Huntingdon Circular walk

Easy walk beside the Great Ouse river to the attractive village of Houghton and its restored water mill, returning through water meadows and a nature reserve.

History

This is a list of previous times this walk has been done by the club (since Jan 2010). For more recent events (since April 2015), full details are shown.

Date Post # Weather
Sun, 15-May-22 Sunday Walk: Huntingdon Circular 6 partly sunny am light rain pm
Sat, 19-Mar-22 Saturday Walk - Huntingdon Circular
Sun, 23-Dec-18 Sunday Walk: Cromwellian country and the Great Ouse
Sat, 26-Aug-17 Oliver's hometown 6
Sun, 30-Oct-16 Sunday Second Walk - Cambridgeshire riverside 5
Wed, 18-Nov-15 Midweek day walk - Huntingdon Circular 4 bright in the morning becoming blustery with half an hour of rain
Sat, 11-Jul-15 Saturday Third Walk – the River Great Ouse 12 sunny with some cloud cover and breeze in the afternoon
Sun, 25-Aug-13 Huntingdon Circular 2
Sat, 01-Sep-12 Huntingdon Circular
Wed, 04-Jul-12 Huntingdon Circular
Sat, 10-Sep-11 Huntingdon Circular
Fri, 29-Apr-11 Huntingdon Circular
Sun, 03-Oct-10 Huntingdon Circular
Sat, 29-May-10 Huntingdon Circular
Sun, 18-Oct-09 Huntingdon Circular
Sat, 04-Apr-09 Huntingdon Circular
Sun, 10-Aug-08 Huntingdon Circular
Mon, 24-Mar-08 Huntingdon Circular
Sun, 16-Sep-07 Huntingdon Circular
Sun, 15-May-22
Sunday Walk: Huntingdon Circular

Main Walk: 18½ km (11.5 miles).
Long walk - via St Ives.24½ km (15.2 miles)
1 out of 10 (2 or the Long Walk)
This easy circular walk leaves the historic town of Huntingdon on the north bank of the River Great Ouse. At Hartford, the walk continues along the edge of farmland to an early lunch stop in the attractive twin villages of Houghton and Wyton. At Houghton there is a choice of routes. The Main Walk continues with a straightforward circuit of Houghton Meadow.(It’s possible to bypass the meadow for a shorter walk of 9 or 10 miles)
The Long Walk follows an extended loop to the town of St Ives. There, the 15th C bridge features an unusual Bridge Chapel. If you chance to visit Holt Island Nature Reserve, you will be walking along a boardwalk that the younger Mr Tiger himself helped construct (oddly, no plaque).
Both options return via water meadows to the last working water mill on the river, Houghton Mill (visits have to be pre-booked but there is a tea-room). The final leg back to Huntingdon is through a nature reserve and more water meadows. The timing should be just right for buttercups (fingers crossed).
Trains:10:12 Peterborough train from Kings Cross, arriving Huntingdon 11:12..
Return at xx:59.
Lunch The suggested lunch stop (after 6½ km) is the Three Jolly Butchers (01480-463228) in Wyton, which has a large garden. A little further on in Houghton, the Three Horseshoes Inn (01480-462410) is a good alternative.
There are more options on the Long Walk (after 8½ km) the Axe & Compass (01480-463605;)in Hemingford Abbots, a traditional village pub with a large beer garden. Or, 1 km further, the upmarket Cock (01480-463609;) in Hemingford Grey.
Tea The suggested watering-hole is the George Hotel (01480-432444) in George Street, an old coaching inn with a comfortable bar and a large open courtyard. Nearer the station you'll find Sandford House (01480-432402), a Wetherspoons.
Directions here t=swc.31

Those buttercups



  • 16-May-22

    6 showed up. Although 4 had expressed an interest in the full walk to St Ives, we all did the main route with only 1 venturing further, as far as the Hemingfords.

    There is still major reconstruction outside the station but we managed to find the onward route ok (probably helped by having the walk's author with us). Before long, we had encountered our first buttercups. The first of many. The afternoon's meadows were truly awash. Other delights included daisies clover, yellow rattle., the occasional butterfly, herons, and a flotilla of little baby geese.

    Lunch was taken in the Three Jolly Butchers, a protracted wait, thanks to a retirement party but the food seemed pleasant enough - as was the Orchard Pig cider..

    I have memories of Houghton Meadow being interesting with wild flowers and stuff but I found it a bit disappointing. Mainly grass.all the way round with tantalising glimpses of a buttercup meadow on the other bank. Maybe it's rare grass though.

    Houghton Mill has reopened and can now be visited without booking. Our lot were more interested in the tea and cake.

    Then the rain started, just light rain, but it was there for the afternoon.

    On we went, through buttercup meadow after buttercup meadow, past lakes, over countless bridges, until, eventually, Huntingdon was reached. Time for more cider in the George, then home.

    That weather - partly sunny am light rain pm

Sat, 19-Mar-22
Saturday Walk - Huntingdon Circular
Length: 24.5 km (15.2 mi) or 18.3 km (11.4 mi)
Ascent/Descent: negligible
Net Walking Time: ca. 5 hours or ca. 3 ¾ hours
Toughness: 2 out of 10 or 1 out of 10
Take the 10.16 Thameslink train from St. Pancras (comes from Horsham, travels to Peterborough, calls London Bridge 10.01, Finsbury Park 10.24), arrives Huntingdon at 11.19.
Return trains: xx.10 and xx.40.
Some of the river meadows are flood-prone, but after the recent dry weather...
From the blurb…:
“This easy circular walk leaves the historic town of Huntingdon via a linear park on the north bank of the River Great Ouse. The riverside path on this bank takes you as far as Hartford, where the walk continues along the edge of farmland to an early lunch stop in the attractive twin villages of Houghton and Wyton. At Houghton there is a choice of routes for the central leg of the walk: the original version continued with a straightforward circuit of Houghton Meadow, and this remains the Main Walk.
The Long Walk replaces this section with an extended loop via the neighbouring villages of Hemingford Abbots and Hemingford Grey to the next town along the river. St Ives has been an important market town since Anglo-Saxon times, when it was the last place where the River Great Ouse could be forded before it reached the sea, 80 km away. The 15thC town bridge has several unusual features, most notably the survival of its late-medieval Bridge Chapel. The town's Norris Museum (free entry) “tells the story of Huntingdonshire from earliest times to the present day”; it is open daily (except Sundays in winter) until 16.00 hours. Both options return to Houghton where you could visit the last working water mill on the river. Houghton Mill is open with pre-booking; admission was £6 in 2019.
The final leg back to Huntingdon is through a nature reserve and extensive water meadows which are awash with buttercups in spring. The town's old grammar school (where Oliver Cromwell and Samuel Pepys were pupils) now houses the Cromwell Museum (free entry but limited opening hours).On the Long Walk you could visit The Manor Garden in Hemingford Grey, designed and planted by the author Lucy Boston and recreated as Green Knowe in her books for children. It is open 11.00-17.00; admission was £5 in 2020.
On the Main Walk you could save 3½ km by omitting the circuit around Houghton Meadow, or up to 2 km by taking a shorter route through it.
Conversely, the Long Walk bypasses this meadow on its return route but you could switch to the full circuit around it, an additional 2 km.
Towards the end of the walk a couple of short cuts are available if you are in a hurry to catch a train.”
Lunch: There are four pubs en route along the long walk, all coming relatively early in the walk, and two of those are also on the short walk.
Three Jolly Butchers in Wyton, the Three Horseshoes Inn in Houghton; the Axe & Compass in Hemingford Abbots; and the National Pub of the Year 2019, The Cock in Hemingford Grey.

Tea: check the webpage or the walk directions. T=swc.31

For the walk directions, a map, a height profile, gpx/kml files and photos click here.

  • 18-Mar-22

    For me, it will be the 09.15 train.

    Austen

  • 18-Mar-22

    I'm liking the later start👍

Sun, 23-Dec-18
Sunday Walk: Cromwellian country and the Great Ouse
Huntingdon Circular – omitting Houghton Meadows

Length: 15km (9.3 miles) Toughness: 1 out of 10

10:11 Peterborough train from Kings Cross (Finsbury Park 10:17) arriving Huntingdon at 11:12.

Return trains are on the hour (journey time 63 minutes) Buy a Super Off-Peak Day Return.

This is an easy walk along the great Ouse river to the attractive village of Houghton and its restored water mill, returning through water meadows and a nature reserve.

TheCromwell Museum, in Huntingdon (free entry) is well worth a visit but closes at 3:00pm so you’ll need to visit it before starting the walk. Omitting the loop around Houghton Meadows today should allow time for this, but if you find the light is failing towards the end, you can complete the last stretch along lit roads rather than unlit footpaths. It might seem tempting to arrive in Huntingdon earlier to allow time for the museum, but it doesn’t open until 11:00am so banish that thought from your mind.

The suggested lunch stop is the Three Jolly Butchers (01480 463228) in Wyton after 6.5km. The Three Horseshoes Inn (01480 462470) in Houghton is an alternative.

More information, including the walk directions, can be found here .

T=swc.31
  • Anonymous
    17-Dec-18

    Like the sound of this..anyone else going?

Sat, 26-Aug-17
Oliver's hometown
SWC Walk 31 – Huntingdon Circular

Length: 18.5km (11.5 miles) Toughness: 2 out of 10

10:22 Peterborough train from Kings Cross (Finsbury Park 10:28) arriving Huntingdon at 11:22.

Return trains are xx:00 (1h 2m) xx:34 (1h 15m) until 23:00. If you wish to visit the Cromwell Museum, you’ll need to do so before starting the walk as it closes at 15:30. T=3.31
  • Anonymous
    26-Aug-17

    6 on this walk, weather perfect for walking in morning and then really sunny at lunchtime when 2 members of group swam near Houghton Mill. Several other places on afternoon stretch of walk looked possible swimming sites too. Group divided in afternoon with some doing short cut, some long version, some possible extra-long option. Idyllic (even bucolic) scenery, particularly in afternoon - small groups of cows (Holsteins possibly) wandering across water meadows edged with purple loosestrife, rosebay willow herb and (I think) coltsfoot. Sandals fine for walking today though I imagine much of the walk would be very muddy or even under water in winter.

  • Anonymous
    27-Aug-17

    6

  • A pedant
    27-Aug-17

    I'm pretty sure the yellow flower would be fleabane; coltsfoot is a spring flower. See Peter's nature blog for pictures.

  • 29-Aug-17

    Your coltsfoot was almost certainly common fleabane yes. A lovely flower despite its name and very common in late summer.

    Coltsfoot does indeed look similar but is only found in early spring. I have photos of both on Flickr but unfortunately our webmaster's anti-spam measures mean I can't post links to them here. But Google would doubtless bring up good photos of both flowers.

Sun, 30-Oct-16
Sunday Second Walk - Cambridgeshire riverside
SWC Walk 31 – Huntingdon Circular

Length: 18.5km (11.5 miles) Toughness: 2 out of 10

10:08 Peterborough train from Kings Cross (Finsbury Park 10:14) arriving Huntingdon at 11:15.

Return trains are on the hour (journey time 1 hour 8 minutes) Buy a Super Off-Peak Day Return.

It may seem unimaginative to offer a second river valley walk today but like the Arun Valley, the water meadows of the Great Ouse valley are liable to be flooded in winter, so let’s take advantage of the current fairly dry spell to do this walk before it becomes too boggy. It's an easy walk from the historic town of Huntingdon to the attractive twin villages of Houghton and Wyton, with an opportunity to visit Houghton Mill, a working water mill.

It’s the last day this year on which it’s possible to visit the Cromwell Museum in Huntingdon, since it reverts to its winter opening times tomorrow. The museum closes at 3:30pm so you’ll need to visit it before starting the walk. If you do this, or even if you don't, you may want to cut out the 3.5km loop around Houghton Meadows to be sure of finishing before dusk. It's also the last day on which Houghton Mill (NT) will be open until next March.

The suggested lunch stop is the Three Jolly Butchers (01480-463228) in Wyton, or alternatively the Three Horseshoes Inn (01480-462410) in Houghton. Rather than taking tea in Houghton, it may be best to return to The George or somewhere else in Huntingdon to avoid ending the walk in the dark.

More information, including the walk directions, can be found on the Walk 31 main page .
  • 25-Oct-16

    Now I might do the Walk on Sunday. But I can't Guarantee I will. But I just wonder. When we stop at that Pub Restaurant. How much do the prices cost. And when are you going to Download it on PDF. So that we can Download it on our Mobiles?

  • Anonymous
    25-Oct-16

    The menu for the first pub (Three Jolly Butchers) is on their website: http://www.thejollybutchers.co.uk/sunday-restaurant-menu/4561284735

    The menu for the 2nd pub (Three Horsehoes Inn) is not available on their website.

  • 31-Oct-16

    5 walkers, according to a comment on the walk's Feedback page.

Wed, 18-Nov-15
Midweek day walk - Huntingdon Circular

Huntingdon Circular (shorter variant)

An easy walk beside the Great Ouse river to the attractive village of Houghton and its restored water mill, returning through water meadows and a nature reserve.

Book 3* Walk 31

* online only
Length : 15 km or 9½ miles

Toughness : 2 out of 10

Getting there : Catch the 10:22 am train from London Kings Cross to Huntingdon
Calling Station

  • Finsbury Park : departs 10:28 am

Meeting point : Huntingdon Station at 11:22 am

Tickets : Buy a cheap day return to Huntingdon

Brief Description

Steeped in history (Oliver Cromwell and Samuel Pepys were pupils in Huntingdon's old grammar school), this shorter version of the walk skips Houghton Meadows,
You may find full details of the walk here and Kindle folk may find a download here.

Suggested Lunch stops

Suggested Tea stops

Houghton Mill Tea Rooms t: 01480 301494
Houghton Tea Rooms t: 01480 214838

Map

OS Explorer : 225

Return train times

Trains return from Huntingdon to London Kings Cross at the following times ...
15:34 | 16:01 | 16:35 | 17:01 | 17:42

  • Anonymous
    13-Nov-15

    why did you change it AD ?

  • Anonymous
    14-Nov-15

    is ticket to Huntington very dear?

  • 14-Nov-15

    Rail ticket price enquiry

    The full price Day Return ticket is £26 50p. However if you have a railcard, you will get a substantial discount (about £18 if you have a Network Rail Card I think)

    The National Rail website will give you full details of prices. There are also a plethora of other web sites (Qjump,Thetrainline and so forth where you might find a better deal).

    One of our train aficionados may be able to suggest other ways to save on the fare.

    I hope this is helpful,

    AD

  • 14-Nov-15

    AD is correct, the best you can do with a railcard is £17.50 from London, or about £13 from Zone 6 if you've got a Freedom Pass. Thameslink and Great Northern have some good value Super Off-Peak Day Returns (eg. £11.55 from London to Huntingdon), but these are only available on weekends and Bank Holidays.

  • Anonymous
    16-Nov-15

    hope to go on this but without Max as he has injured paw. M

  • Anonymous
    17-Nov-15

    are people still going on this ?...supposed to be a gale or something ..

  • 17-Nov-15

    Weather for this walk

    Apparently the gales will pass through quickly and will be over by the wee small hours of Wednesday morning.

    So providing there's no trees, or other disruptions on the line, I'm intending to go.

    I suggest folks check the National Rail web site in the morning before setting out just to be sure.

    The Beeb says it'll be a dry and bright in the morning, but a little blustery from midday to 3:00pm with a band of heavy showers starting at about 2:00pm

  • 19-Nov-15

    4 on this walk with the weather as advertised, bright in the morning becoming blustery with half an hour of rain .

    Not a walk I'll want to post regularly with road noise from the A14, but nevertheless Wyton, Houghton Mill and the water meadows along the Ouse were well worth the effort

Sat, 11-Jul-15
Saturday Third Walk – the River Great Ouse
Extra Walk 31b – Huntingdon Circular (long walk, via St Ives)
Length: 24½ km (15.2 miles). Toughness: 3/10
Shorter Options: 18½ km (11.5 miles) or 15 km (9.3 miles), both 2/10.

10:22 Peterborough train from Kings Cross (Finsbury Park 10:28) arriving Huntingdon at 11:22.

Trains back are at 00 & 34 minutes past (the ones on the hour are quicker).

A couple of years ago I researched an extension to this walk to take in the interesting market town of St Ives (not the town where you can surf, alas). Its first posting was predictably blighted by miserable weather and I think the two brave souls who ventured out switched to one of the shorter options, so in effect this is the Long Walk's début. Whichever walk option you take you'll find a flat landscape with plenty of water features so it should be bearable if this hot weather continues (and swimming might be a possibility, but you'll have to do your own research to see if that's advisable).

You don't have to decide which option to take until you come to the linked villages of Wyton and Houghton, after 6½ km. The Three Jolly Butchers has always provided us with a good pub lunch but if you're doing the Long Walk you might want to carry on: you'll pass a couple more village pubs on the leg to St Ives (including a very up-market one which you'd need to book). My research didn't encompass any of the town's pubs but you won't be short of refreshment choices there either. There are frequent buses back to Huntingdon if you want to finish the walk at the halfway stage.

If you spurn St Ives for one of the shorter options you'll have time to visit the last working watermill on the River Great Ouse, the National Trust's Houghton Mill. The return leg from St Ives rejoins the other routes here and all groups should be in time for some more refreshment at the NT tearoom by the mill. At the end of the walk the George Hotel in Huntingdon's town centre has some comfortable armchairs if you're not in a hurry to catch a train.

You'll need to print the walk directions from the Extra Walk 31 page. Unless you're sure which option you're going to take I suggest printing the whole document. T=swc.31.b
  • Pia
    07-Jul-15

    Is it just me or is the 3/10 for a 24.5km, albeit flat, walk a little odd if last week's 31km, with some ups and downs, attracted a wapping 10/10?

    Ok, it 's a detail. looks fabulous walk, nice along lots of water. Now see whether my sister from Paris can be persuaded to ditch London galleries for some fresh English countryside with a 'passionate' group of walkers? My daughter was bemused at our intense exchange of opinions online and thought we were passionate. Not a bad reputation to have at all, I think.

  • 07-Jul-15

    Pia: I use a walk's toughness rating (T) to estimate how long a walk will take (not counting stops for lunch and tea). My rule of thumb is to divide the walk length by my normal speed (a moderate 3mph) and add 10 minutes per T. So I'd expect this walk to take me 15/3 = 5 hours plus 3×10 mins = 5½ hours. Last Saturday's walk would have taken me 19/3 + 100 mins = 8 hours. To my mind T should reflect both the amount of climbing and the walk length (because you slow down on longer walks). A few of our walks have anomalous ratings but I would have said that these two were accurately rated. My rule usually works quite well and gives me an idea of which bus/train I'm likely to catch.

  • Pia
    08-Jul-15

    Thank you so much for explaining Sean, very helpful.

    Little Draculas

    Please everyone be careful and vigilant, I found a little Dracula aka a tick burrowed in my leg on Tuesday am which had been there at least since Sat pm, so a good 60 hours. very likely caught on Saturday's fabulous Midhurst walk going through the current high vegetation. I also walked near Chichester on Friday but mostly along coast and canals, so possible but less likely.

    It came out spontaneously, having overgorged itself on my sweet blood. I noticed a small black spot, thought it was dried blood from an earlier scratch, but when I put it on the side of the bath, I noticed the 'spot' had little legs and started to move about. yikes! panic! It's given a whole new meaning to little monsters.

    After some Googling and lots of frightening prospects mentioned there, took myself to GP who told me to 'wait and see' if a red ring will form around the now vague red mark its bite has left behind; however the ring will only form in 50% of cases of Lyme disease anyway. Has anyone any experience of being bitten by a tick? and should I insist on prophylactic antibiotics? Not keen on those, but Lyme's is a lot worse and there are other frightful diseases possible as well (I won't bore or frighten you here). Let me know if you have any helpful ideas.

    Advice: check your body every night for alien blood gorging parasites!!!

  • 08-Jul-15

    The South Downs are known to be a risk area for ticks (and Lyme Disease), Pia, so keep an eye on the red mark as directed by your GP. If it gets wider, I would insist on antibiotics. There is also a test for Lyme Disease but it is notoriously unreliable. I once read a leaflet (in an information box on the South Downs) which said GPs are not well informed about Lyme Disease.

    It would be interesting, btw, to know if you were wearing shorts at the time. Or did the tick crawl up your trouser leg? I always walk with my trousers tucked into my socks, though I am not sure how much protection this gives.

  • Pia
    08-Jul-15

    I did wear my cut off trousers at 3/4 length on Friday but that was mostly along sea inlet and canals; however on Saturday I wore them at full length more against nettles and thorny bushes; a tick never crossed my mind. however, looking at the speed it walks, it wouldn't have taken him/her 5 min to crawl up my lower leg, where I found it on the shin. so indeed, tucking trousers into socks sounds very wise. and yes, frequent inspections and keeping an eye on my general health will be a good thing to do for the next few weeks.

    Thanks for your and some other co-walkers advice by email. The realistic chance of getting something nasty remains low. I just wanted to warn others because it's a countryside hazard that has not been a particularly hot topic recently, unlike long versus short; sea versus land; swim versus walk, pub versus picnic...oh stop it.

  • Anonymous
    09-Jul-15

    Would a 09.22 train not be more sensible?

    Austen

  • Anonymous
    10-Jul-15

    NO! me and partner like the 10.22 trian

  • Anonymous
    10-Jul-15

    On the subject of ticks: I've also had a tick from a Saturday walk this year, from the Frant Groombridge area.

    No need to worry unduly about them. Lyme disease can usually be shifted by Doxycylcin, which is a mild antibiotic casually prescribed for malaria prophylaxis.

    But you do need to watch out for the symptoms, and don't be too confident that the NHS knows what it's doing.

    If you are really concerned then if you visit a travel clinic and say you are going to a mild malarial area then they will prescribe Doxycyclin, though to be morally correct you should only be doing this if you really are going to a malarial area.

    Andrew

  • 10-Jul-15

    Re train time: It doesn't seem sensible to change the posted train time less than 24 hours beforehand - not everyone does a last minute check of this page. In any case the 09:22 train is too early for the lunch pub on the shorter options.

    If you decide to announce that you're getting a different train and invite others to join you, bear in mind that some people are put off by the thought of the group being fragmented right at the start and the prospect of few (if any) companions. But I often catch a later train than the one posted so who am I to complain if others take an earlier one?

  • pia
    10-Jul-15

    From Thursday morning I started to show some of the classic symptons of the start of Lyme's disease: flu-like as in having a red, sore throat, runny nose and light coughing, and feeling a little listless; no red rings though. So off to very sympathetic GP, herself an avid walker, and very keen to prescribe the max 2 weeks of 2x100 mg a day of doxycycline. so hopefully that will nip it in the bud. thanks for all your concerns and excellent advice.

    I ll take the 10.22 with my sister from Paris who is keen to meet you all. w'll do the shortish version.

  • 11-Jul-15

    12 sunny with some cloud cover and breeze in the afternoon

    The Stats:

    3 off the early train (9.22), 9 off the 10.22.

    9 walked the long version (24.5 km), 3 the middle one (18.5 km), incl. a guest walker.

    4 went swimming (all women), 8 didn't (all men).

    Of the 9 off the scheduled train 3 were of British nationality, 6 weren't.

    The Nationality mix of the 3 off the early train remains unreported.

    All went to the first pub en route, The Three Jolly Butchers, as far as known, which was just fine, with a large garden. 4 had an ice cream stop quayside in St. Ives. Only 1 of those had two scoops though. At least 6 had a tea stop at the NT-owned Houghton Mill (and the 3 medium-length walkers as well, surely?).

    This walk suffers a little from road noise close to Huntingdon, and overall from a high tarmac count (those cycle-friendly riverside paths), but is nevertheless a very nice walk on a perfect day for this type of walk: lots of watermeadows, riverside paths, small villages, beautifully placed churches, old bridges, boats, the Hemingford Regatta (between two neighbouring villages), plenty of pretty thatched houses, a detour through a Nature Reserve on a river island in St. Ives (one SWC-stalwart had actually volunteered there to lay down the boardwalks 15 years ago).

    Back in Huntingdon there was just about time for a swift one at The George Hotel, before the 19.00 train for all but one of the long walkers off the 10.22 train.