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Grantchester Village and Meadows

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Grantchester Village and Meadows
Author: Claire, Published: 31 May 2012 Walk rating : Rating:star1 Grantchester Village and Meadows Walking Guidestar1 Grantchester Village and Meadows Walking Guidestar1 Grantchester Village and Meadows Walking Guidestar1 Grantchester Village and Meadows Walking Guidestar1 Grantchester Village and Meadows Walking Guide
Cambridgeshire, Grantchester
Walk Type: Footpaths and byways
Grantchester Village and Meadows
Length: 6 miles,  Difficulty: boot Grantchester Village and Meadows Walking Guide
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A 6 mile circular walk starting from the village of Grantchester, just south of Cambridge in Cambridgeshire. The walk crosses in and out of the centre of village exploring farmland to the east, Byron’s Pool nature reserve to the south and Grantchester Meadows which run alongside the River Cam to the north. As a result there’s a lovely mix with something for everyone, from rare species of plants and birds, fabulous views, chances for a paddle and an opportunity to take afternoon tea at the famous Grantchester Orchard.

The walk is almost entirely flat. There are no stiles but a number of gates and kissing gates plus a number of steps to get over one of the bridges. The paths are a mixture of concrete, tarmac, riverbank paths and grass/mud farm tracks, the latter of which will be muddy after wet weather. The riverside meadows are used to graze cattle so take care with dogs here, although the meadows are very wide so you can give the cattle a wide berth if you need to. Approximate time 2.5 to 3 hours.

The walk starts outside the Rupert Brooke public house on the High Street in Grantchester. Approximate post code CB3 9NQ. There is usually roadside parking either in the High Street or Coton Road. At weekends in the summer the village can get very busy with tourists so you may need to use the village charity car park (a field just south of the village) and then walk back to the village centre.

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Walk Sections

Start to Barton Bridleway
Start to Barton Bridleway

Start point: 52.1808 lat, 0.0934 long
End point: 52.1817 lat, 0.0888 long

With your back to the Rupert Brooke pub, cross over the High Street and go ahead down Coton Road. Follow the pavement running past a diverse mix of properties which range from pretty white-washed thatched cottages to more imposing Georgian stone houses.

Grantchester is closely associated with students and lecturers from the nearby University of Cambridge and is said to have the world's highest concentration of Nobel Prize winners.

Continue for about 300yards until you reach the black timber barn of Lacie’s Farm on the right. Immediately afterwards look for a small lane on the left called The Bridleway.

Barton Bridleway to Fork
Barton Bridleway to Fork

Start point: 52.1817 lat, 0.0888 long
End point: 52.1745 lat, 0.0797 long

Turn left onto The Bridleway, signed for Barton. Follow the tarmac lane and continue as the lane becomes a wide gravel track between crop fields. After about half a mile you’ll reach a bridge over the M11. Go ahead over the bridge and then turn left onto the track on the other side.

Follow the path running parallel with the M11 for a little distance until you reach a footpath sign to the right. Follow this path right and then bending left and heading to run alongside a belt of trees. After some distance you will reach a dip in the path through a tunnel of trees with a fork in the path marked. (If you reach a wooden footbridge over the stream you have gone a few yards too far).

Fork to Mill Way
Fork to Mill Way

Start point: 52.1745 lat, 0.0797 long
End point: 52.1769 lat, 0.0955 long

Fork left here and follow this path swinging hard left onto a mud footpath running alongside a crop field on the right. Continue ahead towards the M11 and go up the steps and over the footbridge across the motorway. Take the grass path straight ahead between fields.

After 100 yards follow the path as it veers left continuing between fields. You will reach a signpost marking a crossroads in the path. Turn right here and follow the wide concrete farm track. At the end of the track, with stables to the left, go straight ahead on the narrow grass path. Follow the path until it emerges alongside an old gnarled tree to meet a T-junction on a bend of Mill Way.

Mill Way to Mill Pond
Mill Way to Mill Pond

Start point: 52.1769 lat, 0.0955 long
End point: 52.1756 lat, 0.0978 long

Cross over the road to the pavement opposite and turn right to follow the pavement as it bends left. On the left you will pass the car park for The Orchard (we’ll be back to explore this later) and then next on the left you’ll see through the railings to the statues in the gardens of The Old Vicarage. A little further along look left through the entrance gates to the Old Vicarage and you’ll see a statue of Rupert Brooke (1887 to 1915).

The Old Vicarage was built around 1685 on the site of a 15th Century vicarage and passed from church ownership into private hands in 1820. In 1910 it was owned by Henry and Florence Neeve, from whom Rupert Brooke rented a room.

Rupert Brooke was an English poet known for his idealistic war sonnets written during the First World War, especially "The Soldier" which begins with the well known line ‘If I should die, think only this of me: that there’s some corner of a foreign field that is forever England.’ He won a scholarship to King's College, Cambridge, where he made friends among the Bloomsbury group of writers (E.M. Forster and Virginia Woolf), some of whom admired his talent while others were more impressed by his good looks. In 1912 he immortalised The Old Vicarage, Grantchester in a poem of the same name which ends with the lines ‘Stands the church clock at ten to three? And is there honey still for tea?’

In the 1980s, the Old Vicarage was bought by the novelist and politician Jeffrey Archer and his wife Mary and they are still in residence today.

Keep following the pavement of the main road as it bends first right and then left. After a little distance you will reach the bridge over the mill pond.

Mill Pond to Byron's Pool
Mill Pond to Byron's Pool

Start point: 52.1756 lat, 0.0978 long
End point: 52.173 lat, 0.1018 long

Continue ahead on the pavement now heading out of the village. Follow the road as it bends right then left. Continue over the next bridge across a large stream. Immediately after the row of terraced 1920s properties, cross over and turn right down a footpath signed to Byron’s Pool. Pass under the height restriction barrier and through the gravel parking area. Go straight ahead through the black kissing gate to enter the nature reserve.

Byron's Pool was named after Lord Byron, a British poet and a leading figure in the Romantic Movement. Among Byron's best-known works are the brief poems ‘She Walks in Beauty’, ‘When We Two Parted’, and ‘So, we'll go no more a roving’. He attended Trinity College in Cambridge from 1805 and used to swim at the weir pool during his time as a student. This pleasant woodland site next to the River Cam is home to Kingfishers and Grey Wagtails and the small ponds are managed for the benefit of amphibians.

Byron's Pool to The Orchard
Byron's Pool to The Orchard

Start point: 52.173 lat, 0.1018 long
End point: 52.1767 lat, 0.0963 long

As you reach the weir over to the right, keep left on the main woodland track. The path comes to an end over a short wooden bridge to come to a large woodland pool. Keep right here following the path round with the pool on the left.

Follow the path as it continues to swing right with the water immediately to the left. Cross over the wooden footbridge by the weir, and then keep left to follow the path nearest to the water. Pass through another black metal kissing gate and follow the path as it swings right to reach the parking area. Turn left through the car park to return to the main road.

Cross over the road and turn left along the pavement. Follow the road back to the bridge over the mill pond. Immediately after the bridge, turn right onto the narrow tarmac footpath. Follow the path as it bends left and along between high walls to reach a T-junction with the road. Turn right along the pavement, past the Old Vicarage until you reach the entrance to The Orchard on the right.

The Orchard to End of Grantchester Meadows
The Orchard to End of Grantchester Meadows

Start point: 52.1767 lat, 0.0963 long
End point: 52.1853 lat, 0.1003 long

Turn right into The Orchard tea rooms and walk ahead through the gravel car park with the Rupert Brooke museum on the left.

The Orchard tea garden opened in 1897 when a group of Cambridge students asked the landlady, Mrs Stevenson of Orchard House, if they could take their tea in the orchard rather than on the front lawn as the custom was. The Orchard is now a popular attraction for locals and tourists alike who enjoy taking tea in deck chairs laid under the fruit trees.

As you draw level with the tea room (on the left), turn sharp right on the narrow gravel path signed for ‘Orchard and River’ through the orchard. Pass through the kissing gate out into the large grass meadow.

Go diagonally across this field heading for the kissing gate on the far left hand corner. Pass through this and continue straight ahead on the grass path with the River Cam running immediately to your right.

Pass through the green metal kissing gate and then keep right on the grass path running closest to the river. Pass through another kissing gate and then soon after through a single gate and across a wooden footbridge. Cross another footbridge into a longer section of the meadows and at the end of this section you’ll see a weighted gate ahead to the right and a five bar gate ahead to the left. Swing hard left in a U-turn here to join the tarmac path heading back to Grantchester.

End of Grantchester Meadows to End
End of Grantchester Meadows to End

Start point: 52.1853 lat, 0.1003 long
End point: 52.1801 lat, 0.0949 long

Follow the tarmac path passing a number of cattle grids. About 30 yards before you reach the ivy clad gable end of a property ahead, turn right through a gate by a cattle grid onto a tarmac lane (signed for the Red Lion). Follow the lane past the Red Lion on the right and then past the Green Man on the left to reach the T-junction with the High Street. Turn right and follow the road to reach the Rupert Brooke, where you started the walk, on the right.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2012 by the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.

2 comments for "Grantchester Village and Meadows"

A wonderful walk. With some good pubs for lunch too. Can be a very popular on a hot summer's day.

By RichardJ on 31 May 2012

Great instructions, although a word of warning to those planning on going in winter. The whole walk past mill way was underwater and impassable.

By gemmadown on 09 Feb 2014

The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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