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** Please note that this is an archive of the CANTAB publication and contains out-of-date information **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

CANTAB58 September 2010

CANTAB58 September 2010 published on

** Please note that this is an archive of the CANTAB publication and contains out-of-date information **


Volunteers wanted…
I understand we are shortly to have a Year of The Volunteer.  But before you all rush out to sell secondhand shirts in Oxfam, consider also the needs of the Ramblers’ Association, and indeed, of other environmental charities.

Membership is down, since with the recession people are cutting back on subscriptions. And there have always been those who walk by themselves, or with family or with a walking club, who believe their wants are satisfied without the Ramblers’ Association, and who forget the work this charity does to protect their interests.  If you are not a Ramblers’ member, I remind you that the subscription pays/has payed for the RA to fight path closures, to press for access to moorland and heath, and currently to work on the coast path. In Cambridgeshire, The RA was funding a transport consultant to support us in obtaining path crossings over the A14 at the Inquiry, until the new government cancelled the project.

But I address those who regularly send their membership dues to The Ramblers. Looking at the combined programme for Cambridgeshire Area, I find almost every Group has vacancies on its committee, sometimes masked by a single member occupying more than one post.  Consider the attendance at AGMs, when it is well-known that folk avoid the occasion, lest they be elected onto the committee. One concludes that the members-at-large feel committee members are a gene-selected race apart, and of course it is out of the question that they themselves should agree to serve.  For your information, we too are outdoor folk, for whom committees are a necessary evil.

If you think this is unnecessarily hard hitting, consider Cambridge Group.  Our much-loved Footpath Secretary for Cambridge City, Jack Lewry, died so prematurely just a year ago, still dealing with Cambridge planning matters affecting paths, almost to the last.  In spite of the efforts of the Chairman and Committee, this post remains unfilled, although maybe 100 or more Cambridge members live within the City itself.  In absence of a City officer, some things have had to be neglected. For example the University is planning development of a West Cambridge Site, and has repeatedly invited a representative of the Ramblers to its meetings, but we have been unable to respond, perhaps with future implications for paths on the site.

For those for whom Committee work is totally objectionable, there are other ways to serve the cause of keeping the path network in optimum condition. The role of volunteers in on-site footpath work is likely to be needed much more as financial restrictions tighten the purse of County Councils.

Roger and I are Footpath Secretaries for South Cambridgeshire District, the 100 parishes (with some 1300 paths) surrounding Cambridge City.  We have been in this post for ca.30 years. We did it as well as we could while we were both working, and before the advent of the Internet, which has made communications so much easier. Over the years, we do feel that our contribution, together with the work of others within the RA, and working with the County Council and local people, has made a difference to the Cambridgeshire path network.  In the 1980s and 1990s we were much helped by other people within the Group who turned out to help with path surveying and waymarking, and problem reporting.  Nowadays, volunteers are much thinner on the ground.

However, presently we are fortunate to have in our Group Tim Miller, who has become a “Footpath Guardian”, and regularly visits a small group of parishes, Over, Swavesey, Fen Drayton, Willingham etc., reporting problems to ourselves and to the County Council.  Tim is an experienced walker and map reader, and his reports are a model of clarity. Moreover, if there are problems such as blocked stiles or dumped cars, he has the spare capacity to return again later, and yet again if necessary, and report again until the problem is cleared. With 1300 paths to cover, we are not always able to repeat visits. Tim is able to work by himself, and so there is a small group of parishes that we do not need to visit so often.  And friends like John and Tessa Capes, regularly report upon problems around Sawston. How wonderful it would be if another 20 or even another 5 people appeared, willing to do a similar task elsewhere in the District!

We have reaped satisfaction and enjoyment from our path work, which is now a full-time occupation, but there have been other times of  frustration and weariness.  We would be happy to continue if there was more help.  We are no longer young, and aware that we come this way but once.  There are other activities we like to do.  If you are still reading this, think on these things. Cambridge Group is not alone in having these problems.

Janet Moreton

Afoot in the Mordens
Guilden Morden and Steeple Morden, between them, have 107 public rights of way, as well as large recreation grounds apiece, and young Woodland Trust Woods: White Ponds Wood by a stream behind Steeple Morden rec; and Tween Towns Wood in Guilden Morden, on low land beside the same stream.

In recent times, there have been changes to the path network, some of which are on-going.  This article aims to update you on a few paths in Guilden Morden, and to give an impression of the work that has been done by Cambs CC and of the complexity of the network. All problems described in the text are already reported to Cambs.CC.

Cobbs Lane
Byway 9 in Guilden Morden, shared with Steeple Morden as Byway 1, runs from New Road at Great Green TL 286446  to a bridge over the River Cam at TL 283463, leading to Tadlow.

This hedged lane, formerly deeply rutted and founderous in Winter was closed for many months while repair work funded by CCC went forward. The lane is presently in lovely condition. One of the hedges has been cut back, and replanted in places, and the surface of the route has been made good.  Do use and enjoy the autumn colours!  There is a Seasonal Traffic Restriction Order (with gates locked against wheeled traffic in Winter) hopefully preventing damage occurring again.

Fp 14 should turn off W from Cobbs Lane at TL 286448, to run between an electric fence and tall hedge, but is presently obstructed by overgrowth. A little further along, however, Byway 8 turns off W at TL 285452 as a grass track, which later becomes a narrow residential road, leading back to Guilden Morden. A third option, just before the bridge over the river, is to take  fp 2, at TL 283463, and follow the comfortable grassy field-edge, later continuing as a farm track, back to Green Knoll Barn, Guilden Morden.

Cold Harbour Farm
In 2005, a new path, fp 56 was created by agreement down the driveway to Cold Harbour Farm, to turn SW across an arable field as the existing fp 48.  At the same time, fp 48 was re-aligned away from a grassy baulk which ran close to the buildings to a mid-field position. The N end of fp 48 crosses the drive, now avoids a horse paddock, and reaches Ashwell Road at TL 276415.  The S end of fp 48 reaches the County Boundary ditch, to continue beyond as Ashwell fp 18.

Following the diversion, we were not pleased that the new line of  fp 48 was (and is) often not reinstated.  Worse, there is a sign put up at the top of the drive, on Ashwell Road, “Private Road, No Public Access“.  Now whilst it is true that fp 56 runs down the verge to the drive, and not the drive itself, this is a misleading and discouraging notice. There is a signpost finger attached to a roadsign on the opposite side of the road, a long way away, and often not observed by potential path users.  Cambs CC have now accepted that this is a problem, and have agreed to erect a “Public Footpath” signpost on the verge at the top of the drive.  Let me know if it has happened, or if you have any problems here, please.

Obscure paths mid-village
Guilden Morden fp 31
Footpath31 is an example of an obscure path, useful as a short cut from Byway 27 (Church Lane) to Buxton’s Lane, without walking along the High Street.  At TL 279437, the path goes down a narrow passage between trees to emerge after 30 m into a small arable field.  Fp32 continues ahead, also going to Buxton’s Lane, at TL 280434, but fp 31 turns half-right to run S across the corner of the field (usually cleared).  At the other side of the little field, TL 279436, the path crosses a hard track, passing a neglected farm yard on right, and goes through a narrow passage under an elder tree, to reach the rear of domestic gardens.  Here it enters a narrow way between gardens, continuing  S to cross the drive from High Street to house no. 57A at TL 2790 4354.  Beyond the drive, a mostly 1m wide passage leads S under trees, with garden fences to left & right eventually emerging between houses nos 1 & 3 on Buxton’s Lane (Byway 29) by a signpost at TL 2790 4344.  This is a good example of several narrow, and rather adventurous paths in the Mordens. This one is not recommended for the very substantial walker, or one wearing many layers of clothes, as it is only 0.5m wide in a few places, e.g. where it passes a tree!

Guilden Morden Footpaths 43 & 44.
These paths are almost opposite fp 31, on the other side of the High Street, and are an example of Cambs CC’s ongoing efforts to sort out some complicated problems in this parish.

Fp43 is not really a problem, except that it lacks a signpost, and it is quite well used by village people. On High St. at TL 278435, fp 43 starts through the wide concrete entrance to the yard of Home Farm. The RoW runs W on a clear space up to 10m wide in the hard-surfaced  yard between sheds and barns, to exit through a wide gateway. There used to be a waymark here, but the exit is now partially blocked by some old farm machinery, which Cambs CC has promised to get removed.  At TL 277435, it emerges onto  Bridleway 17 (Silver Street) at a T-junction.

Now for the really difficult one. Go across the yard on fp 43, and exit onto Silver Street.  Fp44 should turn SE through the middle of a barn, and take a devious route across a derelict field, and behind gardens, to emerge through the garden of house no 74 High Street, and meet High St between the gardens of houses 72 & 74.  The barn seems to have been there many years, possibly even when the path was added to the Definitive Map in the 1950s – perhaps it was an open-work structure then!  However, presently, it is possible to walk a few metres SW (left) down Silver Street, and enter the derelict field (weeds and old polytunnels) making generally for the rear of gardens of houses 58 – 66 High Street. Cambs CC has recently partially cleared and waymarked the entrance to the rear of garden of house no 74. It is possible to go through the garden, keeping at close as possible to the fence with no 72, and emerge through a gate.  Cambs CC has consulted with Cambridge RA Group and the landowners on a diversion of this path, and it seems likely that only the part affected by the barn will be diverted. In the garden, there was a hazard of a broken manhole cover, obscured by a flower pot close to the path, and  vegetation at the rear of the garden, but these problems are in hand with Cambs CC..

There are at least a dozen paths which emerge through gardens, orchards or paddocks in the Mordens, several now  waymarked and in good order; some like fp 44 being worked on; and a few still in a difficult condition. Guilden Morden fp 20 (behind Town Farm) is another path being considered for diversion. At present it is obstructed by a stable block.

I hope this article has given some insight into complexity of this locality, for which the use of the 1:25 000 OS sheet 208 is scarcely adequate.

New wood in Cambridgeshire
The Summer 2010 issue of the County Council magazine, “Your Cambridgshire” has an article on the planting of a new wood between Girton and Oakington. Some 400 volunteers planted about 3000 trees, but when the task is complete, 8640 broad-leaved trees and shrubs will make up the new community wood in the 46 hectare site.  New access arrangements will allow the public to enjoy the site.  The wood has been planted to celebrate 100 years of County Farms Estate.

Vandalism to Fleam Dyke steps
Sadly, the new steps at the Fulbourn end of Fleam Dyke, put up in the last year by Cambs CC for £5000, have since twice been vandalised. Repair cost about £500.

Parking News
At Brandon Country Park, Suffolk, where cars used to park gratis, there is now a charge of 50p on weekdays, and £2 at weekends.  The adjacent toilets & cafe are open until 4.30pm.

At High Lodge Country Park, Norfolk, the car parking is more expensive, £1.80 per hour, with a maximum of £10. Free parking is still available at Warren Lodge, in Rishbeth Wood.

Debden village, Essex, has a large carpark in front of the recreation ground, a popular place to start a walk.  Recently, a notice has appeared, to the effect that parking is limited to 2 hours, other than for users of the recreation ground.

It is reported that non-members of the National Trust, parking at Wimpole for £2, can get this refunded when making purchases in the shop.

The Pathfinder Long Distance Path
This 46 mile circular route, passing old wartime airfields, was created by the military in honour of the Royal Airforce Pathfinder Force.  The leaflet was produced in 1999, but I have only just got round to trying the route.  Details of the route may be obtained from The Pathfinder Project Officer, c/o The Central Registry, RAF Brampton / Wyton PE18 8QL.  Recent OS Sheets Explorer 225 and 227 have the route marked.

I walked (most of) it with friends, in sections, and using two cars.  If any readers have done it using public transport, or all in one trip, I should be interested to hear from you.  Day 1 was walked from Dry Drayton to Papworth Everard; then successive trips continuing to Godmanchester; to Broughton; to Bluntisham, and then to Longstanton.  The amount of road walking required was discouraging, so we missed out the part between Longstanton and Dry Drayton along the very busy road that connects with the A14 near Bar Hill.

On Day 2, we cut out 1km of road walking, by taking a pleasant route through Graveley churchyard, then continuing on a path through pasture to rejoin the road at TL 246643.

On Day 3, near RAF Wyton, we cut out 2km of road walking, by taking the bridleway from the A1123 on the outskirts of Houghton at TL 280726, then the footpath running approx. N across 2 fields to reach the A1090 just beyond the airbase.  This left another 2km of busy road, before we could turn off, thankfully, on the path towards Kings Ripton.

So we will not be able to claim our certificate for having done all the route (£2 from the address above) but we have visited some new sites and paths, and thought about the frantic and dedicated wartime activity in these now very quiet fields.

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, 10p is appreciated towards the cost of paper and ink. If you would like to receive an issue by post, please send an A5 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 Cantab 58 © Janet Moreton, 2010