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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