Shepreth to Wimpole and back: an alternative route

This is an alternative and longer route to the one posted previously (see blog). It is also more ‘undulating’ and  I felt much more tired at the end! I started at 10.30, arriving at Wimpole at 2pm, had some lunch and a pot of tea and started back at 2.30, arriving home 4.30 pm. So 5 and a half hours walking time, (the previous one was 4 hours 45 minutes).  The length of the walk was about 15 miles.

This is a great walk which encompases all the different types of terrain available in the Rhee Valley and adjacent lands: open fields either side of the river, an ‘ascent’ up on to the chalk ridge (running on to Chapel Hill above Haslingfield) with fine views back across the Rhee valley; a series of walks through woodland and parkland and an interesting detour into the delightful village of Little Eversden, with its historic buildings. I have added some short notes on historic buildings taken from ‘West Cambridgeshire’, an Inventory of the Royal Commission on Historic Monuments. HMSO 1968. As with all my walks this route can be easily traced on the OS Landranger map 209.

From Shepreth train station or village hall car par you proceed over the narrow bridge in the centre of the village, passing the mill-rush,

and turn left along Angle Lane, which takes you alongside the river Shep towards the railway crossing. The Friends of the River Shep do a great job of looking after this run of water and they have put in a short woodland path on the left away from the narrow roadway. Wait for the green light before crossing the railway line and proceed along the footpath by the side of the field.

Here the Shep becomes a deep  ditch, with field drains running into it. In the early 19th cent the course of the Shep turned right across the field at the point indicated by the footpath sign. Ignore this sign and carry on alongside the straightened river/ditch to the corner of the field and turn right by the side of the field, with views of Bulbeck Mill House, built in the 2nd half of the 18th cent., across the meadow and river. You can also see the wier where a mill-run was created. Eventually you will come to a footbridge on the left

which leads to the main footbridge over the River Rhee, swelled now by the recent deluge.

The path rises quite steeply up in to the village of Barrington, with a small cemetary on the left (site of former meeting house, late 18th cent). Continue on through the stile into Boot Lane and up to the High Street. Turn right and cross the road, passing in front of the renovated mid-19th cent. Nonconformist Chapel and then left round to Back Lane.

Take the footpath signposted to the right towards Harlton/ Haslingfield. After 400 yards or so the path divides either side of a field hedge.

Your preference will depend on where the weather is coming from. This path leads gradually up to a farm. Cross over the farm track and continue up the hill on a bridlepath which turns right then steeply left before continuing up to the summit. Here there is a belt of trees running along the ridge. You turn left here, either walking through the trees or by the side of the field looking back over the valley to the Heydon ridge on the far side.

This ridge route is the ancient Mare Way. After a short stretch the paths merge as one and you follow on to the end of the wood.

Here the ancient path once continued straight on to cross the summit of the A603. Our way turns right, on the by-road down Cracknow Hill to the edge of Harlton village. At the junction with the public road turn left to the A603. Here take the offset crossroad leading in to Little Eversden village.

After a short walk turn right into the High Street, passing some wonderfully preserved timber-framed cottages.

Before reaching the large wooden barn turn left on a narrow footpath, which crosses a lane passing a Tudor farmhouse:

and leads on eventually over a meadow to the road and Great Eversden church. The Church was badly damage by fire in 1466 and rebuilt in the late 15th cent. Opposite the Church is a 16th cent. building now known as the Homestead, originally thought to be the Guildhall.

Just after the church take the broad green lane running parallel with Wimpole road, ignoring the first footpath to the right, until you reach the second path and turn right back towards Wimpole road. Here turn left for a while until Merrys Farm where you turn right, just beyong the barn, on a track leading  over open arable fields.

The track leads up and over a rise then down across a ditch into a separate field where you turn left along the path by the edge of the field, which brings you to the corner of Eversden wood. There are several paths meeting at this point. Take the narrow path that leads directly into the wood along a narrow winding track.

The path winds and climbs gently, with wild bluebells in profusion on this visit! (The photo is bleached out but I thought to include it).

The narrow path crosses a wider track and continues on, somewhat wider, until it eventually curves round to the right to join the second main track through the woods. Follow this thoroughfare towards the far side of the wood. You will come to another crossroads before reaching the far side where you branch to the left, ignoring the sharp left turn. (see OS map)

This curves towards the corner of the wood. When you reach the fields, follow on along the right hand side of the hedge and then turn right to the public road. Turn left here and after a short walk turn right onto the footpath leading through the ‘Belts’ in the Wimpole estate.

This woodland path will be familiar to many and you can make your own way to the Hall, taking the various shortcuts or follow the path through the woods. This eventually brings you out onto the parkland at the top of the hill overlooking the Hall and restaurant.

The return to Shepreth is as described in my previous walk – along Victoria Drive to Orwell. There is a particularly fine village sign at the junction before the church.

You can see all the key features of the village including the well, clunch pit and clunch wall with thatched roof – which you will see later as you proceed along the Hight Street.

Turn right down Malton Lane for a short distance and take the path on the left to the Barrington Road, then on to Barrington Green. The Royal Oak public house lies before you! This is a late-medieval building, with a floor inserted in the hall in the 17th cent., modernised in the 1950s, showing surviving structural timbers.

Once suitably refreshed with a libation of your choice, a slight variation in the route is available. Before reaching the village shop turn right down Mill Lane then left along a footpath leading back to the path down to the river.

Once over the two footbridges you can take either of the paths leading round the field-edge back to the railway line and Angle Lane. If the Royal Oak was shut, or you resisted the temptation, the recently opened village tea shop (‘Teacake’) in Shepreth now beckons! (Open Wednesday to Sunday).

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About jonathanspain

My blog reflects my interests in local history in South Cambridgeshire, growing your own food, and walking in the district and elsewhere
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