Just Alan and myself met up with Roger at the starting point in Broughton, despite Alan getting the time wrong! Broughton is a pretty little village, the cottages, mostly timber framed with thatched roofs are built around the church, and had Roger filling us in on his personal memories of the village. We passed by thousands of free range chickens happily roaming around in their setting. Due to chatting about Christmas TV and Portuguese custard tarts! (pastéis de nata), we initially missed the turning to Little Raveley, but blamed it on the lack of signage [Ed – as opposed to thinking about Portuguese tarts!].
Our coffee stop was at Wennington where we found a suitable wooden bench to sit on. Wennington is one of the few remaining substantial areas of woodland left in Huntingdonshire, with the woods giving the backdrop to the village. Such a large amount of trees in the landscape is unusual for Huntingdonshire and of particular importance and interest is the survival of many of the historically dominant species – the Elm. The devastation of Dutch Elm disease was greatly reduced by injection, hygiene and hard work. Over the last thirty years many new trees including ash, oak, lime, field maple and wild cherries have been planted by both the Abbots Ripton Estate and Parish residents, with the consequence that from the air both Abbots Ripton and Wennington appear to be set within islands of trees interlaced with 14 miles of hedges and 96 ponds.
We passed the recently reconstructed Abbot's Elm which has risen from the ashes of the 17th century Grade 2 listed Three Horseshoes Pub, (partially destroyed by fire in 2010, the original thatched building has been returned to its former glory) and headed through the 6000 acre Abbots Ripton Estate, home to Lord de Ramsey, first chairman of the Environment Agency (particular reference to Alan's past employment) and son Freddie, organiser of The Secret Garden music festival. Some evidence of last years festival in the shape of a giant heart (which was set alight I'm reliably informed) but no fox (Roger proved there was by later by sending a photo).
Lunch was taken sitting in the woods but the weather suddenly changed to being quite cold and overcast, so we headed back to the car and then to The Crown. Originally a saddlery, The Crown Inn Restaurant is a beautiful Grade 2 listed building set in an acre of picturesque grounds, surrounded by horse chestnut trees.
Report – Sue
Walk rating – Good
Pictures by Alan
This old chapel at Little Raveley has been converted into a private residence.
Most of the properties in Wennington were thatched.
The church at Abbots Ripton.
The river near Abbots Ripton Hall.
The Abbots Ripton Hall estate.
Roger's photo of the Secret Garden Music Festival fox which was not there when we passed.