Tuesday, 2 August 2011

A Walk Along The Fleam Dyke

Fleam Dyke is a massive earthwork, a defensive ditch and embankment which runs for three miles between the villages of Fulbourn and Balsham. It's some 25 feet high and is thought to have been built by Anglo-Saxons to prevent raids into their territory by the Romano British. It's actually one of a series of four such dykes constructed to block the natural routeway along the chalk outcrop. It's thought that it was constructed in three phases during the 5th, 6th and 7th centuries AD.

The bank on the left, the ditch to the right

There is a public footpath which runs along the crest of the embankment, giving views of the surrounding countryside. As you walk it soon becomes obvious what a major undertaking this must have been for a people using only hand tools.

Looking down into the ditch

Much of the dyke has become choked with scrub in recent years though there are now attempts to open it up once again.

Clustered Bellflower

Where the scrub has been removed the wild flowers are returning, clustered bellflower grows particularly well here along with harebells, lady's bedstraw, rock rose, eyebright, dropwort and others. There were also numerous butterflies yesterday.

Harebells beside the path

The Dyke is also home to the only examples of native juniper remaining in East Anglia.

The path passes close to Mutlow Hill - not much of a hill to be honest, but it is topped by a low mound which is actually what remains of a Bronze Age burial chamber dating from 4,000 years ago. The foundations of a small Roman temple were also discovered near this spot.

The burial mound

Corn Buntings, Yellowhammers, Whitethroat and Blackcap were all seen along the way and a Buzzard passed close by. Just a few more shots to give a flavour of the walk:

 Take care


  1. Lovely views - and what fabulous history you have there. I enjoyed the walk very much!

  2. I am frankly envious of the "walks" which my UK blogging friends have available. I've always felt that if I could travel to your country it wouldn't be the cities and the magnificent buildings which would draw me, but the rural places.
    Every few years I dip into Edwin Way Teale's "Springtime in Britain"--he was so marvelously in tune with flora and fauna.
    I need to reacquaint myself with some of the wildflowers you mentioned.

  3. A great walk and with the added bonus of those delightful wild-flowers.

  4. Thank you all for taking the time to comment. Interestingly I had to go to Cambridge after the walk, it was crowded with tourists from all over the world; on The Fleam Dyke I saw not a soul.
    I love "Springtime In Britain" too; it reminds me of so much that we're in danger of taking for granted.

  5. This looks a lovely and interesting walk,the variety of wildflowers is impressive too. I love harebells, they're my favoiurite August wildflower.

  6. 'The Fleam Dyke' is a great name. And it looks idyllic. What richness of history, flora and birds for those with eyes to see.

  7. Lovely walk! Interesting that the tourists are all in the city. I prefer to see the countryside so I can get a sense of the real place.


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