Comberton - Path Network Ideas
This is from https://pghardy.net/comberton/paths/ideas/.
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Comberton parish is very short of public footpaths and tracks, which is obvious if it is visually compared with neighbouring parishes such as Toft, Bourn and Eversden [Fig 1 - Cambridgeshire CC Interactive map].
In addition, the growth of the village during the 20th century has blocked some earlier routes, but more recently has massively increased footfall and demand for access to the countryside.
This has become particularly obvious during the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic, when access to rural routes became critical to both physical exercise, but also mental wellbeing of residents.
As a COVID-19 lockdown project, I have sketched out a set of ideas for new path routes that could form the core of a new path network for Comberton parish.
I stress that these are ideas, not existing public paths, so don't try and walk them!
Fig 02 shows an overview of the core area around the village.
Enlargements are shown below for the four quadrants [Figs3-6], and for the north of the parish[Fig7], as well as the whole parish [Fig8]
There were historically many paths and tracks around Comberton, just as in the other villages. Before the enclosures acts of the 19th century,
there was a general freedom to pass around the open fields of the three-field system, and to walk between villages and farms, and many of these routes continued forward into the early 20th century.
However, despite the 'National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949',
and the 'Countryside Act 1968' many of these missed being recorded on the county's definitive rights of way map in the 1960s, so were never shown as a right of way on OS maps.
See the Ramblers page on Rights of way law.
It appears that the parish council in Comberton in the 1960s was not effective in making the case for recording rights of way against opposition from landowners,
as the parish has only about a third of the number of footpaths as neighbouring parishes,
and has lost some ancient routes like the Lot Way - see https://pghardy.net/comberton/lotway/.
I present a set of ideas for a better path network. Note that these are 'blue sky' suggestions, sketched from aerial imagery with no ground survey - no attempt has been made to
assess the feasibility of any of these routes, and the landowners have not been contacted.
They are meant to be the starting point for a discussion going forward, to establish a workable subset of candidates. They are drawn almost entirely along the grassy edges of existing field boundaries,
so as not to cross agricultural or domestic land parcels. Hence, most could be implemented with minimal effort and minimal disruption to the landowner.
The paths fall into several classes:
- Parish - these follow as close as feasible the boundary of the parish. Historically there would have usually been such paths, used for traditions such as 'beating the bounds'.
- Avoid - these run alongside a dangerous section of road, such as the bends south of the church.
- Route - these provide foot routes connecting the village to nearby villages
- Waterway - these allow nature walks to follow the streams, such as the Bourn Brook
- Loop - these open up circular walks
- Link - these join together existing paths to make a more effective network
Here are four maps, one for each quadrant from Comberton. Each of the path ideas shown as coloured lines on them is described in a later section.
Here also is a map for the suggested network in the northern part of the parish beyond the core [Fig7], and one for the complete parish [Fig8].
- NW01 - Follows the parish boundary with Toft southwards, starting from the existing footpath at the top of Green End. At the Southern end it wiggles to come out on West St through a field access.
- NW02 - Alternative wiggle at southern end of NW01, coming out on Tebbit Way.
- NW03 - Alternative wiggle through to West Street further west.
- NW04 - Follows parish boundaries west, starting from NW01 near the top of Green End.
Most of this route is in Toft or Hardwick parish, so would need negotiation, but provides a valuable safe route to villages and woodlands west, and opens up several loop walks.
- NW05 - Follows the parish boundary with Hardwick, starting at the permissive path north of Bin Brook near Northfield Farm, up to the northern parish boundary.
- NE01 - Follows the parish boundary with Barton northwards, starting from the footpath north from Barton Road near Horizon Park.
- NE02 - Heads east from Long Road near Harbour Avenue to the Barton parish boundary, to meet NE01.
- NE03 - Follows the parish boundary with Barton northwards from the junction of NE01/NE02, to near the boundary of the Barton Range Danger Area.
- NE04 - Cuts across from the end of NE04 to the permissive path alongside Long Road, so as to avoid the danger area and Jaggards Farm.
- NE05 - Runs parallel to Long Road, starting at the Whitwell Way, to where the existing permissive path starts on other side of road. Important to avoid dangerous traffic on this busy road.
- NE06 - Link from the eastern edge of the Recreation Ground across to Normandy Way, linking the village centre to routes east and north.
** NOTE *** In January 2021, notices of a new permissive path appeared, covering the whole of my NE06, and continuing up the side of the Recreation ground to meet the start of my NE07.
- NE07 - From the northern edge of the Recreation Ground, heads north up to the top of Green End, to link with the RoW footpath north towards Hardwick.
- SW01 - Follows the side of Tit Brook west from Royston Lane near Birdlines Manor. This was a medieval common way, as shown on the tithe map, and described in [Landscapes Decoded, Prof Susan Oosthuizen, 2006],
- SW02 - Continues from the western end of SW01 around the playing fields of the Village College, staying as close as possible to the parish boundary, to meet the Lot Way footpath to Toft.
- SW03 - Starts the same place as SW02, and heads west and north round the edge of the college grounds to the parish boundary, then past the Scout hut and up its access track to West St.
- SW04 - Starts near the eastern end of the Lot Way footpath to Toft and heads south to near Fox's Bridge Farm to avoid the dangerous road section south of the church.
- SW05 - Starts near the end of SW04 and heads south towards Bourn Brook, running parallel and close to Royston Lane. This avoids a dangerous walk down this narrow lane.
- SW06 - Starts just south of Bourn Brook on Royston Lane, and similarly runs parallel to Royston Lane to the start of the footpath towards Eversden.
- SW07 - Follows Bourn Brooke westward along the parish boundary with Eversden. This forms a valuable nature walk, as well as providing a link in a parish boundary circuit.
- SW08 - Starts from the end of SW04 near Fox's Bridge Farm, and heads west to the parish boundary.
- SW09 - Heads north from Bourn Brook along the parish boundary to the end of SW08.
- SW10 - Continues SW09 north along the parish boundary to the Lot Way footpath to Toft.
- SE01 - Like SW01, this follows Tit Brook but east from The Causeway to join the current permissive path towards Herringfield Drift.
- SE02 - This is the Lot Way replacement footpath described in my pages on the Lot Way at https://pghardy.net/comberton/lotway/.
It starts at the end of Church Lane, and heads north to join the current permissive path west across to the Drift.
- SE03 - Continues SE02 westward from the Herringfield Drift, staying as close as possible to the original route of the Lot Way, to the parish boundary with Barton and existing permissive paths.
- SE04 - In Barton parish, resumes the original path of the Lot Way to Barton. Together with SE02/SE03 and existing permissive paths, this would re-establish the historic Lot Way route from Comberton to Barton.
- SE05 - From Watts Wood, heads north and west to the parish boundary near Horizon Park.
- SE06 - From SE05, a short link north to Barton Road, as alternative to continuing behind Horizon Park.
- SE07 - Starting at end of SE03, follows the parish boundary northward to Barton Road near Horizon Park, linking with footpath west towards the Woodland Burial Ground and Barton Range.
- SE08 - Follows Bourn Brooke eastward along the parish boundary with Eversden to the footpath near Lords Bridge. This forms a valuable nature walk, as well as providing a link in a parish boundary circuit.
- SE09 - From near the Church south, alongside the Royston Lane, to the start of the bridleway near Fox's Bridge Farm, avoiding the dangerous narrow bendy road section.
Currently, there are two permissive paths (as part of Diamond Jubilee Walk from 2012) from the Church east to the Drift. There is also a recent permissive path adjacent to Long Road on its east side,
heading north towards the Whitwell Way, and a previous one further north on the west side of Long Road, joining rights of way behind Northfield Farm.
The Parish Council is responsible for the paths within the Recreation Ground, plus a well-used path from Green End to the Recreation Ground, and one at the other end of the ground through to Hillfield Road.
These are not currently registered with the county as permissive paths, and hence do not appear on the county footpaths map. It would be good to register these routes.
As of January 2021, notices of a new permissive path have appeared on Olde Farm, covering my path suggestion NE06, and continuing north up the side of the recreation ground to the start of my NE07.
This is not yet registered on the county web map site.
All these permissive paths are a very useful step forward, but would be much better if dedicated as rights of way to ensure permanency. I am assuming that these permissive paths remain available as part of the suggested network.
Re-establishing a Network of Paths for Comberton
I feel we owe it to our children and their descendants to try to re-establish a network of paths around Comberton. These could best be as dedicated rights of way, or if not, then as permissive paths.
When the current investigation is done, I intend to request that the Parish Council instigates a cross-village initiative to establish and promulgate a rich network of paths around the parish,
for the future benefit of Comberton residents and other local walkers. This would doubtless take several years to achieve, but would be of benefit for many generations to come.
To fund the development of the network, as well as any parish funds and donations from residents,
local rambling clubs have funds provided by walking holiday companies such as HF Holidays and Ramblers Holidays, which might be available.
In addition, there is the future promise of ELMS, the Environmental Land Management scheme, which is described as the cornerstone of the government’s new agricultural policy.
See https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-environmental-land-management-scheme-an-overview. "Founded on the principle of 'public money for public goods',
ELM ... means farmers and other land managers may be paid for delivering the following public goods: ... beauty, heritage and engagement with the environment."
It is notable that the neighbouring parishes of Barton and Longstowe have established a rich network of permissive paths over recent decades, to supplement their rights of way.
More recently, Toft parish has dedicated a new right of way path along the east side of the golf course close to Comberton.
It would be good for Comberton Parish Council to liaise with such active neighbouring councils and learn from their experience.
If you have further suggestions for paths in Comberton Parish, or comments on the suggested paths, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01223 263232,
or by mail to 15 Kentings, Comberton, Cambridge, CB23 7DT.
[Original draft V0.1 of 2 December 2020. This is V1.0 of 19 January 2021, PGH]
- 2020/12/02 - first draft
- 2020/12/15 - improve path descriptions and background info.
- 2021/01/05 - add new permissive path along NE06.
- 2021/01/19 - add reference to ELM scheme. Make document publicly findable.
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