A good way to spend a sunny winter day: walking around Grafham Water.
Just off the A1, near Huntingdon, this manmade reservoir is owned by Anglian Water and is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest. It is easy to get to by car and provides a pleasant walk (10 miles) around its perimeter. Much of the walk is shared footpath and cycle track.
I parked in Plummer Park car park, just to the west of the dam, and set off walking in an anticlockwise direction, following the curving concrete embankment of the reservoir.
This was a winter walk and I chose it in the hope I wouldn’t find too much mud. There was some – both on the cycle track and in areas where construction vehicles had churned up the track – but it wasn’t too bad.
It is also possible to break away from the cycle track and follow winding footpaths through woodland along the edge of the water where new plantations of trees have been established.
Beyond this, I came across churned up track, lots of mud, and large machines. All was quiet (it was a Sunday) but there was clearly major construction work of some sort going on.
In the north-west corner of the reservoir, the track passes through the oaks of Savage’s Spinney – where you might hear a nightingale sing, or see Muntjac deer, although I didn’t. This is ‘ancient woodland’, meaning it’s at least 400 years old.
After this, the track veers away from the water and rises to run along the edge of farmland. On the day I walked it, this area was exposed and very windy, and so comprised the least pleasant part of the walk.
I was glad to escape from the cycle track as soon as I could, and follow a footpath through Littless Wood, another patch of ancient woodland. Here the trees are mixed and tangled, making a pleasant contrast from the regimented planting in other places along the shore.
And, by accident, in Littless Wood I stumbled across a pleasant bird hide overlooking Grafham Water. Glass in the viewing panels kept out the wind. There was nobody else there, and I had time for a brief rest and a snack, while watching the water fowl outside..
I re-joined the cycle path and left the wood behind. It was midday by now, and I shared the track with several groups of cyclists and walkers.
By the time I reached Perry (the only village directly on the reservoir) the sun had disappeared. Bypassing the restaurant by the water, I headed towards the local pub. Time for a late lunch.
After leaving the pub, it was a short walk back to the car park at Plummer Park, completing the 10 mile round walk.