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CANTAB89 – August 2017

CANTAB89 – August 2017 published on

** Please note that this is an archive of the CANTAB publication and contains out-of-date information **


This issue, our “Parish of the Month” lies outside Cambridgeshire, although Ashwell is only just over the county border into Hertfordshire. A glance at Cambridge Group programme confirms that members regularly go further afield, so I hope the enclosed is of interest.
Janet Moreton

Steeple Morden Footpath7
Cantab March 2017 contained an appeal to readers for funds to cover the County Council’s external costs in publishing a Diversion Order for parts of Steeple Morden Footpath 7 and Footpath 14.

Readers will be pleased to learn that over £500 was raised. Contributors included the landowner and tenant farmer, Ramblers’ Cambridge Group Committee and donations made in Steeple Morden post office, and by cheque to the local organiser, Sue Norton. Grateful thanks are sent to all who were involved. It is hoped that the Order will be made this year, and already the County Council has sent out a formal consultation (the first stage in the process) to interested parties.

The situation was an unusual one. The emergence of Footpath 7 on Brook End had been signed by the County Council many years ago, in the “wrong” place, along the field edge path in regular use. The definitive line of the right of way crossed an arable field, reaching the Brook End verge over an unbridged ditch. When the County Council proposed to move the signpost and put in a bridge, local people and ramblers demurred. After negotiations, a solution has been found which is agreeable to all parties.

Early Mass Trespass?
I felt oddly moved, on reading this description of Cambridge local people asserting their access rights on 10 July 1549. The quotation is taken from “The Town of Cambridge” by A Gray, publ. Heffer & Sons, 1925.

“On this day, ‘a hundred persons or more’ met together with drums and proceeded to pull down the fences of an enclosure at Barnwell. Wool had become an important and lucrative export and there was not enough common pasture in Cambridge to accommodate the sheep needed. Landlords began to enclose open arable land for use as pasture, thus depriving many workers of their livelihood, at the same time changing the agricultural and social models of the Middle Ages. The Mayor and the Vice-Chancellor were united in their desire to prevent ‘further mischief”and with difficulty managed to pacify the rioters. A general pardon was later obtained for the offenders, and the Duke of Somerset wrote to the Cambridge authorities recommending gentle dealing, in order that ‘the difference may be tried betwixt the ignorant and the learned, the rude and the taught’. This was in many ways a victory for the workers: they were able to preserve green open spaces in Cambridge for the use of every one in town, not for private profit, and we owe them a debt for ‘restoring common to the commons’.”

Trumpington History Trails
Trumpington Residents’ Association and the Local History Group have, with the aid of Cambridge City Council, recently developed 10 walking and cycling trails around Trumpington and the surrounding area. Printed copies are available free of charge from The Clay Farm Centre and Trumpington Pavilion.

The walks all start from The Green by the shops on Anstey Way, and vary in length from about 1 to 7 miles. Each leaflet is attractively produced, with a wealth of scholarly historic information, a strip map, and route description. No parking suggestions are made, but there is inexpensive parking at the Park and Ride carpark, or gratis at Byrons Pool.

In addition to the walks, each leaflet has 4 panels of relevant information. So the first leaflet covers the Historic Centre of Trumpington, with information panels on: early development of the village; the village after 1800; Cross Hill and War memorial; and The Parish Church.

Other trails lead one into Cambridge (No2), harking back to the turnpike era, and Thomas Hobson, the C17th Cambridge carrier. No3 deals with changes on the S side of Trumpington since the C19th, and the busway cutting on the line of the former Bedford railway. Nos 4 & 5 take one east of the village centre and onto the Clay Farm site, introducing Hobson Square and Hobson Park, then over to Hobson’s Brook and Nine Wells. No 6 gives us the now more familiar routes round Byrons Pool and Trumpington Country Park. No 7, the longest circuit, goes to Hauxton and the Shelfords and No. 8 follows the railway line path to Great Shelford. No.9 goes to Grantchester. The route of No10 includes Addenbrookes’ Art Gallery!

Some of these routes are largely on tarmac, and would be more attractive in Winter when footpaths can be so muddy, or perhaps more suitable for a cyclist. But there is a wealth of information here, and the authors are much to be congratulated.

Icknield Way Association AGM
The Spring issue of the IWA newsletter announces the 2017 AGM at The Pavilion, Ashley near Newmarket, CB8 9DX at 2pm. The guest speaker will be David Rippington, on the history of The Icknield Way.

There will be a morning walk, starting from the hall at 10am. For details, contact Sue Prigg,
tel. 01638 751289

Parish of the Month – Ashwell
OS Explorer Sheets 193, 208

The OS Sheets are inconvenient – a street plan of the village would be helpful, or obtain Ashwell parish’s helpful leaflet from some village shops. There can be few ramblers living in the Cambridge area who have not visited Ashwell, and, in particular, spent time in the dominant and beautiful church. But there are many other well preserved buildings in the village of historic interest. In fact, for the less able, this is a good place to walk perhaps a two miles or less with great enjoyment.

Park considerately in the lanes near the church (but not on a Sunday) or on Lucas Lane opposite the recreation ground (where public toilets are usually open). There are currently several shops, at least 2 pubs in the village, and a café, and teas are available on Summer Sunday afternoons in The Parish Room next to the museum on Swan Street.

History and Points of Interest
The village name comes from The Springs, found in a large railed enclosure off High Street. The three path entrances, stepping stones and attractive setting make it a must for active visitors. The Springs are designated an SSSI, mainly because of the presence of a rare Ice Age flat worm, Crenobia alpina. The spring is the source of the main tributary of the River Cam, the River Rhee. Ashwell in ancient times may have been important on the route of The Icknield Way, whose modern trail proceeds through the back of the village along Ashwell Street. The prehistoric Icknield Way route could have been defended by the Iron Age hill fort Arbury Banks, shown on the map just beyond Ashwell.

Post Norman invasion, records report a regular market and four fairs yearly. The Domesday Book records that “The Abbot of St Peters holds Escewell in Odsey Hundredth”. In 913, Saxon King Egbert had granted Ashwell to the Abbot of Westminster, remaining under his control until the Dissolution of the Monasteries. St Mary’s was begun early C14th, built mainly of clunch and probably incorporating materials from previous structures. The chancel was completed 1368. The tower, 176ft, is the highest in Hertfordshire. Famous graffiti refer to Old St Paul’s cathedral; to the ravages of The Black Death (1350); and to a severe storm (1361). The church is open daily and caters well for its visitors with informative leaflets.

Beyond the east end of the church is The Rectory, described in 1829 as the Mansion House. It is now half its original size, the Elizabethan part having been demolished in the 1920s. Beneath the present Georgian building are clunch foundations of the supposed residence of the old Abbot of Westminster. Further along Hodwell, near the lane to The Springs is a quaint old lock-up.

Numbers of ancient attractive buildings are found about the village. The Chantry House, at the West End, has been inhabited since 1400, and was recorded in 1547, as the home of John Smarte. In the C19th, it became a pub, called “The British Queen”.

Bear House on High St (presently under scaffolding), and Ducklake Farmhouse (on Spring Lane) are Ashwell’s oldest houses.. The moated Westbury Farm, Dixies Farmhouse, Kirby Manor and The Rose and Crown pub in the High St were all built with overhanging twin gables in the C15th. Ashwell Bury, visible from Gardiners Lane, was originally built in the C19th, but in the 1920s was redesigned by Sir Edward Lutyens.

Further afield, Bluegates Farm is a modernised C16th dwelling, once two cottages, with the remains of a moat. Briefly in the late C19th, this was a pub, catering for the coprolite diggers.

Ashwell Museum is an early Tudor town house, built for the Abbot of Westminster in the early C15th, for use as an office in the centre of the Market Place. In later times it became a licensed meeting place for Protestant dissenters. The building was modernised in the 1840s, but by 1929 had deteriorated and was condemned. It was bought by two local youths, who started a collection of bygones. The museum, now scheduled as an ancient monument, is open on Sunday afternoons. Also note a delightful public garden with seats very near the Museum.

Walk suggestions from Ashwell.
(a)Visiting Arbury Banks
From the church, walk generally W through the village to the junction of Hinxton Rd and Newnham Way. Turn S up Partridge Hill, a rough road between tall hedges. Look for a signed gap in the hedge on the right, for a field path leading to Arbory Banks. The monument is not impressive, but the views are good. Continue SW over Ash Hill, and at TL 255 380, turn right (NW) down a farm drive, passing buildings to reach the road, Newnham Way. Turn left along the road to TL 251 382, where take the bridleway NW, then at TL 246 386 turn right over Newnham Hill, to return to Ashwell. (4 miles); stile free. An extension may be made to visit Caldecote old church and the interesting old house at Hinxworth Place. (total distance 6 miles)

(b) A section of the Icknield Way
Hourly trains take one from Cambridge to Ashwell & Morden Station, in the hamlet of Odsey. Turn right (N) out of the and shortly turn left along Station Rd towards Ashwell. There is no footway. However, just before a residential caravan site, turn right on a byway on the line of Shire Balk. This leads to Ashwell Street, one of the routes of The Icknield Way. Turn left (W) along this pleasant byway, into the outskirts of Ashwell. Go through the village, either on the line of The Icknield Way, or along Lucas Lane & High Street. At the end of the village, follow the instructions as in (a) for the path up Partridge Hill. Follow the route of the Icknield Way Trail indicated on Sheet 193, meeting a road, which follow to beyond The Knoll, turning off right at spot height 61m. The IW route goes over Gravelpit Hill, and down into Baldock via the footway of North Rd and to Baldock Station. (8 miles). A longer, but more interesting alternative, pioneered by Lisa Woodburn on a recent Cambridge Group walk, takes a detour along part of Cat Ditch, and visits Park Wood, and the secluded hamlet of Bygrave, and makes the final approach to Baldock Station via the bridleway approaching Laymore Farm.

(c) Towards Guilden Morden
From the church, walk N up Mill St, noting the much-restored old watermill. Continue ahead on a signed path through pasture to meet Northfield Rd. Opposite is a sign indicating the field path NNE to the County boundary. (Ignore a permissive path along the county boundary ditch). Cross the ditch here, and continue in the same direction to the driveway of Cold Harbour Farm. The path reaches the road junction alongside the driveway (not as shown on older maps). For a short walk, take the wide grassy byway opposite, passing Rudery Spring, and turn right onto the IW path along the line of Ashwell St. (see walk (b) Return to Ashwell, 3.5 miles. Several longer routes may be attempted, beyond Cold Harbour’s driveway. A long field path runs North from the road at TL 279 416, leading to Guilden Morden, and thence to Steeple Morden. Both of these parishes have more than 50 numbered rights of way – for the strong and ingenious walker, the possibilities are endless. A convenient return route could be made from Morden Green, to Ashwell Street at Upper Gatley End. A minimum distance for such a circuit from Ashwell might be 8 miles.

(d) A short rural saunter
From the church, follow route (c) past the watermill to Northfield Rd. Here turn left on a permissive path inside the tree belt. Follow this path round the boundary of Elbrook House, to emerge on the side-road just before Bluegates Dairy. Continue to the T-junction, and turn right, away from the village. Pass a seat, and turn left at TL 261 400 on a well-waymarked path leading to a byway at TL 257 397. Follow this shady lane N to TL 256 400, and take the signed route right (W) across a field, to return further up the lane you left 30 minutes ago! Turn right, generally SE, and take lanes back to the village, with the massive tower of the church as a guide. Pass or pause at the Bushel and Strike! (2.5 miles) This route is stile-free.

Cantab Rambler by E-Mail & Post
Cantab now appears some four times a year. A large number of you now receive Cantab by e-mail.

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
Cantab89 © Janet Moreton, 2017.

CANTAB81 May 2015

CANTAB81 May 2015 published on

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


Time to look further afield
My first item indicates how important is access to local greenspaces, as shown by a recent government survey. If course, we all walk locally, and most ramblers’ group walks keep closer to base in the Winter, with the prospect of short day lengths and possible poor driving conditions. However, with Spring advancing, every year we lift our heads from the muddy puddle in front of us, and say, “time to look further afield”.

Janet Moreton

Government survey shows more people spend time outdoors.
The annual report from the Monitor of Engagement with the Natural Environment reveals that adults in England made 2.9 billion visits to “natural environments” between March 2013 and February 2014, which is the highest number for 5 years.

Some 58% of the population claim to make one or more leisure visit per week to the great outdoors, with green spaces near their homes becoming increasingly important. Some 96% of respondents to the survey agreed that having green spaces close to where they lived was important. Respondents also agreed that being outdoors made them feel “calm and relaxed” and the proportion agreeing that a visit was “refreshing and revitalising” was at its highest in the most recent survey.

Given the huge numbers of people who can be seen driving to visit shops on Sundays, this report is encouraging. I do not have a figure for how many of these people actually go for a walk.

Norfolk Coastpath
Last year, the Secretary of State for DEFRA approved 41 km of new coast path between Sea Paling and Weybourne. Work to implement the new route , including new signs and gates has been taking place since then. Walkers will be given new rights of access to foreshore, beaches, dunes and cliffs, and crucially, the path will be able to “roll back” if land erodes or slips, enabling a replacement route to be put in place quickly, where necessary. This solves longstanding difficulties with maintaining a continuous route along the coast. As well as enabling visitors to enjoy new coastline, improved access will help support local economies, attracting more visitors and increasing associated spending in seaside businesses.

Natural England worked with Norfolk County Council to hold a launch event in Trimingham, attended by the local MP Norman Lamb, who opened the new route officially. The local HM Coastguard teams took part in a sponsored walk of the new section, and raised money for Guide Dogs for the Blind charity.

(Info Essex Area News, January 2015)

Theydon Bois, Essex
I have not seen the large earth mound adjacent to the M11 in Essex, but “Broadleaf” (Woodland Trust’s magazine) of Autumn 2014 reports on this monster modern earthwork.

At two metres high, it is not a competitor of prehistoric Silbury Hill, but nevertheless is startling.

Woodland Trust’s Christina Joachim, and landscape sculpter Richard Harris created the circular earthwork, topped by concentric pathways in bright white chalk.

There are 5 concentric banks to walk on, each higher than the last. Once the earth has settled, individual tree species will be planted by each path, including hazel, hornbeam, lime and birch. In the centre will be a calm space offering shelter from wind and M-way sounds. Grass has been sown, and the trees will be coppiced at intervals to open up views, which stretch to the City of London. The mound is designed to be clearly visible from the adjacent motorway.

Woodland Trust bought the Theydon Bois site in 2006 planted 90ha of new native woodland. DEFRA and Greenarc were planting trees in Essex at the same time, and a co-ordinated effort produced the celebratory artwork.

Has anyone seen this?
Tell us what you think.

Rothschild Way
Andy Mackey kindly supplied the following information on the new Rothschild Way.

“A couple of years ago, Adrian Kempster, Hunts Ramblers Footpaths Officer and a good friend, told me of his idea for a long distance walk to support and raise the profile of Wicken and Woodwalton Fens.

“Adrian is involved with the Great Fen Project. He said he wished to plan a route linking the two. We looked at the map on my PC, and Adrian decided that a small group of Hunts ramblers, with a bit of car shuffling, could walk it in a few stages.

“Adrian thought Rothschild should be the name, as Charles Rothschild had owned, then donated these fens which were the earliest nature reserves in England. Adrian eventually got the approval of the Rothschild family to use the family name. With yet more hard work, Adrian got some waymarker labels designed and made, together with permission from the County Council to fix them to the existing posts. Out we went again, this time with white spirit, glue, hammer, nails and labels, and walked the route again fixing the labels.

“In June 2014, Adrian led a group from Wicken Fen café to Woodwalton Fen, the whole 38 miles in one go. I think they did well, don’t you?

If you fancy walking some or all of it, Google Rothschild Way for details. Good luck and enjoy it!”

Andy Mackey

Editors note:
The historic link between the two reserves is that Charles Rothschild bought part of Wicken Fen in 1899, and Woodwalton Fen in 1910. Rothschild formed the first society in Britain concerned with protecting wildlife habitats in 1912.
For further information on the walk, try

Open Streetmap defines the route with a series of grid references. The route touches on Ramsey, Somersham, Bluntisham and Earith.

Northwest Cambridge
Cambridge residents are aware of the vast site for development in the Northwest sector, said to be the largest capital project in the University’s 800-year history. The first buildings to be completed will be for the University’s first primary school due to open this Autumn, followed by a GP surgery and affordable homes.

The plans include 700 affordable homes to rent by University-attached personnel, and 400 homes for sale, shops and supermarket, an “energy centre”, and of most interest to ramblers, open green space. It is hoped that a considerable amount of new access will be available. Watch this (green) space!

The Icknield Way Association –  an update
The Icknield Way path runs from Ivinghoe Beacon to Knettishall Heath, passing through half-a-dozen eastern counties, including, of course, Cambridgeshire. It is a recognised regional route, and receives some funding, via the relevant Highway Authorities. Guidebooks are available for The Icknield Way Trail, which provides an accessible route for horseriders and cyclists, as well as pedestrians.

The Icknield Way Association produces its own guidebook for walkers, regularly updated, and wardens the route, doing waymarking, minor clearance, and reports problems to the appropriate county.

Members of the IWA look forward to its newsletters – now distributed online, and to the AGM, located at a different point along the route of the Icknield Way each year. The IWA also runs a few walks annually, including select parts of the route in short circuits.

For details of the guidebook, membership. or problems along the route, do contact the Secretary, Sue Prigg,

The 2015 AGM is to be held in Cambridgeshire, at Great Chishill, on Saturday, 3 October.

The Ridgeway National Trail –  an update
The Ridgeway begins where the Icknield Way leaves off – at Ivinghoe Beacon in Buckinghamshire, and sets off through several counties to Avebury.

A press release, dated 1 April 2015 gave details of a new organisation, The Ridgeway Partnership, which will be responsible for the future management, development and promotion of The Ridgeway National Trail.

The Ridgeway Partnership comprises Oxfordshire County Council as the lead partner, the other local authorites through which the Trail passes, Natural England, North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Chilterns Conservation Board, and several organisations representing users. Natural England will continue to provide most of the finance for this and other National Trails. The Partnership is in process of engaging a Ridgeway Officer, who will be the single point of contact for The Ridgeway. The Officer will attract investment, lead on development issues, co-ordinate maintenance, liaise with stakeholders and respond to public enquiries and complaints.

Maintenance of the Ridgeway will continue to rely heavily on the National Trails team and its volunteers. Ian Ritchie, Chairman of The Friends of the Ridgeway, responded to the news. “The partnership represents a great opportunity to bring the delights of the UK’s oldest path to a much greater number of people, pursuing a wide range of activities. It is a wonderful asset so close to large centres of population. The Ridgeway has some spectacular scenery and unparalled prehistoric sites such as the Uffington White Horse and a series of Iron Age Forts along its length. We aim to encourage more people to get out and walk, cycle, ride or drive horses along it, and we want to introduce it to young people and make it accessible for the less mobile and those with disabilities.”

The North Chiltern Trail
A new circular footpath has been created in the North Chilterns.

It will provide a 42 miles (67 km) circular walking route through the Chilterns in parts of Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, including parts of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Starting at Lilley, the route follows the Warden , Galley and Pegsdon Hills, Great Offley, Preston, St Paul’s Warden, Whitwell, Peter’s Green and Breachwood Green.

There are frequent opportunities for refreshment, as well as good views, and archaeological sites.

For more details, see

Last year’s weather…
In 2014, Cambridge weather (as recorded at The University Botanic Garden), was somewhat wetter than average with 618mm of precipitation. The wetter months were January, February, August and November. The heaviest rainfall was recorded on 8 August, when a thunder-storm brought 33.7mm. In March there was a sustained dry period with no rain for 2 weeks. April was dry, and, in September there were 11 continuous days without rain.

Weather readings have been taken continuously in the Botanic Garden since 1904. The annual rainfall in the Cambridge area over the period 1961 – 90 averaged 563mm, which makes the area one of the driest in Western Europe, north of the Pyrenees. There is quite a wide range from year to year. For example:
In 2011 the annual rainfall was 380mm
In 2012 the annual figure was 813mm.
Generally the rain falls fairly evenly throughout the year, with the wettest month by a small margin being August. However, evaporation usually exceeds rainfall in Summer.


Near Cambridge – Magog Down on May Day

Now is the Month of Maying, and how pleasing to see on May Day (the real 1 May, not the Bank Holiday), several bushes of hawthorn or “May” just in full bloom, for its namesake day.

More obviously spectacular are the sheets of cowslips, the best I have ever seen, here, or elsewhere.

Cantab Rambler by E-Mail & Post
Cantab now appears four times a year. 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. 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

Please note new e-mail address
Cantab81 © Janet Moreton, 2015.

CANTAB53 October 2009

CANTAB53 October 2009 published on

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


Jack Lewry –
Cambridge Ramblers recently lost a dear friend, and a dedicated City Footpath Secretary.  Jack Lewry died of cancer on 22 September. His funeral on 5 October was in the packed church at Chesterton, where the well-represented ramblers were yet a small fraction of the hundreds of mourners.  The life’s work of Jack, a retired architect, was acclaimed by former friends and colleagues. We had only known him in retirement, when Jack & Phyl were popular regulars on the walks programme, and Jack as a much valued member of the Committee. He used his knowledge of City planning and regulations for the benefit of the inner-city path network. We are grateful for many instances where his negotiations brought a useful outcome for walkers.  One particular instance, is that of the right of way by the new Bradwell’s Court. Jack’s negotiations secured a wide passage on the original line adjacent to Christ’s College wall, instead of simply through the court between the shops, or worse still round the far side, where the developers wanted to put it.  Jack campaigned tirelessly for a footpath from the Leper Chapel across to Ditton Meadows – we still hope that this might come to be, perhaps as a memorial.

Our sympathies go to Phyl and the children.


Icknield Way Association – 25 Years Old!
The IW Association celebrated its Silver Jubilee AGM on 10 October at Royston.

There was the traditional morning walk on the Heath in the morning, a special visit to the historic Royston Cave, and a talk given by Cllr F John Smith, Leader of North Herts District Council, on “Royston and the Icknield Way” which preceded the AGM in the afternoon.

The IWA maintains a team of voluntary wardens along the path, produces a newsletter, and publishes a guidebook to the Icknield Way Long Distance Path, some 100 miles long, from Ivinghoe Beacon to Knettishall Heath, and passing through 6 counties. The IWA’s route is for pedestrians only, and should be distinguished from the 170 mile long Icknield Way Trail, a route for cyclists, horseriders and pedestrians, which involves quite long sections of roadwork.

IWA membership details may be obtained from Sue Prigg, at 1 Edgeborough Close, Kentford, Newmarket CB8 8QY
tel.01638 751289

Byron’s Pool
Have you visited the Byron’s Pool nature reserve at Trumpington recently?  There have been considerable “improvements” which, to my mind, are of dubious value.  This has always been an area of rough woodland, beside the River Cam, and having romantic associations with Byron and Rupert Brook.

From the entrance, the car-park has been improved, and the grass cut, and some rather derelict picnic tables replaced.  I have no quarrel with this.  But by the riverside, we now have trim fishing stances, all the weeds tidied away, and the woodland path replaced with an all-weather surface, with any older trees removed, so that it looks like a sanitised municipal park.  Perhaps this is what most people require.  But I am sad, since this was one of the last little spots of wilderness within the City boundary.


Round & About in S & E Cambs
Porters Way closed this Winter…
Porters Way, which runs from the B1046 near Kingston, to the Old North Road opposite the Red House, will be closed this Winter.

A seasonal traffic regulation order (TRO) was approved, along with several others for byways, and signs and gates are being installed.  In addition, part of this very muddy lane is to be hardened with road planings or similar material, and the drier parts will be grass seeded.  Kevin Green, Capital Projects Rights of Way Officer for Cambs CC, writes that it will be necessary to close the byway to the public, and once the work has been completed it may be necessary to keep the byway closed to allow the surface to establish.

Warning notices are posted in Bourn, Kingston, Caldecote etc.

Fen Rivers Way’s new seat at Clayhythe..
The Fen Rivers Way Association worked for some years to extend Cambs CC’s promoted riverside route between Cambridge and Ely, to go all the way to Kings Lynn. The FRWA was responsible for waymarking, and production of the Fen Rivers Way guidebook. When in 2002 their task was deemed complete, remaining funds were handed to Ramblers’ Cambridge Group, in order to reprint the guidebook as required, and to keep a watching brief on the long distance path. Your Editor and companions walked the route last Winter, and found it in good order throughout.

Over the years, a modest profit has added to the sum inherited by Cambridge Group for the Fen Rivers Way, and it became possible to purchase a seat, which has been sited on the Clayhythe riverside.  Thanks are due to Jill Tuffnell, Hon. Sec. of Cambridge Group, and to Pip Noone of the Cam Conservators for their organisation.

Afoot in Dullingham…
It is pleasing to note the creation of three new rights of way in Dullingham parish, following an application to Cambs CC, supported by Dullingham PC.  All are on or adjacent to the recently created Hope Hall Stud, which occupies land to the S of Dullingham Church, and E of Brinkley Road.

Fp27 leaves the existing Fp6 going S from Dullingham Church at TL 632 575, and goes E along a grass track between a tall hedge and paddock fence, to reach the rear of a cottage garden at Cross Green, where it turns right for 50m, then left, to emerge on the road to Dullingham Ley.

Fp26 turns off Fp27 about half-way along, at TL 634 575 and follows another grass track N, to come out on the road beside Dullingham sports ground at TL 634 579.

Fp28 will leave Fp6 further S, almost opposite existing Fp8, which also connects Fp6 with the Dullingham Ley road, and run W to join the Brinkley Road at TL 631 572.  However, there are problems at present because although there is an obvoius hard road from the new house by the path junction, the new right of way does not quite follow this.  There seems to be no objection to walking down this hard road, and exiting through a hand-gate onto the Brinkley road.  (Thanks to Phil Prigg for information).

These paths, though they cannot be said to lead into the wilder fastnesses of East Cambs, do provide some pleasant local circuits, which have already been in use for some time by local cognoscienti – which, of course, is why the rights of way claim was successful!

Is Juniper Worth Conserving?
As members of the charity Plantlife International*, we receive regular magazines and leaflets and, of course, the inevitable appeals for financial assistance.

One recent leaflet about Juniper struck a local chord, as the only wild population in Cambridgeshire is preserved on Fleam Dyke (on the section SE of the A10), and some of the precious remaining bushes were only rescued from obscurity or stifling during clearance of this section of the Dyke a few years back.

Juniper is one of the only three native conifers in the UK (the others being Scots Pine and Yew, according to Edward Step in “Wayside & Woodland Trees”).

Plantlife warns us that juniper is now in serious decline.  Many of the remaining bushes are over 100 years old, and are no longer very successful at reproduction.  Open bare ground is needed for seed germination.  On under-grazed land, the seeds do not germinate, and existing juniper bushes eventually succumb to enveloping scrub – which was what was happening to the bushes at the foot of Fleam Dyke!  And too much grazing, of couse, means the saplings are nibbled.This is why the bushes on the Dyke have a wire cage, to fend off rabbits.  Climate change projections suggest that in 80 years, Juniper will disappear from much of southern Europe.  If this happens the UK could become a last bastion of this much-loved plant, and perhaps the plants along Fleam Dyke among the most southerly on Earth!

Go gently past!

*Plantlife International – The Wild Plant Conservation Charity, 14 Rollestone St., Salisbury, Wilts, SP1 1DX

Friends of the Roman Road and Fleam Dyke – the new Long Distance Path
The new 25 mile Fleam Dyke & Roman road Walk was launched at Wandlebury on Sunday 13 September, attended by about 60 people, of whom 29 came on the 15 mile walk on the southern section, with 20 finishers.

By that time, the guidebook was published, representing excellent value at £2.50. This will be available by hand at Cambridge Group’s AGM on 20 November, Friends Meeting House, Hartington Grove, 6.30pm or by post at £3.25 from the Editor and prime mover, Roger Lemon, Brecklands, Main Street, Shudy Camps, Cambs, CB21 4RA.  Cheques should be payable to “Friends of the Roman Road & Fleam Dyke”.

Roger Lemon will be speaking on the development of the route at the AGM, and by that time, waymarking work around the route will have been completed by volunteers.  The waymarking is particularly valuable on those parts of the walk which join up the Roman Road and Fleam Dyke sections, taking in less well-known paths especially those  in West Wratting, and West Wickham.  The Friends are grateful for a grant from “Awards for All” (National Lottery) which has made the project possible, and to numerous volunteers.

Food for Thought –
More Pub & Café  News..
In Sawston, two adjacent pubs, The Black Bull, and The Queens Head have closed, and also The Woolpack, elsewhere in the village. However, Sawston is still served by a good number of restaurants, pubs, and four cafés (North’s Bakery take-away, Skivers, William’s café, and a café at the Free Church). I am indebted to John Capes for up-to-date information.

When visited in September, the Plough Inn at Radwinter was for sale.  In the locality, The Red Lion at Great Sampford has food, as does The Bluebell, Hempstead.

Has any reader sampled the food at Houghton Hall Farm, which is on the Stour Valley Way between Clare and Cavendish (Explorer 210, TL 785 466) ?  We have twice passed the display board, propped incongruously on the path itself, advertising coffee and cake in a sunny countyard, Thurs-Mon, 11am – 3pm.

Parish of the Month – Bartlow
OS Sheet 209

There were originally 7 Roman burial mounds (once called the Seven Hills of Bartlow) in two parallel lines close to Bartlow church, of which only 4 survive to dominate this small village.  The largest is 15m high, probably the tallest in Europe.  C19th archaeologists excavated cremated remains, dating from the C1st – 2nd,  and recorded an iron folding chair, an iron-bound wooden chest containing glass drinking vessels, and lamps, bronze wine flagons, sets of Samian tableware, and the remains of funereal wreaths, for the burial of the upper class.  Some of the mounds were destroyed in building a road in 1832, and during the construction of the railway later in the C19th.  A modest Roman villa occupied to 350AD was also excavated at Bartlow Park.

No less memorable than the “hills” is the nearby Norman church, with a rare C14th round tower containing 3 ancient bells.  Note the cross-eyed lions in the upper lights of the C14th chancel windows!

The parish of Bartlow was cut out from parts of Ashdon and Castle Camps, and was owned by the de Vere family after the Norman Conquest.  Only the existence of the church in ca 1100 confirms the early presence of the village, as it was not recorded by name until the C13th.  The original manor house, recorded 1279, may have been a precursor of the present Old Hall, near the river.  In 1279, there were some 160 residents; by 1377 there were only 32 people living in the village; but in the census of 1801, 83 people were recorded. In 1996 still only 90 people inhabited the parish.  The railway came in 1865, making Bartlow a junction between the track from Audley End and the Haverhill to Great Shelford line.  The Great Eastern line closed in 1923, and the Audley End branch line was closed by Beeching in 1965.  The tracks were removed and the land, sadly, sold back to Bartlow Estate – the route would have made a delightful footpath!

Public Paths in Bartlow
There are only five usable public paths in Bartlow parish.

Fp 1 leaves the churchyard, and leads by a massive bridge over the railway to the well-maintained area around Bartlow Hills, where there is a display board.  Fp 4 leaves this area going west, and emerges on the road to Ashdon, at TL 585 449.  It then continues parallel to this road, inside at belt of trees. At TL 585447, it joins Fp 5, which passes in front of residences, and joins the footpath in Essex going to Steventon End.

Bp 2 is the start of the route to Cardinals Green, leaving the Shudy Camps Road at TL 598  452.  Within 100m, it enters the parish of Shudy Camps, continuing as Bp1, and later as Horseheath Bp13.  Fp 3, on a track passing under the disused railway at TL 594 451 was shown on the 1972 Revised Draft Map, but was disputed, and never made it to the Definitive Map.  Similarly, Bartlow Broad Balk is a track well-known to local horseriders, and would be much valued by pedestrians, but has not been registered as a right of way.

Following a Public Inquiry, held in the village in 2003, Fp 6 was added to the Definitive Map by Cambs CC, as directed by a DEFRA inspector on 13 January 2004.  A minor diversion at the east end was confirmed by Cambs CC on 11 January 2005.  Allowing for the gathering of information, which was started by a village resident Mr Ogilvy, and continued after his death by The Ramblers, the whole exercise took nearly 5 years.  The path starts from the side of the churchyard, where there is a wooden signpost.  The route passes between a garage and the wall of a house, and continues on a very wide gravelled drive between new properties, built on the site of the former farmyard. The right of way emerges at the junction of the roads to Cambridge, Ashdon and Hadstock.  It avoids a very dangerous corner of the road, near the Three Hills public house, and is a useful shortcut.

Walking Routes
Only the shortest of circuits may be made in the parish. From the churchyard; go past the Three Hills on fps 1 and 4, north along the Ashdon Road, and back to the churchyard on Fp6.  It is possible to park by the churchyard.

However, the village lies on several attractive through-routes, such as Horseheath to Linton, via Cardinals Green and Hadstock (minimum of 7 miles).  A circuit may be made from Ashdon, via Steventon End returning via the bridleway to Ashdon Sewage Works (6 miles).

Cantab Rambler by E-Mail & Post
Cantab usually appears approx. 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 2nd class 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 53 – Price 20 pence where sold
© Janet Moreton, 2009.

CANTAB21 November 2003

CANTAB21 November 2003 published on

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


Most of us when visiting an unfamiliar area use not only maps, but seek inspiration from guidebooks and magazines.  As a reader of “Country Walking” over some 10 years, I have always admired the pull-out supplement of regional walks. And I have particularly appreciated the many walks in Cambridgeshire and Norfolk contributed by Jack & Sheila French of Peterborough. Whilst I might have been familiar with the routes in South and East Cambridgeshire, those in Norfolk were a treasure-trove to us. Sadly, after no less than 174 walks, Jack tells us that they will not be offering any more, partly because it becomes increasingly difficult not inadvertently to use walks already described elsewhere, but mostly because they do not want to drive to the other side of Norfolk and back in a day, to cover the county fully.

But the existing walks descriptions remain, treasured in files on many a bookcase, a continuing library of ideas for new excursions, and a reminder of happy days spent rambling.

I am delighted to have persuaded this charming, modest couple to give us their history, and the history of how the walks were derived.

Thank you Jack & Sheila for giving so much pleasure, and may you continue to enjoy many happy rambles yourselves.

Country Walking – Down Your Way
By Jack French
Hopefully Cantab Ramblers will have read and enjoyed some of our 174 contributions in Country Walking magazine. We have tried to find something new and well worth walking but in Cambridgeshire that is often difficult. Our writing started after reading early editions. (CW started as a “taster” in Sept. 1986 then went on sale bi-monthly from April/May 1987 priced £1.10). I thought that I could put together better walks than some of those provided. As it was published here in Peterborough I went to see the Editor with one of my proposals.  His reaction was that my hand drawn map was ideal, wishing other contributors paid so much attention to detail, and he would use it in the Down Your Way. We then didn’t stop submitting until probably the last one in Ringstead, Norfolk published in May 2003. The Editors do have one more from Gayton Thorpe to Gayton then through the swamp  at East Walton, it may not be used as it is rather adventurous and difficult to follow. If it had been known how dry this last summer was to be it would have been quite acceptable & different, so it may be reconsidered in 2004.

My wife Sheila has always accompanied me so when pictures were required in August 1992, one of her hobbies being photography, the pictures became her responsibility in addition to doing the typing.

First of all the editor accepted anything we provided and we travelled as far as Calderdale, Derbyshire and Leicestershire. Then in 1992 the Editor split the country up between the contributors and we were given Cambridgeshire and Norfolk.  We were disappointed as had already prepared a Rutland walk and others were planned. Our thinking is that Cambridgeshire is generally very limited for new good walks: where suitable they are all well covered by other books and leaflets; also in wet weather we tend to avoid them due to the sticky clay. On return from Norfolk our boots seldom need much cleaning, otherwise why do I favour it?

I was reared in Wisbech St Mary at the local garage, from 11 years my brother and I cycled three windswept miles each way to Wisbech Grammar School sometimes returning again in the evening to Army cadets etc. Winter life was a continuous round of colds for me, conditions being much worse than today as the water table was almost at ground level and everywhere was so damp. Older folks think that the area is now over drained, but that is digressing. We had uncles farming in Norfolk whom we visited and I always thought the countryside was lovely, with its large hedges, woods and no mud, that’s the place for me I thought! Later, when grown up and in the RAF, as soon as I set out from Peterborough my thinking was I’m never coming back here.

But it was not to be, my father died in 1952 and I was released to help my mother to continue the business, just when I had decided to make the RAF and aeroplanes my future. After a few years we sold up with the intention of me continuing in the RAF, but things had moved on and we had a family to consider. I took a temporary job at Perkins Diesel and stayed for 30 years as a draughtsman/engineer. During this time I took up several hobbies, poultry and beekeeping, sailing and golf, but always enjoyed walking and was on the committee of the HF Rambling Club, Sheila being the treasurer for 8 years. We ran coaches and weekends away and the club prospered on a  ‘sub’ of £1, programmes being given out on rambles and mainly hand delivered. From these walks we began to appreciate Norfolk even more but haven’t moved house as our two daughters and grandchildren live nearby and give us lots of pleasure   We found that I could afford to take early retirement from what was becoming a very stressful job,and in so doing I could pursue my hobby and do a very rewarding job, as walks leader for CHA at Cromer. It turned out to be some of the happiest times of  my life assisting so many people to really enjoy their holiday, many being very surprised at the variety of Norfolk’s landscape.

Favourite Walks…
We’re asked where is your favourite walk here?  Mine is Cromer to Overstrand: check the tides and go one way on the beach and the other along the cliff top. For an extension go up the road by the car park/toilets, left on a path up and past the old station to Northrepps then up and loop down back on the path east of the aerials to the coast road. One may now have to go back into Overstrand via the road, the cliff top path now being too dangerous.

Sheila prefers the one from Sheringham west on the cliff to Weybourne. A short walk can be had by earlier cutting inland to Sheringham Park, otherwise continue until the cliff finishes and take the track inland to the road, left and right up the track to cross the railway then left to Weybourne station.  Leave by the station footbridge to carry on through Sheringham  Park to Upper Sheringham then on to a track to the main Sheringham entry road and back to the start.

In Cambridgehire, we think the best is on our doorstep with a selection starting in Ferry Meadows.  King’s Lynn ramblers have been by coach three times and been pleasantly surprised at how much they had enjoyed their visits. The last one for example was first go to the entrance to see the wonderfully carved elm tree sculpture, which is not to be missed, then west along the north side of the railway, over the bridge and west along a lovely track, once part of a Milton estate toll road running from the A47 picturesque bridge to Alwalton. At the fence, the old track is blocked off,  go down to the riverside then up from an old bathing area, take the first road right back down to the river, left over the backwater and lock, over the water meadow, footbridge and left to Castor water mill. Then either go up the lane and right at the railway bridge for a 4 mile walk or go left beside the garden on Nene Way to take the right stile towards Castor. At the railway bridge one can go right on the start of a cycleway leading back or go under the bridge and into Castor. To return take the path starting east of the church, cross the next lane to take a path curving right to exit on to the main road. Turn left to go first right on the old A47 to Ferry Bridge and back into the park.  (8 miles).


Topical Notes…

Healthy Walks
Stan Hampton, following his recovery from heart bypass surgery,  has been pleased to lead a “Walking for Health” group from St Ives every Tuesday and Thursday, for distances of up to 4 miles.  The aim is primarily to encourage new walkers, but the short walks are also being found attractive by seasoned ramblers who, for one reason or another, are not currently able to take part in the longer walks on the Ramblers’ Assoc. programme.
For more info: phone 01480 466558.

Feet to come first?
Lisa Woodburn draws our attention to a Times article of 26 October by Jonathan Leake.

Under a new plan to promote  walking, local councils will have the option to rephase traffic lights and Puffin & Zebra pedestrian crossings to give priority to walkers in urban areas. Studies by the Dept. of Transport have shown that the longer the wait for lights to turn in favour of those on foot (currently up to 2 mins.) the higher is the rate of traffic accidents.

However, such plans will only apply to urban situations, and don’t get too excited, as the Government’s Walking Strategy has an incubation period of about 6 years…..

The Chiltern Way
The Chiltern Way was originally designed as a circular route of 125 miles as the Chiltern Society’s Millennium Project.  More recently, a further 27 miles have been added to the North, and 31 miles to the South, including yet more beautiful scenery in Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire and South Oxford.  A new guidebook, showing the old route and new extensions, “The Chiltern Way” was published in October 2003, when the new extensions were formally launched. Written by Nick Moon, the guidebook is published by Book Castle at £9.99, and is obtainable from bookshops and from the Chiltern Society Office: Freepost (HH601) Chesham, Bucks HP5 1ZA.  Tel. 01494 771250  e-mail:

Icknield Way Association 20 years on
I recently had the pleasure of attending the 19th AGM of the IWA, held this year at Dalham, Suffolk. Thus, counting the inaugural meeting, the Society finds itself 20 years on. In many ways, its achievements are very solid. A route exists between Ivinghoe Beacon and Knettishall Heath, which is waymarked throughout, and supported by all the County Councils along the route.  The guidebook has never been out of print since the early days (when, as then a member of the committee, I drew the first, amateur maps). Parts of the route have been much improved by creating new rights of way, or bringing neglected paths back into use.  In more recent years, an additional alternative route has been promoted, and signed for horse-riders and cyclists.  Several circular walks based on the Icknield Way have been promoted.

Yet in one respect the Society has yet to achieve its aim, to have the Icknield Way designated as a National Trail.  It remains the missing link between the Peddars Way and The Ridgeway, both of which have the coveted acorn waymarks of a Countryside Agency supported route.

Most readers will have walked part or all of this fine path.  What can we do to continue to push for its greater status (and hence maintenance, free from the constraints of County Council budgets) ?  Firstly, we could consider joining the Association, whose membership has become fairly static over the last few years. We could write to the Countryside Agency with our views. We could even consider joining the committee, or acting as a warden, to look after a section of the route.  Twenty years ago the prime-movers, Thurstan Shaw, Ken Payne and others, were in their sixties, and now, in their eighties, much-loved and resting upon their labours.  Others were then around 40, and making time for this and other involvements in a busy working life.  But now these are themselves in their sixties, and they find there is no-one following on behind, in spite of the popularity of the route.

For more info: Chris James, Secretary,
56 Back St., Ashwell, Baldock SG7 5PE
Tel. 01462 742684;

Newmarket Ramblers go online
Suffolk RA Area Committee has purchased website names for all its local groups. Newmarket’s site will be going live shortly, at the address:  There will be details of most group walks but not of social events.

September in Swaledale…
Ten ramblers, most from the Cambridge area, enjoyed a delightful midweek walking break in mid-September, led by David & Viv Elsom. They were accompanied by their indefatigable 12 year old sheepdog, Nell, always on the lead, and in the lead! We were based on the comfortable Kearton Country Hotel situated well up the dale at Thwaite, and ideally placed for walks at Kisdon Hill at the top of the dale, and for seeing the site of old lead-mines above Swinner Gill. David & Viv seem to know every track in this area, so following a tiny sheep-run above waterfalls led us (fairly) easily up steep terrain, whose photograph, when viewed later, made it seem impossible that we had reached the top!  Lower down the dale, Gunnerside and Muker offer shops, tea-rooms, and a museum for the less energetic. One day, we drove to Hawes, to spend an hour being seduced by bargains in the lively market, before walking over the moors to Bainbridge. Another day we drove to Reeth, to enjoy a walk along Fremington Edge, and take our picnic lunch near the village of Booze!

On a final half-day David organised a short circuit from the village of Marrick, while three of our number investigated the potential of the nearby golf course.

Measuring the walks as in the 12 mile bracket fails to take note of a salient feature of this delightful area.  Not only are there much-photographed stone barns scattered across the hillsides, the numerous small fields are divided by tall stone walls. Paths cross these by squeeze-stiles or stone step stiles. On one of the walks, we counted 86 of these picturesque impediments, surely equivalent to another couple of miles in the day, and needing a second helping of pudding in the evening to restore us!

Metal, Concrete, Wood or Plastic?
What am I talking about? Why, signposts, of course.

There has been a rather intriguing discussion on Ramblersnet prompted by John Andrews starting a discussion on the best mode of construction. He concludes:…

‘I have long had the feeling that different types of signposts have varying effects on the users of rights of way and on landowners.  Wooden ones seem, by their inconspicuous and often “wobbly” character, to be timid and self-effacing.  I imagine them wispering “Excuse me; sorry to bother you.  I hope you don’t mind me mentioning it, but did you realise there’s a footpath along here?” Path users rather worried about how much confidence to be taken from this somewhat uncertain proclamation; landowners scarcely pause for thought before elbowing them out of the way!

Concrete monsters, by contrast are over-bearing and town-crier like in their boasts. “You’d better believe this is a public right of way! Ignore me at your peril! Users a little overawed at their presumption.  Landowners, incensed at such arrogance, rush for the nearest JCB.

Perhaps the quietly confident green variety strike the right psychological chord. No doubt somebody will tell me …..’
John Andrews

Cantab Rambler by E-Mail & Post
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


Price 10 pence where sold
© Janet Moreton, 2003.