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CANTAB85 – June 2016

CANTAB85 – June 2016 published on

** Please note that this is an archive of the CANTAB publication and contains out-of-date information **


Focus on Royston, Herts
Royston’s adjacent common, Therfield Heath, is a wonderful open space, with free parking, or easy access from Royston Station. The Heath gives immediate access to the hills beyond, higher than anything in Cambs! Before you go tramping off on these hills to Therfield, Sandon, Kelshall, Barley, Barkway and places beyond, pause to appreciate the riches of Royston.

Around Easter, the nature reserve at the east end of the Heath is well-known for its display of the Pasque flower, the Anemone pulsatilla, together with cowslips and violets, on an isolated spur of bare hillside. White heleborines may be seen in the adjacent woods in May.

Later in the Summer, the main part of the heath is a treasure trove of wild flowers, especially at the west end, in the little dry valleys.

Alfred Kingston wrote a monograph, “The Heath and its Wild Flowers” published originally in 1904, but reprinted by Warren Bros. and Cooke Ltd in 1961. By 1904, the Royston Golf Club had already been formed using part of the Heath in 1892, and had erected “a handsome and commodious club house on the corner nearest the town”, and a public pavilion, near the cricket ground opened by public subscription in 1895. *[See also Cantab 17 – Royston 1900: A year in the life of a small town.]

Kingston lists the flowers which could be seen between June and August, an impressive list, now sadly reduced, so that, for example, I do not think we would now find two of the orchids he quotes – Gymnadenia conopsea (fragrant orchid) or Orchis ustulata (burnt orchid), but Ophris apifera (bee orchids) pop up occasionally in all sorts of places.

Nor has the ground-nesting stone curlew survived the invasion of hundreds of walkers, golfers, kitefliers and dog enthusiasts, but instead we have a fair chance of seeing feathered red kites!

From Kingston’s list of 1904, and with some modern additions, I produce here a restricted list which Roger and I identified on the Heath last Summer, and which might act as an aid to identification, in conjunction with a field guide.

Agrimony (yellow)
Birds-foot trefoil (yellow, touch of red)
Bladder campion (white)
Burnet saxifrage (brown & white)
Candy-tuft (white)
Cathartic flax (white)
Centuary (pink)
Clustered bellflower (deep blue)
Dropwort (white, pale pink)
Forgetmenot (blue)
Greater celandine (yellow)
Ground thistle (purple)
Germander speedwell (bright blue)
Hairbell (pale blue)
Mouse-ear hawkweed (lemon yellow)
Heath spotted orchid (spotted leaves)
Horse-shoe vetch (yellow)
Jack by the hedge (white)
Kidney vetch (yellow)
Ladies bedstraw (yellow)
Milkwort (blue or mauve, purple)
Meadow rue (pale yellow)
Mignonette (cream)
Musk thistle (purple, nodding)
Rock rose (yellow)
Rose madder (pink, very small)
Silver weed (yellow, silver leaves)
Small scabious (lilac)
Squinancywort (mauve or white)
Tall broomrape (brown)
Toadflax (yellow & orange)
Viper’s bugloss (blue & pink)
Welted thistle (purple)
Wild thyme (light purple)
White and red campions
Yellow-wort (yellow!)

Later in the Summer flower:
Autumn Fellwort (purple)
Carline thistle
Meadow Sweet
Rosebay willow herb
Wild chicory

Ramblers sometimes say to us, “How do you know what flowers to expect here?” Perhaps this will help! This is not a comprehensive list and we have not included the common “weeds” of the daisy, dandelion variety. See if you can do better!

Visible Prehistory
As well as being a valuable wildlife haven, the Heath is an important prehistoric site. The oldest feature is a Neolithic long barrow, 6000 years old. Looking north from the long barrow, one can see the route of the Icknield Way, an ancient trade route from the Norfolk coast to SW England. The Heath’s high ground also attracted Bronze Age burials, here as One Hill, Two Hills and Five Hills. The features known as Mile Ditches (parallel to the Therfield Road) are Iron Age, and were probably territorial boundaries.

If the weather turns wet, Royston has inner resources.

The Royston Cave, a bell-shaped chamber cut into the subterranean chalk is unique in Britain. It contains numbers of carvings and symbols, whose origins are uncertain, although it has been claimed to have been associated with the Knights Templar, before their dissolution in 1312. The cave is located in Katherine’s Yard off Melbourn St, near the cross roads in the middle of the town.

The cave is open to visitors by guided tour, 2.30-5pm, Sat, Sun, Bank Holidays between 26 March and 25 Sept, and also Wed in August. Adults £5, Seniors £4.

Royston Museum
The original museum in the town hall, was opened in 1856, but was re-established in 1984 in the Old Congregational Church School, off Lower King Street. There are extensive local archives, pictures, archaeological finds, interpretations of Royston Cave, The Royston tapestry, and much else.

The museum is open all year, 10 – 4.45 pm, Wed, Thu and Sat, and also 2 – 4.45 Sun, Easter – 30 Sept. Admission gratis. Donations appreciated.

The parish church is set in attractive municipal gardens in the town. It is part of the old Norman priory, with a Victorian chancel.

Long Distance Paths
Royston is, of course, a hub of Long Distance Paths.

The Icknield Way Path is a 110mile trail, linking the Ridgeway Path to the Peddars Way. Together these routes take strands of the ancient Icknield Way trade route which crossed England from Norfolk to Dorset. Royston lies squarely on the route of this popular path. We have the 5th edition of the walkers’ guide, obtainable from the Icknield Way Association. See:

The next long distance path is an unusual one. The Hertfordshire Chain Walk consists of 15 linked circular walks through rural East Hertfordshire, and published for the East Herts Footpath Society . The edition we have was published by Castlemead publications, Ware. The route passes through Therfield, narrowly skirting Royston!

The Hertfordshire Way is a magnificent 166 mile route, covering, as the name suggests, most of the County. This was very much a Royston walkers’ initiative, with the first section or “leg” going from Royston to Wallington. The guidebook, edited by Bert Richardson of RA Royston Group, is published for the Friends of the Hertfordshire Way by Castlemead publications. See:
Janet & Roger Moreton

Mill Road Cemetery, Cambridge
Nick Ballard writes in praise of our city cemetery in the RSPB magazine. Mill Road is “a closed cemetery, with no burials since 1955. Over eight acres harbour a surprising variety of animals and plants. My species list includes more than 110 plants and grasses (excluding trees and shrubs); 42 birds; at least 9 mammals including two species of bat, weasel and dormouse; 23 species of butterfly and plenty of lichens and other diptera. The Diocese of Ely must be praised for their management, along with the Friends Group which promotes the value of the site.”

The main entrance is off Mill Road, opposite the “Sally Ann” charity shop, and using all the paths, it is possible to make a walk of nearly a mile. Alternatively, one can make a short cut to Gwydir Street or Norfolk Street.

Essex Coast Path
The entire length of the Essex Coast Path has been opened, making the longest coastal walk in an English County, including large numbers of creeks and estuaries.

Essex RA are justly proud of their new path, and announced the imminent official opening in the September edition of the Essex Area Update. Peter Caton has written a book, “Essex Coast Walk”, available on Amazon. Maps and photos illustrate the text with details of ports, towns and villages along the route, nature reserves and points of interest, as well as the history of the coast.

Watching our words! A Footpath:
What do we mean by a Footpath?
In Britain, a footpath –
is a path for people to walk along,
is a walkers’ path, especially in the countryside,
is a narrow path for walkers only,
is a path for pedestrians alongside a road,
is a pavement,
is a term in geology meaning a horizontal expanse of bare rock or cemented pieces.

When using the term “footpath”, perhaps we should watch our step!

Try “Footway” for a made-up path alongside a road. “Public Footpath” or “Public Right of Way” (PROW) for a countryside path. However, “PROW” does not define the usage of the way – it needs to be qualified as a footpath, bridleway, byway, cycleway, road or whatever. And a road may be private, and yet have public footpath rights.

The term “pavement” is also fraught with difficulty. A pavement is a surface that is paved over. Pavements are part of the Highway. When they run alongside a county road, they do not have any separate legal existence.

A highway engineer regards the term “pavement” as referring to the whole paved area, so the footway alongside may or may not be classed as pavement depending on whether it is surfaced.

Finally, use “Sidewalk” for a footway if you go to the USA!

Letter to the Editor, County Summits. (See Cantab 84)
“Hello Janet & Roger.
Back in 2001 there was an article in the Cambridge Evening News about the highest village in the county, which they gave as Great and Little Chishill equal at 475ft. This provoked several items of correspondence and I wrote saying Great Chishill was highest, but didn’t know exactly where, but thought it was off any road. I then consulted OS who eventually came back with the very accurate grid reference of TL 42738 38546 and a map with a nice star in the middle of a road. This turned out to be Hall Lane Great Chishill.

Just a few months later I obtained the book ECHOES which was published in 2000 and describes walks to all of the county summits in the country. In that book several of the local summits are different from those you have quoted from Paddy Dillon’s book.. In the acknowledgements the author thanks the OS for their support of the project, so presumably they supplied heights and references. It seems to me that over the years OS have revised heights as they are able to use more sophisticated methods of surveying.”
John & Tessa Capes, 23 Feb. 2016

Hoffer Brook project
South Cambs District magazine describes improvements made to the Hoffer Brook between Foxton and Newton, where it runs beside a public footpath. Fallen trees have been cleared, and tree thinning and scrub clearance will let in more light. The water quality is good, and a fish survey is being mounted. It is hoped the brook will in future be less prone to flooding.
The first phase of the work on the brook was funded through the Cam and Ely Ouse Catchment Partnership, and a band of volunteers teamed up with the Wildlife Trust. The local landowners, Richard Barnes of Foxton and David Watson of Thriplow Farms helped with machinery and access for the works.

Cantab Rambler by E-Mail & Post
Cantab usually appears some 4 times per annum.. 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
Cantab85 © Janet Moreton, 2016.

CANTAB59 November 2010

CANTAB59 November 2010 published on

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


Have you ever booked a holiday, well in advance, with a walking company, only to learn, a few days before you were due to make the final payment, that the trip had been cancelled?  Doubtless the company offered alternative venues, but no “second choice” ever seems so desirable. Looking through the brochures, it is my view that too many departure dates (sometimes 8 or 10, but frequently more than 4) are offered for each location.  It is almost as though the company does not expect to fill all these dates, and expects to shuffle customers around. But by that time, the hapless traveller has booked dental appointments and house painting around the calendar.

One solution is to arrange one’s own walking holidays, which we do invariably  in the UK. Only once in 40 years has a hotel or guest house let us down (and that due to illness, when an alternative was promptly arranged).  We have also been to France, Austria, Germany, etc under our own steam, but only because one of us has school French and a moderate amount of German, and it is known that excellent walking Germanic maps are obtainable. Elsewhere, I would be more cautious.

Spanish walking maps (particularly the military series) seem unreliable, and one would hesitate to wander in the hills without a word of the language. Away from the “Grands Randonnées” the French countryside’s signposting and waymarking seems distinctly ideosyncratic in places.

Have others been more venturesome, setting out into the wilds without a word of the language, and with maps which hardly measure up to our immaculate Ordnance Survey?

Janet Moreton

Therfield Heath in Royston
If you have visited Royston recently, you will have observed that the tennis courts on The Heath are being considerably enlarged. It seems the Conservators of Therfield Heath, on behalf of Royston Tennis Club, sought consent for the changes under The Commons Act 2006, section 38.

The Open Spaces Society objected because the proposals included floodlighting, and would “suburbanise the area and destroy the peace and tranquility of the common”, and conflicted with the spirit and letter of the award of 1912 by which the common is regulated.  This award allowed for the playing of games, but presumably less formal than the enclosures needed for tennis.  There is a right for public access over the whole of The Heath, under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000.

The inspector agreed that the works interfered with public access, but noted that the new courts replaced some that had been there 40 years.  She considered “there will be some effect on the public interest in relation to visual intrusion” but concluded that consent should be given.

(Reported in “Open Space”,
Autumn 2010, Vol.29, No.9 pp13-14)

Essex RA Area Secretary speaks on The Olympics in Greater London
Len Banister, the Ramblers Essex Area Hon. Sec., author of guides on walking routes, and member of The Ramblers Greater London Forum, gave a BBC interview last month, in a contribution to BBC London’s “2012 Lives” project.  Len was one of a number of people relating how their lives are being affected by the Olympic developments.

Len lives in Waltham Forest, and walks regularly around areas being redeveloped for the 2012 games.  At first he was very concerned when paths around the site began to be shut, but he does appreciate that safety is important while works are carried out.   The Olympic park will add some 15km of walking routes, including paths beside 5km of restored rivers that have been hidden for many years. Some 250 benches and 3300 seats will ensure that users will never be more than 50m from a seat in the park.  Len hoped that the result will not look too “clinical”. “We could lose some of the character of the footpaths we’ve had in the past, so I would ask planners to be very careful not to over-sanitize our walking areas in the future”.

Pub News

The Old Ferry Boat Inn, Holywell
Some readers may have seen the report in the Cambridge Evening News of 14 Oct. that Greene King, owners of The Old Ferry Boat Inn, Holywell were ordered to pay £10 000 in fines & costs by Huntingdon magistrates.  A council inspector had found dirty conditions in the kitchens and rubbish in the yard, after a customer complaint. Since the conviction, the manager had been disciplined, and £30 000 was spent on improving the kitchen.

The Red Cow, Chrishall
This Essex pub, on the route of The Icknield Way Path, is serving coffee & Danish pastries every Friday morning from 9 am – just the job for a morning break!

Parish of the Month – Arrington
OS Explorer Sheets 208, 209

Historical Notes
Arrington parish covers 550 ha, its clay soils at 25m above sea level in the south, rising to a chalk escarpment at 80m in the north, bounded by the R Rhee to the south and Ermine St (“The Old North Road”, A1198) to the east.

The land has been occupied for a long time. Some prehistoric worked flints were found near the church. In the north of the parish, a Roman burial was unearthed when a trench was dug for a water-pipe near Ermine Street. A baby with hydrocephalus was exhumed, wrapped in the remains of a pink & blue woollen shawl in a lead-lined coffin, containing replica toys and animals. One’s sympathies for the mother go back nearly 2000y.  Just south in Wimpole there was a Roman posting station for travellers, and it is thought that this elaborate burial was non-indigenous.

The village grew along the spring line by the church at the base of the escarpment, with hollow-ways and irregular earthworks indicating the original site. In Domesday the parish  is called Aerningtun, meaning  “the farm of Earninga’s people” (c.f. Ermine Street).  The village shifted later closer Ermine Street, when the Roman Rd once again became important after 1200.  The parish church dates from the C13 – 14th.

The parish was enclosed in the C13th and again ca. 1680 when the Crichleys enclosed the village into the Wimpole Estate in which it remained until the latter was broken up between 1891 and 1934.

Arrington bridge is the crossing place of Ermine Street and the R Rhee, well south of the village at TL 334 485. While the modern bridge was under construction, a gravel ford was revealed, in which were found Roman pottery, a knife, a spear, ox-goad and Roman horse-shoes.  The ford was the moot or meeting place of the Armingford Hundred in Saxon & Medieval times, although the first mention of a bridge is ca. 1285.  In 1663, the road from Ware to Huntingdon was the first in Britain to be made a turnpike and a new bridge was built at Arrington.  The C18th milestones record distances to London, Royston & Caxton.

The Domesday population was only 17, but there were 41 households by 1279.  There were only 20 families in the late c17th, and only 190 in the census of 1801. By 1996 the parish housed 370 people.

This has always been an agricultural parish, with passing trade along Ermine Street.  In the C18th, the Hardwicke Arms had a reputation as one of the best inns on Ermine Street!  Go and test its reputation after a good walk!

The path network
There are only 7 public paths. Footpaths 1, 4 and 6 all cross the same pasture field between Ermine Street & Church Lane, a continuation of Fp4 carrying the Clopton Way Path to join Croydon Fp7.  Fp3 is part of the Wimpole drive and, like Fp 2, carries part of the Harcamlow Way.  Fp2 leaves Ermine Street to the E just S of Wimpole Park. Bp5 leaves Ermine Street to the W to join up with a good network of paths in Croydon and Hatley.  And the unfortunate Footpath 7 is a dead-end, which your map will show ends two fields short of Croydon 23.

In more detail…
The paths in the pasture field

Fp1 leaves the Old North Road, A1198 between Wrags Farm and house no 57 (TL 327506), following a short track to a kissing gate, then SSW on a worn track in rough pasture to Church End, where it emerges along a fenced concrete footway between houses 12 & 14 (TL 326505), opposite the start of Fp4..

Fp4 signed “Clopton Way” leaves the closed end of Church End, at TL 326505 up 4 steps to a kissing-gate that leads W across open pasture to a kissing-gate in the hedge at TL 324505.  Beyond, the well-used path continues as a field-edge  with a tall hedge to right, passing the signed turn-off of Fp7 on the right at TL 322504. Behind the hedge are the buildings of a farm complex curiously like a fortress!  The path continues on a good track beside a ditch, ignoring turnings to the farm entrance, and a track at TL 316501 marked “private – no right of way”. The path crosses a wooden bridge to continue along the Clopton Way as Croydon fp 7.

Fp6 leaves Fp4 at TL 324505 to run NNE  down the pasture field to a stream, then through a metal kissing gate at TL 325506, and over a wet hollow on duck-boarding The route continues ENE as a narrow worn track through rough pasture, with hedge, fence & ditch to left, to join Fp 1 at TL 327506, by a wooden kissing-gate, near the rear of houses on the A1198.

Part of The Harcamlow Way
This LDP comes along the Wimpole Drive from the Hall as Wimpole Fp 5, along the tarmac driveway, becoming Arrington Fp 3, and emerging through the narrowest of the ornate gates onto Ermine Street.

Here, Harcamlow Way walkers turn left along the footway, passing the Hardwicke Arms (or not!), and where the hedge ends, joining Fp 2.
Fp2 goes through a signed gap in the roadside hedge at TL 329500, It goes ESE across an arable field. At TL 330499, the path reaches a hedge by a waymark post, passes through a gap and over a ditch on a culvert bridge to turn right and continue as Wimpole Fp 6

The only bridleway
Bp5 leaves the A1198 at TL 322522, signed “Public Bridleway Hatley 2½”.The path goes  W on 2m wide grass track with woodland edge to right .  When the wood ends the track continues with a ditch to left, eventually rounding a field corner to TL 309517, to a wooden bridge and the continuing Croydon Bp3. However, the true line of the RoW cuts the corner, sometimes indicated by waymarks and cross-field reinstatement.

The unfortunate dead-end
Fp7 leaves Fp 4 at TL 322504, a wooden sign,”Public Footpath Dead End ¾”.  This well-waymarked interesting path starts through a damp copse on duck boarding.  It emerges into a mown grass paddock, passes a new pond on left and continues NW along the field margin, with tall hedge to right then along a field edge up a hilly field for 700m, with open arable to left, & ditch & hedge to right.  In the top corner, TL 317510, a waymark post signals a left turn, to follow the field-edge SW for 205m, with a belt of trees to right.  The field-edge ahead at TL 315508 is signed “Private keep out” and a waymark post indicates that the path now turns right over a hidden culvert  to run for 25m through the strip of woodland, then over a ditch by a waymarked, timber plank bridge  The RoW then proceeds NW along a field edge with hedge to right, for 35m to another waymark on the first of a line of trees.  After 65m the line of trees ends and the path runs along the division between two fields, as a grass baulk.  After 205m, a 1.5m high notice signals “End of footpath – no public right of way“.  Ahead is a ploughed field, and two unbridged ditches interrupt  the obvious continuation towards the dead-end Croydon Fp 23;  to right a good grass track runs NE towards the buildings of Low Barn Farm & Mill Lane.

Efforts continue to seek a solution to this longstanding problem

Some Possible Walks from Arrington
Firstly, it is not easy to park in Arrington itself, and the carpark at Wimpole is suggested. Any walks therefore start off down the Wimpole driveway, emerging through the gates onto Ermine Street.

(a) A short circuit through the pastures.
From Wimpole gates, cross the road, and go up the minor road opposite. Just behind the ‘bus shelter, is a charming public garden, with a few seats.Continue along the road to visit the church, & village sign, which stand on a mound at the entrance to Church Lane. Go up Church Lane, and turn left up some steps onto fp 4 in the pasture. Continue ahead to leave the pasture by a kissing gate, and go SSW along the Clopton Way, still part of Fp4. Turn off on the dead-end Fp7.  The end of the path has a small grassy flat area where one could picnic. Return on Fp7, and back to the pasture, which cross on Fp6, emerging on Ermine Street. Pass some attractive almshouses in returning to Wimpole gates.   (4 miles inc.Wimpole Drive both ways)

(b)Kingston Pastures Farm, and Manor Farm, Croydon
Park in Wimpole, leave the drive ENE up the minor road, turning left to pass Kingston Pastures Farm, (or use The Belts path to reach the same point).  Follow the minor road W to Ermine Street at Round House. Turn S on the verge of Ermine Street & cross to join Arrington Bp 5. Follow its continuation (Croydon Bp3) then turn SSE at TL 303513 to join the concrete track, Croydon Bp6 to Manor Farm.  Beyond the farm buildings follow well-waymarked Croydon Fp7, then Arrington Fp 4 back to the pasture field. Emerge in Church Lane, then immediately turn left into the passage, back into the pasture to use Fp1 back to Ermine Street & Wimpole Gates. (8 miles)

(c) A Short circuit S of Wimpole Park.
Leave Wimpole gates, and turn left down Ermine Street. Beyond the last house on the left, turn off on Fp 2 (which soon becomes Wimpole Fp 6).  This is initially a cross-field path, and some people, finding it well-nigh impassable in Winter, use the field edge is a non-legal escape route. After 2 fields, cross into Wimpole Avenue, and join the estate paths, one of which leads straight back (due N) to the House. (2.5miles)

Alternatively go S on the Avenue to cross the A603 near the “Lazy Dayz” transport café. Continue S then SE on paths to Whaddon, from whence a substantial circuit can be made back to Wimpole via Orwell. (ca. 10 miles)

(d)The Clopton Way
The Wimpole Drive and Arrington Fp4 form the start of the 12 mile long Clopton Way, which passes through Croydon, the deserted village of Clopton, Tadlow, and ends at a carpark at Gamlingay Cinques.  (Marked on OS sheets, leaflet ex Cambs CC)

(e)The Harcamlow Way
Arrington Fps 3 & 2 form a tiny part of the Harcamlow Way, which is a 140 mile long figure-of-eight footpath, centred on Newport, and with extreme points at Cambridge and Harlow. The route was devised 20 years ago. (Marked on OS sheets, and the guidebook may still be available via Essex CC)

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 an A5 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


Price 20 pence where sold Cantab 59 © Janet Moreton, 2010