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Nov 172018

First published in: The Times Click here to view a map for this walk in a new window
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Twenty four hours of solid rain over Bedfordshire had given way to a misty, moisty, mizzling day; not exactly raining, but the damp cold air pearled face and hands with gossamer-fine moisture. The thatched eaves of Old Warden’s cottages dripped, the village road rippled with runnels of water.

In Warden Wood I turned aside over a carpet of birch leaves as soft and yellow as butter, to find Queen Anne’s Summerhouse in its lonely clearing among the pines. It’s doubtful if the queen even knew of this bold brick folly’s existence, but Sir Samuel Ongley thought it wouldn’t hurt to honour his royal liege on the grand estate he’d bought in the 1690s with his East Indian Company profits.

A long green bridleway led north among beet fields, wet and whispering in the misty wind. Pheasant poults went scuttling ahead, then crouched motionless, camouflaged in a ditch. It was their mother who gave way to panic, exploding away right under my boots in a whirr of wings.

I passed the long hangers at Old Warden’s airfield where the wonderful old stringbags of the Shuttleworth Collection are housed. These historic aircraft and motor cars are not preserved as museum exhibits, but are restored to active life in the air and on the ground, living entities once more.

Deep in Home Wood beyond Ickwell Green, a Permissive Path looped round a remarkable monument – a complex of medieval fishponds squeezed inside a warren bank, providing fish and rabbits for the lord of Northill Manor. Bending and curving in and out of one another like a Chinese puzzle, these half-filled ditches, scattered with gold leaves, gave off a powerful atmosphere of mystery among the coppiced hazels along their banks.

Big open fields surrounded the handsome square brick house at Highlands Farm. Lapwings and starlings picked over the winter wheat fields, and a brown hare streaked for cover.

Coming back into Old Warden, the tower of St Lawrence’s Church floated disembodied above the mist. I turned into the church and stood amazed at the riot of fantastic wood carving that embellishes the dark interior – snakes, angels, swags of flowers, and a very tender depiction of the disciples, hooded and sombre, lowering the limp body of Jesus into the tomb.

Start: Hare & Hounds PH, Old Warden, Biggleswade, Beds SG18 9HQ (OS ref TL 138440)

Getting there: Old Warden is signed off B658 (A1 at Biggleswade)

Walk (9 miles, easy, OS Explorer 208): From Hare & Hounds, right along road. On left bend, right (fingerpost/FP, white posts) up path through Warden Warren (in ¼ mile, detour left to Queen Anne’s Summerhouse at 143438). At road, left (144433); in 600m, left (149430, bridleway FP) for nearly a mile to Shuttleworth College drive (157442). Right; in 150m, left (gate, black arrow/BLA, yellow top post/YTP) on bridleway for ½ mile to cross road (155448); on for ½ mile to Ickwell Green beside pre-school (150456).

Cross to continue along Northill Road (pavements). In ⅔ mile pass pond, then church; then left (149466, ‘Cople’) on Bedford Road. In 250m, left (147466, ‘Greensand Ridge Walk’/GRW). In 450m, detour left (143465) on Permissive Path circuit of medieval fishponds. Returning to GRW, left (YTP) through Home Wood. At western edge, left (138462, GRW) round field edges.

In 300m through kissing gate/KG (136462); left, and aim left of Highlands Farm house through KG (GRW). Cross paddock to KG left of sheds (GRW). Cross 2 paddocks (GRW), through trees (131460, YTP) and forward across 2 wide fields. At far side, left (126461, YTP). In ½ mile GRW turns right (123455, YTP), but keep ahead on bridleway (BLAs) through Palmer’s Wood. From Mount Pleasant Farm (136448) follow drive to road (138445). Right; in 200m, right to St Lawrence’s Church (137443), or keep ahead to Hare & Hounds.

Lunch: Hare & Hounds, Old Warden (01767-627225, – excellent village local

Accommodation: Old Warden Guest House, SG18 9HQ (01767-627201,

Info: Sandy TIC (01767-682728)

Shuttleworth Collection:;;

 Posted by at 01:01
Dec 102016

First published in: The Times Click here to view a map for this walk in a new window
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At first acquaintance, Bedfordshire seems a rather nondescript county to walk in. It’s hard to get a grasp on the character of this low-rolling region with its large arable fields. But once you develop a taste for the many old copses and hedgerows, the slow-flowing brooks and sudden, unexpected viewpoints from ridges you hadn’t thought were there, Bedfordshire’s a place you find yourself looking forward to revisiting on foot.

An absolutely glorious afternoon helps, of course. The sun blazed down out of a clear blue sky on the cottages and dark ironstone church at Church End, the southerly node of the scattered village of Eversholt, on the eastern doorstep of Woburn Park. To balance the wintry nip in the air there were pictures of springtime in the village phone box, featuring improbably shaped lambs and unfeasibly yellow daffodils painted by the pupils of Eversholt Lower School.

We set out across a wide field of ploughland where we picked up shards of ancient pottery and a nacreous fragment of Roman glass. At Herne Green Farm a tractor ground along the furrows, turning dark soil like roughly broken chocolate and drawing a long white wake of gulls behind it.

An easterly wind began to rise, thrashing and hissing in the sycamores around Herne Green. A red kite circled the newly cut fields, looking for small creatures exposed by the plough. One of those unforeseen Bedfordshire views opened across a rolling plain to the north-east as we stumbled across crusty ploughlands down to the trees and half glimpsed house of Toddington Park.

Here handsome James Scott, Duke of Monmouth and by-blow of King Charles II, lived with his young lover Henrietta Wentworth, heiress to Toddington estate. Stories say they sold her property and jewels to fund the rebellion in 1685 that attempted to put Monmouth on the throne after the death of his father. It ended badly, with Charles’ brother James installed as King, and Monmouth himself sent ignominiously to the block.

Our homeward path lay across a succession of enormous fields, mostly of thick dark plough. There were old hedges of hips and haws, and a thread of a brook winding under elder bushes. The lichens that scabbed the elders glowed so incredibly yellow in the evening sun that it looked as though the young artists of Eversholt Lower School had been that way with their paint-boxes.

Start: Green Man PH, Church End, Eversholt, Beds, MK17 9DU (OS ref SP 983325)

Getting there: M1 Jct 12; A5120 into Toddington. Opposite church, right to Milton Bryan and Church End.

Walk (5½ miles, easy, OS Explorer): From Green Man, left along road. At crossroads, ahead through kissing gate/KG. Cross field to KG (984320, black arrow/BLA); up slope, to KG in a dip at far top corner of field (986317). Across rushy patch; through KG, then right through another KG into wood.

Bear left (yellow-topped post/YTP). In 100m cross grazing ride; in 100m cross another (BLA); leave wood at YTP (988314). Half left across field to hedge corner; ahead with hedge on left to stile (992309, BLA). Aim left of Herne Green Farm to double KG. Half right to stile; in 20m, left over stile, right along hedge, following ‘Monmouth Way’/MW signs. In ¼ mile, at farm drive (995302), aim across field towards double roof in valley below. Through gate by buildings (997299; YTP, MW); half right to KG (MW); half right across paddock to KG. Half right across drive to railing gap (998297, BLA). Cross large field, aiming between two electricity poles, to road on far side (003293, fingerpost/FP).

Right for 200m; left along track (FP); in 70m, right (BLA) across field, aiming for rails of footbridge (997293). Cross; aim to right of lone oak to cross Herne Grange drive (994295). Through gate (FP); across field to gate (BLA); across next field to gate under trees (989297). Follow right-hand hedge downhill for 2 fields to cross footbridge in valley bottom (984298, YTP). Right through KG; keep brook on right for 3 fields (YTP, BLA) to cross Park Road (984303).

Ahead with hedge on right. In 300m (985306), level with large oak at hedge end on opposite side of field, fork left and aim half right across field to hedge gap (BLA). Across next field to far corner (984310). Through hedge gap (YTP, BLA); follow path through plantation. In 250m fork left across field to post beside Palmer’s Shrubs wood (983313, BLA). Ahead through wood to KG (983317). Ahead across field past oak tree; down to KG (984320); cross field to Church End.

NB: Many arable fields to cross; lots of mud!

Lunch: Green Man, Church End (01525-288111, – closed Mondays

Accommodation: Long’s Inn, Bedford St, Woburn MK17 9QB (01525-290219,

Info: Dunstable TIC (01582-891420);;;

Britain’s Best Walks: 200 Classic Walks from The Times by Christopher Somerville (HarperCollins, £30). To receive 30 per cent off plus free p&p visit and enter code TIMES30, or call 0844 5768122

 Posted by at 01:45
Oct 102015

First published in: The Times Click here to view a map for this walk in a new window
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In Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan modelled his sinner-snaring ‘Slough of Despond’ on the Bedfordshire morass of Marston Vale. All through the 20th century the Vale was still a waste landscape, though of an industrial nature – its sticky clay expanses encompassed the world’s most active brickfields, and thousands of acres were stripped and dug for the raw material of brickmaking. Since the 2008 closure of the Stewartby brickworks, though, a green transformation has been wrought in these unpromising flatlands.

We set off from Marston Vale Forest Centre, at 9 am already lively with youngsters gathering for a wet and mucky day out. The Centre is the hub of the Forest of Marston Vale, a community forest that has already seen a million trees planted across the old brickmaking wasteland. There are lakes, ponds, trails and woods where the clay was dug, and fantastic enthusiasm for their use among local people.

The 13-mile Marston Vale Timberland Trail leads across enormous cornfields towards the undulating greensand ridge that Bunyan used as the template for his ‘Delectable Hills’. The path switchbacked through the woods on the ridge slope. From behind a leylandii screen rose ominous noises – howls, screeches, rumblings and whinings fit for one of Bunyan’s demons. They came from experimental vehicles speeding up the gradients and round the circuits of Millbrook’s huge proving ground, tucked away from prying eyes among the trees.

Up on the open heights of Ampthill Park stands a memorial cross to Katherine of Aragon, wronged wife of King Henry VIII – she was incarcerated here while Henry wrangled to divorce her. We stood looking out north across many sunlit miles of the Bedfordshire plain, before skirting the tall and haunted ruin of Houghton House – Bunyan’s ‘House Beautiful’. From here the cornfield paths returned us to the model village of Stewartby, flagged by the four mighty chimneys that remain at its redundant brickworks.

In their 1930s heyday the works produced 500 million bricks a year for the London Brick Company. Now the grey brickfields are going back to green once more, and Stewartby’s chimneys stand smokeless and gaunt over a beautiful lake where the giant clay pits once lay in all their desolation.
Start: Marston Vale Forest Centre, Marston Moretaine, Beds MK43 0PR (OS ref TL 004418)

Getting there: Train to Millbrook or Stewartby (1 mile on foot). Bus 68 from Bedford.
Road: M1 Jct 13; A421 towards Bedford. In 5 miles, ‘Marston Moretaine, Sports Centre’ signed to right. At T-junction in Marston, left; right at Co-op and follow ‘Forest Centre.’

Walk (12½ miles, easy but long; OS Explorers 192, 193, 208. NB: Online maps, more walks at Outside Forest Centre, fingerpost points to Marston Vale Timberland Trail (TT). Follow excellently waymarked TT for 5½ miles to Katherine’s Cross, Ampthill Park (025384). To visit Ampthill village, continue on TT. To bypass village – 250m past cross, fork left off TT by dog bin (028385). Follow Greensand Ridge Way through Laurel Wood to B530 (032387). Left for 100m; right (cross with care!) on farm track, passing top of drive to Houghton House ruin (040393). Continue to gates of Houghton Park House; right over stile; footpath down 3 fields to plank footbridge (039401). Don’t cross; turn left on TT and follow it for 4¼ miles back to Forest Centre.

NB sticky clay underfoot – mucky after rain.

Lunch: picnic; café at Forest Centre

Accommodation: Black Horse, Ireland, Shefford, Beds SG17 5QL (01462-811398; – excellent restaurant with rooms

Info: Forest Centre, Marston Moretaine (01234-767037;;;;

 Posted by at 01:38
Dec 222012

The three young horses had been made skittish by this morning’s sharp wind, and they jostled each other and leaped off the ground as we crossed their field on the outskirts of Woburn.First published in: The Times Click here to view a map for this walk in a new window
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There was a bite in the Bedfordshire air and a nip in our fingers today, with winter stealing in across the wooded countryside on a tide of gold and crimson.

Enormous fungi sprouted in the thick clay of the ploughed fields. Along the way in Little Brickhill Copse and Buttermilk Wood – names redolent of the traditional brick-making and dairying of this low-rolling county – the scarlet caps of fly agaric, spotted white, gleamed in the shadows under the silver birch and pine trees. How many unsuspecting infants must have been tempted by those sweetie-resembling but deadly fungi; likewise the dense crowds of bell-caps called ‘granny’s cakes’ that clustered so invitingly on the cut tree stumps. No wonder our forebears warned their children off the winter woods with tales of gingerbread houses and wicked old witches.

We passed Hundreds Farm and went through woods of sweet chestnut, oak and birch where a golden rain of falling leaves slanted across the path and the iridescence in the pools betrayed the presence of iron in the greensand rock below. Then suddenly we were out of the trees and striding across open fields of grass tussocks. In one prairie-like pasture a crowd of young bullocks frolicked past with the wind in their tails, and we took refuge beside an old thorn tree in the centre of an ancient moated platform until they had cantered away.

The peerage sucked its aristocratic teeth when the 13th Duke of Bedford opened his ancestral house of Woburn Abbey to the public in 1955, but the pioneering stately home proved a roaring success. We strolled the broad acres past the big white-faced pile of the mansion and on through the deer park. Woburn’s famous herd of Père David’s deer, rescued from the brink of extinction by the 11th Duke, cropped the grass unconcernedly; and three magnificent red stags lay in close company, occasionally lifting their great heads to roar in a reminder that the rutting season was well and truly under way.

Start: Woburn High Street, Beds, MK17 9PX (OS ref SP949331)

Travel: Bus Service 10 (, Leighton Buzzard to Milton Keynes
Road – M1 Jct 12, then follow brown signs via Eversholt.

Walk (7½ miles, easy, OS Explorer 192):

Walk north up High Street (A4012, Bedford direction). Pass A4012’s right turn to Bedford; in another 10 m, left (948334, fingerpost) along fenced path. Across fields through gates (black arrows/BLA, ‘Woburn Walk’/WW, yellow-topped posts/YTP). In 3rd field, go half left to top left corner (941333, YTP). Left for 30 m past pond; right across footbridge (YTP); across field and through hedge gap (940333), on through hedge to left of Horsemoor Farm (937333). Left (WW) for 50 m; right (BLA) up woodland path and ahead for ½ mile to Hundreds Farm (928332).

NB: If diversion round reservoir works is still in place, follow taped path through woods from 935333 to 930333; turn left here (3-finger post) to Hundreds Farm.

Pass Hundreds Farm, following BLAs and YTPs. By notice ‘To 10th Tee, Club House’, keep ahead on sandy path. By notice ‘To 6th Tee’ fork left on woodland path, soon passing BLA post. Cross track (924328) and on to road (925327).

Cross; right along path parallel to road (fingerpost). Ahead for 100 m; then left (‘Circular Walk’/CW, arrows and WW). On along woodland path. In ⅓ mile join Greensand Ridge Walk at junction of tracks (926321); ahead for nearly 1 mile to road (933311). Right along verge for 250 m; left along minor road (933308, ‘Potsgrove’) past house. In 50 m, left through kissing gate (fingerpost), across fields and through gates (BLA). NB There may be frisky bullocks running in these fields! In 2nd field, aim past old moat (939313), to turn left through kissing gate in hedge beyond a line of disused fence posts (942313). North up field edge with fence on left. In 300 m (943316), BA points half right across field, but don’t go too far right! Better to keep ahead up fence/hedge to end of field, then turn right to kissing gate half way along top hedge (944319). Go through; right (BLA) along hedge to YTP (945318); half left (BLA) across field to YTP (948319). Ahead across corner of next field; left across ditch (949320) and walk north over next field, aiming for small treetop on its own in a dip. At YTP (949324), right along hedge. Follow farm track round left bend; in another 20 m, left through holly hedge (952323) and on along raised bank; then follow hedge as it bends right (951324) and descends to A4012 (952326).

Cross road; go left of Ivy Lodge (CW fingerpost); on along fenced path for ⅓ mile to deer gate (957326). Bear left (‘public footpath’ fingerpost); follow track (YTPs) left of Shoulder of Mutton Pond (959330) and Horse Pond (960331). Bear left round Park Farm; ahead through gate (959333; BLA, ‘Camping Centre’). In 150 m drive bends right (957333, ‘Camping Centre’); keep ahead here on path among trees for ⅓ mile, past Upper Drakeloe Pond to road (952333). Left to A4012 (949331); right into Woburn.

NB: Section from Potsgrove lane to A4012 unsuitable for dogs – cattle running free!

Lunch/Accommodation: Longs Inn, Bedford Street, Woburn MK17 9QB (01525-290219;

Woburn Abbey: 01525-290333;

Info: 01908-614638;

 Posted by at 09:04
Mar 212009

First published in: The Times Click here to view a map for this walk in a new window
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The hedge roots around Hexton were spangled sherbet-yellow with primroses, and the catkin-laden hazels were loud with explosive bursts of chaffinch song, as I set out along Mill Lane from the Raven Inn. Across the north Hertfordshire fields on the southern skyline, sinuous chalk hills looked out towards the great clay plains of Bedfordshire, misty and cool in this fresh March morning.

Hexton’s neighbouring hamlet of Pegsdon lies in a southward-bulging salient of Bedfordshire. The signboard of the Live and Let Live pub showed a dove and a peregrine falcon sitting amicably together by an unloaded shotgun. So there are miracles still in the borderlands, just as the Bedfordshire tinker, fiddler and outlawed nonconformist preacher John Bunyan saw in visions when he roamed these hills in Restoration times – visions that drove him to compose The Pilgrim’s Progress in the prison cells he was so often confined in.

On the southern skyline rose the Pegsdon Hills, the ‘Delectable Mountains’ of John Bunyan’s fable. A winding path and hollow field lanes brought me to where the ancient Icknield Way, deeply sunken in a tunnel of beech and hornbeams studded with green buds, rose along the nape of the hills. The 6,000-year-old highway ran rutted, grassy and sun-splashed past Telegraph Hill where a gaunt semaphore mast was once sited by the Admiralty, one of a chain that passed signals between London and far-off Great Yarmouth. A little further along rose Galley or Gallows Hill, a place of ill-omen in Bunyan’s time, where witches were buried and the tar-soaked bodies of executed criminals hung to terrify passers-by who fervently believed that Gallows Hill was haunted by a dread Black Dog.

I turned off the old track, heading north over the rounded sprawl of Barton Hills. A nature reserve with dry chalk valleys too steep to plough, the hills remain a beautiful stretch of unspoiled chalk grassland. Trees disguised the ramparts of Ravensburgh Castle, the largest hillfort in south-east England. In 54 BC Julius Caesar attacked and stormed a hillfort in this region that was defended by the British warrior leader, Cassivellaunus – it was most likely Ravensburgh.

Beyond lay Bonfirehill Knoll, in former days the scene of the Hocktide Revels shortly after Easter. It doesn’t take much post-Freudian analysis – especially in rampant spring – to work out the symbolism of ‘Pulling the Pole’, a game in which the men of Hexton tried to keep an ash pole erect on the hill, while the women strove to collapse it and drag it down into the village. Strange to relate, the women were always triumphant. I made my way down the hill and over the fields to Hexton, with plenty to ponder.

Start & finish: Raven Inn, Hexton, Hitchin, Herts SG5 3JB (OS ref TL 106307)

Getting there: Train ( to Harlington (5 miles)

Road: M1, Junction 12; A5120, then minor road to Harlington and Barton-le-Clay; B655 to Hexton.

Walk (10 miles, easy grade, OS Explorer 193): Leaving Raven Inn, turn left; on your left; walk up road past ‘No Through Road’ sign and continue for ½ mile (0.8 km), along Mill Lane, past Hexton Mill (blue bridleway waymarks), to pass between Green End and Bury Farm, and on to meet road (120306). Right for 300 yards, then left to pass Live & Let Live Inn (121303). In 100 yards, just before B655, left up Pegsdon Common Farm drive (fingerpost, ‘Private Road’). Rounding a left bend, go right (125305 – fingerpost) up grass path and up steps, then on up right side of conifer plantation. At end of trees, continue along rim of dry valley to waymark post (129304 – Chiltern Way/CW waymark). Left along edge of escarpment for 300 yards; right along sunken lane (CW). Pass entrance to Knocking Hoe NNR and go over stile by gate (133305). Left (CW) for 150 yards, then right along field edge path (blue arrow, ‘Walk on the Wild Side’ waymark) for 500 yards to B655. Right for 250 m along grass verge, then through car park and through gates and stiles to join the Icknield Way (132300).

Icknield Way climbs for nearly 3/4 mile, then levels off. In another 400 m, look on your right for kissing-gate with brown ‘Access Land man’ logo (121291). Continue along Icknield Way; at a fork in 150 m, keep ahead for 3/4 mile to meet a road (109282). Forward along verge for 500 yards; where road bends left under power lines, forward along Icknield Way for 2/3 mile to cross John Bunyan Trail (unmarked on ground) on edge of Maulden Firs (096275). Ahead for another 300 yards, then fork left (093273) to ascend Galley Hill.

From Galley Hill return to Icknield Way; retrace steps for 300 m to edge of Maulden Firs wood; left along John Bunyan Trail, under power lines for 2/3 mile to road (093284). Right for 150 m; left (fingerpost) through trees on path past Barton Hill Farm for 2/3 mile (1 km) to pass gate of Barton Hills National Nature Reserve on your left (092296). Continue along track, noticing on your right the thickly wooded rampart of Ravensburgh Castle, and beyond it the tree-smothered Bonfirehill Knoll.

Follow track down slope for 2/3 mile to T-junction with lane (085303). Right past church to B655 in Barton-le-Clay (085305). Right for 50 yards, left along Manor Road. 100 yards past gates of Ramsey Manor School, right (086310 – fingerpost) down path, over footbridge and follow field edge. In 100 yards, ignore arrow pointing left; keep ahead for 1 mile along field edges, to cross footbridge (104311) and the final field into Hexton. Turn right to Raven Inn.

Lunch: Raven Inn, Hexton (01582-881209; or Live & Let Live, Pegsdon (01582-881739;

More info: Letchworth TIC (01462-487868);


 Posted by at 00:00
Jun 132020

First published in: The Times Click here to view a map for this walk in a new window
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Grafham Water lies large and flat in the lowlands of west Cambridgeshire. We found it hard to get a handle on this great reservoir, so low-lying in such a wide landscape, until we were out on the well-surfaced track that circumnavigates the water, peeping between the willows at the private lives of swans and great crested grebes.

The reservoir swallowed 1,500 acres and four whole farms when it was built in the 1960s to bring drinking water to Milton Keynes. The farmers’ loss was the birdwatcher’s gain. The scrub trees beside the path were loud with song this beautiful summer’s afternoon, blackcaps out-singing blackbirds, willow warblers lording it over wrens.

The track led west through clumps of germander speedwell as blue as the bowl of sky stretched over Cambridgeshire. On our left, monoculture wheat-fields of uniform green where tractors dragged sprayers with seventy-foot arms; on our right, birdsong and the rustle of water beyond a screen of shivering poplar leaves.

Fluffy seeds floated in clusters from the poplars, drifting like hanks of fine grey lambs-wool to their settling grounds along the banks. Fishermen sat stem and stern in their little bobbing boats, rods flashing in the sun as they tested skill and luck against the resident trout.

The west side of Grafham Water is managed as nature reserve by the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire & Northamptonshire Wildlife Trusts. What a beautiful job they have made of the orchid verges, the bird hides with their privileged platforms over reed beds and creeks, and the ancient woodlands carpeted with bluebells in spring.

‘The nightingales are in great voice,’ beamed the young warden we met. ‘I’ll be out in Littless Wood listening to them at dawn.’ Every robin and warbler chirrup we heard for the next half hour became the slow, expressive flutings of a nightingale – for a few anticipatory seconds at least. In our hearts, though, we knew it was wishful thinking.

A Bombilius bee-fly with her needle-like proboscis went hovering across the dried-up stubs of cowslips, no doubt looking for the burrow of a solitary bee to fire her eggs into. The Bombilius progeny, once hatched, eat the host larvae in a ‘live and let die’ manoeuvre.

Along the northern shore of the reservoir the wind blew a strong, refreshing blast. Hawthorn branches dipped and bowed, weighed down with blossoms so dense it looked as though a flour dredger had been shaken over them. A chiffchaff sang its early summer song: chip-chap, cheeky chap, chippy chap, a-chip-chap.

At Hill Farm we stopped to watch a pair of swans sailing downwind, their wings upheld like sails, to hiss menacingly at a dog swimming after a ball. Then we crossed the great concrete curve of the dam with its 1960s space-age valve tower, and strolled back along the south shore.

From Lagoon Hide in evening sunshine we looked out over reed beds full of bunting chatter and warbler burble, as the birds of Grafham Water bedded down for the night.

Start: Mander car park, West Perry, Grafham Water, Cambs PE28 0BX (OS ref TL 144672)

Getting there: Bus 400 from Huntingdon.
Road – A1, St Neots-Huntingdon; at Buckden, follow B661 towards Great Staughton. Drive through Perry; at far side, Grafham Water is signed on right.

Walk (9¼ miles, easy, OS Explorer 225): Walk clockwise round Grafham Water, using cycle track and waterside paths.

Lunch: Cafés at Marlow Park and Mander Park for takeaway food.

Info: Grafham Water Visitor Centre, Marlow Car Park, Grafham (01480-812154;;

 Posted by at 01:23