A War Memorials Walk from Ashwell

Getting there Take the A505 from Royston towards Baldock, turn right to Ashwell and the Mordens, then left towards Ashwell, and left again into Ashwell at the war memorial.

Map Explorer 193 Luton and Stevenage. Grid ref 270397 (also need 208 Bedford and St Neots). Park carefully near the church on the right outside Three Tuns Public House.

The Walk
About 6/7miles, and will take about 3 hours. Good under foot and generally well signed. Ashwell Church tower is in view for much of the way.

Head for the church which is perhaps much more magnificent on the outside than inside, but still worth a visit: graffiti of the original St Paul's in London just beneath the tower. In the north-east corner of the churchyard there is a renowned Kindersley Workshop gravestone featured on BBC 2, commem- orating a recently deceased verger, sexton and brewery drayman.

Come out of the churchyard by the main gate at the west end of the church, and turn right, and then very soon left down Rollys Lane (having noted the old Merchant Taylors School on the left). Just before taking this left turn, you could go down to the river/mill/brewery for a quick look, before returning to the route. Keep on this road, with large country house to the right (Lutyens had a hand in its refurbishment): ignore junction on left and then one to the right, but on sharp bend of the road to the right, turn on to a footpath to the left. Zigzag through trees to emerge on to substantial track and turn right.

This track leads to a road - keep straight on, and where road bends through right angle to right, take footpath to the left, and proceed towards house and farm buildings. On meeting a track turn left and then almost immediately right along a hedgerow, cross a bridge, and then go across a field uphill. At junction of paths to right of new large farm building keep straight on and keep going towards Hinxworth in front of you. Keep going round the rim of the village till you meet substantial road (Chapel Lane) coming in from the left. Turn left down here towards centre of the village, and at road turn left again to pass The Three Horseshoes on the right (not open every day) and on the left, a large clock in a substantial tower is a distinctive village war memorial.

Continue eastward, ignore junction to right, and soon see churchyard to your right.

In the churchyard, in the north east corner is a Purbeck marble Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) grave, apparently of a person who died back in the village shortly after the War. Head out through gate in south east comer of the churchyard to join path. Turn left through gate. Very soon cross bridge and turn right on good path, and follow this down to group of buildings, bearing right between them, with ancient house (Hinxworth Place).

Take path to the left of the house and its large garden, full of sculptures. The house to your right is the studio of John W. Mills, who sculpted the Women of the Second World War which stands in Whitehall, near the Cenotaph. A scale version of that remarkable memorial is clearly visible from the path.

Keep on this field edge track for a good half mile or so, climbing steadily, and shortly after a footpath to Caldecote to the right, turn left on good track, with hedge on the right. The track leads you to the road, turn right, and then almost immediately into the main street of Ashwell, back towards your car. Shortly before reaching The Three Tuns, look in the churchyard of the United Reformed Church (ex Congregational Church) where there is another CWGC grave: not many are seen in Non-Conformist churchyards.

(On your way back you could go via Guilden Morden and Litlington, passing a memorial to Air Force personnel of many countries who died flying from the grass runway field.)

Neither the author nor his dog accept any responsibility for accuracy or for any injury or mishap that might befall any person who follows this walk. First published by "one man and his dog" in Great Shelford Village News October 2012

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