The Hardwick Millennium Footpath
A circular walk around Hardwick to celebrate the Millennium. The walk begins and ends at the Hardwick village sign. It passes through the parishes of Hardwick, Comberton, and Caldecote, and crosses the Greenwich Meridian twice. It mainly follows existing public rights of way, though about 1 mile (1.6 km) is on a new permissive path. The route follows a combination of farm tracks, bridleways, field edges, and roadside pavements, and is waymarked (except in Caldecote parish) with signs bearing the Hardwick Celebrates 2000 logo. Hardwick and Caldecote Highfields are seen from a variety of different viewpoints, and in places there are good vistas to the south over the Bourn valley. In March 1998 a survey of Hardwick village residents was carried out by Hardwick Community Association, to canvass ideas for marking the Millennium. One of the most popular ideas was the creation of a circular footpath, for the enjoyment of local people of all ages as well as visitors, to allow them to better enjoy the countryside surrounding the village. At a meeting of the Community Association on 1 June 1998, this proposal was enthusiastically endorsed, and a steering group was set up to pursue the project, with the aim of opening the footpath at a special Millennium celebration weekend in summer 2000 (1-2 July).
Begin at the village sign outside St Mary’s Church (TL 372 586). Walk south along the road to the Blue Lion pub, and cross the road to pick up the public footpath heading east across fields, branching left (northeast) at the path junction (TL 388 584). At the Hardwick/ Comberton parish boundary (TL 383 586), leave the public right of way and turn north along the new permissive path, crossing the new footbridge across the Bin Brook, and continuing along the field edge until a hedge and ditch is reached (TL 384 591). Turn east along the track until the gate onto Long Road is reached (TL 389 590). Turn left (north) along the field edge to St Neots Road. There is no public access across the last 100 yards before the road, and so it is necessary to take a detour through a gap in the hedge and along the side of Long Road to the corner (beware of traffic). Proceed westward along the new shared cycle/pedestrian path and then the pavement on the south side of St Neots Road, past the line of bungalows, Cambridge Road, Pet-Paks (teas served at Frankie’s Snack Bar), Hall Drive, and the Enterprise Cafe, until the track to Highfield Farm branches off to the left. Follow this southwest, past the farm, to join Highfields Road, Caldecote. Turn left (south), taking the pavement first on the right and then the left, past the Social Club. Turn left (east) along East Drive then south to join the Port Way at TL 352 582. Turn left and follow the public bridleway east to Hardwick Wood, then north to the junction at TL 357 583. From this point an optional diversion may be taken along a pleasant path to TL 361 591 (this point is close to the site of the plane crash on The Hay, on the night 16th/17th December 1943.), but it is necessary to return the same way, as there is no right of way past here. Continue on the Port Way track until reaching the Toft road at the south end of Hardwick Village (TL 371 581). (From here, a short cut along the road leads back to the starting point.) Pick up the track again a few yards north on the other side of the road and continue east to Starve Goose Plantation (TL 381 581). Turn left, then left again to rejoin the outward route back to the Blue Lion. Stop by for a welcome drink, and thence back to the village sign. A leaflet describing the walk is available from Andy Smith.
|1|Full route|8.6 mi|13.9 km|
|2|Omitting Caldecote double-back|7.6 mi|12.1 km|
|3|Omitting Starvegoose Plantation loop|7.4 mi|12.0 km|
|4|Omitting both|6.4 mi|10.3 km|
|5|Eastern half-circuit (closing loop via Cambridge Road/ Main Street)|3.2 mi|5.1 km|
|6|Western half-circuit (closing loop via Cambridge Road/ Main Street)|4.6 mi|7.4 km|
The Greenwich Meridian is crossed at 3.2 mi (5.1 km) and 6.8 mi (11.0 km) from the start (full route, anti-clockwise). Image produced from the Ordnance Survey Get-a-map service.
Image reproduced with kind permission of Ordnance Survey and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland The blue line shows the route; the green line is the Greenwich Meridian. Click on the map for a larger image. More detail may be found in the OS 1:25000 scale “Explorer” map sheet 209 (Cambridge).
Opening of the Footpath
The official opening of the path, and the inaugural walk around it, took place during the Hardwick Millennium Celebration weekend, on Sunday 2nd July 2000. See photos and more photos. People assembled at the start of the walk, the village sign outside the church, from 10.30am onward and at 10.45am the Footpath was officially opened by Mrs Anne Jones, President of the Community Association who thanked the many individuals and organisations who had help to convert the desire for a circular footpath to mark the Millennium into a reality. Then, after admiring the brand new signboard showing the route of the Footpath, a party of some 95 people, including 43 children and youngsters, set off to walk part or all of the Footpath. At the parish boundary, the new section of path was opened by Miss Caroline Chivers by cutting a rather fine ribbon. The walkers continued through the fields, much appreciating the opportunity to walk a route which had not previously been open to the public. Some of the walkers returned via Cambridge Road and Main Street, a shorter circuit of about 3 miles, but most continued, crossing the Meridian, though Caldecote Highfields and back across the parish boundary near Hardwick Wood. Here a break was taken for a picnic lunch; at which point it began raining, though this in no way dampened the spirits of the party. After lunch the rest of the walk was completed, with 47 people reaching the village sign at about 2.20pm, after a most enjoyable if tiring 7½ miles, in time for the next event in the programme of the weekend, the Service of Celebration at 3pm. Press Report, 5 June 2000
* Chivers Farms Ltd. (land access, grass seeding, field edge mowing, fencing etc.) * Millennium Commission (grant which covered most of the project cost) * Hardwick Community Association (financial support, including funds raised at Christmas Bazaars, etc) * Hardwick Parish Council (support and advice, grass mowing, millennium signboard, future maintenance) * Cambridgeshire County Council (advice, negotiation of access agreement, waymarking signs) * Jane Muncey (questionnaire, millennium coordination, publicity via Hardwick Millennium Newswire) * Robin Martlew (support and advice) * Jim Stewart (support and advice) * Lynne Howells and the Hardwick Happenings team (publicity via the Happenings and leaflet distribution) * Shirley Bidgood (leaflet design, photography) * Helen Jones (Hardwick 2000 logo design) * Anne Jones (opening the Footpath) * Windmill Business Systems (financial sponsorship) * Madingley Mulch (financial sponsorship) * Ordnance Survey (permission to reproduce map)