Pathfinder Walk

Huntingdonshire Day on Sunday reminded me of some of the great walks of that county, which I have barely covered. It is a stunning little county: in the summertime, coming across the fields in the south of the county, bursting with fecundity, lifts the heart with wonder. Through the midst flows the Great Ouse, possibly the finest lowland river there is.

To start then, there is the Pathfinder Long Distance Walk, devised as a celebration of the Pathfinder Force of Bomber Command, which was based at RAF Wyton in Huntingdonshire. It loops 46 miles around the east of the county, and dips into neighbouring Cambridgeshire too, starting and finishing at Wyton.

The route runs up to Warboys in the north, down to Papworth in the south, crossing the Ouse half way in two lovely stretches, following the river for a way south of Needingworth (a gorgeous village as I recall); south of here looping into Cambridgeshire, not quite getting to Cambridge, before heading east again.

The route passes though Godmanchester, a little town about which I could write a great deal, not quite touching the great meadow, Port Holme, but you may always turn aside and lean over the Chinese Bridge.

The loop is long, but is just a sample of Huntingdonshire. I will look for more walks about that enchanting county.


Route map

Grafham Water, Huntingdonshire

It is a sweet, unexpected expanse in the sometimes forgotten western part of Huntingdonshire – Grafham Water. It is a lovely place to lose yourself in a walk, in the heart of a county which is astoundingly gorgeous in the summertime.

Covering 1,550 acres, this is a manmade reservoir dug to provide water for far-off towns. It is not Rutland Water, which is far better known, and no villages were drowned in its creation: it is a single shimmering expanse just west of Buckden, managed as a leisure lake for sailing and relaxation, and as a nature reserve.

A coupl of pleasant villages on the shoreline: Grafham on the north and Perry on the south, each with jetties.

All around the water are footpaths, which is makes for a single walk 9 miles long, so a pleasant afternoon’s walk, on which you will be accompanied by the lake water all the way. There is a visitor centre near Grafham, and cyclepaths running out form there, which are good for walking (if you listen out for speeding wheels). There are meadows and wooded stretches.

A variant form of the walk borrows a longer route, the Three Shires Way (which does indeed run through three shires: Huntingdonshire, Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire). This provides a loop to the south towards the little River Kym and through the tiny village of Dillington before rejoining the west shore of Grafham Water.

Maps and books

Route map