Earlier this year we walked from Great Chesterford to Linton, and also from Great Chesterford to Royston, in opposite directions but both sections of the Ickneild Way. We decided it might be nice to walk some more of it, so Mike ordered a guidebook online and when it arrived this week we decided it was time to set out and do the next section from Royston to Baldock.
So today we got up at 8:30am, and we on a train to Royston arriving by about 9:45, with our bags full of food and water, a camera, binoculars, bird book, flower book, sunblock and GPS. We don't travel light :) We set off at a nice pace and soon reached the Therfield Heath, where we had our first mini adventure, trying to find the path from among the many unsignposted routes by the golf course. Not helped by the fact the guidebook's directions are all based on doing the walk in the other direction! Still eventually it was discovered and we were on our way striking away from the roads and into the countryside
It's been a gorgeous day - no sign of the solid white cloud forecast for all afternoon we had quite a lot of sunshine in the end, which brought out all the butterflies, and we were quite slow at first, taking lots of photos and tasting the cherries growing wild along the route. At Therfield it was just a tad too early to stop for lunch at the pub, not least because it wasn't open yet, so we pressed on towards Sandon, expecting to to take us maybe an hour to get there.
Following byways through the woods we missed a turn, and found ourselves in Church Green, with no sign of a way marking arrow. We struck out in the approximate right direction, and after 1/4 of a mile we realised we'd definitely made a mistake, and puzzled out that it was quite a way back. Should we turn back, or continue? I know, let's check the GPS! Oh, it's run out of batteries. How stupid. Mike hadn't been able to get a local OS map of the area, and the guidebook turned out to be hopeless because although it maps the route it doesn't show *anything* away from the route. We were a bit worried at this point, but continued on and found a sign pointing to Sandon and breathed a sigh of relief. It was another mile at least before we got back to the path though, and I dread to think how long our detour was in total!
Still, we ate our lunch on Sandon village green in the sunshine, watching the ducks in the duck pond, and nodding hello to several passing cyclists. From Sandon the route was quite clear for a while, although it was a little alarming being followed by a posse of young bulls across a field. As we neared Wallington (where Uncle Eric lived and was married) we completely lost the path again, and although we didn't add much extra distance we definitely got a bit frazzled and lost a a bit of time.
From there we followed a long bridleway towards Clothall, without too much in the way of misadventure, and only had one more slight detour from the route before striking downhill and over the A505 into Royston. Stopping at the nearest pub for a very welcome treat before making our rather weary way to the station for the train home. We reached Baldock station about 7.5 hours after leaving Royston, tired and slightly sunkissed. And boy am I glad I'll be on the bike and not on foot tomorrow.
Getting home it looks like the GPS managed about 4 miles of data before it ran out of battery, but I shall attempt to recreate the rest with the magic of google maps at some point. Photos are available (to all, not just members) on Facebook: Photos.
Edit: A slightly rough and ready sketch map shows we walked about 16 miles, plus another mile to and from the station this end. That would explain why I ache :)