Houghton to Hemingford Abbots

Distance 3 miles, 6,600 steps.

Good points of this walk are...

  • Easy walking of great variety through fields, pleasant villages and along riverside.
  • Options to vary the route.
  • Great food and snacks available at several locations.
  • Plenty of wildlife and historical interest.

Bad points are...

  • If The Ouse is in flood, large parts of the walk are impassable.

Park in the centre of Houghton. The village is Anglo Saxon in origin, although there is evidence of settlement as early as neolithic times. 

Walk down Mill Street. At the end you'll find Houghton Mill, a National Trust property well worth a visit if open. Walk through the mill and follow the footpath round to and over Houghton Lock.

At the far side of the lock turn right to walk along the bank of the River Ouse. As you follow the route you'll cross over a couple of bridges and walk along peaceful ponds and streams edged by reed beds. In summer these are full of insects, and swallows fly speedily just above grass level chasing the insects, sometimes appearing to be on a collision course to hit you.

When you reach woodland walk along the edge of the field with the woods on your right, heading south.

As you leave the woodland ends you'll see gates ahead. Pass though the first and then the immediate next on the left, following the trace of track up an earth ramp.

At the top of the ramp pass through more gates. When you reach the tarmac track running at right angles, turn left.

After a short walk you'll reach the end of Common Lane, where you can view some of the most expensive houses in Cambridgeshire. Walk down the lane to head into Hemingford Abbots, a very picturesque village. The earliest trace is of a Roman settlement, with further development by Anglo-Saxons. 

When you reach the village noticeboard you can vary the route by continuing down Common Lane into the centre of the village. You'll pass the Axe and Compass, a 15th century thatched pub that serves great food, or coffee with an intensely chocolatey accompaniment. Continue the diversion along the road for just over half a mile until you come to a tight right hand bend. Take the footpath off to the left, turn right where the route skirts the River Ouse, and head back into Hemingford Abbots across a field and between houses, turning right when you reach the road again to head back up to the village noticeboard and continue on the main route.

Head down Meadow Lane at the village noticeboard and over the Black Bridge (no longer black, and replaced by a more modern affair). Follow the path across Hemingford Meadow back to Houghton Lock.

After passing by Houghton Mill there's another chance to take refreshments or something more substantial at the National Trust cafe, just inside the caravan park to the right. If the day is warm, the picnic benches overlooking the mill are very appealing.

There's another chance for a pleasant detour if you continue down past the cafe, keeping the River Ouse tributary to your right. You'll wander along the riverside and through fields, especially attractive during late summer when it's time for harvesting. The route brings you to a track that leads to the Thicket Road, where you should turn left. As you return to the centre of Houghton you'll pass the grounds of The Elms, full of flowers in spring and with some majestic conifers.

If you choose to continue the main route, just walk back up Mill Street to return to the centre of Houghton

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Over Houghton Lock... sometimes it's a bit wet!

The Axe & Compass.

Soup & cakes at Houghton Mill cafe.

Aconites, snowdrops & tall, tall trees at The Elms.

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