This article was published in 2012, in Newsletter 104.
I’m an avid user of maps, from even before the days when Rights of Way were universally shown. A number of years ago, the Ordnance Survey started to show permissive routes on Explorer maps. I was puzzled as, although such routes were defined in the legend, and I’d found some routes in Cambridgeshire marked on the ground, they did not appear on local maps. For instance, the permissive cycle route from Trumpington to Addenbrooke’s hospital that is now partially subsumed into the Guided Bus path never appeared on Ordnance Survey maps.
I wrote to the Ordnance Survey. They said they could only add the information if the local authority supplied it. I wrote to the county council who said that they did not (unlike some local authorities) forward such information, as permissive routes could be withdrawn without notice, and then the maps would be incorrect! I found this very frustrating as it made planning walks or cycle rides outside one’s immediate knowledge more difficult.
Now I’ve discovered a useful website maintained by Natural England which includes details of many such paths: http://cwr.naturalengland.org.uk. Many of these are just permissive footpaths, some just giving a short closed loop or access to specific fields, but others are linking paths that also permit ‘riders’, be they on horses or bicycles.
One which I’ve found makes a good link under both the M11 and the Kings Cross railway line, creating an alternative route from Shelford to Hauxton Mill (see www.camcycle.org.uk/jumpto/nl104ne). Routes such as this can make a nice trip for families or inexperienced cyclists.
Access to the Hauxton Mill end from Cambridge is not currently easy as you need to cross the M11 at junction 11, although access from Haslingfield via a bridleway is easier, apart from the crossing of the A10. Once the agreed route through Trumpington Meadows – over the existing accommodation bridge past the old coprolite workings, and along a short section of new path – is open, access from central Cambridge will be (almost) traffic free.
Of course this isn’t a tarmacked route, but much is hard surfaced and not too loose. If wet there will be puddles, for children to enjoy (and adults to avoid?). Parts of this are quite rural, and the route beneath both the M11 and the Kings Cross railway line add extra interest. I expect that those with knowledge of flora and fauna would find much of interest in both the adjacent woodland and along the river.
This is one of a number of permissive routes over land owned by Trumpington Farms. Remember that large agricultural vehicles use these tracks. You can hear them but they can’t see round bends and they may carry implements that are very wide, so take extra care if you hear them. Thanks are due to all those who permit access over otherwise inaccessible land.