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Image: Vermuyden’s Drain near Chatteris in Cambridgeshire
Publishing problems resolved
All four guidebooks are now available on Amazon and Waterstones, and can be obtained from all good bookshops. They are printed on demand so may take a few days to be delivered. These are new editions of the books and include all the changes that have occurred on the route since the first editions were published.
However, see below and in the update pages for any recent changes to the route that we are aware of.
Do be careful on the Amazon and Waterstones websites. Old, unavailable editions are still being shown for some reason which can be annoyingly confusing.
Because of the construction of the Boston tidal barrier there is a long diversion through the industrial estate next to the river. We have just been up there and rather too many of the diversion signs were misplaced and far from clear. However, the route around the works is actually fairly obvious. It does look as though this will be going on for some time.
Bus telephone number change in Book 4
The phone number that you ring for the local bus service to many of the villages walked through in Book 4 has changed (from 0845 ) to 0345 234 3344. Also, we have discovered that you need to register in order to use the service which you can do by ringing that number and following the options. We have been informed that vistors can become temporary members but we have not explored that option ourselves. Clearly, if you are planning to use the service a little foreward planning is required.
New Bridge over the A14 at Lolworth
As part of the massive upgrade to the A14 a new bridge over the road has been built that connects Lolworth to the new road network. (Book 3: pages 3 and 4) This will allow us to change the route of the GMT, cutting out the tedious and slightly dangerous length of road walking into Cambridge Services. Get the new route directions on the update page for Book 3.
Road Works at Lewisham
The route in front of the DLR to Lewisham Road (Book 1, page 60) is now open. There are new office blocks on the left and the river has been landscaped. However, there is still boarding on the right where work is on-going.
West Essex Golf Club
We have changed the route through the club slightly and have now placed some waymarks with the club's permission. Having climbed the broad path (which is more like a road at present whilst building works are going on) (Book 2, page 16, last line) you now keep ahead through a gap and follow the path right and keep going with the golf course on your left. After about 200m you turn right onto the bridleway (page 17, line 3 in older copies of the gude)
New route through Old Bolingbrook and Hareby
We have decided to leave the route through Old Bolingbroke unchanged but we will change the route out of the village by following the road to Hareby where splendid views back towards Boston can be enjoyed from a "temple" erected for the millenium. See the updates page for book 4 for the new directions.
Incidently, we also learned that the village is not a royal village as Henry IV was not king at the time of his birth to John of Gaunt who owned the castle as the Duke of Lancaster. Although the Queen now owns the castle, it is in her capacity as the Duke of Lancaster, so the village is strictly a Duchy village.
Willow Farm - Chatteris - update.
The footpath behind Willow Farm (Book 3, page 17) continues to cause considerable difficulties for walkers. We cut down the nettles in June of last year with the help of the owners of Willow Farm and cleared a good path through then. However, the nettles especially are very vigorous and we have just been informed that they have, indeed, re-grown! The problem has been reported again to the council who tell us that they can only clear the vegetation twice a year. In the meantime, wear long trousers, find yourself a large stout stick, take some secteurs with you and give yourself time to beat your way through. It is just a short section but you will remember it. Please take care climbing the steps up the bank to the road, walking across the bridge on the side of the busy road and scrambling down the bank on the other side where the steps are unusable and the easiest way is just by the buttress of the bridge. Latest report from John Garnham is that the path had been cleared in July.
Sand le Mere
Construction of the new defensive embankment across the Tunsatll Drain (Book 4, page 48) that has been planned for a number of years has still to start and the plans have been radically altered. Instead of the embankment being about 700 metres inland it will now be immediately next to the Withernsea Road, the best part of a kilometre from the shoreline. The structure will thus be smaller and, presumably, cheaper to build and it gets over the problem of acquiring land from unwilling farmers. During construction the path will be diverted but once completed the route of the GMT will be unaltered until such time as the sea breaches the present embankment, probably at exactly the place where the Greenwich Meridian crosses at the end of the trail. The path beside the drain will then be engulfed by the sea, but probably only intermittently as it is anticipated that sand dunes may well form and protect the land around the drain which will, however, become salty marshland. We cannot see how the present path can survive and it will, presumably, be diverted, how is impossible to say. The latest news is that construction would have started by now but has had to be halted because of the Covid 19 pandemic. The starting date scheduled for September 2020 has been put back to January 2021 because overhead power cables over the site will have to be switched off and NPower requires three months to organise alternative power for the effected properties. The work will take three months to complete.
We have now visited Grantchester and the paths are unaltered so we are at a loss to explain the previous report that we had received about a route diversion. Whilst there we again took advantage of the opportunity to enjoy afternoon tea at The Orchard.
Those of you who have never walked The Downs before should be aware that sloping wet chalky-paths can be very slippery indeed. Even chalk-paths on the level should be treated with care if they are rutted and uneven. Wet chalk can make for a surface that is as slippery as black ice.
On page 5, three lines from the bottom of the page, you are directed to " Drop down to the edge of the field ago through kiss gate and down the steps to the road" Apart from noting the slight typo, you will now find that a new road has been built (to the fishing lakes) which involves you in the additional effort of opening and closing two gates in order to cross that road. Hard work indeed.
Of much more interest, on the following page at the start of the directions, you will find that the narrow and unpleasant path has been replaced with a new cycle track which is an utter delight to walk along. We think that it is part of the Egret Way, a new cycle track which will link Newhaven to Lewes when fully completed.
We would just like to remind you that the road to the old Lewes Racecourse (page 12, line 4) is a private road and the owners are in dispute with the local council about the crossing next to the old course. The owners do not object to walkers on the GMT crossing the road but do ask that you do not stray off the marked route.
There is a minor change to the route in the middle of Stratford (page 8, first paragraph). The interesting metal sculpture has been moved so that you now pass it on your left and go straight across the road coming from the stations on the left to continue ahead up the High Street.
See the new route from Lolworth to Swavesy, making use of the new bridge over the A14, on the update page for book 3.
Tetford now has a Meridian Marker, placed there for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. It is just a few metres down the road by the church, on the left-hand side.
For the new route through Hareby, see the update for page 11 on the updates page for book 4.
Latest updates - September 2020