The Bourne Potter

The Bourne Potter

A leisurely circular walk all on bridleways and with only gentle slopes allowing this walk to be enjoyed by all. There is an abundance of wildlife to be seen as well as historical buildings including the remains of a World War II VHF Receiving Building.

How To Get There By Passenger Transport

Click here for bus and train timetable information.

How To Get There By Car

Cranfield can be reached via the A42 between Bedford and Junction 13 of the M1, or from the A422 from Newport Pagnell.
On road parking is available in the village. Please park thoughtfully.

Start/Finish Point

This circular walk starts on the bridleway leading north at the junction of Crane Way, Bedford Road at Partridge Piece.

Access and General Information

Length: 2½ miles (4 km)   Time: 1.5 hours
Access Information
Surface Types: You can expect to walk across surfaces ranging from hard and firm to grass or uncultivated earth paths with and without ruts and mud.
Refreshments: The nearest shops, pubs, etc, are situated in the village of Cranfield.

Points of Interest

Moat Farm
The ploughed down earthworks of ridge and furrow running north east to south west on the east side of the track between points A and B are the remains of medieval arable cultivation, formerly very common and still visible in some fields to the west. The moat surrounding the former farmhouse is one of several once present in the parish. They date from the 12th or 13th centuries and were fashionable amongst well to do farmers at a time of woodland clearance. The former drawbridge access across the moat was on its north eastern side. Both the moat and pond to the north east are heavily shaded by ash, hawthorn and blackthorn severely restricting vegetation below, in and around the water. Tree creepers are seen here.

Ancient Hedgerows
The majority of the hedgerows in this part of the parish date from the medieval period. They were created directly from woodland as it was cleared away to provide agricultural land in irregularly shaped closes during the 12th century. This process, known as assarting, is well documented in the records of Ramsey Abbey who were Lords of the Manor of Cranfield throughout the medieval period. Not surprisingly several of these old hedges are species rich, usually six or more, and as they are followed northwards occasional glimpses of woodland indicator species, such as dogs mercury and bluebell may be had at the base of the hedges.

Bourne End
Looking west from F the narrow strip of semi-natural broadleaved woodland adjacent to the stream, known locally as The Bourne or Borne, is dominated by dense elm. The canopy includes oak and the understorey hawthorn, blackthorn, dog rose, osier and hops. Looking back to the north from G the buildings you see are at one of Cranfield's many Ends, Bourne End, a small hamlet of medieval origins away from the main road. It includes another moated site at Hillgreen Farm which stands opposite The Manor House, the original focus of the medieval Manor of Washingleys in Cranfield.

Longcroft Spinney
Longcroft Spinney is a semi-natural broadleaved woodland, the last remnant of a once larger ancient woodland here, typically located on the parish perimeter. The canopy is dominated by field maple and ash whilst the understorey contains hazel, wayfaring tree, blackthorn, hawthorn, dog rose and traveller's joy (old man's beard). The ground flora includes bluebells in spring besides dog's mercury, hairy brome and sweet grass. For hundreds of years until the last century, such woodlands were usually carefully managed for their manorial owners in order to provide a regular supply of small and large timber.

Coppicing was the main practice - a large overgrown coppice stool can be seen just inside the spinney.

From the track between H and I there are good views of the Greensand Ridge to the south east, including the ancient King's Wood (Houghton Conquest), Houghton House and Ampthill House. In the field to the west, though not now apparent except as cropmarks from the air, was once another moat: medieval pottery has been recovered from this area.

Roxhill Manor Farm
The house at Roxhill Manor Farm is of 17th century origin but stands on the site of a medieval manor house. Looking south east between J and K the ridge beyond the road was known as Hunger Hill, no doubt a comment on its productivity! To the south White Cottage is visible, once one of several cottages occupying narrow plots on both sides of the road leading from the junction with Beancroft Road up to Cranfield Village. They originated as squatters cottages on roadside waste.

The plain rectangular brick building passed in the field corner near Moat Farm is the remains of a World War II VHP Receiving Building which served RAF Cranfield. The associated timber tower and Stand-By Set House (an engine room with electrical generator) have long gone.


Care in the Country

Please keep to the bridleways and footpaths when using any part of the countryside and observe the Country Code.

Some parts of the walk cross grazing land where dogs should be kept on a lead and under close control at other times.

Gates should be closed after you pass through.


This walk is brought to you by the Cranfield P3 Group with support from Cranfield Parish Council, Bedfordshire County Council, The Forest of Marston Vale and the Parish Paths Partnership.