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Sunday, 5 December 2010

The Icknield Way - Fowlmere to Linton

A 16 mile walk along the Icknield Way between Fowlmere and Hinton

The path keeps to the ridge along the hills, though the land now flattens out as it heads eastwards. There are picturesque villages and hamlets as the route winds its way through some traditional old English countryside.

Fowlmere to Hinton Walk - Essential Information

Walk Statistics:

Start point
FowlmereView in OS Map | View in Google Map
End Point
HintonView in OS Map | View in Google Map
Total Walk distance
16 miles
Walk difficulty


Crown Inn, Linton Camp site View in OS Map | View in Google Map
Bed and Breakfast at the Crown Inn, Linton

Walk Data

Date of Walk
Walk Time
08:00 to 15:00
Weather Conditions
Light grey skies with occassional sun and warm

Walk Notes

As with the previous days walk I had once again booked accommodation ahead, this day it was to be at the Crown pub in Linton - this was only 14 miles which also meant I could have a more relaxed days walk. After 3 days and 60 miles with a full pack on my back, my feet and legs were becoming sore. The day started with decamping at Fowlmere - I still had a bottle of ale left from those bought to me the previous night by an old friend. I had intended to take this with me for the journey but a bottle of ale does add a small but significant weight to ones rucksack. After a moments hesitation and self-debate I decided that to reduce the weight I would drink the ale for breakfast and a mighty fine sample of Marstons Old Empire, a well hopped 5.7% IPA, it was too. I dont usually su beer for breakfast but this did give a spring to ones step!

The old Roman Road that led up to the crossing over the M11 was a real struggle to walk. This was basically two hedges next to each other with the path between them. At many stages I considered coming out and walking the field edge due to the overgrown state. At one stage I tripped in a rabbit hole and twisted my ankle, although any serious damage was prevented by my sturdy boots.

I dont ususally adjust my boots whilst walking but it was a pleasant relief airing my feet as I sat on a bench and supped a pint in front of the Crown and Thistle in Great Chesterford. I reseted there for about an hour watching the world go by on this leisurely Monday lunchtime


From Fowlmere take the Chrishall Road down to the A505. Turn right and follow the A505 for a few hundred yards where a minor road on the left takes you back down to the Icknield Way. the ancient Icknield Way crosses this road at Three corner Plantation but the modern route is found by taking the track on the right for 300yds where the route takes the Heydon Ditch on the left. From here follow the waymarkers through Heydon, Chrishall, Elmdon and Strethall. The path now heads northwards where it joins a former roman road from Braughing and Great Chesterford which is now just a path between two hedgerows which are pretty overgrown and can be a challange to get along. Eventually this path crosses the M11 and enters Great Chesterford. Paths across fields lead the remaining distance through to Linton.

Heydon Ditch leads up the hill to Heydonan interesting sign at the duck pond in Chrishall
On the left Heydon Ditch leads up the hill to Heydon; On the right an interesting sign at the duck pond in Chrishall


Crown and Thistle, Great Chesterford View in OS Map | View in Google Map

Crown and Thistle, Great Chesterford

A traditional pub dating from the 16th century when it was a coaching inn. The pub is renowned for its food. Guest ales.


There are two wooden benches on the side of the road in front of the pub which are good for walkers to rest their feet and watch the world go by. They had two ales on offer, Adnams Bitter and Fullers London Pride. The Pride was very satisfying.

The Crown Inn, Linton View in OS Map | View in Google Map

The Crown Inn, Linton

Large building offering B&B, in a self contained block at the rear of the building. A brasserie-style restaurant offers a variety of food including daily specials which features fresh fish and meat dishes sourced from local suppliers. Guest ales on offer.


There was a distinct lack of staff when I turned up at 4pm. As I waited on the benches at the side of the pub one resident declared that he was fed up with the lack of service and was collecting his belongings to transfer to another pub further up the road. No complaints about the beer and food though. I stuck with Woodfordes Wherry throughout the evening, a personal favourtie. It was young, fresh and full of hops as it should be.

Chrishall village sign the former Braughing to Great Chesterford Roman Road, now just an overgrown track between two hedges that leads out to the M11.
On the left Chrishall village sign ; On the right the former Braughing to Great Chesterford Roman Road, now just an overgrown track between two hedges that leads out to the M11.


Heydon DitchView in OS Map | View in Google Map

52.051570.07767 The Heydon Ditch is a large earthwork that runs in a straight line from Heydon to Fowlmere. It would have consisted of an earth bank and ditch but most of this has now been lost to agriculture. The present day Icknield Way follows its course from close to the A505 down into Heydon. The ditch is said to date from Saxon times and was built as either defences or enclosures. Local legend dating back hundreds of years states that it is haunted by the ghosts of giant warriors, and headless Saxon skeletons were unconvered during excavations in the 1950s.

ChrishallView in OS Map | View in Google Map

52.034180.10610 The village of Chrishall was listed in the Domesday Book as Cristeshalla, or "nook of land dedicated to Christ" which is one of only two English settlements whose name contains the word "Christ". At 482ft above sea level, the village is the highest point in Essex. Following the Norman Conquest the area around Chrishall was given to Eustace of Boulogne who built and occupied a house on a hill to the south of the current church. He named the house "Flanders" and it was there that his daughter Matilda of Boulogne, later wife of King Stephen was raised. The house survived until the 15th century, and is believed to have stood on the site of Chiswick Hall, itself built in the 17th century by Sir John James. The church of The Holy Trinity dates from the 12th Century and is Grade I Listed Building.

ElmdonView in OS Map | View in Google Map

52.0358630.12921 Along with Strethall and Chrishall, Elmdon is one of the Essex ridge villages which remained isolated since the main roads passed them by. Until the 19th century its chief industry was woolcombing and weaving worsteds and fustians. Today Elmdon is a commuter village at the meeting of three roads. This central point consists of a small triangular green, where the war memorial is sited and surrounded by many picturesque cottages.

StrethallView in OS Map | View in Google Map

52.037000.16462 The name of Stretshall means 'nook' or 'sheltered corner' on the 'street' – a reference to the Roman road which ran through here from Braughing to Great Chesterford, following the line of an even more ancient trackway. Whilst the present day village can only be approached up two dead-end roads, it was once a major communication route in this part of the world. Local legend tells of a story during the civil war where three Royalist brothers named Richards were besieged in the manor house by Parliamentary troops from the camp on Thriplow Heath. The brothers escaped, having held off the Roundheads for a day and a night. Another legend tells of the shooting of a gypsy by a farmer named Nehemiah Perry in 1849. Perry lived in the manor house into which the gypsy accompanied by two others had broken into. Perry caught them on the staircase and shot Abraham Green dead. At the inquest a verdict of Justifiable Homicide was recorded and Perry was congratulated on his courage. The corpse was initially displayed in the Church tower for a few days for identification which enabled an enterprising sexton to charge 3d to would-be viewers. After no-one claimed the body, Perry despatched it in a game hamper to his medical adviser, Dr George Paget, at the Cambridge University Anatomy School. To this day, the skull of Abraham Green can still be seen in the Duckworth Collection of the Department of Biological Anthropology while about half of his bones are kept in the Museum of Zoology.

Great ChesterfordView in OS Map | View in Google Map

52.063130.19637 The ancient village of Great Chesterford sits on the banks of the River Cam. It has been inhabited by Bronze Age followed by the Romans who erected many buildings including a tax office and a temple and alos built a wall around the town. The church of All Saints dates from the 13th century, and has had many additions over the years. Local legend tells of the silver bells which hung in the church tower and were hidden in an underground passageway which ran between the Church, the Old Vicarage and the Crown House Hotel to keep them safe from government soldiers. They have never been found, although some traces of the passageway have been uncovered.


Below are a selection of images taken from from the photo album for this walk. Feel free to browse through these or click on any image to view a larger version in the Gallery.

Click on an image below to view the Image Gallery


Below is the route depicted on the OpenStreetMap, Ordnance Survey Map and Google Map. Links to full page versions are found in the Essential Information

Summary of Document Changes

Last Updated: ... 2016-11-05


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