Walk 3741 - printer friendly version
St. Ives, Houghton & the Hemingfords Walk
Author - Peter Smyly
Length - 5.6 miles / 9.1 km
Ascent - 200 feet / 61 metres
Grade - easy
Start - OS grid reference TL313713
Lat 52.3240980 + Long -0.0748595
Postcode PE27 5PA (approx. location only)
This is a circular route mostly on the level in rural Cambridgeshire that takes in a variety of scenery in the space of a few miles - woodland stretches, some riverside walking, a few attractive villages, a couple of meadows and churches and several eating out options en-route. An alternative starting point is at Houghton Watermill where there is a car park.
This is an easy route to follow with clear paths and roads. The start is Market Hill in St. Ives (grid ref. TL313713). Follow Market Hill in a westerly direction and leave the road on the left by some riverside gardens at "the Waits" to join a path by the river. Passing a church on the right and then Holt Island Nature Reserve on the left, a tarmac path leads through woodland past Noble's Field on the left with occasional glimpses of Hemingford Meadow across the River Great Ouse, a point the walk reaches in its latter stages. Passing through woodland at the "Thicket Path", the path emerges into the open. Keep following the route ahead until you reach the streets of Houghton, a village of Anglo-Saxon origin.
At Mill Street, turn left and follow the road ahead to the scenic riverside location of Houghton Watermill, a National Trust property, where there is a tearoom, car park and public toilets. Pass through the mill and follow the path round to the right initially then the left as it crosses the river at a canal lock. The way ahead is unmistakable, a straight path across Hemingford Meadow, leading via a bridge to Meadow Lane. Keep following this road as far as a T junction and turn left along the main road of this attractive village with its thatched roof houses and floral front gardens, also a solitary pub (the Axe and Compass).
Walking along the High Street and passing Church Lane on the left, leave the road to follow a public footpath on the left that leads you back to, and alongside, the River Great Ouse. Follow the path by the river until it comes to an end, and you have to leave the river at a church and a right turn along Church Street. Leave this road at the next public footpath on the left. This path leads you along narrow paths and along another Meadow Lane to another Hemingford Meadow, this time at St Ives. You can contour around the field edge to the left and alongside the river, a longer but more scenic route, or take a 'route one' approach by following alongside the fence on the right. Either way leads you to Bridge Street at St Ives. Turn left and pass one of the most scenic parts of St Ives over the bridge crossing the River Great Ouse.