Cambridge Corners 

Wandlebury ring and the Roman road

I'd recommend going out by bike and looking around Wandlebury on foot. About 4 miles out to the starting point and then around 6 miles.

Start at the lay-by on Worts Causeway opposite a long thin wood of large trees that is sign posted as a nature reserve. To get here from the centre head out of town on Hills Road. Go straight over the Addenbrooke's Hospital roundabout, bearing left a little later into Worts Causeway. Pass beyond housing into fields and, in effect, go straight over the staggered Limekiln Road junction. The lay-by is opposite the first wood on the right, up the hill about 500 metres.

Leave your car or bike in the lay-by and explore the wooded nature reserve opposite. It is populated by beautiful mature trees, notably beech. Turn right out of the wood back onto the road and walk or bike up the steep hill and around a wiggle or two. At the top bear right down a wide track to the Roman road. After 100 metres or so we meet the Roman road proper. Turn left down this ancient thoroughfare between a narrow band of trees - a very enjoyable walk/ride. The Roman road goes remarkably straight (as one might expect) most of the way to Haverhill. Don't worry, we're not going anything like that far. After a mile you'll see a band of woodland on your right. You are now at the far right end of the green 'finger' attached to the East corner of the Wandlebury estate on the map below.

Take the path to Wandlebury that goes through the trees (you'll return on the broader track just beyond the wood). This main path into and through Wandlebury is the only one you can cycle on. It was a glorious avenue of mature trees until the devastating storm of 1987 - notice the careful replanting that has taken place. At the end of this long strip of wood you find yourself near a cottage - the Lodge: you are in Wandlebury proper now. I would suggest a clockwise sweep around Wandlebury that takes you through a mix of wild woods and open grassland. Leave your bike on the main path. Information boards appear every now and then.

Photo of stable cupola thanks to A. Lemay and J. Rogers.

Wandlebury Ring itself was an iron age hill-fort: we're on the edge of the Gog Magog hills - positively mountainous by Cambridgeshire standards. Much of the defensive earthworks remain. You can walk around virtually all the ring inside the outer ditch. The fine buildings within the ring were built by the Earl of Godolphin in the early 18th century, although the Mansion House was knocked down in 1956. Have a look at the monumental stable block (now housing) and the Cupola over the archway. You can sometimes get refreshments in one of the stable block buildings or from a van nearby. Inside the arch is the grave of Godolphin Arabian, who died at the age of 29 in 1753. He was the most famous of the early pure Arab horses brought into this country for racing. On the grassy area a little beyond the cobbled drive is an old grain store raised on legs to keep rodents out. Beyond and to the right of this, over a little bridge, is a sunken area of flat grass bordered on two sides by steepish banks: an old cricket pitch?

Wandlebury buildings and the ring, hidden by trees. Photo (Es)senses of Place

Near the south east corner of Wandlebury estate is a large car park. If you fancy a longer walk you can exit from here across the busy A1307, turn right up the hill a little and then left through a stile onto a pleasant open down that has public access. Good for kite flying. Explore and then return the same way. If you are desperate for sustenance you can walk a couple of hundred metres back along the road towards Cambridge and visit the farm shop and cafe on the right. Back inside Wandlebury continue on your clockwise sweep, assuming you've already ‘done’ the ring and buildings. When you get back to the Lodge make your way to the far side of the strip of woodland you originally came down and turn left along the outside edge of the wood, on a broad track back to the Roman road. Turn left along this the way you came, coming out on Worts Causeway again. And down the hill to your starting point.

A visit to the pub needs to be contrived, a little unsatisfactorily I'm afraid. Away from Cambridge you could try the George at Babraham. If you want somewhere nearer on your way back into town, try the Queen Edith on Wulstan Way.

Cambridge:  Castle Hill, Coe Fen, Midsummer Common, Hobson's Conduit, Leper Chapel, Cherryhinton Hall
Outside:  Nine Wells, Baits Bite Lock, Grantchester, Fulbourn, Coton, Wilbraham Fen, Milton Park