabinet meeting, and to answer questions.

The reply
The formal reply came from  Cllr Mcguire,
on 10 July 2006, and is quoted in full:

Dear  Sirs,

I was pleased to accept your petition on the 20th March which was considered by the County Council’s Cabinet on the 18th April. I am pleased to be able to offer you the Councils considered response and would welcome further dialogue on the matter.

The County Council is responsible for ensuring byways are accessible and properly maintained for all legitimate users but primarily for use by pedestrians and horse riders. There are 400km of byway in the county out of a total length of 3200Km of ROW. This is a higher proportion than many neighbouring counties.

Byways often represent a considerable asset for biodiversity if appropriately managed. The total area of Cambridgeshire byways is equivalent to a large Country Park and therefore has value beyond countryside access. Some of these green lanes are designated in their own right for their wildlife value e.g. a significant part of the Roman Road SSSI running from Cambridge towards Haverhill. We have been working with the Wildlife Trust (Cambridge Green Belt Project) and English Nature on the Roman Road near Cambridge and on the Ashwell Stret near Royston, and are nearing completion of restoration work (reclamation of the full width, drainage, re-seeding and hedgerow replanting and management)l on the Bullock Road in Hunts.

In these cases traffic on the routes has been limited by Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs) and I note your desire to see this type of traffic management extended to other routes where appropriate. This is a matter the Local Access Forum (LAF) have also considered and something the Countryside Access Team report on to each LAF meeting .

The County Council’s Procedure for using TROs was approved in January 2005 based upon Government Guidance and Best Practise. In essence, the County Councils approach can be summarised as follows:-

  • Ensure that adequate management has been carried out
  • Try voluntary restraint through liaison with user groups
  • Test the effectiveness of temporary orders
  • Test limiting (width, height, weight) traffic regulation orders
  • Only then resort to a full prohibition of traffic order

When considering applying for a TRO, consideration is given to previous history of use and complaints, use of private rights, soil conditions, heritage and biodiversity issues, maintenance issues, source of damage (2 or 4 wheeled users, farm machinery).

Seasonal TROs are applied and have been effective. Our ability to undertake this type of regulation is limited by resources. A typical TRO costs up to £3000 to make and enforce. Cases are currently dealt with according to the escalation process above. The volume of cases is expected to escalate as restricted byways come into force (under the Natural England and Rural Communities Act, 2006) in neighbouring counties. Priority will be given to those routes where environmental damage is most significant and potential benefit for users is the greatest. We will be consulting on the application of a further 4 seasonal TROs in West Hunts (Eynesbury Hardwicke, Waresely, Old Weston, Upton & Coppingford) shortly.

We are investigating the cases highlighted in your petition (Willingham 9, West Wratting 1, Weston Colville 4, and the Roman Road) to ensure proper consideration has been given to all the issues and all proper avenues pursued in line with our Enforcement Procedure.

One further point to note is a new requirement on Highway Authorities to produce a Highways Asset Management Plan. The County Council aims to have a plan in place by April 2007. Officers are currently evaluating the condition and extent of information we hold about all our highways, including rights of way, and the resources required to maintain those assets. A better under-standing of the condition or our Highway network and the costs of maintaining it will enable the County Council to bid for and target resources most effectively. This will not necessarily bring additional funding to rights of way, and byways in particular, but the process will identify the costs issues that arise in maintaining these routes.

We would welcome information on those routes where significant improvements could be made for path users through the Councils adopted Byways Management procedure & the application of a seasonal TROs. This is a difficult issue and we welcome the very positive way in which all parties have worked with us to address it.

Yours sincerely,

Cllr Mac Mcguire
Cabinet Lead Member for Highways & Delivery.”

RA Response
Following RA Cambridge Group Committee discussion, a reply was sent on 31 July. We welcomed Cllr McGuire’s summary of the issues at stake, but remain concerned that many byway sites in Cambridgeshire remain under threat. The purpose of the petition was to indicate the strength of feeling on this issue amongst walkers, and to give a sense of the urgent need for action against accelerating damage.  The three byways selected to illustrate the problem are some with long histories of public complaints, and where attempts at management have been frustrated by repeated overusage by motor vehicles during the Winter months.The effect on these byways is to make them impassable (and therefore obstructed by virtue of their surface condition) to a great majority of users during the Winter & early Spring.. Appended to the letter are three long lists of reports of problems on the byways in question, extending over several years, together with responses (or lack) from the County Council. The Group would be happy to discuss the matter further.

We have yet to receive a formal reply to this letter.  However, an e-mail dated 4 August from Kate Day suggested that one of her officers had been detailed to have discussions with landowners in Willingham adjacent to the Aldreth Causeway.

What else can we do
At present, we can only wait a little longer.  We had hoped to see the application of TROs before the coming Winter, but that is now looking unlikely.

Meanwhile, you can help.  Write to Cllr McGuire, at Cambridgeshire County Council, Shire Hall, Castle Hill, Cambridge CB3 0AP,* emphasising your desire to see seasonal traffic regulation orders on these byways. Describe your own experiences of routes obstructed by mud, of having to turn back, of being sprayed by dirt from passing vehicles, or of deciding just not to use these routes in Winter, and hence spoiling an otherwise attractive circuit.

Thank you.

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

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

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

  1. Hertford East railway station to Cheshunt station, which is about 12/13 miles, lunching at Broxbourne, in the park set up by the Lea Valley Regional Park Authority
  2. Cheshunt railway station to Bowes Park station [near Alexandra Palace]. For this stage we parked at Hertford North station, walked to Hertford East to catch train to Cheshunt, and then caught train back to Hertford North. Lunch was enjoyed at Forty Hall, a magnificent house at the centre of a London Borough of Enfield country park. Plenty of pubs in Enfield Town, as we discovered. Old Enfield was a revelation to us all.
    Another 12/13 miles
  3. Bowes Park railway station into the City of London, returning from Kings Cross to Hertford North, where we had parked to travel down to Bowes Park. Lunch was taken in Clissold Park, where there are good facilities and pleasant gardens.
    Only 8/9 miles

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

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

For a surprising and different walk, do give it a go.
David Elsom
*** ring Thames Water 0845 9200 800 to obtain your copy of the free booklet

Did you know that…
— The bridge over the Cam on Coe Fen, which has been under conversion for joint use by cyclists and walkers, is at last open for use, but clearly unfinished. The bridge itself looks rather a mess at present, quite apart from the adjacent disturbed ground.

—A new footbridge is being constructed by Cambs.C.C. over Braham Dock on the Fen Rivers Way between Little Thetford and Ely. Walkers currently divert along the North bank of the dock (where there is no recorded right of way) and close to the railway across uneven ground.  The new Footbridge will be at TL 5400 7738, on Ely Footpath 23.  It will span the dock in a N-S direction at the E end of the dock.  The steel structure will have a wooden footway and handrails, and will be 24m long, 1.5m wide, and give 3m clearance above water level. Work is likely to start during the second half of September, and last for ca. 6 weeks, and the footpath will be closed while works are underway. An alternative route will be signed.
Information from John Sargeant, Cambs.C.C.  01223 718 408

—Sections of Devil’s Dyke between Newmarket and Stetchworth have recently re-opened, following tree work.  Cambs. C.C. announced this in August.  We were not aware that the path had been closed, in spite of using it at intervals through the Summer! You will see a few large trees have been removed from the wooded section, and some overhanging branches cut back, but fortunately, there is nothing like the wholesale clearance of trees  and bushes made previously on the Reach section of the Dyke.

—The AGM of the Icknield Way Association will be held in West Wratting on Sat.7 Oct., preceeded by a walk on the recently diverted path network in West Wratting. For a 6 mile walk, meet at The Causeway (leading to the church), Explorer 210  TL 605 524 at 10 am. The AGM and tea will be held in the village hall in the afternoon.
Icknield Way contact – Chris James  01462 742684

Cantab Rambler by E-Mail & Post:  Issue 38.
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 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


Issue 38; Price 20 pence where sold

© Janet Moreton, 2006.


CANTAB36 May 2006

CANTAB36 May 2006 published on

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


This month’s offering is rather more urban-based than usual, with articles mentioning both Cambridge and Saffron Walden.  However devoted is a walker to the delights of the countryside, there are few of us who do not, from time to time, venture into towns.  Saffron Walden is best seen on foot, and although many of our readers will know the town already, I hope the enclosed includes some snippets of previously unknown information.

St Radegund – Around Cambridge and elsewhere…
On King Street, opposite Wesley Church, notice the unusual name of the hostelry.
St Radegund (also rendered Rhadegund, Radegonde or Rhadagund) was the wife of Clotaire, King of the Franks (558 – 561).  Disgusted with the crimes of the Royal family, she founded the monastery of St Croix at Poitiers.  But why is she remembered in Cambridge, both in a pub name, and as a street off Coleridge Road?

We encountered St Rhadegund elsewhere recently, on the Isle of Wight, featured on a display board along a newly promoted 5 mile walking route, The Pilgrims Path.  The route is based on that used by pilgrims in the Middle Ages.  They arrived by ship at Binnel Bay, near St Lawrence (no longer possible, due to centuries of coastal erosion).  They climbed the steep winding ways in the luxuriant vegetation of the undercliff on what is still known as The Cripple Path.  Then they turned inland to offer prayers at the spring of White Well, reputed to have healing properties.  The well, opposite the church, is now freshly painted, and has one of a number of descriptive boards along the route.  Over the Downs went the pilgrims, past the now deserted Nettlecombe Medieval village, to return to the coast via St Rhadegund’s Path, passing the further holy wells of St Rhadegund itself, and that in the village of St Lawrence.

The latter has a tiny C12th church, still much in use, where the old pews and dark woodwork evoke thoughts of Celtic saints, and pilgrims of a past age.

Parish of the Month –
Saffron Walden
Map – Explorer 195
The name “Walden” means “valley of the Britons”, and “Saffron”, refers to the cultivation of the saffron crocus in the Middle Ages, when it was used in dyeing, medicine, and later for culinary purposes. The older town is sited on a low chalk spur between two small tributaries of the R.Cam, (the Madgate Slade & the Slade Brook), which join west of the town, before flowing into the Cam itself at Audley End.

The town’s most magnificent feature, The parish church of St Mary The Virgin, was built between 1470 and 1540, but the spire, at a height of 193ft,  and dominating the town, was added by the architect Thomas Rickman in 1832. Interesting lanes and passages lead from the church to the Market Square.  Here are the Tourist Information Centre  (where obtain a simple street plan), Town Hall (1762), the Corn Exchange (1848), connected with the town library, and in amongst the market stalls, The Fountain (built 1863, restored 1975, and commemorating the marriage of the then Prince of Wales to Princess Alexandra).  In the streets around the market, are a wealth of fine old buildings, several now housing little independent retailers, which make Walden a good place for coffee and cakes, or a browse in one of several old bookshops.

Bridge Street has cottages of the late C15th, where close-spaced, heavy timbers were used while oak was abundant. Gold Street has C17th weavers’ cottages with a communal rear courtyard, but the flint weavers’ cottages in East Street  have early C19 brick facings. En route to the museum, and the flint-wall remains of the C12th castle, note C15th cottages following the line of the castle bailey into Museum Street.

High Street’s frontage of fine buildings range from a timber-framed C16th house, “The Gables”, through a number of lovely Regency properties, to lofty Victorian Gothic. Youth Hostellers will know that the finest medieval building in the town is the YHA building in Myddylton Place, built early C16th, and at one time used as a maltings.

Saffron Walden is particularly known for its pargetting, or decorative exterior plaster-work. That on The Sun Inn at Market Hill illustrates the East Anglian legend of a battle between Tom Hickathrift and the Wisbech Giant.

On the E boundary of the Common, note the fine turf maze, and do visit Bridge End Gardens, created 1840 (entrances from Bridge Street or Castle Street).

Leaflets in the church, museum, and information centre can provide much more data on architecture & history. When sated with sightseeing, shopping or coffee, it is time to consider walking options out of the town.

(a) To Great Chesterford  (4 miles)
For a linear walk, go N out of the town, along Catons Lane, past the football stadium. Follow the good path N, crossing a track E of Wheatley Farm, and over Rowley Hill.  Descend to Springwell, cross the road, and take the fp to Little Chesterford. Here, turn left on the lane, and soon a further path leads N to Great Chesterford.
(Return by ‘bus, or to Cambridge by train.)

(b) Audley Park   (2.5 miles)
Set off down Abbey Lane, noting the  United Reformed Church of 1811, with its 4-column portico*, and King Edward VI’s almshouses of 1834. Go through wrought iron gates into Audley Park. Take the path half-right (romantically towards the sewage works), and continue through the park to Weir Tea Bridge.   Follow a passage by a wall, and a driveway to London Road (B1383).  Turn left along the footway, admiring the excellent views of Audley End house & grounds. Turn left at the junction, and follow Audley End Road back towards Walden, turning left at TL 530 379, to re-enter the park through iron gates, and return to Abbey Lane.
* teas here on Sunday afternoons!

(c) Newport &Wendens Ambo (8 miles)
From Abbey Lane, go into the park, turning half-left on a path, to reach Audley End Road through iron gates at TL 530 379. Turn right along the footway, and left into the little road through the attractive Audley End village. Carry on ahead through Abbey Farm.  Cross Wenden Road, and along Beechy Ride.  This track crosses the B1052, and continues past Brakey Ley Wood.  You are on part of the “Harcamlow Way”, and follow this S all the way to Bromley Lane, crossing a stile and descending a grass field to Debden Water.  Here turn right over an awkward stile, and follow the path through a strip of wood, and past a sewage works & Essex CC Maintenance Depot to Newport.

Visit the fine church, then go NW through the churchyard, crossing a grass field, and emerging down a road by the brook in front of large new houses.  Cross the Bury Water “ford” at TL 517 343, and turn right up Whiteditch Lane, passing greenhouses and Tudehope Farm. At the end of the lane, a track leads over the hill to Rookery Lane at Norton End. Follow the lane left to Wendens Ambo Church, then cross the B1039 carefully near a sharp bend, TL 512 365. From here, a path leads ahead (N) to Cornwallis Wood, then right (E) to London Road. From here, the safest route back to Saffron Walden is N along the footway of London Road, turning right (E) onto Audley End Road, and following the instructions for Walk (b). A quicker route is to return along Wendens Road to TL 525 373, then taking the path to Audley End village, but  Wendens Road lacks a continuous footway.

(d) The Roos & Cole End  (7 miles)
Follow the description in walk (c) above as far as Brakey Ley Wood.  Here turn left (E) along the clear track parallel to Fulfen Slade.  On reaching Debden Road, continue to “The Roos”, and take the byway E to Thaxted Road.  Cross the road, turn left, and shortly right on a minor road passing Six Acre Wood and Cole End.  Where the road forks take the left fork on Cole End Lane.  Just past Bears Hall, turn left (W) on a sunken byway, which follow to the junction with a bridleway.  Take this to emerge on the Thaxted Road (B184) at TL 546 380, and return to your starting point.
(Note that between Six Acre Wood & Cole End, it is possible to branch off onto field paths, which are quite findable, but sticky in Winter or after rain).

(f) Circuit to Debden (11 miles)
One limb uses the Harcamlow Way , then continue S over Debden Road, passing the 105m trig point, and on to Waldegraves. Take the byway to Cabbage Wood, where use the path to the isolated church, and the road to the village & the White Hart pub. Return to the church and the bridge over the lake, and turn  right (N) passing Debden Hall Farm. Cross the road, and take the bridleway N through Howe Wood* to Debden Road.  Follow the road N towards Walden (care), turing off at The Roos for the path to Herberts. Cross the rec. to rejoin Debden Road, but turn off left on Seven Dials Lane. Return to Walden on the B1052 (or use your street plan for urban short cuts!)
* The path through Howe Wood is wet in Winter

(g)  Littlebury Green & Strethall (10 miles)
It is also possible to make circuits from Walden to Littlebury Green and Strethall, using the footpath crossing the railway by Cornwallis Hill.  The return is less interesting, being made via Littlebury Green Road, a fp S to Chestnut Avenue & London Road.

(h) Wimbish, Radwinter  (12 miles)
When ground conditions are good, it is possible to make more ambitious circuits to Wimbish & Radwinter, with a suggested outward route via Cole End, and a return along the Roman Road between Stocking Green and the turning to Redgates Lane.  Such routes are recommended with some reservations, however, because of poor crossfield paths, and the necessity of walking back into Walden for a mile on either the busy Ashdon Road or the Radwinter Road.

Plants of  Suffolk Roadside verges
In January, I was privileged to hear a lecture at the Cambridge Botanic Gardens by Yvonne Leonard, talking about wild flowers which can be seen on roadside verges in Suffolk.

In Suffolk, as elsewhere in East Anglia, much habitat & many wild plant species have been lost due to wartime ploughing, military airfields, commercial conifer planting, and modern agricultural methods.  In 1968, Hilary Heyward (connected with Cambridge University, and the then Ministry of Agriculture) noted some 600 species in the verges. (Some further species loss has been recorded since.)  But since 1968, Suffolk CC and the Suffolk Wildlife Trust have cooperated in a scheme to protect verges, erecting “NR” (Nature Reserve) posts.

The criteria for selection of a verge are to  protect a species rare nationally or only occurring locally in Suffolk, and to protect good examples of habitat communities.  The scheme has also sought to  protect displays of common species, to promote & encourage public interest.  Wardens control the management plan for cutting NR verges, normally cut once per year.  Where a verge is adjacent to a conservation headland, the effectiveness is enhanced.

Examples were given of the more unusual plants we might see are appropriate seasons.
Spanish Catchfly grows in verges at Chippenham and sand catchfly at Mildenhall.
“Creeping bellflower” grows in the verges at Mildenhall.
Maiden Pink grows at Ramparts Field.

Spring speedwell may be found on verges at Cavenham.
Chicory can be spotted by the old factory at Lakenheath, and Lesser Calamint at Moulton.  And the verges support many orchids including the common early purple, spotted and pyramidal orchids, bee orchids, and seven sites boast the rare man orchids.

Not all the plants on verges are altogether welcome. Common scurvy grass, a low-growing tough little plant with white flowers,  once found mostly at the seaside, is increasing along verges, due to salting of busy roads. Alexanders (a tough umbellifer, typically 70cm high, with yellowish green flowers) is  also on the increase, shading out roadside primroses, violets etc.

So when your walk takes you off the public paths, and onto the verges of the highway, walk with care, avoiding not only the traffic, but also the delicate plants underfoot.  Look & enjoy, but please don’t pick!

See “Flowers and Wildlife of Mildenhall Parish“, by Yvonne J Leonard, Publ. Mildenhall Parish Council, 2001 (available locally)

Footnote – Cambridgeshire County Council has recently started its own roadside verges nature reserves scheme, so look for “NR” posts.

Vehicles on Byways – a Petition
Cambridgeshire has a lot of Public Byways (also known as “Byways open to all traffic”, or BOATS) – there are some 250 miles throughout the county.  Often byways form vital links between other paths, and many of them are “green lanes”, sometimes between hedges, which can be havens for wildlife among the cultivated fields.

Those joining group walks during the Winter may well have been asked to sign a Petition, calling on the Cambs.C.C. to do more to protect our byways from damage by 4×4 vehicles and motor-cycles, especially during Winter months.  In fact over 350 people signed, mostly from RA Groups and the Cambridge Rambling Club, and we want to say a big “thank you” to all who did.

The Petition was received on 20 March on behalf of the Council by Cllr. Mac McGuire, in front of a small number of supporters assembled outside Shire Hall.  Anyone listening to BBC Radio Cambridgeshire at 7.45 that morning could have heard me being interviewed on the subject in the Breakfast Programme.  In presenting the Petition, we emphasised that green lanes are valuable for healthy recreation, as well as acting as linear nature reserves.  We  recognise the rights people have to drive along public byways, but we want to stop the horrendous damage being done by a few irresponsible individuals, and costing the County a lot of money in repairing the surface each spring.  To be fair to all byway users, we asked for motor vehicles to be banned only in the Winter, when most damage is caused.  Such restrictions have worked very well in a few cases, and we want the scheme extended.

The Petition has gone to the Council’s ruling “Cabinet”, and because of the number of signatures on it, I was given the chance to introduce it on 18 April. One can’t say much in the 3 minutes permitted, but I repeated our arguments, emphasising the financial advantages. There is clearly quite a lot of sympathy among the Councillors, and we know that Rights of Way staff are on our side, so we’ll see what happens.
Roger Moreton.

More on Unrecorded Public Paths
A recent note by Chas Townley on “Ramblers-Net” noted the following.  The Institute of Rights of Way Management has published a code of practice on its website* about the creation of new rights of way.  It notes that the first step is to look for unrecorded rights and suggests that as much of 10% of the rights of way network is currently unrecorded.

And good luck to Little Shelford Parish Council who are currently appealing to the Secretary of State, against Cambs.C.C’s refusal to register two new rights of way in the parish, based on evidence of past use.

Cantab Rambler by E-Mail & Post:  Issue 36.
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.

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


Issue 35; Price 10 pence where sold

© Janet Moreton, 2006.