Celia Hart's blog about what's going on in and around her studio.
Art, printmaking, inspirations, gardening, vegetables, hens, landscapes, wild flowers, East Anglia, adventure, travel.

Monday, 13 September 2010

In whose steps we trod?

This is where we were walking late yesterday afternoon . . . any guesses?

You could easily mistake it for a shingle beach, in fact it's a ploughed and harrowed field on the chalk ridge a few miles east of Cambridge. I was walking with Cliff, who is devising a new 15 mile walk for the local walking group, and we were testing out the first (or last) section of the route which leads up to The Roman Road, now part of a brand new long distance footpath: The Fleam Dyke and Roman Road Walk. There it is – the Roman Road is between the double hedge line on the horizon . . .

Once on the Roman Road we headed west towards Cambridge, at first the road went steadily uphill . . .

And then at the crest of the ridge we got this wonderful view, in the dip is the A11 which actually follows the route of the ancient braided tracks of the Icknield Way; then the Roman Road snakes around to Wandlebury, the site of an Iron Age hill fort on the Gog Magog hills just outside Cambridge – you can see the dark mound of trees which now cover Wandlebury.

The fact that the trackway heads straight to Wandlebury is a clue that the Romans probably upgraded a existing and, even then, ancient way.

At this time of year the hedges along this section of the Roman Road are laden with fruit . . .

Blackberries and Sloes


Crab Apples

Late summer flowers still studded the grass with colour . . .

Common Agrimony

Cushion Calamint

Yarrow and the dry seed-heads of Knapweed

Greater Knapweed

We returned to the starting point just as the sun was setting and we thought of all the people who had walked that track . . . Iron Age, Roman, Saxon, medieval wool traders . . . layers of footprints striding the landscape.


  1. Amazing that all of that is just beyond your garden walls! I just finished reading a book on pre-Roman Britain so my head is full of Caradoc and Boudicca and the druids. I would love to do that walk!

  2. and I can't get over the wild fruit growing along in hedge rows. Seems like you can drop a seed on English soil and it will just grow!

    PS Just catching up on your posts on the vintage books - beautiful illustrations

  3. I know just what you mean about walking in other's footsteps..history is always so very near when you walk the English countryside.
    Lovely flower photographs-everything seems to be having a late flush. And are your hedges laden with hawthorns as the ones over here are? Great year for them.

  4. What a lovely walk! I'm very envious. Despite living in the middle of the country it's so agricultural here that we have to stick to the roads or risk the wrath of the local gamekeeper! Penny x

  5. I need to spy out some local walks that I can do while the girls are at school, and before the weather clamps down. There's a lovely loop round the village out to the RSPB reserve, but I do that many times per week with friends and their dogs and it's getting a bit samey!

  6. What a lovely post Celia, thank you for taking me on your walk.

    We are lacking in Sloes this year, a fact that has me feeling very sad.

  7. On a flight over the American southwest, I looked down to see wagon tracks left by the "prairie schooners" of the 1800's. Have you seen your Roman road from the sky?

  8. Let me add my thanks to you for taking us along on this remarkable walk.

    With its mix of beautiful nature and layers and layers of history, this route would surely fill any walker's head with a wonderful mix of thoughts.

    How I would love to see it for myself some day. Best wishes!

  9. When I was able to walk for any decent length of time, I loved the Wandlebury area for a Cambridge walk, also one particular walk to Grantchester.

  10. I enjoyed your walk too. I know its a different and very specific area but it makes me think of Pucks Song , by Rudyard Kipling, which always sends shivers down my spine when I read it.

  11. A lovely walk, thanks for sharing it. I have some sloe gin that I made nearly 10 years ago, it gets better each year!

  12. I love this time of year, just such lovely light and lovely things growing. The blackberries have not done so well this year i have noticed.. i think it was too dry for them, or maybe the cold winter effected them? I have missed out on my blackberry crumble!

  13. Wonderful stuff! who needs exotic foreign holidays when we have amazing scenery and history like ours!

  14. Its amazing to ponder the history of such an area! What an amazing thing to feel! Lovely photos of your journey, thank you for taking us with you!

  15. i just get all geeked-out thinking of roads which were old when the romans began using them! even more so that they're so easy to get to! i remember my mom buying we girls store-canned crabapples. they were so good! nowadays, at least on the east coast, you can't find them.

  16. Always, at PPP, something that takes us outside the square. Thankyou.
    And here's a link I think you'll like

    It's from Marie, the Sth. African gardener/writer in Brooklyn.( The one with the sassy cat!)

  17. What a wonderful trip around your neck of the woods Celia. I feel like I've been there and done that now.Lesley

  18. Celia, your posts are making me want to take a trip across "the pond" very soon! It looks like it was a beautiful walk! My husband and I love to walk! I enjoyed my visit today!

  19. What a perfect post. I am trying to establish wild flowers in my orchard and it is fascinating to see what is growing for you that you wouldn't see here in Wales (and I suppose we have things which you might not see where you are).

  20. What a wonderful post, that last photo is amazing. I like to think of all the feet that have walked ancient paths (hubby always wants to get a metal detector on them to find treasure! not that he has one!)


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