The Thicket

An Amazon jungle on the edge of St Ives. Sounds unlikely? Not if you know about The Thicket. Amazingly bright green in spring and early summer and full of birdsong, this short walk is great for a weekday evening to relieve a stressful day. Also great fun for kids, including a perfect spot for a picnic and some fun in a sunny meadow.

Walk through avenues of trees to an ancient woodland. Pass the site of kilns used to make bricks for the New Bridges causeway. Look out for muntjac deer, green woodpeckers and jays. Bursting with wild plants, have some target practice with the plant that caused the invention of Velcro. Look out for a wide variety of moths, butterflies and dragonflies.

This green walk of just under 2 miles (4,000 steps) is along a riverside footpath to climb a track through woodland, over a stile and into an open field. Tranquil places to sit, rest and have a picnic.  Very high count of wild plantsinsects and birdlife. Does involve some inclines and two stiles to climb over. In winter or after heavy rain can be very muddy. Keep an eye out for speeding cyclists silently approaching from behind along The Thicket path.

Starting point
If you've brought the car, park for free in the St Ivo Indoor Sports Centre car park. Walk away from the car park, back into Westwood Road and the direction you entered. At the tight right and left bend turn right down the path leading to the Sea Scouts' building.

At the end turn right along The Thicket path. It pays to occasionally look behind to anticipate the approach of cyclists. Although most are considerate and will sound their bell, a few inconsiderate cyclists silently pass at speed, which can be a bit disconcerting.

Point 1
This section of the walk is very pleasant, lined with trees that meet overhead as shown below.

The field on your left is Nobles Field, where the St Ives Regatta is held. The field was bought by the Town Council to benefit the people of St Ives from the Noble family, who originally farmed this area. If you're in no hurry, you can walk around the perimeter of the field and along the edge of the Great Ouse, to return to The Thicket path at the other end.

Point 2
On your right you'll pass several areas of vaguely semicircular land set back a few yards from the path edge. Theses are the sites of brick kilns, where over one million bricks were made for the New Bridges causeway that leads away from St Ives bridge. Clay was dug from the surrounding land, made into bricks and loaded onto lighters to be floated down to the wharf by The Dolphin Hotel.

A few yards further and there are open views across Hemingford Meadow. This is one of the few spots exposed directly to river access and the site of an unfortunate tragedy which gained much attention in St Ives as reported in the Hunts Post of 19 February 1915.

Point 3
After about 500 yards along The Thicket path you'll pass a bench on your left and walk through three bollards. Just after this, on your right, is the information board for The Thicket. Turn right and walk up the path into The Thicket. To access a map and information about The Thicket, click here.

The path goes up a hill before turning left and winding through an ancient woodland full of wild plantsmothsbutterflies and dragonflies  The tree canopy echoes with birdsong. If you silently round each corner you may disturb a muntjac deer  There's a good chance of hearing the laugh of a green woodpecker  or the flash of a jay in flight.

The path is lined with many burdocks. The plant is more commonly known for the use of its roots in the mediaeval drink dandelion and burdock (today's fizzy sugar version is unlikely to contain any plant extracts). Also great fun to pick the burrs and use a friend as target practice. Their ability to stick to just about any cloth surface was the inspiration behind Swiss engineer George De Mestral's invention of Velcro in the 1940s.

The path meanders over a footbridge. It's worth sitting for a spell on one of the two seats provided. Sit still enough and you'll be surprised just how much activity there is around. A hoverfly hangs in the air, ants meander their way back and forth. Moths and butterflies drift by. You may see a wood mouse untypical busying itself during daylight. And most entertaining of all, view in complete anonymity passersby on The Thicket path below.

Point 4
After 400 yards the path turns left to head back down to The Thicket path. If you're not too agile, take this option and turn left when you reach The Thicket path, to head back to the start point. The continuing walk involves climbing over (rather than walking through) two stiles.

To continue the full route, turn right and walk up the incline. A few yards and you turn left to cross a stream bed over planks. Climb up and over the stile and into a field.

You'll enter an ancient meadow as shown above. At the top of the hill evidence has been found of a Roman fort. The grassy mounds are the homes of yellow meadow ants. With it's south facing aspect catching the sunshine, this is a great place to have a picnic, fly a kite or play hide and seek with the kids.

After just under 200 yards the path turns left to head down the hill. At the bottom there's another stile to climb over.

Point 5
You're now back on The Thicket path. Turn left to return along the path  and your start point.

Click the 'Print Friendly' button below to print out this walk to take with you. Or for more walks click the 'Return Home' button at the foot of this page. Did you enjoy the walk? Notice anything unusual? Why not add a comment below to tell fellow amblers what you liked about it?

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