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MICA Travels are a group of family and friends that are dedicated to raise awareness of Bile duct cancer and sepsis, two illnesses that claim 1000’s of lives each year and are barely known about. I lost my wife; our sons lost their mother and many others lost a dear friend. We as group will be doing a series of endurance activities to raise money for these charities as a lasting memorial to Carol, so that our sudden loss is not in vain.

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14/214 Fells completed

The Roaming Roman Road - Part Three

Posted in Walking Stories by Mike Hall

It was hot, I had blisters and was hungry, so the stop albeit insisted upon from the Mission Control’s was welcome. Boots were removed feet freshened up and allowed to air dry so that blister plasters could be applied.

The bench sits in the dappled shade of elderly trees which have had initials carved in their skins, and by the looks of how well the trees have healed, they have been there a long time. If they could talk, I wonder what stories they could tell, apart from telling the knife wielding graffitist’s to bugger off! I was also in full sight of the Goggs Golf Club and some shenanigans!


While I luncheon on my food stash, I observed I think was some cheating Golfers! It would appear that they were two teams of two, the first team played their balls onto the green, and one was in the rough. The golfer dug his ball out of the rough on to the green whilst the other attempted the putt. They then retrieved there balls and awaited the arrival of the second team. The second team played there balls onto the green and putted them. Both teams returned to their buggies, but the two that played their balls first mumbled in my earshot “let’s just as it was a five and four” well, they took two shots each to get to the green and I didn’t see them putt any ball at all, so me thinks there was a bit of score card tomfoolery afoot! Who knows but it would be interesting to see their score cards!

bench w

Anyway, I finished my lunch and put several blister plasters on one foot only! Weird, and clean socks on then booted up. Before I left I stood up and you could just see Ely Cathedral in the distance, the “Ship of the Fens” as it’s known because it has a prominent position surrounded by flat fen lands and the only UK building to be listed as one of the seven wonders of the middle ages. I flash backed to a time I surprised my wife with a lunch at a riverside restaurant for her 50th with a tour of the cathedral accompanied by a chance choral concert at this peaceful sanctuary, a worthy visit as it is very ornate. Yet another reminder of a former life and a sad realisation of things I can’t do anymore.

I returned to the Roman road down an avenue that had memorial benches at several places along its length, some with nice inscriptions and this one caught my eye and seemed poignant.

mem bench
wb bench
wb ave

At the end I turned left towards Cambridge. As I walked along this section o noticed that it was quiet high up, like its neighbour Fleam Dyke which runs parallel to this road, so I did some investigating. There some thoughts that the Romans built their road on top of a pre-historic trackway. Ancient trackways often have burial mounds near to them and there is one near Wandlebury and the “two penny loaves” along this section, so it could be. At the end of the Roman road is a broad wide path. It runs 90 degrees to the Roman road, which is strange, but there is a reason for this.

rr end

This track is known as the Shelford Gap and forms part of the Tottenhoe Way and ancient parish boundary. To my right along this track is the end of this path, but the track does cross the road and runs into Cherry Hinton and coincidentally crosses the main road at the Cambridge City boundary sign. To my left is the end of the Shelford Gap, but apparently I you continued in a straight line you would end up at Wandlebury. So again, was this an ancient network of roads connecting hill forts and settlements which now are our parish boundaries, towns and cities, something to look into at some point.

tot gap

The Shelford gap is known locally for two things. In old times it was a moot point or an ancient meeting point between parishes to discuss local issues, but through my investigations, it is also a meeting point for other reasons. The Shelford Gap is a well-known place where people show their dogs off! or something like that??

Anyway, I’m standing at another road which completes the Roman road path with an abrupt unceremonious end to this stage. I still have a way to go to reach my rendezvous with Mission Control, so my route is down the hill towards Cambridge. The road is known as Worts Causeway and runs all the way into Cambridge. I reckon that if the Roman Road crossed straight over the Shelford Gap, it would connect up with this road nearer Cambridge. The road is a busy cut through and you have to be careful of speeding cars. But it was my blisters that were giving more trouble.

dist camb

Mission Control chirped up and said that people had been following my live feed on Facebook and that we had received donations to the charity, fantastic, that was the main reason as well as trying to sort my grief stricken jumbled mind. One follower by the name of Jane Symon offered a cup of tea and cake for our endeavours at a Café called “Hot Numbers” Gwydir Street in Cambridge, music to my feet! However, I could see Cambridge in the distance, distance being the word that caused great concern. I had to walk another 2 or 3 miles to get there. Oh well! I said to myself and convinced my blistered feet to trudge on.

hot n

I flashed back again to a similar experience reminding me how my wife made it back to the car with a strained knee, driven by the thought of an ice cream. The walk in the road was hard, it was hot, no cover and hard underfoot made more awkward by having to keep jumping into the verge to avoid being knocked over.

Worts Causeway gets its name from a chap who paid for its re-direction, William Wort, hence the name, but me makes me think that its original route was the Roman Road. I followed the Worts Causeway and past a mile marker. Apart from the chiselled bench mark, there are no other recognising markings. This Mile marker is a grade two listed building dating back to the 1700’S, further feeding my suspicion of an old former road or track.


Mission Control guided me in to the rendezvous place via a park which as I was still early, I chose to use it as a holding pattern until I could land near Cherry Hinton Park. I took the opportunity to de-boot and apply new blister plasters, my feet were quite sore by now and I was sweating profusely as Cambridge offered no shade. After a while I hobbled to the rendezvous point but something happened.


Throughout our life together we have had coincidences crop up, many of them in fact still do. My wedding anniversary is in September, I lost my wife in September, three meaningful songs have been launched in September, and two from ABBA whose words seem to fit equally well as messages from another world to me in this world. ABBA split when we were married and has re-formed at a significant anniversary date.  Ed Sheeran’s words from “Visiting Hours” are poignant. I have said that I have 250+ songs on a play list selected randomly, well within 5 minutes of the finishing point ABBA’s  “I still have faith in you” played through my headphones, what are the chances of that happening. As I walked and listened to the words tears fell, was she telling me that she had faith in me from afar, who knows, but I chose to accept it as a sign, don’t judge, as we none of us know.

I met up with Mission Control (Cambridge) and we went by car to a car park and then walked the remaining ¾ mile to “Hot Numbers” café. We entered and the staff were primed to great us with Tea and Cake, so polite they were and the café was a relaxed trendy place living in a former brewery, busy with customers one of which spent a while asking about the adventure and our cause. The cake and generous cups of tea where very welcome, tasty and refreshing. So thank you Jane and the staff at “Hot Numbers” for a perfect end to the adventure.


On the way back we stopped at a Cambridge Road sign on Fulbourn Road to conclude the journey, which lies in the path of the Tottenhoe Way, demonstrating how the modern Cambridge still sits within its ancient boundaries.  Mission Control then drove me back to home, 19.4 miles clocked up for the day and just over £100 raised for good causes. A good result all in all.

As always, more than just a walk.