Isle of Ely

Walk Details:
Total ascent: 4m/ 13ft
Total distance walked: 0.67 miles
Walk difficulty: 0.5/10
Enjoyment rating: 2.5/10
Best bits: Getting back in the car! The mound made for a distinctive top, and there were good views on the drive to the top.
Worst bits: Freezing cold, no views on actual walk
Walkers: Anth, Jim
Car Parking: We parked in the centre of the village at TL 463 755. There are a few free spaces in a service road alongside the war memorial

Top details:
Great Chishill
County top number: 43 of 207
Grid reference: TL 46710 75214 MAP
Height above sea level: 39m/ 128ft
How nice was the top? 2/10
Views: 0/10
Description/Notes: The highest point in the former county of Isle of Ely is atop a mound near the village football pitches.


The Walk:

I was quite looking forward to this top. It was the lowest top we'd yet done, and yet I hoped we'd get some good views. Haddenham (and the neighbouring village of Wilburton) are set atop a 30 metre high ridge protruding from the low and flat fenlands which stretched for miles around. It's funny to think that with global warming this could eventually become an island!

Sure enough, as we drove up the B1049 into Wilburton, the road rose quite steeply (for the fens!) and the ridge was quite distinct, the water tower, radio mast and windmill of Haddenham standing proudly above the fens around. Turning along the A1123 towards Haddenham huge views to the south opened up, looking just as impressive as I expected. Unfortunately when we parked in the centre of Haddenham buildings blocked the views in all directions.

The centre of the village was quite pretty, despite the fact that two "A" roads met there. A beautiful village sign (these seemed to be a local speciality - we'd seen them in several places on the way here), a war memorial, an unusual redbrick church and a colourful pub all greeted us as we emerged from the car. Unfortunately we were also met by a bitingly cold wind and icy drizzle. The weather had clearly taken a turn for the worse since our previous stop. In particular the temperature had plummeted. Despite a veritable plethora of clothing layers we were shivering as we headed back from whence we came - the centre of the village had just been the nearest convenient parking spot to the water tower, which had the highest spot height on the orange OS maps at 37m.

The OS map had also shown an artificial mound in an open space near the water tower, and we'd decided to investigate that as a possible higher point. Sure enough, after wandering around holding the GPS in half-frozen hands, the mound turned out to be the highest point. It appeared to be an antiquity, but unfortunately there was no explanation as to who built it or why or when. Even more disappointingly, the view was still blocked by surrounding buildings - including the water tower and radio mast. Jim did quite like the water tower though.

The "open space" on the map turned out to be the village football pitches. The footballers were packing up and heading back to the changing rooms as we arrived; it seemed early for a match to finish, but given the temperature we couldn't blame them! In fact, having climbed the mound we followed their example and headed back to the car as fast as possible - it was a welcome relief to get out of the wind.

Needless to say, driving west out of Haddenham we got more good views across the fens. It's a real shame there's none at the county top itself, as the mound makes for rather a distinctive top that demands better views