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CANTAB76 March 2014

CANTAB76 March 2014 published on

** Please note that this is an archive of the CANTAB publication and contains out-of-date information **


Could this happen now?

On 12 July 1993, the Lowland Counties Action Day was held at Metheringham, Lincs. Brett Collier, the then RA Lincolnshire Area President, spoke of the parish having arguably the worst paths in the worst county for public rights of way. Standing in the station yard, Stan Knaffler, the Ramblers’ Area Footpath Secretary, was able to point out a problem just over the fence!

The invited speaker, Cath MacKay of Sheffield Group spoke compellingly of the continuing problems of lack of reinstatement and crop obstruction on field paths. She stressed the need for local authorities to use the 1990 Rights of Way Act effectively; for landowners and farmers to recognise their responsibilities under the law; and for ramblers to continue to use difficult paths and to report every problem encountered to the local authority.

We had a press photographer standing by to rush the pictures to the local paper for a major article, and it was difficult to decide whether the unobtrusive police presence was to sort out traffic problems, prevent a riot, or to protect us from incensed landowners. In fact, none of these things seemed likely, as we crossed a couple of unbridged ditches, climbed some obstructing barbed wire fences, and walked in single field across unreinstated paths in fields either ploughed, or under sugarbeet or cereal. We were a sober lot, standing in the sun listening to the history of each sad case of obstruction, before walking carefully and quietly through the garden of a property illegally built across the line of a path, under the anguished eye of the householder, and the detatched gaze of a couple of policemen.

Roger and I were present on behalf of RA Cambridge Group, and I base the above on a report we made for our committee. We had not enjoyed going 100 miles to climb barbed wire fences, and walk through a private garden, but we felt this needed to be done, in the public eye, as a statement of the serious intent of East Anglian ramblers to see our rights upheld. In general, I have always agreed that the pen is mightier than the sword. The same year, there were a couple of walks on the local Cambridge programme, specifically designed to show members problem paths. These walks were not well attended – our members clearly did not want a route that was deliberately difficult, although they were ready enough to report problems to be passed to the County Council.

I suspect that an unwillingness to demonstrate would still be the case today, and, more important, it would be increasingly difficult (though not impossible) to find pockets of bad, obstructed or neglected paths. But especially in a climate of County Council cutbacks, we need to be vigilant, and, even if we don’t line up with placards and demonstrate, we need to keep the reports rolling in.

Your comments are invited.
Janet Moreton

The effect on the local landscape of Roman and Medieval Roads
In the April 2013 issue, we looked at the history of Wimpole parish, mostly in terms of site occupation from medieval times to the present day. Since then, the Ramblers’ Association has been consulted by the National Trust regarding a fairly large scale path rationalisation scheme, involving paths across Trust–owned pasture and arable land surrounding the core parkland.

RA Cambridge Group has commented on the proposals, and we await a further consultation. This has prompted me to look at the early history of roads and paths around Wimpole, and elsewhere, and to consider what factors from long ago have caused a road or path to develop or remain in the position we find it today.  An inspection of parish boundaries on the OS Explorer 209 will show that Ermine Street forms a boundary of several parishes. So, going N from Royston, to the W of Ermine Street, we have Bassingbourn, Shingay cum Wendy, Arrington & Longstowe, all with a boundary on the road. Similarly, to the E are in turn, Whaddon, Wimpole & Bourn.

With the exception of Wimpole, whose settlement pattern was destroyed by incoming landowners, the layout of most of the parishes and villages hereabouts were determined by at least the medieval period, and often much earlier. The continuing influence of Roman roads through the medieval period and later is manifest.  By medieval times, there remained in England at least 10 000 miles of Roman roads, built mostly by 150AD, but which had not been well maintained over the intervening 600 years. Many of these roads continued in use, providing a basic network. But elsewhere, many of the new medieval towns e.g. Oxford, were not on Roman Roads and new roads were needed to serve these and many new villages.

These new medieval roads were not a thin strip of land with definite boundaries, but rather a right of way, an “easement” with both legal and customary status. If the route was heavily used it became a physical track, but with provisos. If the road became obstructed, or founderous in wet weather, then the traveller had the right to diverge from it, even if this involved trampling crops. This was enshrined in the Statute of Winchester in 1285. Where the road climbed a steep hill or bank, multiple tracks would develop, the traveller taking the most convenient strand available at the time of use. Users of the modern footpath and bridleway network are often restrained from achieving such manoeuvres by restricting boundaries!

Most surviving sections of medieval road come into this “multiple track” category, where roads left cultivated land and tracks have not been ploughed out or otherwise destroyed.

A few new roads were built in the medieval period. Several royal statutes made requirements regarding road widths, or clearance to be made on both sides, for fear of highwaymen. The three causeways to Ely across fenland may constitute the largest medieval road-building works. The four great highways: Watling Street; Ermine Street; Fosse Way; and The Icknield Way were always regarded as being under the king’s special protection, which supports the idea that Roman roads remained in comprehensive use in the medieval period.

Janet Moreton

See also :Medieval Roads and Tracks by Paul Hindle (Shire, 2002).

On the Web…
If you have not looked recently, please try the Cambridge Ramblers website at

I re-organised it last Autumn and am hoping it will be useful for ramblers to look up forthcoming Walks
and items of local news, events and other information.

Back copies of CANTAB Rambler are now on the website, together with an index to all issues, including
“Parish of the Month” – see

Paul Cutmore

Arrington calling…
This parish is sorely missing the path worker who cared for their paths for many years, and who has now retired. No one else has come forward to fill the voluntary position, and I have been asked to advertise the vacancy.

It would be hoped that the successful applicant would be able to do some “hands on” work (e.g. cutting back overgrowth around stiles) as well as liaising over more serious problems with the County Council.

If interested, please contact

The Drainage of Fens in The Wilbrahams, Fulbourn and Teversham
The very wet winter, and flooding of low lying land and footpaths in the Cambridge area, has prompted me to read again a very scholarly study by T D Hawkins, published by the author in1990, ISBN 0-9516533-DX.

Dr Hawkins carried out a field survey of local watercourses following two years of heavy rainfall, in the winter of 1987/8. With all ditches full of water the direction of flow was clear. Subsequent studies of the history of the drainage of the area, gave an insight into the very complex drainage system in these parishes. In other fen-edge parishes in Cambridgeshire, such as Rampton, Cottenham, Willingham, the watercourses have similar complex histories, which repay study, especially when (or before) problems threaten. This subject is of more than academic interest to the walker. Many of our rights of way run along the banks of ditches and drains. In low-lying areas, those paths that are not elevated may well be regularly unusable for a few weeks every winter, and in a wet winter, like the one just past, may be out of bounds for months.

The ancient lines of watercourses in the Fulbourn fens before drainage are marked by peat-filled channels in the gravels. Land levels overlying the peat before artificial drainage were higher than at present, and especially before the extensive works of the C18th and C19th. Improved drainage leads to shrinkage of the peat from dehydration, oxidation, and wind erosion.

Early changes to watercourses were promoted by watermills, some of which are mentioned in the Domesday survey. Streams were diverted to serve the mills which significantly altered the local drainage, creating 3 different water levels.

From medieval times until the middle of the C17th, there were growing pressures to reclaim fen for farmland. Manipulation of water levels by dams, sluices and drainage, and piecemeal reclamation of fen edges already occurred. In absence of co-ordinated effort, drainage in one place led to problems elsewhere, leading to conflict and the need for arbitration. In 1367, for example, “It was found by jurors that the Prior of Ely did obstruct the course of the water at Wilburgeham Magna …such as the Commons belonging in the town of Fulbourne were overflowed to the damage of the whole country”.

There is some documentation of changes to the courses of the Great Wilbraham River, the Little Wilbraham River and Black Ditch. Parliamentary Inclosure occurred in these parishes between 1797 and 1810, at which time capital investment in drainage was found to be financially rewarding, and a drainage system was devised by the Parliamentary Commissioners.

For example, in Little Wilbraham, 4 public drains were constructed along the newly created Short and Long Droves. A tunnel (made of a hollowed tree) was made under the bed of the embanked Wilbraham River, to take water from a drainage ditch to a new drain running to the west of Quy Water south of the Turnpike. New Cut was dug, and a new public drain was made to by-pass Hawk Millrace.

Fulbourn parish had 13 miles (1070 chains) of new public drains, following Inclosure in 1808, and Teversham had 6 miles of new public drains. Great Wilbraham had 3 miles of new public drains, also tunnels and bridges.

Further improvements in the drainage were made piecemeal until the 1920s, and may be traced by observation on large scale Ordnance Survey maps, especially those published after 1896. Cambridge Water Co. built a pumping station in 1891 to extract water from a bore adjacent to Poor’s Well, Fulbourn. (A display board on Cow Lane Fulbourn, gives the history of the site, and the adjacent pumping station is now called Telford House, the premises of consulting engineers). The pumping station was progressively upgraded and finally closed in 1988, but meanwhile in 1921, a new pumping station had opened adjacent to Fleam Dyke, in the same water catchment area. The lowering of the water-table due to extraction greatly reduced the flow of water from the springs feeding Great and Little Wilbraham rivers.

From the end of the C19th onwards, the drainage system had begun to deteriorate, due to inadequate maintenance, and the long-term effects of WWI. In 1931, the Drainage Committee of the Rural District Council responded to complaints of all-year flooding due to the poor state of repair of the river banks, over the lower courses of the Great & Little Wilbraham rivers. In spite of the setting up of an Internal Drainage Board, and site works, no very effective improvements were made until 1960s, when a more co-ordinated programme was gradually introduced.

Folded into my copy of Dr Hawkin’s book is a pamphlet, “Managing Water Resources” produced by the Anglian Region of the National Rivers Authority (NRA), following the Water Act of 1989.  The NRA has since been superseded by the Environment Agency (EA) whose continuing efforts, hopefully, will be fuelled by the Government’s recent pledge for further funds to defeat flooding.

Cantab Rambler by E-Mail & Post
Cantab now is scheduled approximately every three 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 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 76 © Janet Moreton, 2014.

CANTAB75 December 2013

CANTAB75 December 2013 published on

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


When Roger was stricken by a serious stroke in May this year, Cantab was nearly written off. But as Roger is making slow steps towards recovery, the blandishments of kind friends to give Cantab, too, a second lease of life have received attention.

I kept several items of current interest through the Summer, only to find by such time when there were hours or minutes in the day to work on the next edition, many of my notes were dead letters. So this edition contains mostly references to other outdoor concerns that flourish around us, and comes with the hope that walking in Cambridge-shire and the wider East Anglia continues to thrive. In spite of local government cutbacks affecting path maintenance, I am pleased to report on two cycleway / footpath initiatives, which will make passage safer on some sections of a walk obliged to pass along a busy road.

Finally, Roger sends to all who sent him cards and messages of goodwill his grateful thanks, and hopes to make an appearance on some of the shorter walks during 2014.

Janet Moreton

John Muir 1839 – 1914
2014 will be notable not only for the centenary of the commencement of WW1, but also for that of the death of rambler and naturalist, John Muir.

His writings are celebrated both in the United States, where he campaigned for the protection of wild places, and in the UK, especially in Scotland, where the head office of the John Muir Trust is located in Pitlochry.

John Muir was decades ahead of his time in arguing for the intrinsic value of nature, and for the restorative and spiritual effects of experiencing nature and wilderness. He wanted to educate people about the wonders of the natural world and inspire them to experience it for themselves. He campaigned for the protection of wild places.

The John Muir Trust interprets his philosophy in terms of education, with projects for young people, and the new Wild Space visitor centre at Pitlochry. The Trust also works on path restoration schemes in Scotland, the Autumn 2103 journal featuring the success of restoring the popular path up the 1083m conical peak, Schiehallion. Combining with other environment groups, the Trust fights development in Scotland’s wild places.

For more information, see:

Quotation of the Month:
“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread – places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.”

John Muir, writing about Yosemite

The Downsman – 90 years old
The Society of Sussex Downsman was founded 1923. One of its first successes, in 1925 was to help save the (Sussex) Devil’s Dyke from bungalows! In 1926, the Society fended off development just behind the Seven Sisters. In absence of planning controls, the Society raised £17,000 to buy the land from the developers, and subsequently presented the land to The National Trust. In the 1930s, the Society campaigned against pylons stretched across the Downs. In the current century, the Society campaigned for The South Downs National Park, which finally came into being in March 2010. The Society changed its name to the South Downs Society, and continues to ensure that the unique chalk landscape stays safe.

The South Downs were my first walking territory, and membership of the South Downs Society keeps me in touch with local issues. See

The following gives news of a couple of local planned cycleway / footways alongside busy roads. Whilst no-one would suggest a long walk along here, these will provide walkers with a safer transit from one side path to another.

Swavesey to Buckingham Business Park Cycleway
Cambridgeshire County Council is proposing a new foot and cycleway from Boxworth End to Bucking Way Road in Swavesey. The path will provide a link to Buckingway Business Park and on to Cambridge Services.

The new cycle and footway is estimated to cost £450,000 and is being funded by Cambs C C’s successful bid to the Department for Transport for £4.1m from the Cycle City Ambition Fund.

It is hoped to start construction from April with the path planned to open in June 2014.

Wandlebury to Babraham Research Campus – a footway & cycleway beside the A 1307
There are plans to build a new cycleway and footpath between Wandlebury Country Park and the Babraham Research Campus alongside the A1037. The new path will also link up with the existing cycleway to the Babraham Road Park and Ride site and create a direct route for those travelling into Cambridge.

The new path is to be constructed in two phases: the Wandlebury to Copley Hill section in February-March 2014; and Copley Hill to Babraham in June-July 2014. The path is scheduled to open in August 2014.

The scheme has been developed in partnership with Babraham Research Campus, who is contributing £200,000 towards the new cycle and footpath. Cambs C C is providing £450,000 from their earlier success this year in securing over £4.1million from the Department for Transport’s Cycle City Ambition Fund.

A Walking Guide to the Fulbourn Area
Have you seen this excellent little book? It is published in 2013 by the Fulbourn Forum for Community Action, Fulbourn Village History Society and Fulbourn Village Library.

With such a pedigree, it is not surprising that it is a splendidly produced, interesting guide to the walking in the parish, but not to just the public rights of way, but also the highways, byways, and village corners. If you are already familiar with the local paths, you will still find much that is new in these pages. The text is rich in wildlife information, and particularly strong on historical details of the village, and the photographs of a very high quality.

And the guide does not confine itself to the past. We are introduced to The Fulbourn Life Wall, a monument by Andrew Tanser, made of black Granite from Zimbabwe, in the Windmill Estate. The West side illustrates the early history of “Fugolburna”, the Anglo- Saxon name for the village,on the East side we are brought up-to-date with the more modern history of “Fulbourn”.

The guide may be obtained from the village library, RRP £4.50.

The Fulbourn Swift Project
This was the title of an illustrated lecture given on 27 November at the St John the Evangelist church hall, Cambridge, under the auspices of The Wildlife Trust.

Rob Mungovan, South Cambs District Council’s Environmental Officer had worked for a period attempting to re-house a large colony of swifts, which formerly had nested in the old twostorey prefabricated buildings of the Windmill Estate. As the old houses were demolished, and the new houses were built, the developers were assisted in providing new nesting sites. A majority of these were within the roof spaces of the new buildings, with only a little access pipe for the birds’ entry giving a clue to their presence. Other boxes were sited on the outside of the new buildings. Some local residents formed a “Swifts Group” and monitored the success of the venture. Some 10 of the new boxes were used in 2011, and 27 in 2012. One of the roads in the estate is named after the swifts, and May to July is recommended for a visit.

n.b. Other parties of swifts nest elsewhere in Fulbourn, such as on the Church and Old Manor. And in the old terraced rows of streets of Petersfield district in Cambridge, swifts may also be found hoovering up insects in the dusk, or circling high in the sky above their nests.

Moves to re-open a footpath from Commercial End to the Former Swaffham Prior station.
The Ramblers’ Association was asked by a local resident to assist in trying to re-open a path which once ran from Commercial End, Swaffham Bulbeck, to the former Swaffham Prior station, located at TL 561 644. The path was set up when the railway was running as a short cut for the people of Swaffham Bulbeck, but fell out of use when the railway closed in 1965. The path could still provide a pleasant country walk from either Swaffham Prior or Swaffham Bulbeck.

An advert was placed in two local magazines, the “Swaffham Crier”, and the “Bulbeck Beacon”. As a result about 20 people wrote in support of the proposals. Anyone else with knowledge of the path who has yet to make contact is invited to do so. A request has been sent to Cambs. C.C., asking them to look into the proposal, and citing the possible availability of funds for local path development projects.

Commercial End, Swaffham Bulbeck
This is not a modern industrial estate, as the name suggests, but a charming part of the old village, whose history goes back a long way.

The adjacent Swaffham Lode is probably of Roman origin, and is known to have been used to transport goods by water in medieval times. Its main development as a C19th fen port was the work of Thomas Bowyer. He erected several warehouses, many of which have been converted into charming houses.

Take a walk along Commercial End, and admire several fine and interesting buildings.

Thatched and pantiled cottages date from 1730. There is a Victorian fire hydrant, and a former malting house 1697 with an attractive shell doorway.

A late C17th merchant’s house overlooks the wharf – it was extended in the early C19th to provide a counting house. Spot a large, former granary, now a house, dated 1815, and with wall-anchors in the form of TB.

Continue past the site of the former Benedictine nunnery, and walk the quiet Fen Lane to Cow Bridge, where there is a seat. Use either a signed footpath beyond on the left, or continue on the road, in both cases, to Swaffham Bulbeck Green, opposite the Three Horseshoes Pub. The ironwork village sign, made locally by Frank Turner of Mitchel Lodge Farm, dates from 1978. (under 2 miles)

Other Swaffham Bulbeck Walks
From Cow Bridge, on Fen Road, take the footpath to Longmeadow, and then make a very pleasant circuit via Docking and Cranney Drove. (3 miles)

This walk may be extended into Lode from Longmeadow, taking a signed tarmac path to Lode recreation ground, and returning from Lode village via Millards Lane. At the end of this residential lane, take the field path back to Longmeadow. (Note the path’s central section may be cultivated). (5 miles)

Parking is not advised in Longmeadow hamlet, where the road is very narrow. It is possible to park in Commercial End, with care, or there is a carpark on the edge of Swaffham Bulbeck Green. Also one can start the walks from Anglesey Abbey, thus making the longest circuit 6 miles.

Cantab Rambler by E-Mail & Post
A large number of you now receive Cantab by e-mail. By hand, 20p is appreciated towards the cost of paper and ink. 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 75 Price 20 pence where sold

© Janet Moreton, 2013

CANTAB29 March 2005

CANTAB29 March 2005 published on

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


Stepping lightly?
Who has not groaned on a path through a succession of fields which involves climbing a number of difficult stiles? In Cambridgeshire, there are mostly the traditional wooden sort, having one or two steps.  These can be wobbly, missing steps, festooned with barbed wire, or buried in a micro-thicket of brambles and/or nettles. Design has improved over recent years, and there is a British Standard 5709, “Gaps, Gates and Stiles” (revised 2001), that states that stiles should only be used as a last resort, and their steps should not exceed 300mm (1foot) in height. BS5709 gives recommended options on design, although there is no compulsion to abide by the standard.  In recent years, Cambs.CC has supplied stile kits, to be put in by volunteers as part of the Parish Path Partnership scheme. The kits, admirable in themselves, have in general greatly improved fence-crossings.  However, even these new stiles are not one hundred percent successful, as inexperienced workers do not always ensure a construction with long-term stability, and a frequent problem is that the step is too high, as the holes dug are too shallow to bury sufficient of the structure in the ground.

However, further improvements are nigh!  Most recently, Cambs CC has started replacing stiles with either gaps in the fence (the British Standard says these should be a minimum width of 900mm, but they are often much narrower) or with wooden or metal kissing gates, and this trend is likely to accelerate. We have to thank the Disability Discrimination Act (1995) which became law on 1 October 2004.  Speaking generally about public facilities, it states that it is now illegal to discriminate against disabled people by failing to make reasonable adjustments to overcome physical barriers to access.  So some splendid kissing gates are appearing – but in the change-over period a path may have one new kissing-gate, followed by 3 old stiles, which is not much use to anyone unable to climb a stile, but otherwise able to take a long walk.

The 2001 version of the standard stile includes a dog-gate. An example is a vertical lift-up door attached to the stile post. This is invaluable to the dog-walker, but we have seen bad versions where the dog-gate has been fitted into the width of the stile, making the portion available for the human climber too narrow to swing a foot over conveniently.

I would be sad, though, to see all the old stiles vanish, irritating as they can be on a group walk, where 20 people queue up to go over.  Think of the charming old-world descriptions of Jane Austin’s characters in long dresses, being discreetly handed over stiles by escorts, the latter averting their eyes from the sight of a well-turned ankle?  Or, more daringly in “Persuasion” (1818)  “In all their walks he had had to jump her from the stiles; the sensation was delightful to her“.

Venturing further afield, one encounters ladder-stiles in high fences enclosing or excluding deer – we have met some very dubious versions of these in Scotland, requiring a high degree of agility.  And what of the stone-wall country, with the traditional stone steps up the wall, and a little gate on top?  Except on a few popular paths, I doubt if these will disappear, and indeed, would we not mourn their loss?

Janet Moreton

Parish of the Month – Fulbourn
Those who live in Cambridge may have an impulse to turn the page here, as the village sits on the City boundary, and the paths are so well known.  But first, give me the opportunity to tell you something which may be new!

The setting…
The parish rises to ca 50m above sea-level along the Colchester to Cambridge Roman Road, but descends to 10m in the area of damp pasture known as Fulbourn Fen.  In 1086, the parish was “Fuulburne”, a stream frequented by birdlife.  The former Britsh Rail named the now-extinct station “Fulbourne” (closed 1966) but as any local person knows, local “bourn” names have no “e”. (Planners at Cambourne should also have noted this!).

On Foot through History…
In the Middle Ages, Fulbourn consisted of two parishes, each with a church which shared the same churchyard. Now only St Vigor’s remains, the church of All Saints having been allowed to decay in 1766, after local people had been given permission to recycle building materials.  The two churches belonged to the two principal manors, later known as Zouches and Manners.  Another estate owned by the Dockra family in the C16th was Dunmowes, whose manor house is thought to have occupied a moated site known as Zouches Castle, now isolated on a little island in Fulbourn’s nature reserve, by a display board.

The Anglo Saxon earthwork, Fleam Dyke, (1) gives an excellent route out of the village, beyond Stonebridge Lane, and Footpath 4.  It runs SE over a wooded cutting (the remains of the old Newmarket to Great Chesterford railway) and then crosses the footbridge (opened 1994) over the A11, to lead ultimately to Fox Road, and thence to Balsham or West Wratting.

Paths in Fulbourn are well-maintained and well used. A 1986 village guidebook by Don Crane (2) describes several very short circuits round the village itself, giving the history of the buildings and open spaces passed en route. From the lych-gate of St Vigor’s (heavily restored 1869), turning left one passes the Manor House, based on Tudor & Jacobean origins. There is a new display board of the village here. Continue by the very old manor wall, built of a great variety of materials, and by tradition, containing some of the building materials from the old All Saints Church. The War Memorial at Pound Hill, occupies the site of the former “pound” for strayed animals.  Further on, The Old House has C15th origins, but was extensively rebuilt in the C17th. The United Reform Church was built in 1810, but subsequently enlarged.  Hope Hall, now a private house, was built in 1909 on the site of a former pub called “The Royal Oak”, and was originally used for Band of Hope gatherings.  Another pub, “The Crown and Thistle” noted by Don Crane in 1986, no longer stands.  The parish burial ground, opened 1935, lies in Saunders Lane, called Fenstrete in the Middle Ages. Dogget Lane is named after Robert and Henry Dogget, who had land here in 1279.

Down the centre of the village runs the lane called Haggis Gap, connected with Richard Haggis, a C17th landowner.  Until after WWII it was an unsurfaced cart track, and the village recreation ground used to be on the west side, a site now occupied by the Health Centre. Don Crane considered Highfield Farm, to the north of the village, to be the oldest and most interesting building, dating from late C14th.

Finally, on the Cambridge Road, the prominent smock mill was built in 1808 by John Chaplin.  Guided tours are available on some Summer Sundays.

Walking from the village…
(a) Horseheath to Fulbourn, 12 miles.
The book  “Walks in South Cambridgeshire” (Publ. RA Cambridge Group, 3), describes a 12 mile route from Horseheath to Fulbourn. The walk starts from the bus-stop by the green in Horseheath, then goes via Streetly End to West Wickham. It takes tracks past Rands Wood to West Wratting, and the footpath from Padlock Lane, through a wood, and across fields to Balsham, which also has a bus service. The second half of the walk may be commenced here. From the rear of Balsham’s recreation ground beside the churchyard, take a field-edge path to join the lane called Fox Road.  Turn right, and quite soon, take the path left which leads to, then along Fleam Dyke, and back to Fulbourn.

(b)Fulbourn to Balsham circular, 12 miles
Another popular route (3) which needs no detailed description, is to park at Stonebridge Lane Nature Reserve, and leave Fulbourn along Fleam Dyke, turning off the Dyke at “The Ambush”, and taking the right of way across several fields, to reach Fox Road at Balsham Village. Walk through the village, and go S down Woodhall Lane, which degenerates into a muddy track.  On reaching the Via Devana (Wool Street Roman Road), turn right (NW), and follow the byway 3 miles, crossing the A11 on a fine bridge near Worsted Lodge. Before Copley Hill, turn off right on a waymarked path by a seat, and follow this N back to Fulbourn. Cross the Balsham Road, to go down Hindloaders Lane, and return to parking outside the Stonebridge Lane nature reserve.

(c)Routes to The Wilbraham and Teversham
From the church, go N on the Wilbraham Road, over the railway level crossing, and immediately right on a slightly disagreeable fenced path behind the grain store. The continuing route goes across a field to the road, hence avoiding a dangerous corner. Go right along the road, and left at the signpost by New Cut.  This route is part of the Harcamlow Way. Continue across fields, towards a stile at the corner of Gt Wilbraham Common.

From here, either go over the stile, SE on the rough pasture through the Common, to emerge on a lane to return to the road just short of Gt Wilbraham. Turn left into the village, and take the path from Frog End, crossing the railway to return to Fulbourn via Stonebridge Lane.
(4 miles).

Or, from the stile at the corner of the common, do not enter the common, but continue along the farm track towards Hawk (water) Mill.  Walk down the farm drive, past the converted wind mill, and into Lt. Wilbraham.  Take the tarmac footway to Gt Wilbraham Frog End, deviating across the rec. and inner village paths and again take the path from Frog End to Fulbourn. (6 miles)

Or, having reached Hawk Mill, turn left on the waymarked path by Little Wilbraham River.  After a mile, turn off left (SW) take the recently improved path by Cawdle Ditch. Turn left along the road back to Fulbourn. (6 miles)
Note: avoid this route in wet weather.

(d) Nature reserve…
Many very pleasant short walks may be enjoyed around the Wildlife Trust reserve, accessed from the small car-park in Stonebridge Lane.

Alternatively, from the same point, take the bridleway through gates, and go along the gravelled track bordering the reserve, emerging near attractive alms houses on Church Lane.  Pass through the churchyard, and circle back to Stonebridge Lane, past the old wall described previously. Finally, also from the car-park, continue down the muddy continuation of Stonebridge lane, and into Hindloaders Lane (otherwise “Beggars’ Lane”, derived from the Old English hine meaning community and loddere, meaning beggar).  Turn right on the Balsham Road, into a loop road towards a new estate, and take the fenced path into the rec.  Emerge from the right corner of the rec into Stonebridge Lane, and back to the car. These two short circuits together make about 3 miles.

(e) Roman Road and return
From Hindloaders Lane, cross the road, and take the long footpath to the Roman Road, after two fields passing through a narrow avenue of young trees, planted ca. 15 years ago.  On the Roman Road, turn right.  It is possible to continue to Wandlebury, and make a circuit, but for the present, turn right at a major junction after half a mile, to return down first a byway, which becomes Babraham Road.  (4 miles)

Further reading

1. Archaeology of Cambridgeshire, Vol.2.
South East Cambridgeshire and the Fen Edge.
Alison Taylor. Publ. Cambs.C.C. 1998.
ISBN 1870724 84 4. pp.33-36.

2. Walks Round Fulbourn, by Don Crane.
printed 1986.

3. Walks in South Cambridgeshire.
Publ. Cambridge Group of the Ramblers’ Association, 2nd Edition, 1993.
ISBN 0 95225 18 17 Walks 4 & 6.

Conflict “down under”!
A correspondent in New Zealand recently sent me a newscutting from The New Zealand Herald of Wednesday 5 January 2005.

It seems the New Zealand Government has plans to allow walkers on land bordering “any “significant waterway”. Rural Affairs Minister Jim Sutton announced last year plans to open access to lakes, creeks and rivers. Under the proposals,  access is being negotiated with farmers to allow walkers onto their land to reach a 5 metre  wide pathway beside water, from a public road. It seems that farmers will retain property rights over the strip, but there will be no compensation for public use of the waterside strip, but farmers may be paid compensation for access to the strip.  The  narrow strips of access land would be developed through a government agency over several years.  The use of dogs, guns, bicycles, or vehicles will be prohibited on the new paths.

New Zealand Federated Farmers’ organisation  opposes any proposal which removes landowners’ rights to control who walks on their property.  “One of the fundamental tenets of New Zealand society is secure title, and people respect that whether you’re an urban or rural person”.

The New Zealand Herald carried out a survey of opinions of 1000 adults.  The survey found 87.5% were against walkers crossing private rural land. Some 22.5% thought farmers should be allowed to shoot trespassers. A figure of 65.5% of those polled agreed that mountain bikers should not be allowed on tracks in the National Parks.

My friend scribbled on the paper – “Show this to your friends – but don’t let it stop you visiting New Zealand!”

Stansted Airport Campaign Walks
We recently received a press release from the “Stop Stansted Expansion” campaign, describing proposed sponsored walks planned for 26 June 2005.

The campaign is against proposals to increase the capacity of the airport over three-fold from a maximum of 25 to 83 million passengers per annum, by building a second runway, thus making Stansted Airport the largest in the world.

The local community is staging a comprehensive campaign to halt this expansion, of which the mass “Ramble and Summer Fete” on 26 June is but one event.

Five sponsored circular walks (2, 5, 10, 15 and 20 miles) will depart from “The Stag” public house in Little Easton (near Great Dunmow, Essex). There will be checkpoints and refreshments along the way. All walkers from anywhere will be welcome to attend, to see for themselves the beautiful rolling countryside and the special walks which would be lost for ever if the second runway were to be built. The organisers say that sponsorship is by no means essential, but to help the campaign it is very desirable..

More information on the Runway Rambler Plus can be found on the Stop Stansted Expansion website:
or from Stuart Walker, tel 01279 850862.
The campaign office’s no. is 01279 870558,

Quotation of the Month…
“Most of the flora of our parish is not rare and is easily accessible for all to view.  There is colour, scent and beauty that merit more than a passing glimpse from a car or bicycle…”

Flowers and Wildlife of Mildenhall Parish, by Yvonne J Leonard,
Publ. 2001 by Mildenhall Parish Council

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, 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


Issue 29; Price 10 pence where sold

© Janet Moreton, 2005.