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CANTAB82 August 2015

CANTAB82 August 2015 published on

** Please note that this is an archive of the CANTAB publication and contains out-of-date information **


Old Man River…
Roger & I met recently with Karen Champion, to celebrate the installation of new self-closing and kissing gates along the bank of the Old West River between High Bridge Aldreth and the Haddenham pumping engine and an almost stile-free route on both sides of the river between The Lazy Otter and the Newmarket Road, Stretham. Sadly, there is one stile left on the village side of the river close to Bridge House due to lack of space for a kissing gate. Although a self-closing gate would have fitted, the cattle owner was nervous of the gate being propped open to accommodate fishing gear.

Karen is Cambridgeshire County Council’s Public Rights of Way Officer for the whole of East Cambs District, and this project involved much work liaising with several different landowners along the route. Seen on a fine May morning, with clouds scudding across the landscape, the extensive views from the well-mown river bank were a compelling invitation for a good walk, and the Lazy Otter” on the river bank near Stretham is a good place to appease the appetite so engendered.

We talked about the huge density of paths (over a hundred) in Soham, where a group of volunteers have, over the years, installed very many new bridges and gates. Sadly, this group of volunteers has now disbanded as they have become physically less active.

Karen also deals with path matters in the “paddock belt” of East Cambs, and described recent surface improvements and hedge trimming on Gypsy Lane (byway 10) and bridleway 13 in Dullingham. Other path improvements are in Brinkley, and over the District border in Carlton, South Cambs, in association with Karen’s South Cambs colleague, Peter Gaskin.

Why not take a fresh look at East Cambridgeshire? Cambridge Group’s books, “Walks in East Cambs” and “The Fen Rivers Way” are still in print, and available from Lisa Woodburn, tel 01223 245566.

Karen is keen that walkers report East Cambs faults, using either CCC’s call centre 0345 045 5212, or on-line

I must admit I find filling in these forms on-line time-consuming and tedious, especially with several problems in one parish, repeating details common to all, but do give it a try, as the Highways Department refuses to accept complaints by other written means. This must surely reduce the number of complaints going into the system.

Parish of the Month, Stretham
Explorer 226
This parish, South of Ely, is centred on the crossroads of the A1123 and the A10, the latter generally following the line of the Roman Akeman Street north from Cambridge. The fenland sections of this Roman road are thought to have been submerged from the C4th to the C17th. Its successor, turnpiked in 1763, entered the parish at what is now a layby beside the bridge over the Old West River.

The centre of Stretham, The Market Place, has a little triangle, graced by a stone market cross, which, amazingly, has survived since the early C15th. Many of Stretham’s ancient buildings were destroyed in a disastrous fire of 1844. Dates of rebuilding after the fire can be observed from the dates of houses along Top St. A survivor of the fire, the large red-brick house dated 1770 at Plantation Gate, may give an impression of the type of many properties that were destroyed.

What did survive is the church, dating from ca 1400, with a perpendicular stone spire. The spire & tower are relics of the original structure, following major Victorian renovation Parts of the adjacent rectory date from the C14th.

A converted windmill, with a 4-storey tarred brick tower, at the north end of Stretham, TL 512749, is a local landmark.

Stretham’s rarest feature is the Beam Engine, housed in a pump house on the banks of the Old West River, reached via Green End, and used for fen drainage. Built 1831, the engine powered a 37ft diameter scoop wheel, which lifted water at 124 tons per minute. It was last worked in 1941. There is a typical 3-part engine house, the engine (built by Butterley Co.) placed between the boiler-house and the scoopwheel house. Double piston valves were installed in 1909. This impressive engineering construction is open to the public at advertised times.

Stretham has a good selection of public paths, connecting with Ely, Little Thetford, and Wilburton, and allowing shorter strolls around the village.

Stretham lies on the route of two long distance paths. One of these is:
The Fen Rivers Way, running from Cambridge to Kings Lynn, ca 80 km.
Details are available in a small handbook of the same title, available from RA Cambridge Group (tel 01223 245566).

Other walks in the locality are described in “Walks in East Cambridgeshire”, also available from RA Cambridge Group.

The other long-distance path is:
The Black Fen Waterways Trail
This is a circular walk of 105km, passing Stretham Old Engine, and going through Ely, Littleport, Downham Market, Outwell, March, Chattris, Sutton, and back to Stretham. A leaflet was available in 2001 from The Fens Tourism Group, Spalding tel 01775 762715

(Note that the Black Fen Waterways Trail is not to be confused with the Brown Fen Waterways Trail, a circuit of 107 km, passing through Boston, Fosdyke, Surfleet, Spalding, Croyland, Donnington, and Swyneshead.. Yes, I know these places are in Lincolnshire!)

Back in Stretham, the village has excellent facilities, including a bus service to Ely and Cambridge. In the village, the Red Lion and a fish & chip shop are available to sustain the inner man. Along the riverside, are the Fish & Duck, by Holt Fen Bridge, and The Lazy Otter on the Old West River, just off the A10.

Various short walks are available from the village.

(a) From Chapel St, cross the A1123, go down Green End, turn right towards Fieldside, but turn off left (S) onto Fp 20.
Meet Everitts Drove. Turn left, then right onto Green End, and continue to Stretham Old Engine on Old West River. Return to the village along Green End. (2 miles). Alternatively, continue SW on the N bank of the Old West, to lunch at the Lazy Otter, returning on the other bank to Stretham Old Engine. Cross the river, and walk up Green End, (total 6 miles).

(b) Follow route (a) to Everitts Drove.
Turn SW to the Fruit & Vegetable shop on the A10. Go carefully SW on the A10. Cross with great care to join fp 18 past Red Hill farm to the A1123. Turn right, cross over with care, and turn left onto byway 13. Turn right along Mill Drove, and cross the A10 to re-enter the village near the windmill. (total 5 miles)

(c) From the church, take Chapel St, left into Chapel Lane, left onto Reads St, right into Goose Lane, left on Brook Lane, and right onto Plantation Gate. You should now be at TL 516 746, and the start of Fp4, which will lead you into Little Thetford parish. Detour on the branch path S at TL 529 750 to visit Holt Fen Bridge, (built as a result of much campaigning), or continue into Little Thetford. Return on The Burying Way, signed in Little Thetford.. This track was once used to carry coffins from Little Thetford to Stretham for burial. Little Thetford has its own church these days. (5 miles)

Permissive Paths
I recently received some enquiries about permissive or “permitted” paths, and how to find out about them.

There is no simple answer to this. Cambridgeshire County Council does keep a register of those permissive paths where they have been notified by the landowner, but this does not include all paths not on the Definitive Map, nor is the information readily available, although one may enquire about specific paths.

Some of these paths are registered under Higher Level Stewardship Scheme, and information on these is available on the Internet.

Other paths are quite informal, and are perhaps better called “customary” paths. Some, such as several at Longstowe, are signed “Estate Paths”. Some paths are described in local leaflets put out by a parish council, or perhaps a park owner, and may be available in a local shop, or the erstwhile phone box, as at Guilden Morden. Some parishes have useful and attractive path display boards, which may include information on permissive paths. Indeed, several permissive paths in Cambridgeshire have individual display boards showing routes and path availability, but this degree of information is unusual.

Generally, permissive paths, other than those contracted via the Higher Level Stewardship Scheme for a finite length of time, can be closed to the public at any time, at the whim of the landowner.

A route on the riverside meadows near Fen Ditton was recently closed without notice by Gonville & Caius college, having been available without question for many years.

Some paths, (e.g. Part of the Bedfordshire Greensand Ridge Walk near Northill, or part of The Nature Trail at Lackford, Suffolk) are only open at certain times of year.

Ordnance Survey Explorer sheets do in theory have a category (brown dots) for permissive paths, but very few are indicated on the sheets covering Cambridgeshire.

I sympathise with the gentleman who prompted my putting these thoughts together and agree that one can see waymarks for the start of an unfamiliar permissive path, and have no idea where they may be leading….

Janet Moreton

The Cambridgeshire RA Walking Programme
Going back at least to 1993, Cambs RA has enjoyed a printed walking programme containing the walks of the constituent groups. Over the years, many people have been involved in making this possible, including those who lead walks, the programme secretaries of each Group, the programme co-ordinator, and those getting the material checked and printed, and posted to each group member. Many Groups will remember happy evenings stuffing envelopes when it was their turn to send out the programme, often to the accompaniment of coffee and cake, or perhaps a glass of wine.

Sadly, it seems likely this is to cease. With the exception of East Cambs Group, the groups are continuing to produce their walking programmes, and these will be available on line, as they have been for the last few years. But there will be no co-ordinated printed programme this Autumn.

The reason goes back to the Cambs Area AGM held last Spring, where no-one came forward to be Area Chairman. RA Headquarters have taken the view that without a Chairman, there is no Area organisation, and therefore they will not fund or support a Cambs Area printed programme.

Lisa Woodburn of Cambridge Group has been willing to co-ordinate the set of group programmes, but in absence of funds for posting, it seems very unlikely that the usual booklet of county walks will go out.

It is hoped that RA HQ will pay the groups to circulate their own programmes. Yes, it is possible to view the programmes on the websites, but not everyone has a computer, and if they have a computer, they may not have a printer. The booklet of walks in something received by each member, part of the “togetherness” of the group, giving a more real feeling of community than the membership of the Ramblers’ Association as a whole, valuable as this is. We have sat companionably over our lunch on a Saturday walk, with our programmes open, discussing who will be able to come next Saturday, and who is the new leader in a few weeks’ time… I have a shelf full of old programmes, which have been used on at least two occasions when giving evidence of usage of a disputed path at a public inquiry.

My personal feeling is that RA HQ have treated us shabbily in this matter. Comments are invited.
Janet Moreton

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
Cantab82 © Janet Moreton, 2015.

CANTAB52 August 2009

CANTAB52 August 2009 published on

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


Once again, my faithful readers are missing a Midsummer edition, because I have been away often in sunshine and showers over this period,  and when actually at home, rights of way work has become pressing!  So apologies, and I hope you will find this issue interesting.

I hope to use this space to bring you up-to-date with changes in the South Cambs path network.  Where walking is concerned, knowledge equates to enjoyment of a good walk. Even if you are the proud possessor of the latest OS sheet, it may not inform of the most recent path diversions and other changes.

Happy walking
Janet Moreton

Seasonal Traffic Regulation Orders, (TROs)
Cambridgeshire County Council has, within the last two years, confirmed a whole suite of TROs, affecting numbers of byways in South Cambs. District.

For several years, the RA had complained of the state of byways, churned up by  recreational vehicles, “4x4s”, so that enjoyment by other types of user: horseriders; cyclists; and walkers became impossible.  The County Council over some 10 years has spent quite a lot of money trying to improve these routes, so that they stood up to all-purpose Winter usage, but to no avail.  Consultations went on, mostly through the good offices of the Local Access Forum (LAF), and finally it was decided to apply TROs to a number of byways in the Winter months only.

The Orders have been made, and now confirmed – you may have seen the mud-spattered notices posted in the countryside. Signs have been put up, as have barriers and lockable gates, with a gap at the side to allow access by permitted Winter users.

However, local landowners have been given keys to the barriers, so that they may continue to take their tractors and other farm equipment along the byways all year, so in Winter, you may still find water-filled deep ruts in places. In some cases, the County Council  has not simply relied on the passage of time in a lane undisturbed by anything larger during Winter than a motorcycle (still allowed on a lot of byways in Winter, due to the persuasive arguments of the Trail Riders Fellowship), or the occasional heavy horse!  Money has been spent on improvements to path surfaces, placing of informative display boards, new bridges, and hedge trimming.  In the parishes adjacent to Longstanton, some funding has derived from central government “growth area funding” associated with the Northstowe development.

RA Cambridge Group would like to know how walkers think the new regime is working this Winter, so I would be glad to have details of your experiences.  In particular, can we have reports of any places where vehicles are side-stepping barriers, or breaking them down?

Where are these improvements?
Look for the parish on your map and  identify the byway symbol.  It seems overly complicated to bespatter the text with eight-digit grid references!

If you want to identify path numbers, see:

Balsham 4 – Linton 23 – West Wickham 1
(These are all parts of the Roman Road, known as Wool Street or the Via Devana)

Bourn 1 (The Porters Way was closed to allow remedial work)

Carlton Byways 7, 9 and 12  (i.e. all the byways in the parish), and Weston Colville 15, leading off Carlton 9 towards Weston Green.

Steeple Morden  1 – Guilden Morden  9
(These are both sides of Cobbs Lane, leading N to Tadlow Bridge.  Note that this route was also closed for many months to allow improvements to be made, and may not yet be open, even to pedestrians)

Rampton 5 – Westwick 3 (Cuckoo Lane)

Cottenham 12 (Rampton Drift)

Landbeach 3 – Milton 3 –
Impington 3 (Akeman Street)

Rampton 4 (Reynolds Drove)
Rampton 2  (Pauleys Drove)

Rampton 1 – Willingham 8
(Haven Drove)

Willingham 9 –  Haddenham 22
(Aldreth Causeway)

Also in East Cambs,
Haddenham 15, 29, 30 &
Wilburton 10  (Fen Side)

What byways are not closed to vehicles?
In spite of repeated requests by ramblers, Fox Road north of Balsham remains open to all traffic, all year.  In Winter, this means the chalky surface becomes rutted and muddy, and in places with deep holes filled with water. In spite of its status as part of the Icknield Way Regional Route for walkers and horseriders, no seasonal closures have been applied on this path.

Also part of the Roman Road between the B1052 and the Hildersham – Balsham road  remains open to vehicles.

Confirmed Diversions

OS Pathfinder 209, Bourn fp 14 (TL 325 564 – 325 559).
The path runs from behind Bourn church, across the grass in front of Bourn Hall, passed through the garden of a bungalow, then across an arable field to Fox Road The section through the garden now goes through an adjacent grass field, fenced away from horses.  It will be clearly waymarked.

OS Pathfinder 209 Croydon fp 19   TL 311 492 – 308 486,
The path runs from High St, diagonally SSW across an arable field to a bridge and stile in the opposite corner.  Previously it turned right along a field edge then left by a hedge, to emerge along a short grassy lane to Larkins Road.  The middle section of the path, beyond the arable field has been diverted to run between fences of newly extended gardens.  Note that following RA representations, a condition has been written into the Order that all hedges are to be planted at least 2m away from the footpath to ensure that future growth does not obstruct the path.

Swaffham Prior Fen’s Little Chapel
A place of worship was recorded in Swaffham Prior Fen in the 1830s, but the present building, in the far NW of the parish a mile from Upware, near the River Cam at TL 531687, was built in 1884.

The 1881 census shows that some 130 people lived in Swaffham Prior Fen agricultural community, benefitted by a post-office, shop, and “The Jolly Anglers” inn over the other side of the river.  The chapel was well-supported in the C19th, and well into the C20th, until 1958, when the Methodist Church decided to sell the property. It was bought by Edward Palmer Brand of Ramsey, but regular Sunday services continued until 22 November 1959. The building was conveyed to a group of trustees in 1969, who have cared for it henceforth, as a non-denominational chapel.

Services are held occasionally, but it is best known for the harvest festival  held  at 3 pm on the first Sunday in October. An appeal this year raised £8000 for reslating the roof.

The Saffron Trail
This is a walk of 72 miles, from Southend on Sea to Saffron Walden. Redbridge RA Group has recently revised a booklet by Dave Hitchman, originally published in 2004. It is attractively-produced, with clear sketches and route directions, and I look forward to following it on the ground..  A copy was obtained by post from Roger Young, 16 Windsor Road, Wanstead E11 3QU, cheques to Redbridge Ramblers, for £3.50. It was disappointing that Saffron Walden Tourist Office had not heard of the publication.

A Satisfactory Result
I was recently very pleased to receive a letter from Chris Pagan, a RA volunteer from Ware, Herts.

You may remember that in 2005 you sent me user evidence for part of the Stort towpath near Harlow, which wasn’t recorded on the Definitive Map, and for which I had applied for a modification order, and was appealing against the county council’s decision to refuse to publish one.  Although I hadn’t got enough user-evidence, I had a copy of the promotional leaflet published by British Waterways encouraging people to walk along the Lea & Stort towpaths, and the inspector ruled that the leaflet constituted intention to dedicate a public footpath.  So the modification order was published, and it’s just been confirmed unopposed.

The delay in publishing the order was due to the Definitive Map and OS maps, showing a short length of cul-de-sac footpath apparently along the towpath near Latton Lock.  This had to be investigated first…”

So all’s well that ends well, and congratulations to Chris.

The path, incidently, is part of the West Anglian Way LDP from Cambridge to Cheshunt, copies available for £2.50 from David Elsom, 91 Cambridge Road, Great Shelford, Cambridge, CB 22 5JJ.  Cheques payable to Ramblers’ Association, Cambridge Group, please.

A Reserve with a Bus-Stop
It is not “news” that the RSPB bought Fen Drayton Lakes in 2007, and is keen to attract local people to enjoy the Winter spectacle of thousands of wild birds. Now the Guided Busway is nearing completion, it is time to remind walkers that there will be a “stop” here, especially for the reserve, and, of course, for the extensive  network of paths around the reserve, and to the wider network, to Swavesey, Fen Drayton, Fenstanton, and the Great Ouse Riverside.  And the good news for us wrinklies is that we may use our bus-passes!

Little Chesterford – a new path
I am indebted to Jill Tuffnell for the information that a new, waymarked route through woodlands links Little Chesterford with Little Walden.  I have no information on the status of this route (seemingly on land owned by Chesterford Park), waymarked with yellow arrows and with no observed disclaiming notices.  The following grid references are approximate, as I had failed to carry my GPS when enjoying the bluebell woods last Spring.

Behind the bus stop on the B184 at Little Chesterford, a flight of steps leads up the bank to a gate in the fence, TL 519420.  The path skirts a small fenced enclosure, then goes ENE beside a hedge, parallel to the private road to Chesterford Park.

At TL 527422 it veers NE, passing a small wood, then continues in the same direction up a fenced defile. At TL 529426, it turns E on a farm track, then shortly enters a narrow band of woodland, continuing approx ENE to TL 535427, where the trodden track turns S, still in woodland. At TL 535 424, the route turns E, keeping close to the north edge of woods, to emerge at TL 539 424 on Petts Lane leading to “The Crown” at Little Walden.

We made a pleasant circuit passing Byrds Farm, then visiting Saffron Walden, returning via Catons Lane, and the footpath to Springwell and thus to Little Chesterford.

For notes on walks and points of interest around The Chesterfords, see Cantab Rambler of April 2004.

Stile-free parishes in South Cambs
During the last few years, Cambridgeshire County Council has had a policy to replace stiles with kissing gates, where possible, and funds permitting. The modern gates are generally of a metal type, with a wide “swing” so there is no need to remove rucksacs.

Kate Day, Countryside Access Team leader, is presently compiling a list of “stile-free” parishes in S.Cambs, including:.

Bar Hill;  Bartlow; Childerley;  Croxton;  Eltisley;  Harston;  Hauxton;  Histon;  Ickleton; Impington;  Milton;  Newton; Oakington; Pampisford;  Stapleford; and Teversham.

There are now good numbers of kissing gates in other parishes, but those unable to climb stiles should note there are several instances of a gate into a field, followed by a stile at the other end!  This may be a temporary situation, perhaps because one end of the route is in one parish, and the other end in another parish…

Go & See – Splendid Scarecrows – The Bassingbourn cyclist
Scarecrows are still quite often used in fields of peas, beans, or oilseed crops, as a pleasant relief to passers-by from noisy bird-scarers.  More frequently stuffed figures in old overalls and a flat cap supplement strings of rattling, shiny aluminium foil lids or discarded CDs in allotment gardens and vegetable patches.

The most magnificent scarecrow  we have seen (and apparently on permanent display) is in a private garden fronting the road at North End, Bassingbourn, ca. TL 330449.

A scarecrow in a top hat rides a penny-farthing bicycle!

See this and pleasant countryside on a walk from Bassingbourn, parking alongside the recreation ground off South End.  Walk up past the church, to join a footpath right, giving onto one running N, to turn onto the dead-end road, going W to pass the scarecrow, then to North End.  Continue to Shadbury End, then S and W to try a long, footpath across seven arable fields to Abington Pigotts.  This is a real map-reading challenge, but try it before the fields are too sticky.  In Abington Pigotts, notice the newly painted sign for the “Pig & Abbot” and try its refreshments!  Return past the wonderful gateway at Down Hall Farm and the footpath through the Mill Cottage garden, to reach the road to Littlington.  S along the road, find a path E to The Bury, and thence into Litlington Village.  Make sure you spot The Old Lockup, and find a seat on the village green, by a sign illustrating the former connections with WWII airfields. Walk SSW on a good path to Ashwell Street, and return to Bassingbourn via a permissive path past “The Springs”.  (7 miles)

The route can readily to extended to 10 miles, by continuing from Abington Pigotts along Bogs Gap Lane to Steeple Morden, and returning along Ashwell Street.

Cantab Rambler by E-Mail & Post
Cantab usually appears every two months. A large number of you now receive Cantab by e-mail. By hand, 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 20p 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 52 – Price 10 pence where sold © Janet Moreton, 2009.

CANTAB29 March 2005

CANTAB29 March 2005 published on

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


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

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

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

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

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

Janet Moreton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Further reading

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cantab Rambler by E-Mail & Post:
Cantab usually appears every two months. A large number of you now receive Cantab by e-mail. By hand, 10p is appreciated towards the cost of paper and ink.  If you would like to receive an issue by post, please send a large SAE, and a 10p stamp.

Offers of brief articles will be gratefully received.

This is a privately produced magazine, and the views expressed are solely those of the editor, or of the author of an individual item. Janet Moreton 01223 356889


Issue 29; Price 10 pence where sold

© Janet Moreton, 2005.