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CANTAB08 July 2001

CANTAB08 July 2001 published on

** Please note that this is an archive of the CANTAB publication and contains out-of-date information **


In late May we wrote that walking opportunities were improving locally, with only about 15% of paths closed. On our return from holiday in Scotland at the end of June, the Internet told us that by ca. 1 July (days varying slightly from County to County), the whole of the public paths in East Anglia were open (Cambs, Beds, Essex, Herts, Norfolk, Suffolk, Bucks)… but still not a single path in Lincs is open.

We congratulate Cambridgeshire County Council staff on their reasonable attitude throughout the Foot & Mouth crisis.  We hope the epidemic nationally is genuinely nearly over, and, this being the case, trust that all paths will be open soon everywhere, and that rights of way officers will busy themselves with restoring path networks which, at best, have become overgrown, and at worst, have developed new obstructions in the intervening months.

Remember this –
Having endured a few weeks of restricted freedom, perhaps we will fight harder in future to retain what we take for granted.  After the Civil War, Parliament outlawed “vainly and profanely walking” on a Sunday.

Think on these things.

A few sites in Cambs still closed
Whilst Wimpole Hall and garden is now open, and the right of way along the drive (allowing walkers to go the full length of the Clopton Way), the Park and Home Farm are still closed.  The greater part of Fulbourn Nature Reserve (i.e. the grasslands) is still closed. Magog Trust land is largely available, except for the South field containing the sheep – the perimeter dog walk has been re-routed, to emerge onto the North field, above the old chalk pit.  Other reserves, and open spaces which are not public may still be unavailable.

Umbrellas for walking?
The very wet Winter seems to have given way to a not-very-dry Summer, so I continue to carry a fold-up umbrella in the rucksac, to be used instead of a hot waterproof in a sudden shower, or to supplement the raingear in a real downpour. I have found a good quality “gamp” worthwhile, as it has stood being turned inside out on many occasions.  Fulton’s “Stormshield” is advertised  as never blowing inside out, but I have not tried it!

The first umbrella, or parasol, would appear to have been carried ca. 2000 years ago by the Egyptians.  It was made of ostrich feathers and used as protection against the fierce desert sun.  The umbrella arrived on London’s streets in the middle of the eighteenth century, courtesy of a certain James Hanway.  Initially regarded as continental frippery, by the end of the eighteenth century, umbrellas were being widely used throughout England.  Early ones were made of heavy cloth supported by ribs of wood or metal, and weighed up to 4 kg.  Now it is possible to buy one as light as 158g – but a more robust one might be better for that country ramble…

Return to Kilnhill, Bassenthwaite, 8 -14 May 2002.
Those of us who were planning to visit the Lake District for a group walking holiday in May this year were deeply disappointed to have to cancel, because of Foot & Mouth restrictions.  However, we have kept in touch to Ken & Heather Armstrong at Kiln Hill Barn, and are glad to report that they have had no disease on their farm, but clearly have been affected by the severe outbreak in the neighbour-hood.  We made a brief visit to them in June, on the way to Scotland, and they were very pleased to see us.  We have made a provisional booking for ourselves for the week of 8 – 14 May (Wed – Wed) next year, and very much hope that we will have a party again.

If you had a booking this year with Ken & Heather, should you wish to go next year, it would be nice if you could give them a ring in the next month, and confirm these dates, which they are keeping open.  If you have not been before, and would like to join us, then do consider this pleasant break.  It would be good to fill the guest house up!

As on previous holidays, we shall aim to do about 9 – 12 miles a day, with a mountain climb if the weather makes this possible.  As previously, we may  or may not know the particular route, but we do have a good range of maps & guidebooks, and we have visited the Lake District many times in the last 40 years.  We do not deliberately aim for screes, or places with high exposure, but bear in mind that the terrain is, necessarily often rough & steep. The Lake District is just like that!  We will not do the same walks as previous years, but those who have come on all the holidays may find they are occasionally crossing the tracks of previous routes.

We will use OS Outdoor Leisure Series NE & NW Cumbria (yellow covers).  You might also like to have OS Landranger Sheet 98, West Cumbria., showing the guest house Grid Ref. 214 326 at the N end of Bassenthwaite Lake.  A metal walking pole (or two?) is highly recommended, and waterproof overtrousers are essential.

Kiln Hill Barn, Bassenthwaite is a good centre for the Northern Lakes.  In the house there are 5 double or twin rooms, and 2 singles.  In the annex there is one double and 1 twin, and there are two rooms in the barn.  Rates at 2000 were ca. £32 per night bb/em. Parking is in a clean, cobbled yard.  The accommodation is good quality, with some rooms en-suite, all with central heating, and tea-making facilities.There is a hall pay-phone & TV lounge.  The dining room is in the upper floor of the very fine barn… and the food is varied and very good.

Transport – By car, using M6 to Penrith, then A66 Keswick bypass and A591 to Kiln Hill Barn.  It is possible to arrive by public transport.

Interested?  Then please make your own booking: Ken & Heather Armstrong, Kiln Hill Barn, Bassenthwaite, Keswick, Cumbria, CA12 4RG.  Tel. 017687 76454….  Please let me know you have done so!

The Hertfordshire Way
For those who have not walked this attractive route, information is now available on its own website:  There is an active Hertfordshire Way Association, a regular newsletter, and a useful guidebook, & walks programme.

3 Sept. 10 miles from Bramfield. 10am; grid ref 292156, near church. Bert Richardson, 01763 244509

8 Oct. 12.5miles Cuffley to Broxbourne. 9.30am. Lea Valley CP, GR371068. Peter & Sue Garside, 01992 467928

19 Nov. 10 miles from Royston, 10am followed by meal, Royston Golf course. Royston Golf Course CP. Bert Richardson, 01763 244509

The Fen Rivers Way
Due to the outbreak of Foot & Mouth, the Fen Rivers Way walks were never finished.  However, it is intended to organise Sections 5 and 6, (which were to have taken place on 24 Feb. & 3 March) on the first two Saturdays in November.  The Walks will be organised by the Fen Rivers Way Association, and will be held jointly with The Ramblers’ Association, Cambridge Group.

The Arrangements are as follows, with leaders Duncan, Roger, Janet & Bill.

Saturday 3 November 2001. FRW 5th SECTION.  Meet Cambridge Station for 9.32 train to Downham Market, or meet Downham Mkt Sta 10.03 am. Return from Watlington Station Station. Tel 01223 356889  8 miles  Check train times, which may change in the Autumn. Afterwards, come to the FRWA AGM at 2.30, at The Cock, Wiggenhall St Mary Magdalen.

Saturday 10 November 2001.  FRW 6th SECTION. Meet Cambridge Station for 9.32 train to Watlington, or meet Watlington Sta 10.09am.  Return from Kings Lynn Station. Afterwards, there will be an official opening of the route at Green Quay, to which all are welcome.  There will a tea for those who booked for the event last February. Tel 01223 356889  9 miles (14km) inc. historic centre. Check train times.

The Essex 100 mile Walk.
This event takes place in different parts of Essex every Summer, and is the brainchild of that grand old man of rambling, Fred Matthews..  This year, the route runs from Hatfield Broad Oak to Canewdon, in stages of 11 miles each, over 9 days, each day starting at 9.30am, at a car park, with a coach (£2.50 daily) to take walkers to the start.  All are welcome, using the following timetable:

28 July Harlow Town Car Park (CP) Grid ref. 451 108
29 July  Upshire Village Hall Grid ref. 415 010
30 July Stapleford Abbots Church  Grid ref. 501 961
31 July  Thorndale Country Park, CP Grid ref. 612 913
1 Aug   Great Bursted Church  Grid ref. 680 922
2 Aug South Hanningfield Fishermen’s CP  Grid ref. 737 974
3 Aug March Farm Country Park  Grid ref. 810 961
4 Aug Rochford Homebase CP, Purdey Grid ref. 886 898        [Ind. Est.
5 Aug Canewdon Village Hall  Grid ref. 902 945

There is a certificate for all finishers.

Walking in the Highlands…
We enjoyed 3 weeks in Scotland in June, and have been making a visit to different centres for several years, using addresses from the RA bed & breakfast guide.  The Highlands have barely heard of Foot & Mouth problems, although Dumfries & Galloway had a severe outbreak.

We stopped off at Dunkeld, (cathedral, Ossians Cave, ospreys, nature reserves, & waymarked walks) which we know & love from previously, and visited the new Beatrix Potter garden, and walked by the river, noting melancholy thistle, wood cranesbill, Jacobs Ladder, and other wild flowers we do not find at home.  Dunkeld is not far from Pitlochry, where there is an HF house, and both are good centres for hill walking.  Pitlochry has a theatre, shops and culture, but is much more touristy.  We have also stayed  in Aberfeldy, a charming unpretentious little town, with a two mile waterfall walk in the centre – delightful, but wear your midge repellant. Both Aberfeldy and coach-ridden Killin are good centres for the Lawers range of mountains, and the delightful walking from Glen Lyon, and have a range of accommodation and reasonable walking at lower levels. On all trips to Scotland, we try to be prepared for a proportion of wet days, and thus to cultivate an interest in castles, distilleries etc.

Arriving in reasonable time in Braemar, we took  a short walk round the Nature Reserve at Morrone birch woods, and reminded ourselves of the specialist Highland flora. Nearby, the Braemar Golf Course is said to be the highest in Britain, at over 1000 ft. We visited Braemar once before, some 10 years ago.  On that occasion, we climbed the obvious, easy peak Morrone (or Morven), which stands guard over the town.  Not far away, the car parks at Glenshee give access to the easiest Monros in the book, Cairnwell, and Carn Aosda, both achieved in about an hour and a half from the road.

But steady, you say, what are these Monros?  They are mountains in Scotland (named after Sir Hugh Monro, who first listed them) of over 3000 ft height and separated from other mountains by a drop of 500 ft.  As well as Monros, there are Corbetts, which are 2500 ft or more, again with a 500 ft drop between it and any higher hill. There are nearly 300 Monros, and about 220 Corbets, but the approved number changes from time to time, with revised Ordnance Surveys. When we first visited Scotland, we were irked by the lack of many rights of way.  There are some, generally through routes along the glens and over mountain passes, and nowadays  well waymarked by the Scottish Rights of Way Society.  But such routes are relatively few, and we wondered where to walk.  Then we came upon two books, published by the Scottish Mountaneering Club, The Monros, and The Corbetts.  Roughly speaking, each mountain has a page, and each page has a photograph, parking advice and route descriptions.  We were off!

On the present occasion from Glenshee, we climbed 2 easy Monros, Glas Maol (1068m), and Creag Leacach (987m), from the A93 at the Cairnwell pass.  This is a bit of a cheat, as the height of the road gives one a good start. Another of the Grampians, An Socach,  has two summits, 944m (the Monro), and 938m, at opposite ends of the ridge.  This was a delightful, elegant mountain, with a very relaxed, enjoyable ridge walk between, and very little bog, and making a walk of about 10 miles from the road.  Later in the week, in strong winds which we felt might stop us standing at 3000ft, we visited 2 Corbetts. We went towards Spittal of Glenshee, and up Ben Gulabin (806m). The wind howled on the top, and a hail shower followed us down, but it was invigorating. In the afternoon, we drove up a side glen, and climbed  Mount Blair from Cray. After the recent elections, this seemed appropriate, but we were saddened to find it disfigured on top by a new radio mast.

Braemar is known to walkers not only for access to the Grampians, but also as a back-door route to the Cairngorms.  We have stayed at Boat  of Garten on the other side of the Cairngorms on three occasions, and between the three weeks found weather opportunities to climb Cairngorm (no, not the chairlift); Ben Macdui (where we saw a snowy owl); Bynack Mor; Braeriach, the remote Monadh Mor, and The Angels Peak, as well as making inroads into the big Glen Feshie hills.  This time, we had hoped to get to know some of the easier approaches from the South.  We had one day of this only.  There was an early  ground frost in Braemar. We drove up to Linn of Dee, noting the last of the daffodils still in flower in the cottage gardens.  We parked, and walked up the rough track to Derry Lodge, and turned up Glen Derry, amidst ancient Caledonian pines and tall heather, to get onto the ridge, and climb Beinn Bhreac (931m), a rather small Monro, and returned much the same way.  As usual, we were following instructions in the SMC guidebook, but since it was written, there was a new 2m high deer fence across the visible path, with no gate or stile.  The fence sagged where others had climbed it, but we followed it along for 100m, where I found a gap underneath, where the ground dipped, & the fence did not, and rolled through.  We wove some pieces of heather in the top of the fence to mark the place, to find it on the return, but this was not so easy, even with binoculars!  The summit of our mountain gave wonderful views, but we soon turned cold.

Of the remaining 3 days in Braemar, on one day, the mist was down at 1000ft, but we enjoyed some 12 miles of pleasant local walks, using a leaflet from the tourist office.  In the heavy downpours of the succeeding day, we drove towards Aberdeen, and visited Crathes Castle (SNT), nr Banchory, (and walked its Nature trail in the wet), then visited another fortified pile, Drum, SNT (with an oystercatcher nesting on the ground at the base of the tower) near Peterculter.  The next day again started wet, so into the car for a trip to Frazer Castle, SNT, near Inveruie. When the sun came out, we consulted the map, and made for Bennachie Country Park.  This is like Wandlebury for Aberdeen folk, and was quite busy.  However, we went up a well-waymarked quaint pointed little mountain called Mither Tap (518m), surmounted by an old Pictish fort,

The following day, we drove to Spean Bridge, near Fort William, where we enjoyed a week of rather better weather, climbing more mountains. We have now topped 76 Monros, and about 20 Corbetts.  You do not have to be a rock-climber to try these mountains, or even a super-strong walker.  There are, no doubt, several that we will never attempt (like the Inaccessible Pinnacle on Skye), but there are many more that will give us happy days, a sense of achievement, enjoyment of splendid scenery, and a degree of isolation that we have not found anywhere else in the British Isles.


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

Short contributions are welcome.

Janet Moreton 01223 356889


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© Janet Moreton, 14 July 2001