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CANTAB61 March 2011

CANTAB61 March 2011 published on

** Please note that this is an archive of the CANTAB publication and contains out-of-date information **


Editorial This month we have a delightful reminiscent article by John Capes on rambling abroad as it was nearly 60 years ago.

Otherwise, my recent excursions in Whaddon, investigating a proposal to divert a footpath, and planning a led walk for Cambridge Group’s Summer programme, led to Whaddon’s promotion as “Parish of the Month”. I hope the article provides the walker with some added interest in this low-lying piece of South Cambridgeshire.

Parish of the Month – Whaddon

Whaddon was originally settled by Danes.

The subsequent medieval village was based on two E-W routes, one past the church and Hoback Farm, crossing the R Rhee at Malton en route to Barrington. The southern one passed Manor Farm (now the golf course), and made for Meldreth. These tracks joined at Whaddon Gap, where they crossed Ermine Street.

The northern boundary of the parish is formed by the R.Rhee, with the lands to the south almost flat, between 20 & 25m. To the SE, the boundary is the Hoback Stream, which provides water for some moats, and to the East is Roman Ermine Street, the Old North Road. The parish lands were enclosured by an award of 1841.

Archaelogical digs in the centre of the parish in 1995 discovered several square pits, ditches, and signs of a hearth, with dating evidence suggesting the Iron Age. Previously, a Neolithic axe had been found near the R Rhee, and some prehistoric flints in ground to north of the present settlement. Roman and Anglo-Saxon traces have been found on the borders of the parish at Wimpole and Arrington (see Cantab 59, Nov 2010).

The population in 1088 was recorded as 43. By 1377 there were 170 tax-payers. In 1871, the census gave 384 residents, some engaged in coprolite digging. In 1996, the population was 540, augmented by troops & families from Bassingbourn barracks.

Points of interest

St Mary’s church (TL 349466) dates from ca. 1300, having a Perpendicular tower and north doorway. It is reputed to contain interesting C15th carving to the chancel screen and roof bosses, but sadly is kept locked. A rectory was recorded in 1359, lying within a rectangular moat, of which the south part is still shown on the OS sheet. The present house retains a late medieval structure, and may be studied discreetly from the pleasant churchyard. Fp 6 leads from the churchyard, across the large recreation ground to the village hall.

Sites of Old Manors The site of the former moated manor at ca. TL 352 465, given to Ely in 970, is now under the golf course. The south arm of the moat is 8m wide and still filled with water. This estate passed to Hardwin de Scalers after 1066, then sequentially to the families Tempest, Harleys of Wimpole, then the Pickerings, but was finally demolished in the C19th. The site was ploughed out, but in recent years has been grassed over by the golf course, which is crossed by Fp7. The welcoming golf club-house is also a café, shop and post office.

Several erstwhile moated sites in the village have been filled in and ploughed. However, Turpine’s Manor, a pre-conquest estate stood at Town Farm on Church Street, where a dammed part of the stream survives. Hoback Farm (called Holebec in 1224) TL 358 470, still has a rectangular wet moat, but is unfortunately too far from Fp 4 to be seen.

Whaddon Great Green is a large wedge-shaped area of common land, running from the corner of Bridge Street to the Meldreth Road, and traversed by Fp8.

Dyers Green was always a separate hamlet. Its dead-end road, Bridge Street, at TL 350454 gives onto a junction of paths. Fp9 leads through Fountains Farm (legally, at present actually through the 1960ish farmhouse) towards Whaddon Green. Fp12, leads via Fp 11 to Ermine Street. Bassingbourn Byway 22 leads south to Chestnut Lane, as does Whaddon Fp13, via Bassingbourn 21, meeting the road near Kneesworth.

The fountain on Bridge Street From early 1800s to the 1950s, the attractive fountain was the only source of drinking water for the locality. It was bought by the village in 2000, and the fountain was repaired and the adjacent railed area planted with wild flowers. The project is dedicated to the memory of Fred Bradley, the Parish Chairman 1992-6.

Eternit Works – artificial stone Co. This was originally the Atlas Stone Co., and has an attractive 1930s brick frontage with stone reliefs, one depicting Atlas, TL 364446. It is actually outside Whaddon parish in Meldreth, and Meldreth Fp 2 sets off east outside its carpark.

Nursery in a former Methodist Chapel. On the corner of the road at Whaddon Green, TL 353 467, two paths turn off. Fp4, going north, makes for the historic crossing of the R Rhee at Kings Bridge. Fp5 wanders behind hedges and property boundaries, rejoining the road to Meldreth further on. The chapel here, with a small elderly congregation, closed ca 2000, but was soon re-occupied by tiny tots.

Walks from Whaddon (Use Explorer 209)
It is possible to use the village hall car park, if there is no function underway. Otherwise, park considerately round the village, or at parking provided at the start of the permissive paths, which are present as grass tracks round the edges of fields on the arable land between Whaddon and Ermine Street.

Inner village loop walks Start with the village hall behind you, and turn left along Chapel Street, passing Town Farmhouse and the village sign on a small triangular green. Turn left towards Dyers Green, passing the old fountain in a railed enclosure. Where the road ends, turn left on Fp9 down the drive of Fountains Farm. Following the path through the yard, and forward on a grassy field edge by a ditch. Emerge at the end of Fp8 on Great Green. Fp10 is a tiny spur leading out onto Meldreth Road. Turn left along the road, and take Fp5 signed off left at Whaddon Green. Follow this path past a cottage, over a footbridge, and later, over another small bridge to turn left, and return to Meldreth Road between the Nursery and an engineering works. Follow the road west to the church. Take Fp6 through the churchyard into the recreation ground, and back to the village hall.

Set off as before left along the road, soon turning into the entrance to the golf course. Fp7 passes near the club house (PO, café), and goes WSW by a line of trees, then finds a bridge over a stream into Great Green. Turn back to the road junction by the village sign on Fp8. Go a short way along the road to Whaddon Gap, soon turning SSW on Fp11. This can be followed to Ermine Street, but for the present circuit, half-way along, turn off E on Fp 12 to Dyers Green. A short walk N along the road returns one to the village hall. The above walk of little more than 3 miles takes in the “core” of Whaddon.

Longer walks are possible, with outline suggestions as follows.

To Wimpole and Orwell, 8 miles From the village hall, cross the rec (Fp6) to the churchyard, turn left past the church, and take Whaddon Fp3 going NW from the road junction. Follow continuing paths in Wimpole parish up the Avenue, crossing the A603 with care. Visit Wimpole Park (all facilities). Emerge down the entrance drive, and take the permissive path down Victoria Drive opposite, leading back to the A603 opposite the turning to Orwell Village. Walk to Orwell Church.

Take the road opposite past the Chequers PH, shop, and school, and where the tarmac road turns (Hurdleditch Road), continue on Orwell Fp10, first SW, then SE and S across Malton Golf Course. The route crosses the historically-sited Kings Bridge over the R Cam, and returns us to Whaddon on Fp4, emerging near the nursery. Use Fp8 along Great Green to return to the centre of Whaddon.

The walk may be extended to 11 miles by taking in the Cobbs Wood Farm and The Mare Way after visiting Wimpole.

(c) Circuit via Melbourn, 9 miles From the Village Hall, go to Dyers Green, and use Fp9 to reach the Meldreth Road. Walk towards Eternit Works, and immediately beyond, turn left on Meldreth Fp 2, signed to Meldreth village. Opposite Meldreth Church, take the path signed past the watermill, and follow the very beautiful route by the R Mel, over the railway, and under the bypass to continue near the river into Melbourn recreation ground. Emerge between retirement bungalows into the centre of Melbourn. Walk SW through the village, cross the bypass, and find the start of Ashwell Street. Turn off N before reaching Ermine Street, using a signed path skirting both a wood and Kneesworth Hospital, to emerge through a farmyard onto Chestnut Lane. Turn left with care on the road into Kneesworth, then shortly right on a signed path going N. This passes a new reservoir, and goes behind garden boundaries, becoming Whaddon Fp13, leading to Dyers Green.

Abroad in the Fifties
In the November Cantab, we discussed the problems of walking alone in a foreign country, without having much of the local language. Here, John Capes has kindly taken time to share with us his experiences of walking alone in Switzerland more than 50 years ago.

“I first went abroad in December 1949 in army uniform at the taxpayers’ expense as part of my 18 months National Service. Final destination was Dortmund in the Ruhr Valley of Germany, and there I spent the next nine months. During that time I did not learn much German: we were not supposed to fraternise with the locals, and those Germans working in the barracks knew sufficient English to get by, but I picked up a few words.

My next foray to foreign parts was in 1957 when I joined a Youth Hostel Association party on a walking tour of Luxembourg, the Mosel Valley and the Rhineland. Again there was no real need for much German, within the party we didn’t need to use it and contact with the local population was left mainly to the lady leader who had a good working knowledge of the language.

In 1959 I decided to go it alone. Although I was a member of the RA I decided not to go with a Ramblers Holidays party but booked with the Swiss Travel Service for a fortnight in the Bernese Oberland, staying at a hotel in a small village just south of Interlaken. This part of Switzerland is German speaking. In those days travel was mainly by boat and train – who remembers couchettes?.

I have a copy of ‘Teach Yourself German’ price 6s (30p), which in the front says ‘New Impression 1957’, but I am not convinced I bought it then, but think I got it for the 1959 trip. Also to help with the language I bought from Swiss Travel a small booklet called ‘Sprechen Sie Deutsch?’ for 3s 6d (17½p), which contains useful words and phrases and their pronunciation, which I still have. I don’t remember learning much from either of these before I went; I think I just hoped everything would be alright!

For navigation purposes I bought two 1:50,000 scale maps – Interlaken and Jungfrau – priced at 6s 3d (31p) each, labelled in German – Landeskarte der Schweiz; and in French – Carte nationale de la Suisse; which I think means they are the equivalent of our Ordnance Survey (OS) maps. These I still have. Swiss maps of that era (they may still be) were relief shaded, that is they have darker shading on one side of a ridge and lighter on the other. As the Bernese Oberland is rather mountainous there are also numerous contours. Paths and tracks are marked, but not as prominently as on OS maps, black dotted lines were used which tend to merge into the background. For that terrain larger scale maps would have been better.

So the vital question – how did I get on? The answer – very well. The lack of language was not really relevant. My few words enabled me to ask for things, I knew the numbers and I could always say ‘Ich bin Englander’ to explain my lack of understanding. The understanding of English by the locals was variable; in the hotel and shops it was reasonably good, but out in the countryside virtually non-existent.

Being at the junction of the Lauterbrunnen and Grindelwald Valleys, with mountain railways in both directions and also down to Interlaken the village was in an excellent position for walking and I was spoilt for choice of routes. Any disadvantage with the maps was countered by the excellent condition of the paths and tracks. They were so well used and signed it would have been difficult to go wrong.

I walked up the Lauterbrunnen Valley, up the zigzag path to Murren, then by funicular railway down to Lauterbrunnen and train back. I took the train to Grindelwald, up the chairlift to First, walked the ten miles along a ridge path to Schynige Platte, down a rack railway and back up the valley by train. I went by train to Kleine Scheidegg (at the foot of the Jungfrau) and walked back to Wengen, and then train back. I walked to Grindelwald and went to look at the glacier above the town, and came back by train. I did a cruise on Lake Brienz; I went on a coach tour over three mountain passes that included going into an ice cave carved into the Rhone Glacier. The biggest excursion was on the Jungfrau Railway; this is carved up through the Monch mountain to the highest station in Europe on the Jungfraujoch at 11,333 feet, I walked out onto the Jungfrau Glacier, and on a very clear day had a marvellous view to the north extending for about 400 miles. My memory is of an excellent fortnight – some light rain on one day, otherwise mainly sunny and warm.”

John Capes, Jan. 2011

Two new routes in Little Shelford The Whittlesford verge & Clay Pits paths will be opened on Sunday 27 March, starting at the Navigator, Little Shelford, 2pm. All are welcome. Information from Peter Dene., or see the village website:

Shepreth Footpath 11 renovation
This is the charming path which starts beside the R. Shep, from the minor road near the RSPB reserve at TL 402 460. A signed handgate gives access to a narrow way beside the clear chalk stream overhung by willows. Later the path continues on a wide grassy ride by the river, and turns left onto a farm-track at TL 399 465. This leads to the old (bypassed) A10 almost opposite the Green Man pub. Here, on 9 Jan, we found a small County Council map and notice, advising of repair work along the path, between 20 Sept 2010 and 19 Mar 2011. The path would be closed while reconstruction was underway. Some pruning had already occurred.

Finches Walk, Cambridge City 42 , on Empty Common A sign announced that the central section between the allotments and Bentley Road, would be closed from 17 January for 42 days for tree works.

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 an A5 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


Price 20 pence where sold Cantab 61 © Janet Moreton, 2011