Contrary to widely held opinion, there is some hilly and wooded terrain in South Cambridgshire where you can enjoy a great days walking. Most of this lies on the south western plateau at about 200-250 feet above sea level, which in a generally flat low lying county like Cambridgeshire is relatively high, affording wide open views. This Autumn of 2011 has been particularly fine and dry. Today we had another calm clear day with lots of sunshine and I took the opportunity to do a circular walk beginning and ending in Orwell. The duration was 2 hours 45 minutes walking at a fairly brisk pace.
From the top of the clunch pit you take the path down to the A603 and then cross over to join a farm track leading up to the Mare Way, an ancient ridge route which looks down on the Eversdens. I took the footpath down to the Eversdens and then to Gt. Eversden church. From here I took a path parallel to Wimpole road, coming out by the farm at the bottom of the hill and then walked across the fields to the corner of Eversden Wood. I walked through the middle to the other side and on to the footpath leading through ‘The Belts’, a narrow belt of trees on the Wimpole estate. From here I cut down to the Folly and then came out on the old Wimpole road and took the track known as Victoria Drive back to Orwell. This route can be easily worked out on the Pathfinder OS map.
The top of Orwell clunch pit offers fine views across the Upper Cam or Rhee valley, especially on a day like today. It’s Autumn so the Sun is low and this shows up the folds and undulations in the landscape to great effect. From the Mare Way you can see beyond the spires and towers of Cambridge towards the flat lands of the Fens. In medieval times travellers along this ancient route must have looked north from this vantage point and wondered what lay beyond the horizon – a low lying land of rivers, mists and meres, isolated and cut off from the main routes; Hereward the Wake country.
Eversden Wood is well worth a more detailed exploration. There is a perimeter track and tracks cutting through the middle from both sides and some smaller winding paths. It is well known as a bluebell wood in the spring. I have seen deer in the wood on occasion so it’s as well to tread lightly. This is one of my favourite woods, a really delightful spot, wonderfully quiet and still. There is a narrow winding path leading into the heart of the wood from one corner. Here the canopy is fairly dense and you feel as though you are in ancient woodland, land which has never seen the plough; woodland which has marked the passage of time through the ages.
This route is a good one to get you started on the area, but there are numerous diversions and alternatives so that you can return again and again and find variation in your route. Sometimes I include a stop at Wimpole Hall for a cup of tea. Orwell is a good place to park if you don’t want to start from the busy carpark at Wimpole. You can get onto the estate fairly quickly. Moreover there is a pub in Orwell and the Church is worth a visit. The High Street has some charming period houses. The Clunch pit is an SSSI.