St Ives and The Hemingfords walk
Starting from Houghton Mill, cross the water meadows to uncover the past glories of a market town. On this walk through the delightful Ouse valley landscape you'll discover the history of the charming market town of St Ives, returning through the unspoilt villages of The Hemingfords.
Houghton Mill, grid ref: TL281720
Take the path diagonally across Houghton Mill car park and through the kissing gate and turn right into the narrow path called Love Lane.
The start and end point for this walk - Houghton Mill - is the last working mill on the River Great Ouse. There has been a mill on this site for over 1,000 years.
Turn right at Thicket Road and follow it straight on until it becomes a path.
Continue on this path alongside the river to St Ives to come out opposite All Saints' Parish Church. Holt Island Nature Reserve is over the bridge on your right and the Norris Museum is just ahead.
All Saints' parish church and the Norris Museum
The church marks the site of the original Saxon village of Slepe. Amongst those who later worshipped here was Oliver Cromwell, whose signature has been left in the vestry book. The Norris Museum is on your right just at the end of the quay. This is well worth a visit to discover local history.
Walk along The Broadway to the Victoria Memorial and take the right branch along Merryland.
The Broadway and Victoria's memorial
The memorial celebrates Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897, although it wasn't actually erected until 1902. Leading off either side are two routes, Crown Street and Merryland. There is some debate over how Merryland got its name. Some think it's a reference to the Virgin Mary; others say that it derived from the fact that there used to be at least five pubs in the small area.
Take the first right hand turn down Bridge Street, St. Ives just before you get to Market Hill and go over the bridge.
The bridge and chapel
Built in the 1420s, St Ives bridge is one of only four bridges in this country that still have a chapel built onto them midstream. The key to the chapel is available from the Norris Museum.
Turn right through The Dolphin car park and out onto Hemingford Meadow. Walk across the meadow, following the path diagonally left to a stile at the far side. Follow Meadow Lane until it bends sharply left and a track comes in from the right.
Take a small path straight ahead that comes out on a road. Follow the path ahead until you reach another road.
To visit Hemingford Grey's shops or pubs turn left to reach the High Street.
Turn right at the road to Hemingford Grey church.
Turn abruptly left alongside the graveyard to follow a path along the riverbank. Follow the path keeping the river on your right to the far end of the High Street then turn right to continue along the riverbank.
Hemingford Grey Manor
On the right as you leave the village stands Hemingford Grey Manor house. Built in the 1130s, this is one of the oldest continually inhabited buildings in Britain. It's famous for being the home of the Green Knowe author Lucy Boston and for its gardens which are open to the public daily.
The path crosses two meadows then leads alongside a mobile home park into Hemingford Abbots.
Turn right along the road until you reach the Axe and Compass pub.
Take the next road on the right after the pub beside the post box and follow this over the Black Bridge. Cross Hemingford Meadow to a lock and follow the road back to Houghton Mill.
Houghton Mill, grid ref: TL281720
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