Somersham Nature Reserve and Lake

A perfect short walk for a Sunday morning or weekday evening. Amble through a pleasant village to view evidence of its railway heritage. Pass through woodland and meadow. Pack a picnic and sit on one of the benches overlooking the peaceful lake. Or visit one of Cambridgeshire Walks top tea rooms.

Designated as a County Wildlife Site, look for grass snakes and common lizards sunning themselves along the old railway line. The meadows are full of butterflies, dragonflies and bees. Watch out for brimstone and common blue butterflies. Herons and great crested grebes inhabit the lake. You might even catch the flash of a kingfisher. In autumn the woodland areas are a palette of colours.
Somersham Nature Reserve
This two and a three-quarter mile (6,100 steps) walk passes through village, woodland and meadows. Plenty of benches to picnic beside the lake. Can be muddy through the wooded areas in winter. The route is shown below on the Ordnance Survey map. You can also zoom in on a satellite view of the walk at Google Maps. Why not review details of Somersham's listed buildings before your walk?


Starting point
There is a free car park in Church Street, roughly opposite the church.

Somersham is an Anglo-Saxon settlement. The Bishop's Palace, located at the far end of Church Street, was a grand location visited by both King Richard (Richard the Lionheart) and King John around 1200. There are few historical buildings left in the village after a series of fires in the 19th century.

Walk out of the car park and turn right into Church Street, and right again at The Cross into the High Street. After 500 yards carry straight on into Station Approach, keeping to the left-hand side rather than walking along the road. 

Point 1
Take the footpath on the left, a few yards past the last house.

Look to your left for a short stretch of railway track, the only evidence of the railway that ran from Somersham to Chatteris. You are walking where Somersham railway station was once situated. It still exists, having been re-erected at Fawley Railway Museum. Hard to believe that for a time it was very busy, with 80 trains a day passing through. Also used as a diversionary line when there was a problem with the main route, the Flying Scotsman occasionally passed through Somersham.
Somersham Nature Reserve
Point 2
After just over 200 yards take the path to the right. The route gradually arcs to the left and then straightens out passing through light woodland as shown above. Follow the path for a third of a mile through the woods as it skirts a meadow. After a right and left turn, the track turns left and drops down into the top of the meadow.

Follow the route as it crosses the top of the meadow and exits.

Point 3
Turn left to walk down what was once the Great Northern and Great Eastern Joint Railway line to Chatteris.

Point 4
After a quarter of a mile take a path to the right and keep right to walk around the lake, created as a result of gravel extraction for use in railway construction. There are several benches positioned to look over the peaceful scene, as shown below. A perfect spot for a picnic.

Continue to walk around the lake.
Somersham Lake
Point 5
Exit the lake area and walk back onto the old railway track. Turn right to and retrace your steps into Station Approach and then to the High Street.

Point 6
After just over 100 yards, turn left along Colne Road. Another 50 yards and you'll see Galley's Drove on your right.

If you're ready for some refreshments, it's a good time to visit one of Cambridgeshire Walk's top tea rooms, a further 250 yards on the right along Colne Road, in Cranbrook Plants. Chelsea Tea Room is one of the best value and most English of refreshment spots around. Prettily located, surrounded by flowering plants, it's all lovely tablecloths and fine bone china. The smoked salmon bagels are a bit classy and only £3.50. Highly recommended.

To continue the walk, head down Galley's Drove.
Point 7
At the end you enter a field. Follow the field edge to the right. You'll find a stream on your right. At the far corner of the field take the footbridge on the right and follow the footpath along the left edge of common land.

Point 8
You'll reach a stile beside a house. After passing through, turn left and 150 yards brings you back to Church Street. Another 200 yards and you're back to the start point.


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