Living in Shepreth in the valley of the river Rhee, it’s a nice change for me to drive over to the valley of the other main tributory of the Cam – the Granta and do a walk there. Hildersham is a good place to start. It’s a very pleasant village situated off the A1307, after Abington and before Linton. Turning left into the village you can park your car in the layby just before the bridge and ford.
There is a good circular walk of 6-7 miles, taking about two and a half hours or so. It’s easy to follow on the OS Explorer (2.5 inches to the mile) map 209. Crossing the bridge you continue up to the cross roads and walk straight ahead on the road to Balsham. After half a mile or so you take a path on the left on rising ground until the junction with the old Roman road. Here turn right and continue along for a couple of miles or so, crossing over two minor roads, before turning right on a diagonal path across fields which joins a road leading you towards the Linton Tower. When the road bends sharply to the left you carry straight on until you reach the tower, then turn right on a track past some houses and follow the path on until it turns left and drops sharply down the hill to Linton. At the bottom turn right and then second left on a road leading back to the centre of the village. Take the footpath on the right leading down to the river. Once across the footbridge turn right then cut across the grass to a stile in the left hand corner. This track will take you back to Hildersham, running parallel to the river. You can either walk on until you come out opposite the pub or take a footpath on the right just before which brings you round to the river and the layby.
On a fine day this route affords wide open views and a big sky. At the start of the walk the view of the Granta from the bridge is very attractive with its tree-lined banks. The walk along the old Roman road is interesting and the view from the hill above Linton is impressive, giving you a fine sweep of the county. The track from Linton to Hildersham is through small fields, mainly given over to horses and a livery.
Historical note: The old Roman road is known as Worsted Street and a detailed account of its history and archaeology can be found at the website of the Friends of the Roman Road and Fleam Dyke. www.frrfd.org.uk. Current archaeological thinking is that it was a local Roman road linking Cambridge with the Icknield Way and the road to Gt. Chesterford; the south eastern extension through Balsham linking to the Stour valley and points elsewhere. Moreover Worsted Street may have followed an ancient ridgeway of Iron Age or earlier origin.
The Friends have also put together a series of walks which include both Worsted Street and Fleam Dyke in a longer 25 mile circular route. This could be joined at Hildersham using the approach to Worsted Street as described above. There are footpaths from Balsham at the top of Fleam Dyke which take you back to Linton and Hildersham. See OS Exploer 209.