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A stroll to perhaps Britain’s best bar: The Cock, close to St Ive’s, Cambridgeshire

Atrip to the Cambridgeshire riverside town of Hemingford Gray, on the edges of St Ives, wants to meander into a fantasy place where there are creeper-shrouded homes and covered houses with roses around the entryway. One of my #1 strolls goes through the town, following ways through woods and blossoming feed glades and alongside the Great Ouse. The stream turns through the scene, parting and converging to shape islands, or sparkling out of nowhere from behind a churchyard divider.

The loveliest thing about the congregation of Saint James isn’t it’s engineering (the now shortened tower was obliterated by a typhoon in 1741) to such an extent as the perspectives from its riverside churchyard. Left along the stream is an especially beautiful view, through trees and reeds to a covered bungalow and boat shelter. The churchyard door, outlined by tall Japanese anemones, prompts the yellow dividers of the greenery roofed previous Anchor bar, presently simply one more pleasant bungalow with cover, half-timbering, and a variety of washed blocks.

Hemingford Gray once had nine bars; just the Cock gets by. I’m setting out from that point on a warm day for a roundabout walk that will end with a bar lunch in the nursery. A chillier walk could similarly as cheerfully end by the fire in the bar. The town has various recorded structures, including the wisteria-hung Georgian River House, where the craftsman Walter Dendy Sadler once resided. Sadler is likely most popular for Thursday (1880), which shows a gathering of priests looking for their Friday feast, one of the three canvases that started off Henry Tate’s assortment.

Leaving Hemingford Gray, along a riverside way, I pass the entryway of The Manor, setting for the Green Knowe youngsters’ accounts by Lucy Boston, who lived there. Its nurseries are open day today (entrance a fiver). The town of Hemingford Abbots, under a mile further on, is likewise loaded down with story-book cabins: there’s an outdated house with a little clock tower, covered creatures on the roofs, and some Dutch-style peaks that allude to the impact of the seventeenth-century engineers who showed up to assist with depleting the fens.

A heron is gazing into the reeds on one side of the following knoll, a major, green island between two parts of the waterway. On the far side, paddleboarders are holding a race, with observers covering the extension above them. Additionally on that side, there is a National Trust bistro outside Houghton Mill, a functioning eighteenth-century watermill. From here, the course follows a short stretch of the Ouse Valley Way, which tracks the Great Ouse for 142 miles, from its source in Northamptonshire to where it meets the ocean in Norfolk close to King’s Lynn.

This segment goes through the Thicket way, where today butterflies – enormous whites and spotted woods – are moving through the leaves. In spring, there are violets and primroses under the trees and the branches load up with birdsong. The course heads along a lime road back into the Old Riverport area of St Ives, past the as of late redesigned Norris Museum (free) with its Victorian fen skates and ancient pots.

St Ives is the best spot for vehicle-free walkers to join the course (with a bar lunch after several miles). The world’s longest directed busway stops in the town. The incessant transports, which look customary in any case, have guide wheels that arise when they arrive at tracks: the driver doesn’t have to control those segments. I for the most part jump on the busway, which opened in 2011, at the moderately new Cambridge North rail route station on the city outskirts and ride 30 minutes to St Ive’s, along a substantial track on the course of an old rail line. When you leave the city, the scene is level fenland, with long perspectives across south Cambridgeshire. There’s a sail-less windmill, a major church at Swavesey, and the lakes and reed beds of RSPB Fen Drayton nature save. In fall and winter, you’ll frequently see immense starling murmurations twirling against pink nightfalls through the transport windows.

In St Ives there’s a sculpture of Oliver Cromwell, who lived here during the 1630s. Today, I turn right not long before the sculpture, heading back towards the Great Ouse. The stream is packed with ducks and swans and traversed by an angled archaic scaffold with a church in the center. Crossing the cobbled span, I head over the green fields of Hemingford knoll towards the bar.

In spring, the grass is still lengthy alongside the way and brimming with glade blossoms: cowslips, cuckoo blossoms, and the pink towers of normally spotted orchids. This is probably Cambridgeshire’s best walk, and spring is actually the best chance to make it happen.

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