Mad Ideas: Long Walks: Cambridge to Ivinghoe Beacon

other mad ideas: long walks

To my father, who taught me the joy of walking.


Date Distance Whither Accommodation Route
2003-05-02 22.5 miles Sandon Gannock Thatch Grantchester, Barrington, Melbourn, Royston, Therfield
2003-05-03 22 miles Streatley Windrush Baldock, Letchworth, Ickleford, Pirton
2003-05-04 20.5 miles Ivinghoe Beacon - Toddington, Chalk Hill, Dunstable, Whipsnade, Dagnall
Total: 65 miles

General notes

This is the second of a planned series of long walks from Cambridge. On this occasion I will be walking alone.

I am accepting sponsorship for this walk, to be donated to the Leukaemia Research Fund, certainly a worthy cause. This wasn't my idea - my mother-in-law shopped me to them and I got a sponsorship form in the post one morning.

The destination, Ivinghoe Beacon, is a landmark on the Chiltern hills. It's on the ancient Ridgeway path, and is the eastern end of the modern Ridgeway National Trail, and the western end of the modern Icknield Way path.


The 5-day weather forecast for Royston (from the BBC) should help with planning. I'll fill in this table from the forecast and print it out before I set off:

Friday Saturday Sunday
General rain sunny intervals sunny intervals
Temperature 15/6 17/7 19/8
Wind 10 SE 12 W 16 S

Sunrise is at about 05:30, sunset at about 20:30.

Some of the map references in these tables may be off by one or two hundred metres.

Day 1: 2003-05-02

Miles Directions Map Ref Total
2.5 Through town to Newnham TL443573 2.5
1.0 along river to Grantchester TL430555 3.5
2.5 over motorway and past radio telescope and Cantelupe farm to Haslingfield TL405523 6.0
1.5 over Chapel Hill to Barrington, turning L to footpath TL395497 7.5
1.0 over river, fields, and railway to Shepreth TL395479 8.5
Some scope for change between Shepreth and Royston. Melbourn is good for lunch if it's lunchtime already (probably not), but getting from there to Royston isn't great. The main alternative appears to be Meldreth/Kneesworth/A1198.
2.5 across A10 into Melbourn, turning L at church TL383448 11.0
Melbourn to Royston, hmm. The direct route is 4 miles (path SW to A10 at TL370433, A10 to centre). Alternatives include Summer House Farm (or Muncey's Farm, or Hyde Hill Farm) then A505. Rights of way are unclear on the 50K map. These are all about 5.5 miles, as is the route I list here. I will check the 25K map.
2.0 along minor road to A505, turn R TL399425 13.0
1.5 along A505 to join the Icknield Way TL383410 14.5
2.0 along Icknield Way (A505 and minor road) into Royston. TL355407 16.5
3.0 S along IW to Therfield TL336372 19.5
3.0 S along IW via Kelshall to Sandon TL322345 22.5

Accommodation: Gannock Thatch, Gannock Green, Sandon, Near Buntingford, Hertfordshire, SG9 0RH, Telephone 01763 287672. Jill Camps. £30 for a single B&B. Private bath. "We are a pink thatched cottage nearly opposite Gannock Farm"; map indicates this is on the left on the minor road north from Sandon, about half a mile north of the church. "There is a good pub in Therfield called the Fox and Duck." There may be a minor shortcut from Kelshall to Gannock Farm.

Day 2: 2003-05-03

Miles Directions Map Ref Total
2.0 W along IW to Wallington TL294336 2.0
2.5 SW along IW to Clothall TL269321 4.5
2.5 NW along IW to Baldock TL245339 7.0
2.0 W along IW to Letchworth TL222332 9.0
3.5 W along IW to Ickleford on northern fringe of Hitchin TL185315 12.5
3.0 W along IW to Pirton (lunch?) TL147317 15.5
1.5 SW along IW to dogleg on minor road between Hexton and Hitchin TL132300 17.0
2.0 SW along IW to picnic area on minor road between Hexton and Lilley TL109283 19.0
3.0 W along minor road to Streatley (across A6) TL072287 22.0

Accommodation: "Windrush", 32 Stanley Road, Streatley. Telephone 01582 882480. Janice Waters. £20/night single B&B. Bath. Food available at the village pub "Chequers". From the roundabout on the A6, go up Church Road to the T junction, turn left on Sharpenhoe Road, then left again onto Stanley Road. It's the house on the end.

Day 3: 2003-05-04

Miles Directions Map Ref Total
3.0 W along IW through Sundon Hills Country Park to bridge over M1 TL025295 3.0
1.0 W along IW to Toddington TL010290 4.0
2.5 S along IW to Wingfield TL000262 6.5
2.0 S along IW to cross A5 at Chalk Hill TL000238 8.5
2.5 S along IW to outskirts of Dunstable TL007214 11.0
3.0 S along IW along ridge of Dunstable Downs to Whipsnade TL010180 14.0
3.0 SW along IW to Dagnall on A4146 SP992163 17.0
3.5 SW then NW along IW to Ivinghoe Beacon SP961169 20.5

My colleague Nick Levine will be meeting me at Ivinghoe Beacon to give me a lift home.

Misc accommodation numbers:

The Gates in Baldock, B&B High Street 01462 634369
Goldcrest Inn, a pub, 892940
Rose and Crown, a pub, 892339
White Lion 892875
Zeus 893620
Fox and Duck in Therfield, 55 twin inc bfast
The Old Forge in Barkway, Alan McNeil, 01763 849066, 35 pounds

TICs en route: Letchworth 01462 487868, Luton 01582 401579, Bedford 01234 215226, Dunstable 01582 471012.

OS Explorer series maps 209, 194, 193, 181.