This is a good circular walk of about two hours. It follows the course of the River Shep to its source at the springs in Fowlmere, so it’s a fairly watery route. You take the footpath from the High St. in Shepreth along by the river to the A10, crossing over and turning right to join the old trunk road, now superceded by the by-pass. More or less opposite the pub at Frog End you turn left along a way-marked track leading back to the river and follow the river bank leading to a narrow resurfaced footpath by the water’s edge.This brings you out on the single track road from Melbourn to Fowlmere. Turn left here and walk along the road to the entrance track on the right leading into the RSPB reserve.
Once in the reserve you pick up the circular route walking all the way round, again following the course of the river, passing the old water cress beds where the spring emerges. You return to Shepreth the way you came. At one time the cress produced here was transported to the sidings at Shepreth railway station for onward shipment to London. One of the best times to visit the reserve is just now in late Autumn for on a bright sunny day the low sun casts its light across the reed beds to produce a wonderful golden effect. Before the mere was drained in the 19th cent. it covered an extensive area and was a favourite place for hunting fowl. The Anglo-Saxon earthwork, Bran Ditch, now largely plouged out, ran from the Heydon ridge to the edge of the mere, forming a natural defence point.
What’s good about this route is that it shows the typical landscape of the Rhee valley, a patchwork of low-lying fields, ditches and watercourses feeding the main river. The walk around the nature reserve provides a woodland element and there is the added attraction of the hides for birdwatching. The River Shep is well looked after by the local ‘Friends Of’ voluntary group. Walking by a gently flowing stream, with a clear gravel bed, has a wonderfuly calming effect. The route is attractive in a subtle understated way. There are no dramatic views, just a pleasant ramble through the countryside.