This part of the Trail is divided into two walks.
The first of these, from Stow cum Quy to Swaffham Bulbeck is now published.
The Map leaflet and the Walk Details leaflet can be downloaded below.
The second walk, from Swaffham Bulbeck to Reach, will be available in winter 2018/19.
Walk: Stow cum Quy to Swaffham Bulbeck
5.5 miles (8.8 km)
Walking guide time 2hrs 30mins minimum plus stops
If you use a GPS and wish to have the GPX file for the walk, this will be available for download soon (email us if you would like it).
‘One of my favourite riverside walks of the area – along the Quy Water – and there are four pubs!’
The route: ‘the chalky fen edge – coprolites, clunch and Darwin’
Having travelled across from Cambridge, the Fen Edge Trail curves northward along the south eastern edge of the Fens, paralleling the chalk escarpment which marks the beginning of the chalk plateau. This walk, from Stow cum Quy to Swaffham Bulbeck, is the first on the part of the Trail that joins Stow cum Quy to Reach. The walk connects three villages that owe their existence to the combination of watery fenland and higher, drier ground. Each village has its own history and will reward time spent looking around. The walk begins at Stow cum Quy church, on an ancient terrace of the River Cam and follows the Harcamlow Way, a long distance path linking Harlow and Cambridge, along Quy Water. Passing near Anglesey Abbey (National Trust), which has impressive gardens as well as the house itself, it then continues over the marly chalk, characteristic of the local fen edge, to the village of Lode with Longmeadow. The walk finishes in Swaffham Bulbeck, on the lower slopes of the chalk hills.
Two maps are provided. The first gives directions and the second shows the landscape of the area, with the contours and geology. The contours (measuring height above sea level) reflect the underlying geology in most places and this is particularly distinctive around the Fen Edge.
Download by clicking on the top map image
The Details leaflet gives practical advice as well as information on features and places of interest to be found on the walk. .
Download by clicking on the leaflet image
Landscape and Geology
The bedrock in this area is of Lower Cretaceous age, the Gault Clay being the oldest and the Zig Zag Chalk the youngest. The strata (layers) dip shallowly to the south east with the chalk forming the low scarp (steep) face to the east of the Trail. The strike (direction) of the rocks is shown by the orientation of the scarp edge (south west to north east). The lowest chalk layer is the West Melbury Marl (a soft, impure chalk), above which is a band of Totternhoe Stone – a harder chalk much used as building stone (e.g. from quarries behind Swaffham Bulbeck phg.3). The Zig Zag Chalk overlies this layer and forms most of the top of the scarp. The thin bed of Cambridge Greensand lying at the base of the chalk and the Gault Clay below it were the source of the phosphatic nodules (coprolites) which were extensively mined along this part of the fen edge. The covering of Peat in the fenland here is much reduced and in places the underlying clay, greensand and chalk can be ploughed up to the surface. Small flint pebbles are ubiquitous in the soils – they are very resilient to wear and were probably dropped by glaciers.
For details of the geology see the geology map above and in the walk leaflets.
For more information see the British Geological Survey map viewer.
Local Information Links
NHL Swaffham Bulbeck Abbey Heritage listing (building stone: clunch, flint, Barnack limestone)
NHL Swaffham Bulbeck St Mary’s church (building stone: clunch, limestone, slate, pebble, flint)
HER Stow cum Quy St Mary’s church (building stone: clunch, flint, limestone)
HER Jadeite axe – dark green amphibolite Neolithic – 4000 BC to 2201 BC, found at Bottisham
© Cambridgeshire Geological Society