** Please note that this is an archive of the CANTAB publication and contains out-of-date information **
I was surprised to find an whole page article in a motoring insurance magazine, CSMA, on “Love Parks Week”, and the benefits of outdoor exercise.
Sorry, you’ve missed it. That is, “Love Parks Week” was at the end of July, but the benefits of the green outdoors remain for all. The writer does not cite his references, but names huge advantages for outdoor exercise. “A brisk walk every day in a park can reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes and diabetes by 50%, colon cancer and breast cancer by 30% and Alzheimer’s by 25% – plus the more often a person visits urban open green spaces, the less often he or she will report stress related illnesses…”
So if parks are good for us, how much better should be exercise in the wider countryside, away from urban pollution, noise, and with superior views? Yes, but we might be safer in a nicely manicured park! My sympathies go to two ramblers of my acquaintance who recently broke their legs on rugged walking holidays – but I am sure the advantages overwhelmingly outweigh the risks.
Happy, healthy walking!
At last – The Guided Busway
The guided busway opened on 7 August, some two years overdue. The guided section is 16 miles long, and the bus routes between Huntingdon and Trumpington cover 24 miles Its adjacent bridleway, tarmaced as far as Swavesey, provides 16 miles of a route for walking, cycling and horseriding.
Except, perhaps for some challenge walks, I cannot imagine anyone wanting to walk the route from end to end for recreation. However, parts of the new bridleway provide valuable links to the path network, and allow for new circuits. This much we had already established in the many months between the apparent completion of the track, and the official opening after some of the faults had been rectified. Some problems, clearly, are still extant.
The most important, currently, is that the section of the Busway-bp has been closed between Swavesey and St Ives until November, just after I completed surveying Walks 3 & 4 below . We hope this is to cure flooding problems on the low-lying sections, but meanwhile, these two walks described will not be available for a couple of months. Near Cambridge Station, the adjacent buiilding works makes waiting in the area noisy and dusty, and the bus stop is a long way in the Trumpington direction from the rail station entrance. Some facilities at the Longstanton station area were still under construction, although parking and toilets were available.
The Week beginning 2 August, I used the busway 3 times. On the first Monday, market day in St Ives, it was very full at 10am, and took nearly 50 minutes from Christs Pieces, Cambridge to St Ives. I travelled back using the normal Whippet service via Bar Hill, taking just over half-an-hour (A14 permitting). Subsequently the buses were less jam-packed, and the passage time about 45 minutes. After 9.30am, senior citizens may use their bus passes. I tried a number of new routes from stations along the Busway, outlines of which are given below. On the route itself, obviously normal care is needed in using crossing points on the Busway track – just like a railway, “Stop, Look, Listen”. On the Busway-bp, be aware that the smooth tarmac sections allow cyclists to get up a considerable speed. Most of the walks use OS Explorer 225
1. The Classic St Ives Circuit 7miles
This walk is best accessed from the centre of St Ives, not the end of the busway track.
Doubtless already known to most, this delightful walk leaves St Ives bus station, through the square to the waterfront, passing the museum. It goes through the churchyard, and along The Thicket Path to Houghton. At Houghton, it crosses the mill-leat under the National Trust old mill property, then over the R Ouse by the lock. It continues SW on a tarmac path across the meadows to Black Bridge, then turns through the Hemingfords, using well-signed pasture paths by the river where possible. Reaching Hemingford Meadows, hug the waters edge for the driest passage, to emerge through the buildings of the Dolphin Inn, and back to St Ives over the medieval bridge.
2. St Ives, Houghton Meadow Circuit 7 miles
A variant on the above route goes from St Ives along the Thicket Path to Houghton, as above. Turn behind The National Trust tearoom, near the Mill, and follow the river bank over stiles and bridges, to do a circuit of Houghton Meadow. Emerge over the dismantled railway at TL 288716 and go N up the lane to rejoin the Thicket Path. On the return trip, use the high-level walk in the Thicket Wood, above the path, dropping back to the tarmac footway before approaching St Ives. The Norris Museum on the waterfront is well worth a visit.
3. From Swavesey Station to St Ives, or Swavesey via Brownshill Staunch & Holywell, 7 or 10 miles
Alight from the Busway at Swavesey Station, TL.363694 (almost on the Greenwich Meridian!) Walk W along the Busway-bp, and cross at TL 359 695, to go NNE down Middle Fen Drove. Turn off left at the signed path, TL 362 701 across low-lying fields. Cross a drain and reach the Gt Ouse riverbank just short of the Marina on the other side. Cross Chain Rd (some parking here), and continue NNE on the bank, part of The Pathfinder Walk. Reach Brownshill Staunch, cross, and return on the other bank, part of the Ouse Valley Walk. Pass or linger at the Pike & Eel, then continue on the raised bank into Holywell, and the Ferry Boat Inn. Continue along the road to Holywell church, noting the Well, and wild garden. Beyond the churchyard, turn into Coopers Lane, which gives onto the footpath called Parson’s Drove. Short of the A1096, turn left along a path fronting an attractive quarry lake. Follow this to the large roundabout, where cross with care. Take a signed path opposite, leading into a private road (Farthing Lane) between bungalows. At TL 319 716, meet Needingworth Rd where turn left into the centre of St Ives and the bus station (toilets, several cafés in vicinity). For more frequent buses to Cambridge, walk to the St Ives busway terminal.
Returning to Swavesey Station on foot along the Busway-bp gives a walk of 10 miles.
4. From Fen Drayton Station, a circuit of the nature reserve and back to Swavesey. 7 miles
Obtain, if possible, a copy of the RSPB’s Fen Drayton Lakes Trailguide. At Fen Drayton Reserve Station, start from the N side of the busway, and go N on a track between Holywell Lake (left) and Ferry Lagoon (right), passing a members’ CP on the left. Turn left at a sign, across gravelly rough land towards Drayton Lagoon, where turn right towards the Gt Ouse riverbank. Follow the riverbank W to pass under the Busway, where it crosses the river. Immediately beyond, turn left alongside and well-below the busway. The gravel track rises to join the Busway-bp in ca 150yd where walk E past Moore Lake, to the signed path between Moore Lake and Elney Lake. Follow the attractive route round this lake, to leave it at TL 339 691. Walk S towards Fen Drayton, passing the recreation ground on your right. Opposite the pavilion, turn left on a signed footpath, all the way to Swavesey. At Station Road, turn left, past the church, to the Swavesey Busway station.
To make the walk a little more than 8 miles, return along the Busway-bp to Fen Drayton Reserve Station.
5. Longstanton circuit, via Histon 8 or 10 miles
This walk could start just as easily at Histon, but note there is free parking and a toilet at Longstanton station.
From Longstanton, walk SE along the Busway-bp for a mile. Turn off onto Reynolds Drove, noting the interesting interpretative boards as one approaches Rampton. Turn N and E on roads into Rampton, and visit the Thatched Church, and Giants Hill access land, site of defensive works from the C14 – C21st. Return to Cuckoo Bridge along the generally well-mown banks of New Cut. (For the 8 mile circuit, approach Cuckoo Bridge directly going S from the end of Reynolds Drove). Walk S from Cuckoo Bridge on Rampton Drift, crossing the Oakington Rd with care at Lambs Cross. Continue S, then SE down Gunns Lane into Histon. Go S to visit the parish church. Seek refreshments – 4 pubs, 2 snack bars in the village. Take the road W past Histon Manor to the corner at TL 429 639. Here turn onto the signed bridleway going NW across fields to Westwick. Visit Oakington Church, and take the quiet Longstanton Rd to the village. Detour NE past the church at TL 403 658, then turn NW beside the former barracks. Cross the next road, and continue on waymarked paths across the golf course, to emerge on Station Road. Walk with care, N to the car park.
6. Longstanton to Swavesey, via Willingham and Over Basic walk – 7 miles
From Longstanton station, take the Busway-bp SE, and turn E down Reynolds Drove. Shortly, at TL 415 674, cross a new bridge over Reynolds Ditch, and use the fairly newly-created bridleway following a track N to Rampton Road at TL 415 686. Cross Rampton Road with care, pass a farm-house in a layby and continue N on Haven Drove to Belsars Field. Turn left into Schole Road, and thence into Willingham. Visit the church, en route to Earith Road. A signed footpath beside the rec at TL 403 706, runs W, continuing as a byway, which passes a sewage works, and becomes a surfaced path “Furtherford” into Over. Turn SW on Fen End Rd to the green and the village sign by the crossroads. Turn right passing or visiting the Admiral Vernon pub, and continue to the church. Go S from Church End, start WSW on Lowburyholme Rd joining a path overlooking a drain, with a fine view of low-lying fields and marshes. This path continues beside the drain to High Causeway Bridge. Walk down the road to the Busway station at Swavesey.
While the basic walk outlined above is 7 miles, it is very worthwhile extending the walk on the interesting inner-village paths of Over (eg try The Cramp, starting beside the Admiral Vernon). Additionally, rather more than 2 miles may be added by returning on the Busway-bp to Longstanton station.
7. Oakington to Histon or Girton circuit, 2 or 5 miles
From the Busway station at Oakington (in what was formerly Westwick parish) walk on the Busway-bp to the level crossing on the outskirts of Histon. For the 2 mile walk, cross the Busway towards Histon, and very shortly, take the signed bridleway across fields back to Westwick, and turn left back to the station.
For a longer walk, continue on the Busway-bp towards Histon station. A few 100 metres short of the station, before the industrial buildings are reached, observe a display board in young woods on your right. Follow the illustrated permissive path across fields towards Girton Church. In Girton, follow the High St north, passing a school, where turn right to Manor Farm. From here, a signed footpath leads across fields to a Busway crossing at St Audrey’s Close. Go forward to Park Lane, where turn left, and cross the road. at a bend in the road, where the bridleway (noted above) turns back to Westwick, 5 miles.
8. Along Akeman Street, 4 miles
Start at Drummer Street Bus Station, and catch the Service 9 bus to Landbeach cross-roads, by the village sign. Turn. into Cockfen Lane. Cantab 62 (May 2011) has details of short walks which may be made around Landbeach, if desired. The rec has seats and is a good place for a tea-break. Opposite the rec is an access area, the site of the medieval village. After visiting this, continue along Cockfen Lane to Rectory Farm, where turn left with the road, as its continuation along Akeman Street. Beyond the next farm, this becomes a hedged green lane, which follow back towards Cambridge, crossing the road at Mereway Farm, and emerging under the A14 where there is an attractive mural. Reach a road outside the Regional College. Turn left, and walk along past the chainlink fence of the college. On reaching a road, turn right, and walk to the busway. The stop for Cambridge is to the left, to return to the bus-stop near Christs Pieces, a few hundred yards from Drummer Street Bus Station.
Alternatively, catch a No2 bus to Chesterton, gain the river bank near the Green Dragon Inn, and walk the tow-path to Clayhythe. Walk through Waterbeach, cross the A10 with care, and continue to Landbeach, where the above route may be joined. This makes a walk of about 11 miles.
Quotation of the Month
“Everyone ought to be able to look back on a day and think it a day well spent.”
Joanna Trollope in “Leaves from the Valley”
Essex Walks Guides
“Drive and Stroll in Essex” by Len Banister featues 20 circular walks. It has just appeared in a second edition; ISBN 978 1 85306 3
“Pub Walks for Motorists – Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk” is a collaboration containing 40 walks by Len Banister, Geoff Pratt and Will Martin. ISBN 85306 899 3. Both are published by Countryside Books
New land-drains in Bourn
On a recent walk, I noticed massive land-drainage works in a field in Bourn parish. Footpath 28 (not shown on older maps) runs S from Riddy Lane at TL 314 561, to join Footpath 13 alongside Bourn Wood. Part of Fp 28 is presently a morass, and would be best avoided for a while.
Spotlight on Gazeley
This is a free plug for All Saints Church, Gazeley, a lovely C13th building which is having a restoration appeal. Directed especially at passing ramblers, the church is now open 7 days a week, offering DIY tea / coffee to visitors, as well as book sales, cards, jam, and snacks, and donations are very welcome.
The church is on Suffolk’s well-known 6 mile “Three Churches Walk”, starting in Moulton, and well-signed through Gazeley to Dalham.
Should you wish to augment the distance both Moulton and Gazeley have several other good dry paths, well suited to Autumn and Winter walking.
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Cantab 64 © Janet Moreton, 2011