Generally speaking I like trails, not roads. But when the roads are country lanes or when there is a mix of road and trail I’m pretty happy. I also generally like to know where I’m going but when you’re in a flat landscape it’s fun to just strike out with a rough idea of where you’re going and just chug round the lanes taking left after left after left (or R, R, R) and hey presto, you end up where you started. Eventually. Usually…
The village of Hinxton where I started is listed in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Hestitona. It’s also the home of the Sanger Institute – they of the human genome project where DNA was first sequenced so it brackets a whole millennium. From the north end of the High Street take a left down Mill Lane to see the restored 17th Century mill then join Duxford Rd. and follow your nose over the River Cam (it’s a wet ford but there’s a bridge for runners and dog-walkers – Labradors are expected to wade) and the main Cambridge to London Railway crossing on to Duxford village.
Duxford is best known for its Air Museum but it to has a history that is known to go back to the 10th century when it was known as to Dukeswrthe meaning “The enclosure of Duc” – we don’t know who Duc was but I bet he was teased as a child what with a name like that. The Airfield was active in WW2 and was the home of the famously legless Douglas Bader’s Squadron.
Jog down Duxford’s main St Peter’s St to join Ickleton Rd with a left. You leave Duxford village on this wide road (not too much traffic and a wide grass verge if you prefer the soft stuff). It’s about 1.5m to Ickleton and on this leg you get a good feel for the Cambidgeshire countryside. The views are long and the sky is wide. You can see rain approaching in the distance but it can miss you by miles. Bright pools of sunshine steal across dark, loamy fields and crows scatter as the bird scarers crack.
Into Ickleton, probably the most historic of all three of these pretty Cambridgeshire villages. Too much to write here but one early occupant rejoiced in the name of Alsi Squitrebil so there’s another unhappy schoolchild ill wager.
Hook the first left as you enter the village and stick to Brookhampton Street which will take you past impossibly old buildings, leaning like cripples, inwards towards each other as if to share their secrets.
Brookhampton Street takes you to back to Hinxton – you’ll see Hinxton High Street on your left after only another mile or so where if you have time you should stop for a refreshing pint of “Rusty Bucket” from The Red Lion before heading home.