I spent several weekends from late January to early March walking parts of the route that I hadn’t been on for 18 months and taking photos. It all took longer than expected, particularly on the first half where most of the route is not well served by public transport. I had to drive to a place, walk out from there and allow time to walk back again.
I am splitting the route into several stages for the blog. Due to the lack of pavements on busy roads from Papworth Everard, the first half uses public rights of way around and across fields, through the villages of Elsworth, Knapwell, Childerley, Dry Drayton and Hardwick. Most of this is along the Greenwich Meridian Trail, which is a Pathfinder Long Distance Walk. From Hardwick there is a pavement down into Cambridge, behind the historic Cambridge University colleges before joining the E2 European Long Distance Route and the final approach to the hospital beside the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway.
The first stage goes from the original Royal Papworth Hospital site in Papworth Everard village to the crossing of Battle Gate Road between Knapwell and Childerley.
The route is planned to start from the TB hut in the hospital grounds beside the pond. This is a replica of one of many where recuperating patients lived in rows of identical huts. They were unheated but provided plenty of fresh air to help their recovery.
From here the route goes behind the Duchess building and heads uphill past Christopher Parrish and the transplant day clinic, eventually coming out at the top of the hospital by a staff car park where it leaves the hospital grounds. Turn left and go alongside the local allotments, following the path into Papworth Wood.
The section in the wood lasts only a few hundred metres before it emerges into open fields.
Here it joins a Long Distance Walk, the Greenwich Meridian Trail, shown dotted green with diamonds on the map. This section of the walk is very enjoyable, it really shows off the Cambridgeshire big sky and you can hardly see any signs of habitation. The path is well maintained and is even concreted for one section.
In the distance Elsworth village starts to appear and eventually the path joins the main road.
For about 100 m I will be walking on the road with no pavement, however this is in a 30 mph section with little traffic. Elsworth has a population of around 700 people and two pubs. The route passes the Poacher on the right hand side, which is the last place serving refreshments before Frankie’s cafe in Hardwick. The other pub in the village is the George and Dragon, but it is not on the route. Walking on past the Poacher, the route takes a right turn uphill into The Drift, signposted to Knapwell.
At the end of The Drift there is a gate to a field with a gap wide enough for the wheelchair at one side, taking the route back into open countryside. From here to Knapwell it passes through farmland belonging to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. The route follows the top red line in the image below. There are many information boards about the work the RSPB do here to provide habitats for different birds.
Eventually the path reaches Knapwell with two kissing gates to navigate before reaching the village.
Knapwell consists of just a single road with a small number of houses and a population below 100. On my most recent visit a number of residents had set up a police speed check, monitoring the 30 mph limit. Anyone exceeding it received a warning letter from the police.
The route turns right here along the road before turning left after 200 m into Thorofare Lane signposted to Childerley; I assume the spelling is historical. Thorofare Lane starts as a concrete and shingle paved track before becoming a muddy lane. After about 1 km it reaches a crossroads with Battle Gate Road.
I can find nothing on the origin of this name, searching for it on line mainly gives links to estate agents and computer games. It is a single track paved road that runs south from Boxworth village for 2 km to a place called Battle Gate which is a dead end. The OS map shows several medieval features in the surrounding area, but no signs of a battle. I am assuming there was a battle here perhaps in the Civil War or the War of the Roses, but this is just a guess.
The part 2 of the route will be covered in Battle Gate Road to Hardwick. If you have enjoyed my blog please support my fundraising for Royal Papworth Hospital Charity using the JustGiving link found on every page or check my Sponsor me page for information on sending a cheque direct to the charity.