The Icknield Way. Part 4 from Wingfield to the B530 (TL021295).
14 February 2010
Map OS Explorer 193. This section continues along the Way from Wingfield village
up to Toddington and then continues to met the return route down the B530 and
through ancient and modern farm land to return to Wingfield. Distance 12 km.
A continuation of the Way’s scenic route, this section continues N to Toddington and
beyond. The last part of Part 3 was particularly dire and that, combined with the lack
of parking sites on Thorn Road, meant that this section started in Wingfield village
and took in a remaining section to the S on the return leg.
From Wingfield the 5 kg-boot problem continued with sodden ploughed (and winter-
wheat planted) fields under sullen steel-grey skies. But this soon changed and the
route takes in Chalgrave Church1. Mentioned in the Domesday book and home to
fine mediaeval paintings, it was associated with a 12th Century manor house which,
with its attendant earthworks, was levelled in the 1970s. (The barbarities that we
perpetrated on our heritage! and of course still do today.) Heavily restored in 1931,
after the tower collapsed in 1889, the church now sits in its horse chestnut ringed yard
and is home to raucous rooks. With luck the Aesculus trees will have escaped the
bleeding canker disease (caused by the Pseudomonas bacterium) but it’s doubtful, as
the disease is widespread in these parts.
The Way now descends to the B579 and to a series of delightful fields still with their
selians and headland butts of the mediaeval ridge and furrow readily visible. The
Way makes a bee-line for Toddington church through this ancient landscape.
At this time of year the countryside is waiting for the warmth of spring to nudge it
into frenetic activity, but some of our evergreen plants (mosses and liverworts) along
with the symbiotic lichens mentioned last week, are to be seen in their glory.
Chalgrave church Rooks wait to return to the Aesculus Feather moss (Eurhynchium spp.)
Mediaeval selians Wall moss (Tortula spp.)with spore capsules Liverwort (Anthocerus spp.)
The damp woodlands and the Toddington churchyard are good places to see mosses and damp
corners will reveal liverworts. These plants can all propagate vegetatively but they also have a
spectacular sex life with spermatozoids (produced by antheridia) swimming in mucilage and
moisture to reach the female archegonia.
Next is Conger Hill motte, well protected by its circular fence, as the way moves on through farm
land to fine views westwards towards Sharpenhoe Clappers. (And, incidentally, an empty bag
where lunch should have been.) Down now (stomachs rumbling) to the B530 where partridges
that have escaped the seasonal fowling pieces still buzz about in their coveys. We regain Manor
Farm and take in the mediaeval fish ponds well protected from prying eyes by overly frisky
horses intent on pinning the unwary walker to the paddock fence before moving on to Grove
Farm. At the farm the home fields are covered with over-wintering redwings and fieldfares. And
so to the A5120 and back to Wingfield along a stretch of the way that had escaped us last week.
Sharpenhoe Clappers Conger Hill motte Manor farm fish pond