Event led by Jez C
Weather: Mostly cloudy with some sun at the start
Attendance: 20 men (including 1 new member)
Distance: 9.45 miles
Time: start 11:34, end 15:40. Lunch 31 minutes
Terrain: Footpath, road, farm track, arable field, grass
Elevation: start: 52m, high 81m, low 35m
Number of sewage works on the route: 0
Number of golf courses on the route: 0
This was a circular route of 9.45mi from Ashwell, N to Guilden Morden, SW to Hinxworth Place, and E to Ashwell. The route was split between the counties of Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire.
Before the walk started, we had the chance to visit the Grade I listed St Mary’s church, which was having some building works done. The church has an exceptionally tall tower, apparently because of a rivalry with the nearby Guilden Morden to have the tallest tower. Ashwell won when it added a spike on top of an octagonal lantern that was placed on top of the already-extended tower. At 176 feet, it is the tallest church tower in Hertfordshire.
The group gathered at the lychgate to the church, also a listed building in its own right, and wandered through the churchyard and through the eastern side of the village. We reached Ashwell Springs, a Site of Special Scientific Interest and source of the River Cam, and crossed the water via a series of stepping stones. After leaving Ashwell, we walked through mostly farmland, touching the southern edge of the Cambridgeshire village of Guilden Morden and then heading Hinxworth back in Hertfordshire. The route gave us a few distant views of some notable buildings, including the churches of Steeple Morden and Guilden Morden in Cambridgeshire, and Dunton in Bedfordshire, as well as an old windmill in Steeple Morden and the wind turbines near Biggleswade, which seem to have become a regular feature of many a Herts GOC walk. There were also some picturesque farmhouses, which the walk leader informed us were among his childhood homes, and he recounted some of his memories of the area.
Hinxworth Place was another feature of the walk, which is the home of John W Mills, a sculptor whose works include the Monument to the Women of World War II, a war memorial situated near the Cenotaph in Whitehall, London. His studio is here and several of his works are on display on the grounds.
From here, the route took us up Newnham Hill, where we stopped for a group shot near a field of sunflowers, and then headed back to Ashwell, taking in its western end, which included more lovely houses, and then we headed to the Bushel & Strike pub for refreshments.
Words & pictures by Peter O'Connor, 2015.