The Great Ouse Valley Way is a 150-mile footpath following the origin of the River Great Ouse from its source near Syresham in Northamptonshire to its mouth in The Wash near Kings Lynn. The path begins outside the Kings Head pub in Syresham and finishes on the Green Quay in Kings Lynn.
The Great Ouse Valley Trust is very keen to let more people know about this wonderful footpath as it passes through Cambridgeshire. In the past Huntingdonshire District Council had promoted the path with excellent illustrated guides and maps. Unfortunately, austerity and the transfer of the maintenance of the path to the County Council means the path is no longer celebrated or regularly maintained, and some of it is in a poor state of repair.
The dire and dangerous state of the OVW footpath at Meadow Lane, St Ives
The Trust is trying to develop a new relationship between the riverside parishes and towns through which the path passes and the County Council to ensure that it is properly maintained and promoted to the public. We are also looking to reroute it away from areas where it is in conflict with industrial sites, most notably in St Ives. We are working closely with Cambridge County Council Highways to see that this happens (scroll down to see update).
We are currently surveying the whole path to look at its strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities so this data can be used both for maintenance and promotion purposes. Our long- term plan is to develop a mobile phone app that will allow users to navigate the route and find information on historical sites, natural features and local amenities on the way.
The length of the path though Huntingdonshire and Cambridgeshire is very close to 26 miles and it is the location of the annual Ouse Valley Way Marathon organised by the BRJ Running club from Huntingdon. This is a very popular event and runners come from far afield to enjoy the wonderful countryside and tranquility of the riverside.
We reproduce here, with permission of Huntingdonshire District Council, a series of seven walkers’ maps to indicate the route of the OVW through Huntingdonshire and Cambridgeshire - that is from Eaton Socon to Earith. As these maps were first created in 1992, some details and references in the accompanying text by D.N. Potter, then Director of Planning at HDC, will have changed. In any case, the limitations of reproduction here means that the text will be difficult to read. We recommend that walkers planning an outing along the path also carry a copy of the latest edition of the relevant Ordnance Survey map for their area to ensure they do not stray!
The survey work being carried out by the Trust volunteers will enable us to eventually revise these maps and the original accompanying text for reproduction in a more practical form.
Maps copyright © Huntingdonshire District Council 1992
GOVT joins up with CCC Highways to organize improvements to the Great Ouse Valley Way
Meetings have been held between the two organisations to look at the implementation of major improvements to the Great Ouse Valley Way Long-distance Footpath. The County Council has successfully applied for grant aid from the A14 Legacy Fund to complete the work. The improvements include:
- Better signage
- New way-marking
- New interpretation boards
- Repair of banks
- New bridges
- Removal of tree obstructions
In addition to this work GOVT has identified areas where the Great Ouse Valley Way route can be improved. The most important area is the path between Holywell and St Ives that currently goes down Meadow Lane through a very busy industrial area with many heavy lorry movements and poor road surfacing. We consider this to be a dangerous section of the footpath (see photographs above). With very little alteration the path can be diverted along a section of the Guided Busway cycle path. This is the short-term aim. The long-term aim is to divert the path along the river to enter St Ives under the bypass and then along The Quay. (See the following map for the alternative routes under discussion.)
The Great Ouse Valley Way is important to tourism and the local economy. It is the location of the annual Great Ouse Valley Marathon.
GOVT is looking forward to working with the County Council to ensure that the Great Ouse Valley Way takes is rightful place as one of the most accessible and attractive long-distance footpaths in the country.