Take a walk along the water this summer

GRAHAM Uney recommends a stroll along the River Cam to make the most of the spring sunshine - with a stop or two at a local watering hole along the way of course.

There’s not a better way of spending a sunny afternoon than donning your walking boots and heading out on to the footpaths and byways of the county.

The colours of the season seem fresh and vivid, as spring bulbs push through beneath the gently dappled shade of trees in new leaf, and the air is filled with vibrancy and zest for new life.

Lambs are busy chasing around the meadows, comically boing-ing off in surprising directions as they struggle to get to grips with those springy legs and ill-fitting skin, while birds are singing from every perch, desperate to attract a mate and to hold on to a good nesting territory.

Summer is a great season for a waterside walk, and one of the very best in Cambridgeshire just happens to be one of the very easiest for people living in Cambridge to do.

I remember the first time I strolled along the river from Fen Ditton. It was one of those balmy days when the air itself seems to buzz with the busyness of billions of insects.

The lane known as Green End led me past the Plough public house, tempting me to linger, but also promising a well-deserved welcome at the end of my walk.

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Some of the birds of spring had just started to return to the river, and as I walked along the east bank a little grebe called from the depths of a reed bed just beneath the A14 flyover. Black-headed gulls patrolled up and down the shining levels, and one or two common terns, looking surprisingly sprightly after their long migration and recent arrival from the South Atlantic, seemed to dance lightly on the breeze, following the Cam downstream.

I crossed over at Baits Bite Lock, enjoying the visual electric shock of a kingfisher zipping by along the graceful curves of the river. Further on, near Clayhithe, a pair of great crested grebes danced their beautiful, yet bizarre, pond-weed flinging courtship display.

The path along the west bank took me away from the river for a short while, before leading through a flower meadow then northwards to Bottisham Lock. The bridge here gave access to the east side of the Cam, and as I turned to head back towards that pint of ale at the Plough, a couple of lapwings cavorted in the sky, their calls like 1980s space invader gunships sounding loudly across the fen.

How to walk the walk:

The Route. In Fen Ditton head west towards the church, then turn north down Green End. Continue at the end of the lane to the path by the river. Follow the east bank north to Baits Bite Lock, then cross over. Follow the river on the west bank, northwards to Clayhithe, then the lane towards Waterbeach for a short way. Pick up a footpath back to the riverside, and continue to Bottisham Lock. Cross back to the east side here, then head back south to Clayhithe. Cross the river over the road bridge, and retrace your outwards route back to Fen Ditton.