February 2022 walks

Keeping up momentum in our walking project. As the month starts, Covid numbers are falling but still high and the recent slightly stricter restrictions have been eased – hopefully not prematurely. It seems like a good idea to be out in the fresh air (albeit with the occasional visit to socially-distanced pubs!).

4 Feb – Chesterton – Chisholm Trail – City – river loop

6.7 miles. Water Lane Chesterton to Mill Rd via Chisholm Trail and backstreets. Through the city to the backs, following the river all the way back to the start.

We woke up to the sound of heavy rain, so nudged our usual morning walk a little later and chose a route with a natural lunch break. After the rain had stopped, we headed to Chesterton to follow a route quite similar to one that we took in December 2020, and also when we walked from Fen Ditton a year ago. The main difference attracting us to this variant was the opening of the new Chisholm Trail, which includes a new foot and cycle bridge across the Cam, alongside the railway, and creates a new green walking and cycleway between Cambridge’s current two rail stations.

New footbridge and cycleway over the Cam on the Chisholm Trail.

It made for quite a pleasant walk from our starting point on the river through to Coldham’s Lane. After a less attractive cut through the car park of the Beehive shopping centre, we threaded through the old terraced streets of the Mill Rd area to Parker’s Piece in central Cambridge. Here it was time for a nice lunch stop at the Clarendon Arms, before heading through the city, and along the backs for some classic Cambridge college views.

Dropping back along Bridge Street to pick up a takeaway coffee at Fitzbillies, we then followed the riverside path all the way back to Chesterton. Compared to most of our country walks, this was a more leisurely stroll into and around the city, with refreshment breaks, but a very agreeable way to rack up a few miles.

11 Feb – Fulbourn – The Wilbrahams

6.3 miles. Following a route as published by ‘One Man and His Dog’ here on the Great Shelford village website. From Stonebridge Lane, Fulbourn, following the public footpath to Great Wilbraham, walking through Great & Little Wilbraham, returning via Hawk Mill Farm.

A beautiful late winter’s morning and a really good country walk on paths that are generally in pretty good condition. Some of the walk is on country lanes, but only a few hundred yards requires you to take to the verges – the sections through the villages have good footpaths. The route loops from the edge of Fulbourn out to and through the quiet villages of Great and Little Wilbraham, both looking at their best in the sunshine. We looked in at the well-kept former Templar church of St Nicholas in Great Wilbraham and stopped for a coffee outside St John’s in Little Wilbraham, although it was closed due to building work. We eyed up the Hole-in-the-Wall pub, before swinging off the road again onto the very well-kept and signposted paths across Hawk Mill Farm. The bulk of the Fulbourn Mill loomed into view – apparently, it’s a centre for packaging and milling rice – before we completed the walk through Fulbourn Nature Reserve, where the first signs of spring were evident in a carpet of snowdrops. Regaining the car, we headed back to the Hole-in-the-Wall for lunch.

25 Feb – Histon – Girton – A14 loop

6 miles. Footpath from Somerset Rd, Histon to Girton. Through Girton via High Street. Cross A14. Via Thornton Road & Thornton Way, pick up footpath to Cambridge Rd. Re-cross A14 and walk through Histon village via Station Rd, Saffron Rd to start point.

We were away and so didn’t plan to walk last week. But had we been here, we would not have walked anyway, since the most spectacular in a series of storms brought 90mph winds to the country. Mindful of the resulting recent rain, we looked for a route that might be relatively dry this week, and so decided on a loop on the northern fringes of Cambridge including the villages of Histon and Girton.

There’s a storm of a different kind underway, with the Russian invasion of Ukraine having begun yesterday. We left the dismal news behind us for a couple of hours walking on a bright, pleasant day. The ground was indeed pretty waterlogged on the one section of cross-country path, between Histon and Girton. After that, we were on solid paths the rest of the way, through the two villages and the suburban edges of Cambridge. Not the most picturesque of routes (especially the two crossings of the A14 dual carriageway) but mostly on quiet streets or through green spaces – it makes for a nice-enough walk.

The section between the edges of Girton and the Cambridge Road leading into Histon crosses what is becoming a large construction site. Again, hardly scenic, but it was interesting to take a look at the area that will be covered in hundreds of homes in a few years time.

Back in Histon, we stopped in the Red Lion – a decent village pub for a pint and a snack.