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CANTAB72 March 2013

CANTAB72 March 2013 published on

** Please note that this is an archive of the CANTAB publication and contains out-of-date information **


Unintended countryside humour
Ramblers’ Net recently ran a series about odd notices seen in the countryside. Below is a short selection.

(Sign in English seen on a farm gate at Saksun, Faroes, sent in by Brian Reader)

(Isle of Wight private drive with public footpath, also from Brian Reader)

(Seen in Shap by Harry Whitehouse) Presumably small dogs are allowed to leave it open!

I invite readers to send East Anglian quaint or unintendedly humorous notices – or do all our local landowners ensure they say exactly what they mean?

Beyond the Icknield Way The ever popular Icknield Way Guide has gone into its sixth edition, entitled, “The Icknield Way Path – A Walkers’ Guide”. Priced at £10, including post/packing, it is obtainable from

The Icknield Way leads us from Knettishall Heath to Ivinghoe Beacon.Beyond, the Ridgeway Path leads the foot-traveller out of East Anglia, southwards and westwards.

The Friends of the Ridgeway are promoting a new path through Southern England called “The Great Stones Way”.

The route is still under development, but will run for 45 miles/68km from Barbury Castle to Stonehenge and Old Sarum, Wiltshire. Overall, K£88 has been raised for signs and stiles.

The first section to open will be the 14 mile Plain and Avon walk, from Casterley Camp above Upavon, to Amesbury and Stonehenge, via the Avon Valley. The route explores historic landscapes and pretty villages with a good supply of pubs. Grants for improving this section have been made by Plain Action and Tidworth Community Area.

For more information:

Shepreth teashop I have had a recommendation for the “Teacake” teashop in Shepreth. Situated in the centre of the village on 8, Meldreth Road, it features tea, coffee, freshly made cakes, and light lunches. A tea-garden and take-away are available. Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, the teashop is open from 9 to 5 on other weekdays, and 10.30 to 4.30 at weekends.

It is convenient for Shepreth L-moor reserve, the RSPB reserve, and walks to Barrington. Phone 07565 567023 e-mail

Lesser celandine
March is the time for early Spring flowers, so one should find the small celandine, Ranunculus ficaria (a member of the buttercup family) in damp ground, especially in woods, and at the edges of ditches, growing freely all over Britain and Northern Europe. The leaves are heart-shaped, fleshy dark green, and the yellow flowers usually have 8 petals. The flowers shut up before rain, and even in good weather do not open before 9 am. By 5pm, they have already shut up for the night, so time to finish your walk!

Terry Breverton’s “Complete Herbal”, published Quercus, 2011, (ISBN 978 0 85738 336 5) is based on Culpepper’s volume of 1653 and gives details of the herb’s former usage in medicine. The plant contains saponins which are fungicidal, and locally antihaemorrhoidal, and protoanemonin in the fresh plant is antibacterial. The German name, Scharbockskraut, derives from use of the early leaves, which are rich in vitamin C. The Russians call it Chistotel (clean body) as it was brewed and used in baths to help cure dermatitis and other skin irritations.

But I am happy to leave this charming plant beside the path, glad to see the yellow flowers open in Spring sunshine.

Parish of the Month – Madingley
Explorer 209

In Domesday, it is named Madinglei – the wood or clearing of the people of Mada.

A Roman Road from Cambridge passed by Madingley, and occasional Roman coins have been found nearby. Within and outside Madingley Wood , a high point with good views, are low banks of rectangular enclosures, where a trench revealed C1st pottery (late Iron Age or Roman). Excavations close to Madingley Hall at the top of a slope used for medieval settlement, uncovered ditches containing Saxon pottery 800 – 1100 AD.

A double moat near Moor Barns Farm, close to the A428 was probably the site of a grange owned by Barnwell Priory from C12 – C16th.

In the C13th, there were originally two manors. Marhams Manor was centred on the present Manor House, a timber-framed and plastered medieval building, set back from the west side of High Street. Madingley Hall was previously part of Burdeleys Manor and originally belonged to Sheriff Picot. Later, it was bought by the Hynde family, who were restoring the parish to single ownership by the C16th.

The red-brick & stone Madingley Hall was built in 1543 by Sir John Hynde and added to in ca 1590 by Sir Frances Hynde, when material was taken from the demolished St Audrey’s church, Histon . Later, the property was owned by the Cotton family, who extended the park in 1743, when Capability Brown’s landscaping cut the village in two, with the church and some cottages to the south, and the rest of the village to the north. The last baronet at Madingley gambled away the family money in the C19th, and had to earn a living driving a stage coach.

In 1948, Cambridge University bought the village, together with Madingley Hall and some 1200 acres ( 502ha). The University holds study courses in the hall, run by the Dept of Extramural Studies, and this would seem the best opportunity to see the inside of the building.

The parish today
Madingley parish now covers 840ha, following boundary adjustments after construction of the Cambridge bypass. The soil is clay, apart from a strip of chalk marl under the village itself. The small village is centrally placed in the boundaries, having a church, village hall, pub “The Three Horseshoes,” school, but no shop. The population in 1086 was 31; rising to about 450 people in the C13th, but steady at ca 150 people through the C16th – C18th. In 1851, the population had risen to 280, but in 1996, only 220 people resided in the parish, where very little development is allowed.

The parish church, close to the gates of the park, is a fine example of the decorated period, with a C13th nave and a C15th porch. The church contains a Norman font, and a disused bell 600y old, as well as memorials to the Cotton family.

The other building of interest is the windmill, best seen from the A428.

A post-mill had been built here in the late C18th but it fell down in 1909. In the 1930s it was replaced by another post mill, parts of which date from the C16th, and which was brought from Huntingdonshire as a decorative feature. It decayed and lost its sails in the 1970s, but is now repaired.

The American Military Cemetery On the north slope of Madingley Rise is the American War Graves Cemetery and Memorial, currently under restoration. Normally it is accessible from both the A428, and the Cambridge Road, but at present only from the Cambridge Road. Land was given by the Madingley Estate in 1943. Some 9000 dead from WWII are commemorated. From the flag to the chapel, a long wall of Portland stone carries 5000 names of those dead who were never located. The graves of the rest are marked by Italian white marble crosses, fanning out radially down the slope.

The former Brook Pit and Madingley Wood both have wildlife interest. Madingley Wood, SSSI, is the nearest ancient wood to Cambridge, growing predominantly ash & maple. It has been the subject of 340 years of research, and documentation exists from 1210 onwards. John Ray in 1660 recorded 224 kinds of plant. In 1950 some185 species were found. Madingley Wood is fenced round and not open to the public, but can be seen through the fence from Footpath 4.

Adjacent to Madingley Wood, is the University’s new Octo-Centenary Wood, commemorating the University’s 800th anniversary (2009), and opened to the public on Community Outreach Day, 16 Feb 2011. Local schoolchildren took part in the planting of over 15000 trees on 10ha of the University Farm’s former arable land. The wood has been planted with native species e.g. oak, hazel and ash. The planting has been designed to retain views east across to Ely as the trees mature, and several seats are provided. There are information boards, and pedestrian access points at each end, cycle racks, but no parking. There is limited parking off the Cambridge Road at the rear of the American cemetery.

Paths and walking opportunities
There are 4 public rights of way in Madingley parish, giving rather inadequate access to parts of the parish and to through-routes beyond.

Madingley Bridlepath 1 starts from the N side of Dry Drayton Rd at TL 393 611. It runs NE on a grass fieldside track, turns left in front of a ditch, and joins Dry Drayton 12 which goes to the A14 near the crematorium, while a more useful branch continues as Dry Drayton Footpath 13.

Thus it is possible to make a through route from Madingley to Dry Drayton, first taking care along the narrow road out of the village, as far as the start of Bp1.

Madingley Bridlepath 2 starts on Cambridge Road at TL 403 599 almost opposite the Octo-Centenary Wood. It runs NE on a grass track between fields, passes a big black barn and later a small copse to cross the A428 on a concrete bridge. The RoW continues on a stony track, passing through a tunnel to emerge as Girton Bp6 on the slip road of the M11 – A14 junction. As a through route to Girton, this path does not have much going for it. It is possible (but not recommended) to turn right and walk along the verge of the slip road, until opposite Girton Fp4, where the road crossing is very difficult, or a little further along, where crossing is a little easier opposite Girton College. It is also possible to return from here on Girton Fp5, which joins Madingley Fp3, as described below. The proposals to modify the A14 which were discarded by the present government might have improved this dangerous junction for pedestrians.

Madingley Footpath 3 leaves Cambridge Road at TL 410 596, on a signed path dropping down steps to a field-edge and which, after a couple of field-edges, joins Girton fp 5 to emerge on the A14 near the University Farm. Cross the A14 with great care to continue into Girton either along the village road, or on Girton Fp 4.

Madingley Footpath 4 runs from Cambridge Road at TL 404 599 to the A428 between American Cemetery and Madingley Wood, TL 403 594. Although it is fenced in on both sides, the wire fences are not an eye-sore and have wooded views beyond on both sides.

Cross the A428 with care outside the lawns of the American cemetery, to continue into Coton on Coton Fp 2 almost opposite.

Cream Teas in Litlington!
The Crown PH in Litlington has opened a tea lounge, from 9 am to 4 pm, serving breakfasts, tea, coffee, scones etc.

Note that in early Spring, the nearby Ashwell Street gives mostly good clean walking, and the paths in the chalky fields in the locality tend to dry out faster than those on heavier land elsewhere in South Cambridgeshire District.

Cantab Rambler by E-Mail & Post
Cantab appears approximately 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 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 72 Price 20 pence where sold

© Janet Moreton, 2013