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CANTAB04 December 2000

CANTAB04 December 2000 published on


This is a privately produced news-sheet for our rambling friends. The last two issues have appeared with a two-month gap, but we can’t guarantee regular production dates! Reception of the first three issues has seemed favourable, so “on with the motley”.  We aim to give away copies, but if you would like to have regular issues, a donation of 10p per copy would cover our costs!

Janet & Roger Moreton
(01223 356889)

Parish of the Month – Soham
On 29 September, we were invited by the Town Council to attend the official opening of Soham Millennium Walks.  These are a set of three walks, of length 1¾, 3½ and 7 miles, all starting from St. Andrews Church.  The colour-coded routes are amply signposted and waymarked, and new seats & picnic tables have been provided around the circuits.  The opening ceremony, attended by about 70 people, was preceeded by popular led walks on all three routes.  A permanent information board with a map giving details of the routes has been erected in the free town car-park near the church, and free leaflets are available.  These walks have been made possible by the work of the Soham Footpaths Preservation Society (Chairman Chris Turnbull) in recent years, in installing bridges, stiles and waymarks on many of their footpaths, bridleways and byways.  Soham parish is enormous, and has well over 100 paths, and an  interesting history.  Soham has more common land than any other town in the county.  Do visit it, and enjoy the Millennium walks!


More Watery Ways…

The Hereward Way
Continuing our theme of “Watery Ways”, The Hereward Way is a route following a number of Cambridgeshire’s watercourses, running across the fens from Oakham to Knettishall Heath, and passing through  Stamford, Wansford, Peterborough, Whittlesea, March, Christchurch, Welney, Little Downham to Ely.  From Ely it runs via Prickwillow to enter Thetford Forest near Lakenheath, and continue to Brandon.  The earliest version of the route finished at the railway station at Harling Road, but the route now meets the confluence of many paths in Knettishall Heath Country Park, Suffolk.  Thus the path keeps company in turn with Rutland Water and The River Welland, and follows The River Nene for many miles, from Wansford, through Peterborough to the “Dog in a Doublet” pub near Whittlesea.  Here the route turns south, then east again to introduce itself briefly to the Briggate River, and the Twenty Foot River near Turves.  The route returns to the bank of its old friend, the River Nene, to pass through March, but lights out across the fens to come to the delightful village of Christchurch.  Near Tipp’s End, there are no rights of way beside Old Croft River, so the route continues uncomfortably on the B1100.  At Welney, it crosses the Ouse Washes (floods permitting – this is not the part of the route to do after persistent rain!), and takes further fen paths to sedate Little Downham.  From here, it is briefly co-incident with The Bishops Way*  and continues on good paths into Ely.  A brief flirtation with the banks of the Rivers Great Ouse and The Lark lead to the most uncomfortable section of the route, along the A1101 towards Shippea Hill Station (past haunts of Golden Oriole in tall poplars).  The path tiptoes through the tall grasses fringing the River Little Ouse towards Lakenheath station, and follows adjacent trackways into Brandon.  Good forest paths take the route to Croxton, and on to Harling Road Station, or, better, (if there is transport available) to Knettishall Heath.  The whole route is 178 miles to Harling Road.  Significant parts are common with The Nene Way.

Four of us, (Norman & Betty Jenkins, and ourselves) followed the route in sections of about 12 miles between February and August 1995.  Highlights were birdwatching near Rutland Water early in the year, and finding  the churchyard at Easton on the Hill, Northants, awash with snowdrops.  We have photographs of a clear blue sky above the frost-fringed River Welland in late February, but Spring-like scenes of new lambs in the fields near Castor windmill a few weeks later, in March.  The Nene Valley Park, approaching Peterborough has some strange but interesting modern sculptures.  We courted wet feet on a fine April day, as the path skirted the swollen Washes at Whittlesea, and came in fine style into March one warm day at the end of the month.  The Jubilee monument in the middle of a road junction was freshly painted, and a good photographic subject on the traffic free Sunday!  The angel roof at St. Wendreda’s Church justified a detour, and the next Sunday found us taking afternoon tea-break in the churchyard at Christchurch. The flood-relief scheme on the Old Bedford River was in full swing as we crossed the Welney causeway, in company with a herd of cows & a quiet bull.  While in Ely, we revisited the tourist office in Oliver Cromwell’s house, not missing an opportunity to acquire any leaflets on new walks in the locality…It was June before we were tramping the Suffolk sections of the walk, and completed the final section to Knettishall one hot day in August.

We used a copy of the first edition of the Hereward Way guidebook by Trevor Noyes (now of Cherry Plum Cottage, Compton Dundon, Somerton, Somerset, TA11 6NZ). A new edition is planned for 2001, but an interim copy may be obtained for £2 from the author as above.  However, there is also a leaflet published by Cambridgeshire County Council (A2 folded sheet, route map and points of interest, 40p).

* The Bishops Way is a well-waymarked recreational walk of 8 miles circumnavigating Ely, and for which Cambridgeshire County Council has produced a leaflet (40p).,

Summary – Other Watery Ways
Mentioned in previous issues were:
The Fen Rivers Way – see you on the walks starting on 6 January 2001….ring 01223 356889 for details.

The Nene Way – Cantab Rambler, Sept.2000

The Iceni Way, The Nar Valley Way, and The Angles Way – Cantab Rambler, July 2000

Kingfisher Way – Cantab Rambler Nov. 1999

Coming soon – The Ouse Valley Way – a current assessment.

The Quotation
“Yet all experience is an arch where through
Gleams that untravelled world whose margin fades
Forever and forever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnished, not to shine in use!”

Alfred Lord Tennyson, Ulysses

Local Literature for Christmas
Ten Walks around Balsham by Janet Herridge
This attractively illustrated little book, available at £1 from the author, has concise route descriptions, and clear maps for circular walks of between 1 and 8 miles length, all of which start from the well-shelter in Balsham.  Highly recommended.
From Mrs.J.E.Herridge, 7 Woodhall Lane, Balsham, Cambs. CB1 6DT, tel. 893947.

An Atlas of Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire History
Eds. Tony Kirby & Susan Oosthuizen, Publ. 2000 by APU  (Anglia Polytechnic University) A4 paperback, 192pp. £20.  ISBN 0-907262-9-8
(in bookshops in Cambridge)

This comprehensive guide to archaeological sites of the present county of Cambridgeshire is priced at the other end of the scale for your Christmas present list!  However, for those with an even moderate interest in the antiquarian and local history of the passing scene, this is a very useful handbook.  Lavishly illustrated with distribution maps, a copy of this will alert you to what to look for on the next day’s walk. Starting with chapters on geology, relief and landforms, the text moves on to the development of fenland in prehistoric times, and discusses sites occupied in the Stone Age periods.  By The Bronze & Iron Ages, the maps illustrate very numerous sites and finds. Of particular interest to walkers is a map showing prehistoric trackways. For Roman times, it is possible to produce  “street plans” of  Cambridge and Godmanchester, and show the distribution of industrial sites (potteries, salt production etc), rural settlements, and roads & canals in the County. Anglo-Saxon settlements, placenames, monasteries, and the Dykes are covered comprehensively.  After a brief reference to the influence of The Danes,  chapters move into the era of greater written records, detailing medieval churches, castles, moats and Lodes, and later, the Domesday survey.  Vernacular buildings down the centuries are covered, now often to be identified on site by actual houses, rather than the “humps in the ground” of earlier periods.  Former forests, parks and gardens, markets and fairs, transport, education, commodity distribution and changes in arable land & commons down the centuries are chronicled.  The stages of draining the fens are shown clearly, as is the effect of the Civil War on Cambridgeshire.  Later chapters discuss effects of religious dissent, rural unrest and the Enclosure Awards. Victorian industry, the railways, the Poor Law lead into the modern period.  The effects of the World Wars, airfields, roads, local government and Town and Country bring us up to the present day.

This is primarily a work of reference, but once picked up, is difficult to put aside.  The next time a walk is put off by a wet day, I shall curl up with this record of the centuries.

Suffolk Signpost
This is the title of a free newspaper for outdoor people produced quarterly by Suffolk County Council, in partnership with The Countryside Agency.  It is available on counters in information centres, and especially at Country Parks, e.g. Knettishall and Clare.  The Summer 2000 issue had articles on walking for health, a review of the parish Paths Partnership Scheme in Suffolk, and a cycle network launch.  Most useful to walkers, however, are the several articles on promoted walks and rides.  This issue showed a circular walk at Ashfield-cum-Thorpe; Stanton Rides (NE of Bury St. Edmunds);and the new Occold circular walk.  Other issues have shown the effect of diversion packages – information difficult to obtain elsewhere.

We have seen a similar free paper, “Ways through Essex“, although this seems less generally available.  It is a pity that Cambridgeshire County Council does not produce a similar publication – JM

How to Complain!
This is not an item on how to deal with your local tradesman, but how best to complain about path problems.

Who should I write to?
You are always welcome to pass South Cambridgeshire problems to us, and we will try to do something about them.

Alternatively, you may feel that you prefer to write directly to the County Council, but if so we would appreciate a copy for our records. Problems in Cambridgeshire (other than in Cambridge City, or in the envelope of the new Peterborough Unitary Authority) should be addressed to Cambridgeshire County Council, which as Highway Authority, has ultimate authority for path problems.

You can write to: Ms C.M.Day, Countryside Services Team Leader, Environment Division, Cambridgeshire County Council, Box ET 1009, Shire Hall,Cambridge, CB3 0AP.

If the parish is taking part in the “Parish Path Partnership” Scheme, then you can copy a letter to the Clerk or path organiser, but do please also inform the RA.  Parish priorities are not always identical to those of walkers at large.

What should I say?
Report the problem you encountered in your own words, but remember that the clerical assistant in the Rural Team’s office, will fill in your query in a form on a computer, so make it easy to identify & classify your problem.
-Note the date you encountered the problem
-Names of those present (or number of party)
-Civil parish (e.g. Shingay cum Wendy)
-Type of path – footpath, bridleway, byway
-Map you were using (& guidebook, if any)
-Definitive path number, if known
-Grid refs of start & end of path
-Grid ref(s) of places problem(s) found

Type of problem.  Describe this in your own words, but bear in mind that it will be classified under the following headings –
1. Bridge (needed)
2. Bridge (repair needed)
3. Stile (repair or replace)
4. Gate, or kissing gate (repair or replace)
5. Fence/hedge/gate across path
6. New signpost needed
7. Signpost repair needed
8. Waymarking needed
9. Field edge ploughed/cropped
10.Cross-field ploughed/cropped
11.Overhanging vegetation (not crop)
12.Surface vegetation (not crop)
13.Obstruction (building)
14.Obstruction (miscellaneous)
15.Erosion (waterside)
16 Surface (not ploughing/cropping)
17.Bulls & other hazardous animals
18.Travellers encampment
20.Ploughing/cropping where detail unknown
21.Misleading notice
22.Definitive route query
23.Fly tipping/rubbish dumping

In addition, if there is any hazard present, the word “Safety” should appear prominently.

The above categories are those used by CCC and by ourselves, when we send problems from our computer to their computer.  You will be glad to know that a letter always accompanies the disc, addressed to a real person, and with a description of the problem.  In the recent Millennium Survey, we found problems in every one of these categories, but we found that problems with landowners on site had to go down under “miscellaneous”!

Finally, please follow up the problem, if possible.  If you plan to lead a walk, using the problem path, do say so.  If you use the path frequently, or would do so were it to be in better order, then do emphasise this.  If you met other people having the same difficulties, then include this in your report.

If you have problems in other counties, e.g. on holiday, then do send them to the appropriate County Council, with a copy to the local RA Area Footpath Secretary. Very often, the voice of a tourist spending money in an area may have a very influential effect on a council.

Finally, remember that although the path network is improving, none of us can afford to relax.  Without constant vigilance, backsliding is all too common!

©Janet Moreton, 2000