Baldock – Weston – Clothall 23rd October 2021

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Covid lockdowm has severely restricted the lives and been harsh on many who thrive of social interaction. My Hungarian friend Zoltan, based in Zurich, Switzerland, is one such person. With travel restrictions between the continent and the United Kingdon eased and South Africa finally removed from the UK’s Covid red list on 11th October, Zoltan was finally able to pay us a visit, albeit with compulsory testing before and after arrival on UK soil. Zoltan had been at Brian and Sue’s in Milton Keynes. On the Saturday morning around 11h00. We had discussed and agreed on a walk and set off immediately by car to Baldock. Despite the skies being overcast, conditions would remain dry. Having parked at the nature reserve at Weston Hills just off the old Roman Road leading out of Baldock, we crossed the A505 Baldock Bypass and headed towards Green End past Bush Wood, though we were in doubt as to the precise path as per the Ordnance Survey map (until Zoltan’s phone came to the rescue).

Bypassing the village of Weston, we reached Oakley’s Farm where we encountered some horses in a paddock. Here I inadvertently touched a wire receiving an almighty shock which caused me to jump, startling the animals in the process. We then explored the grounds of the Holy Trinity Church at Church End, built of flint and coursed ironstone rubble. In the churchyard is the supposed grave of the giant Jack o’Legs. It was a bit on the coolish side. We sat down and rested in the grounds and Zoltan graciously shared a sandwich.

Following a path leading from the rear of the church yard, we picked up the Hertfordshire Way heading south towards Weston Park, location of properties converted to residential flats, nestling in a large wooded area. Skirting Park Wood, we reached Warren’s Green. It was time to start thinking of a return route, so with this in mind, we headed towards Hall’s Green, passing through Irongate Farm. After crossing open countryside, we joined up with a path known as Lolleywood Lane, before reaching a bridleway lined on either side by trees as far as the eye could see, just off Luffenhall Common. This route would take us past the village of Clothall all the way back to Baldock.

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Hexton via the Icknield Way – September 2021

It was good to meet up with ex-colleague Brian, Zuzanna and sons Robert and James for this walk arranged during the visit of our mutual Swiss-based Hungarian friend Zoltan (known as “Herr Kiss”), his first to UK shores since the outbreak of the Covid pandemic worldwide. Zoltan had flown over for the Genesis concert in Birmingham earlier in the week. It was the first walk we had ever done together. The Icknield Way near Hitchin seemed like a good halfway point between Royston and Milton Keynes to meet up for a suitable walk. Brian proposed an 11 o’clock meet but that was far too late for me, having originally had 9 o’clock in mind. The compromise was 10, at The Raven pub in Hexton, Hertfordshire, a town Hexton which stands in well wooded and hilly country adjacent to the Bedfordshire border. Several route options around the 7-mile mark were considered, which could be tweaked depending on the group’s lasting power.

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The day started with overcast skies but by late morning had become sunny. I had printed off an extract of the area from Streetmap and so it seemed logical that Robert, who was about to participate in navigation exercises in the scouts club, should be assigned the role of navigator-in-chief, as an opportunity to practice his map-reading skills. From the pub we set off south down Mill Lane. After crossing Barton Road for a bit, we continued along Hexton Road before leaving the road towards and through the woodland on Moor Hill. Of significant historical interest is the Iron Age camp of Ravensburgh Castle, an ancient hill fort which lies on a spur of the Barton Hills, a mile to the south-west of Hexton, occupying the western half of a plateau surrounded by deep coombes on every side except the north-west. We were not to explore the hillfort on this day, as I had little knowledge as to how to access the area with any sense of conviction, with some of it marked as private land.

We headed south-west towards a small section of woodland known as Maulden Firs on the edge of the South Bedfordshire golf course, crossing the John Bunyan Trail. Here we agreed on a detour. Crossing the golf course, we headed to higher ground up Galley Hill on the outskirts of Luton, once the site of a gallows, where public executions would have taken place. The site was also used to bury the bodies of local witches who where hanged during the persecutions in the 16th and 17th century. With views west across the golf course, we stopped for a lunch break. On previous walks I had continued further south to Warden Hill but we now headed back down the hillside the way we had ascended.

The plan was to head north to Barton-le-Clay and then cut across back to Hexton. We could have picked the John Bunyan Trail, which would have provided a route either side of Barton Hills Nature Reserve however the pathway west of that heading directly to Barton-le-Clay just seemed more enticing. By the time we had reached the outskirts of the town, any thought of taking a detour back around the hill was discarded. It was getting warmer and enthusiasm in the group was beginning to fade.

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Birmingham visit for Genesis gig – September 2021

The devastating economic effects as a result of lockdown measures introduced on 26th March 2020 in the United Kingdom had been felt far and wide, impacting social gatherings whilst also devastating the hospitality and entertainment industries. Concerts such as the planned Genesis tour had been postponed as a result but these had now been allowed to take place, though entry and attendance was still subject to certain conditions, such as having to obtain and show an official NHS Covid pass. My friend Zoltan, who flew over from Zurich for the concert, was required to go one step further.

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The walkabout took us through to the mid-afternoon, so whilst Zoltan checked up on and fetched a few things at the hired car left in the Bullring shopping centre car park, I relaxed and enjoyed a cider in All Bar One at the Grand Central station building, reading my latest copy of Prog magazine and charging the battery all but exhausted by the multitude of photos taken earlier. A group sitting at a table opposite me, who were clearly also from out of town, were discussing the Genesis concert. We then decided to head towards the concert venue, passing by St Martin in the Bull Ring, the original parish church of Birmingham, located between the Bull Ring Shopping Centre and the markets, now closed for the day. Following Hill Street up to Victoria Square, as the tram line along Paradise Circus was blocked off, we followed a long, spacious paved pedestrian walkway known as Centenary Way, all the way from the Birmigham Museum and Art Gallery to the ICC International Conference Centre, continuing on until we reached the waterfront development at Birmingham Canal Old Line.

Entry to the concert was quick and painless and with our Covid passes and tickets checked, we took our seats. It was probably a blessing in disguise that queues had formed at the merchandise stand. Given the price of the tickets, it was no surprise that a concert T-shirt didn’t come cheap. The concert started shortly after 20h00 and the band played without a break for two and a half hours. Superb sound and a superb show with excellent screen graphics and projections. An ageing Phil Collins hobbled onstage and remained seated throughout, which did not detract from the performance, although his voice had developed a rasp with time. He has lost none of his onstage humour and remains mentally alert. He was ably supported by two backing vocalists he referred to as “proper singers”. Mike Rutherford smiled and was clearly enjoying himself whilst Tony Banks remained impassive throughout.

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Wye Kent? Because it’s there! – Spring Bank Holiday, May 2021

It had been a while since I had last done a walk with Tammy, so I was well up for it when she proposed a North Downs walk on the last day of the Spring Bank Holiday weekend, setting out from the historic village of Wye in Kent, centred about 12 miles from Canterbury and about an hour’s drive from Eltham. After a lengthy spell of inclement weather during May, as a result of the Atlantic jet stream, summer finally arrived over the Bank Holiday weekend. The North Downs are a ridge of chalk hills in south east England that stretch from Farnham in Surrey to the White Cliffs of Dover in Kent.

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We parked near and set off via St. Gregory and St. Martin’s Church, not before I picked up a drink at the Co-op across the road. Accompanying us on the walk was a brown cocker spaniel by the name of Joey, a task for which Tammy regularly volunteers. Leaving the eastern side of Wye and following the Stour Valley Walk emerging through Long Plantation, we crossed an open stretch chalk path, as white as a sheet in the bright sunlight, as it rose towards Beech Wood. Wild flowers adorned the grassland between Beech and Marriage Woods. Emerging from the woods, we picked up the AE101 lane heading towards Marriage Farm. Here we took a narrow track following a line of trees towards a collection of homesteads near Down Farm, where we reached a tarred road as it joins the AE103 to Down Farm. The tarred road, which we had also crossed earlier when passing through Long Plantation, heads down through Olantigh Wood. Just as the road enters Olantigh Wood, a path heads off to the left along its edge. This track joins the North Downs Way on the Wye Downs, near the Wye Memorial Crown markings gouged out of the chalk hillside. This spot provides spectacular views across the Kentish landscape beyond, which called for a tea break and a sandwich, to pause for a moment and take in the splendour of the English landscape.

We continued along the chalk ridge to Broad Downs, location of the most spectacular coombe is known as the Devil’s Kneading Trough. The views here are quite spectacular. There is a route off the ridge at this point however we remained on high ground. We encountered sheep grazing on the hillside grassland, who remained surprisingly tame given the presence of a rather active cocker spaniel, albeit on a leash. The hillside was littered with cow pies, some of a more liquid consistency than others. Joey had taken to rolling playfully on the grass, ending up with a good amount of the bovine creatures’ dung smeared across his back, the green streak in stark contrast to his chocolate brown hair, which displeased Tammy somewhat. A water trough provided the ideal opportunity and Joey was summarily dispatched and dumped into the water and cleaned, with the added benefit of allowing the mutt to cool off.

In the vicinity of Newgate Scrubs, off Cold Harbour Lane, an establishment advertising itself as providing Luxury Home Boarding for Dogs may be found. Yes folks, a Five Star licensed Dog Hotel! Shortly thereafter, at Cold Blow Farm, we took the path off the hillside, leaving the North Downs Way in the process. We crossed Brabourne Road, which, if not for the fact that it was once the Pulgrims Way trackway, following the lower slopes of the North Downs escarpment, carefully avoiding the steep slopes above and the sticky clay below. The Pilgrims Way was a 120 mile route from Winchester to Canterbury, followed by mediaeval pilgrims, heading for Thomas Becket’s tomb. The route follows a pre-historic trackway dated to 500BC. The Pilgrims’ Way is not a designated long distance footpath, but it can be followed as most of it is roads today.

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Rear garage finally sees the light of day!

This blog page documents a few DIY projects I have undertaken on my UK home in Royston, Hertfordshire, most of which I would not have achieved without the help of neighbours and friends.

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Access to a row of semi-detached properties where I live is somewhat untypical, in that, rather than emerging into a long, slender rear garden upon exiting the back door, one encounters a common access lane running across the back, with the advantage of providing additional space for a garage or for parking a car or two. All the neighbours make use of this, despite there being a driveway in front of each property. The garden proper lies beyond that. In 2015, specialists removed and disposed of my old asbestos garage, leaving nothing more than a naked cement slab. Rubble retrieved from the bottom of my garden provided me with much-needed hard-core and in 2016 I was able to extend and widen the existing garage base. It was only now, four to five years later, after some effort preparing the base, that I was able to finally see the void filled with a gleaming new wooden garage structure!

I was finally in a position to be able to order a garage unit from a Kent-based company called Chart Garages, located in Ashford. There is a bit of a story to the company, which I only learnt quite recently. An employee of the company had risen up through the ranks to become a director, then left the company to form his own, Olson’s Timber Buildings, which had subsequently become so successful that they had recently bought out Chart and a number of related companies entirely.

With time running out, my neighbour Chris and I got stuck in a week before the installation date of 25th May. With he assuming the role of bricklayer-in-chief, I kept up the supply of bricks and mortar on the mixing board, albeit that his cement mixer came in really handy. The dry concrete surface was first treated with Everbuild PVA, which was then also added to the concrete mix, providing additional bonding capability. There was much discussion as to the various ways to square the unit precisely and things got a little bit tense but we got there in the end, although Chris bellowed with laughter on the day when the installation team told us it wasn’t quite square. With the old concrete surfaces not being as level as the extensions, laying the brick course presented a small problem in that the 3″ height stipulation didn’t allow much room for error, for a standard brick height of 2½”.

It also turned into a race against the weather, with the Atlantic jetstream playing havoc with UK weather patterns all week. The tarpaulin sheet I had ordered for when the base was being extended came in handy, if not for the fact that the gigantic size of 7m x 9m size was proving somewhat unwieldy to handle. It was akin to managing a cricket match in England the summer. The covers are on…….and then they’re off! It took two days to complete the brick course. With each light shower, the PVA bond I had brushed onto the concrete surface turned a milky white, indicating that it wasn’t waterproof, as we had originally expected. Not that it was going to be an issue. The ever-present formation of cumulonimbus clouds hinted at the possibility of thunderstorms. As Chris literally laid the last the last brick, the heavens opened up. Typical!

At the weekend, with the inevitable threat of showers looming, I knew I had to crack on with the pointing and filling of the holes of the engineering brick, believing in the old adage that you create your own luck. It took all of 6 hours to complete this task on the Saturday. The final bit of preparation on the Sunday involved glueing a damp proofing material onto the brick course from a roll Chris had given me, using a product called Sticks-like-Sh*t, then weighing it down here and there overnight with the odd brick or two. Fortunately, the material is the exact width of a brick, so I was able to get the job done relatively quickly.

The logistics of the project had been a bit of a concern at the outset, however I needn’t have worried. I thought it only fair to enlighten my neighbours as to what was in store. Given that it seemed unlikely that 12-tonne delivery truck would make it down the lane around to the rear of the property, which is accessible for parking, blocking off of the lane was inevitable, so I prepared a notice which was henceforth delivered to the respective letterboxes. Forewarned is forearmed, as the saying goes. I was told that they would arrive onsite at 7h30 in the morning and they were true to their word. Rather than overnight in Milton Keynes the night before after completing a job there, they had returned to base in Kent and subsequently travelled up to Royston in a smaller truck, which had the advantage of being able to at least get down the lane with centimetres to spare despite not reaching the actual site. This made the carrying distance shorter, freeing up the access lane along the front of all our properties. My ex-next-door-neighbour, George, who had moved out only recently, had graciously volunteered to help with carrying on the day, cycling all the way from the neighbouring village of Melbourn, roughly four miles away, where the family had now settled.

The two artisans who had arrived from Chart Garages were both named Jordan. A quick check of the brick course measurements confirmed that, at the very least, the installation could proceed. They told us they had been to numerous sites in the past, only to find that this was not the case. In fact, on one occasion, they alleged, they had driven all the way up from Kent to Liverpool, only to abort installation and return immediately. Neighbours Mary and in particular a thoroughly absorbed Chris made up the rest of the audience as we watched this very professional outfit swing into action, whilst ensuring that they were well primed with cups of coffee throughout and introducing them to the very particular South African delicacy known as a rusk!

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Easter Weekend Equestrian Walk – 3rd/4th April 2021

The weekend prior to Easter I discovered a new route that had been under my nose for so long but just had noticed it. I had been advising my neighbours, George and Georgina, who are in the processing of moving, along with their two young kids. A jogger, she had been looking for some alternative routes, so as I was pointing this out on the Streetmap website, this “new” possibility jumped out of the map at me. Roughly halfway along the bridleway from the Barkway Road (just after the turn-off along the Barley Road) to Fox Farm on the A10 is a gate which overlooks Newsells Farm with vistas south towards Reed. What had escaped my attention on the numerous occasions I had passed it was a sign on the gate signifying a “permissive path”, this being a path across farmland usually, with access at the behest of the farmer.

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Sunday 4th April turned into a glorious relatively still, sunny day, an opportunity not to be wasted. In another change to the routine, after setting off via the plantation off the Newmarket Road near Burloes Hall, I had decided to reverse the direction of navigation through Newsells Park Stud, primarily due to the direction of the sunlight and the resultant morning glare that did not make for a good landscape photo opportunity at that early hour. My hope was that I would get better photos later in the day. It was along the treelined bridleway between Barkway Road and the A10 at Fox Farm that I was passed by a few riders on horseback, led by the woman residing at the Pump House in Newsells village, whose homestead I had passed previously one midwinter walk, when I covered the last hour back to Royston in virtual darkness and mist, having got my timings hopelessly wrong.

The permissable path is well marked with signs requesting dogs on a lease so as not to frighten the horses occupying the fenced-off fields and paddocks. The farm comprises mostly vast open grassland with pockets of woodland but still a delight nevertheless, given its equestrian character. I entered Newsells Park Stud and headed back towards Royston. I encountered a few walkers en route. The air was silent save for gunshots emanating from a nearby shooting range. I was pleasantly surprised, upon stopping at the paddocks to photograph the horses, how their curiosity caused them to wander over to be stroked. What beautiful beasts these elegant creatures turned out to be. It left me wondering what fate would befall these few stallions, Equus caballi. Reared as racehorses, would they achieve stardom for their masters, face injury and certain death or eventually be culled when they had outlived their usefulness?

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Therfield-Sandon-Kershall Walk – Jan 2021

Since the start of lockdown in March 2020, my walks have been confined to areas close to the village of Royston, Hertfordshire, mostly setting out from directly from home. With track options limited, driving to the next village for a walk seemed a sensible idea, notwithstanding the fact that I ran the risk of a fine by virtue of the rules of travel during the coronavirus pandemic, as was the case with two women in Derbyshire, though this was subsequently rescinded. It was the weekend after the inauguration of Joe Biden as the President of the United States. Needless to say, this seemed to signal the start of a kinder, more compassionate era, to follow the catastrophic, divisive reign of the Trump administration. The problems facing the Biden administration will prove a huge challenge, not least formulating a plan to deal with the pandemic, which had claimed the lives of over 400,000 of the country’s citizens. At the time of writing, the United Kingdom is still in lockdown, with deaths fast approaching 100,000. It was forecast that I would in all likelihood only be eligible for vaccination in the Spring, 2021, at the earliest.

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So the planned walk involved paths linking the villages of Therfield, Sandon and Kelshall, all being on my cycle route. I set off from the Fox and the Duck, a pub adjacent to the village green, heading south along Police Row, before branching off along the muddy track, Duck’s Green, the Chain Walk path and Kelshall Lane track, until I reached the Icknield Way Path, on its 110-mile journey from Ivinghoe Beacon in Buckinghamshire to Knettishall Heath in Suffolk. Waterlogged and in worse condition than I expected, I had cycled this route on my off-road bicycle on many occasions however much to my surprise, one hapless cyclist appeared mad enough to attempt it mid-winter, thanking me for giving way as he raced by, covered in the stuff. Bypassing Philpott’s Wood along Notley Lane track, I reached Sandon Road. Along the tarred road into the village, I passed a girl on a pony ride being led by two adults. They willingly acceded to my request for a quick photo.

Just before reaching Sandon, I passed Danyells at SG9 0RF, a large impressive private property, the homestead partially surrounded by a moat. Just beyond it, I left the road, effectively bypassing the village as an intended detour, taking a path behind the property’s tennis court, along a line of trees after crossing a stream, reaching the road south to Roe Green. At this point, near the rundown buildings of what was once the Sandon Saddlery Company, I turned back towards the village. Signalling a bygone era, the local business had sadly closed its doors for the last time on January 31 2015. I passed Sandon Village Hall, once village school from 1835 to 1939. Temperatures began to drop sharply around 13h00 and for the first time, I felt the cold. Tiny, round hail pellets, each a couple of millimetres in diameter, began to fall from the sky.

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Royston Walks during lockdown 2021

After a cold spell the weekend before and incessant rain throughout the week, I took advantage of a dry spell on the Sunday preceding the inauguration of President Biden in the USA, with temperatures around 4-5 degrees, for a much needed walk. On the previous Sunday, also one of agreeable weather and blue skies, I had spent the afternoon cleaning the chain and cog of my road bike, so that I could set it up with an indoor trainer I had not used in a long while. And so it was on the weekend that coronavirus deaths in the United Kingdom continued to climb alarmingly, with predictions that the total could reach 100,000 before the end of January, that I found myself desperate to be outdoors, if only to serve as a morale booster.. As I had done on several occasions towards the end of last year, I elected to walk the anti-clockwise circular route that would first take me from Royston to Therfield along the Icknield Way Trail bridleway.

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It was along the tarred road near Fox Cottage that morphs into a pot-holed gravel road, well waterlogged at this time of year, that I passed a woman and her kids, all on horseback. We recognized one another from a similar walk at the back end of 2020, when I encountered them while on the path adjacent to the backyard of their property at Keepers Cottage, in badly fading light. She recalled the previous encounter and conceded that she had been concerned I might not have made it home safely on that occasion. Her fears had now been allayed.

Before reaching the T-junction with a choice of either a shorter route to Royston via Stock Bank or the longer route via Barley, with time on my hands before the 16h30 kick-off between Liverpool and Manchester United, I opted for the latter. The bridleway via Horseshoe Farm in Barley leads directly to the black barn on the B1039 Royston Road, where my attention was drawn to the unmistakeable sound of a drone above the farmland. Two off-road vehicles were parked outside but I couldn’t figure out where the pilots where positioned. After five hours including the tea break, I made it back home. Needless to say, fatigue had got the better of me, so I lay on my bed listening to the match commentary rather than watching it on my computer.

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Buckland – Wyddial New Year’s Eve Walk – 31st Dec 2020

Despite temperatures hovering around zero in the south-east of England, snow had not yet fallen during the cold spell leading up to New Year’s Eve. I drove to Buckland, just south of Royston and planned a route across farmland to the tiny village of Wyddial. A light touch of frost covered the trees and the landscape. Puddles of water had frozen to ice. The sodden, waterlogged terrain, soaked from the winter rains, had now hardened and with every step, the ground crunched underfoot. Bare tree branches, bereft of all foliage, exposed the nests of birds sheltering from the cold. In the tree tops, groups of crows cawed loudly, perhaps at being threatened by other foreign intruders or merely expressing their indignance at the world and my presence. Somewhat sinister in nature, they don’t strike me as exceptionally friendly birds but are arguably misunderstood.

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I was surprised to see a few folk out walking too, braving the cold as I was, either in pairs or as solitary individuals taking their dog out for some exercise. I set off from Buckland Bury via St Andrews Church, which, despite being fairly old, the nave and chancel having been built in about 1348, is now a redundant Anglican church. The paths from Buckland head across the farmland as indicated on the map but had been ploughed over by the farmer, perhaps out of spite or more likely sheer indifference, making it an entirely unattractive prospect to negotiate in the current conditions. The alternative was to take the longer route around, following the edge of fields but still arriving at the same chosen destination. In this way I reached Dade’s Wood but was able to take a more direct route to the larger Capons Wood, which I then circumnavigated. On the horizon, towards Chipping, I could faintly hear the sound of cars making their way down the A10.

Wyddial is first attested in the Domesday Book of 1086, where it appears as Widihale, and means ‘willow nook’. The parish church of St Giles dates from the 14th century, when the nave was built. Wyddial Hall, situated just north of the church and accessed via the churchyard, is a Grade II listed building, originally built in the early 16th century, with 12 bedrooms, a lawn tennis court, swimming pool, sauna, gymnasium and butler’s quarters. One wonders who gets to own a place like this. A bit of research provides some insight into the underbelly of privileged society.

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Christmas & Boxing Day Herts walks during lockdown – Dec 2020

With the relaxation of Covid lockdown rules over the Christmas period having been reversed in the south-east at the last minute, plans to spend the festive period with my niece and her family had to be shelved, so celebrations were being spent in solitude. Despite temepartures being around 3-4 degrees, the absence of rain provided an opportunity to make the most of the outdoors, so I donned my muddy boots, jumped in the car and drove the short distance to Shaftenhoe End, just outside Barley, near Royston, parking along Shaftenhoe End Road. Imprints in the mud along the churned up paths leading south from Shaftenhoe End indicated that the route was used by horse riders.

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I reached the junction of Park Farm Lane and Bell Farm, which I recognized on previous walks starting out from Barkway. I knew that the former Royal Air Force station, RAF Nuthampstead, lay just to the east. I made my way directly across the field where the main runway would be been located, so as to reach the top end of the wood, thus saving myself the unnecessary detour. Here I located an airfield service road heading north, past a structure that had patently remained from the war era, though I’ve not been able to determine its function or significance.

As I reached the end of the airfield service road near Gypsey Corner Farm, I located what I initially assumed to be a man-made canal which I figured to be Water Lane, a hedgerow lining one side and a thick grass verge on the other. After consulting the map again, I realized that it formed the border between Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire. Despite no signs indicating that it was a public footpath, I was sure that the local farmer wouldn’t begrudge me the hospitality of a trespass on his lands on Christmas Day, so I decided to to hedge my bets and take my chance. Up ahead I saw a large herd of deer and as I pressed on, their spoor was in evidence everywhere.

At first light the next day, Boxing Day, the outlook seemed gloomy initially, as a new dawn was ushered in. The forecast had predicted a high probability of rain, when last checked the previous evening. Miraculously, blue skies unfolded and I found myself buoyed with optimism and promise.I drove from Royston to Great Chishill around midday only and found myself distracted as the windmill outside Great Chishill came into view in the distance, presenting a photo opportunity that would inevitably result in a shortening of the walk, the exact route of which hadn’t fully crystallized in my mind.

Almost every small town and village across the length and breadth of Britain commemorates those who gave their lives in the Great War, Great Chishill being no exception. A memorial at the junction of Barley and Heydon Roads lists just 13 names. Though Great Chishill lies only 4 miles east of Royston, it is located in Cambridgeshire, in fact, the area being the highest point in the county.

An abundance of cyclists seemed to be out and about, perhaps due to the air being relatively windless. I strolled back along Little Chishill Road until it joined May Street. Here I encountered a father on foot, his son riding his bicycle. I was about to head off, when I recognised the accent so familiar to me, as he addressed his little boy, so I approached them instead. Gustav hailed from Milnerton, a suburb of Cape Town, South Africa. It turned out that he had been living in Portugal with his Angolan wife and after being in America for a while, where his son Luca had been born, they had relocated to the UK only a year ago.

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