Wilhorn Meadow to the Guided Busway

So close to St Ives town centre, within a short distance you're ambling between banks of wildflowers, surrounded by damselflies, butterflies and dragonflies. Soon you'll open a door to dreams of owning your own cabin cruiser.

Admire the longest road causeway in the country. Pass by the home of the world's first commercial pocket calculator. Surrounded by swifts and walking along banks of cowslips, you'll end at the futuristic Guided Busway.


Good points of this 3 miles (6,800 steps) route are easy walking along riverside, field and the guide busway. Plenty of refreshment options at the end and picnic spots. Wildlife and historical interest. Can by very muddy in winter and impassable if the Great Ouse is in flood. Some road noise at the beginning. Keep a tight rein on children and dogs along the guided busway.
Start point
If you've arrived in a car, park in The Dolphin car park. It's free if you buy tea or coffee and get a token, or £2 for all day parking. You can also park along London Road.

Walk down the left hand side of London Road, heading away from St Ives bridge. It's worth looking out over the side of the low wall. Below you'll find the unique New Bridges, the longest road causeway in the UK with a total of 55 arches. In 1822 it took John Turner (and probably a few helpers!) just 23 weeks to lay the 1,250,000 bricks that make up the 700ft long causeway. If you fancy a search, as you walk out of The Dolphin carpark keep an eye out for John Turner's name etched into a brick on the carpark side near the beginning of the causeway.

A bit further down the road you'll see some rather smart town houses with their own marina. In summer the sky is filled with swifts. At times they'll swoop really close. They nest under the eaves of buildings that surround St Ives Mill. Built in 1835, the mill has been converted into flats. Originally a steam-powered flour mill, it was here Sir Clive Sinclair invented the first commercial pocket calculator, and went on to invent the ZX80 as the first home computer.

After just over 200 yards, just before a row of houses, you'll see a large information sign about Wilhorn Meadow on your left. Pass through the stile and follow the footpath along the top of a flood bank into the meadow. Once common land farmed in mediaeval strips, the meadow was then planted with willows as osier beds. In spring the flood bank is filled with cowslips.

After 300 yards walk off the flood bank and under the busy St Ives bypass. Lots of traffic noise at this point, but persevere. The route narrows between banks of wildflowers and nettles.


Point 1
You'll arrive at a large door, the entrance to Jones' Boatyard pictured above. Go through the door and over the steep footbridge.

Once over the footbridge, walk towards the boatyard buildings, keeping the marina to your left. Follow the blue footpath signs until you exit the boatyard and reach Low Road. The path along the road is quite narrow, so keep a tight rein on children or dogs.

Turn left and walk along Low Road. After just over 100 yards follow the footpath sign to the left.

Gravel has recently been extracted, creating the lake to your right. A sign on metal fencing may say the footpath is closed. It isn't, but has been changed and you now turn to your right to walk around the bottom and far end of the lake. The path edges are full of wild flowers, nettles, damselflies and dragonflies

Point 2
Once you reach the Great Ouse turn right to follow the path along field edges with the river on your left, as shown below. You may spot a grass snake, sunning itself along one of the field edges.


Point 3
After a third of a mile pass over another footbridge and turn left, keeping the river on your left. The next field is an ideal spot for a picnic on the river bank.

After a further 400 yards the path goes through an avenue of trees along the river edge. Keep an eye out for heron, common along the river banks.

Point 4
A further half a mile brings you to the Guided Busway. Follow the route the right, walking under the busway track with a gradually raising incline, until you can walk on to the pedestrian and cycle path running along the busway. Turn left and walk towards St Ives.

Take care walking along the busway track, particularly if you have children or a dog with you. The path isn't segregated and  speeding cyclists whizz silently by. They can get quite close and give you a bit of a fright. It pays to keep looking behind in anticipation.

The 16 mile guided busway is the longest in the world. There's something futuristic about the way buses seem to glide past effortlessly. Certainly so for the bus drivers, since they have no need to hold the steering wheel while on the track.

Take a close look at the borders on your left, full of wild flowers. You may spot hops twining themselves amongst the trees and vegetation.

Walk in a straight line for a mile, to the end of the guided busway and straight into St Ives.

Point 5
The town centre has over 150 listed buildings dating back as far as the 16th century. There is also a 15th century bridge with chapel, one of only four in the country. Why not take a tour? A map of the locations and a full description of each listed building is available to print, or you can use online resources to view the information via your mobile 'phone or tablet computer as you walk around the town. To access information on St Ives' listed buildings click here. You can also read extensive information about the social history of the town at St Ives 100 Years Ago.

Ready for refreshments? Try Tom's Cakes, on the left just as you come into the town centre. The shop is located in a 19th century former toll house that has been very stylishly renovated. Also seats outside to watch the world go by. Great range and quality of cakes, snacks and coffee, all at reasonable prices.

Click the 'Print Friendly' button below to print out the walk to take with you. Or for more walks click the 'Return Home' button at the foot of this page. Did you enjoy the walk? Notice anything unusual? Why not add a comment below to tell fellow amblers what you liked about it?

2 comments:

  1. Hi, thanks so much for taking the time to set-up this website. We moved up to Cambridgeshire in 2013 and have used it a number of times for walks - a great way to get to know the local area.

    One small suggestion for this one - on Point 3 you could say which way (left) to turn after crossing the footbridge.

    Thanks

    Ian

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good point, Ian. I've updated point 3 to be clearer. Appreciate the feedback and glad you find the content useful. Regards, John

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