Bridleway 14

Distance: c.300m. Direction, NNE - SSW

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Bridleway 14 starts immediately after crossing the railway bridge north of Sandy Station (TL 177493) towards Potton. A track follows the railway line north below the towering 68 metre high Sand Hills. You will be following in the footsteps of people who have climbed these hills for millennia. Palaeolithic peoples from over 20,000 years ago would have used them as a vantage point. Obsidian hand axes from the Lake District that would have been used to cut down trees and kill animals have been found within a few kilometres radius. They were uncovered with flints for cutting skin and meat beside the river Ivel. This area was well-wooded millennia ago and gradual deforestation has left the countryside generally denuded. The woods you see are largely pine plantations from late- Victorian times and the early-20th century.


Just as you start the walk, you may be able to make out an overgrown sand pit in the side of the hill. Sand has been exploited in this area for millennia for use in the construction industry as well as lightening the heavy clay soils. After about 100 metres the path turns northeast and you begin to ascend the side of the Greensand Ridge. This is a deposit of coarse-grained sandstone that began to be laid down over 90 million years ago when Britain was on the same latitude as the Sahara. The reason for it being called greensand is that it contains minerals of glauconite, blue-green crystals with a complicated chemical formula (K0.08 R1.33 R0.67 [Al0.13 S3.87 O10] OH2) that turn green when they are first exposed to the oxygen in the air. However, after a while they change colour to the dark brown colour that you will notice when climbing these hills.


At the top of this hill, about 200 metres to the east, is the site of Iron Age hill fort. The Iron Age people lived after the Bronze Age from about 500 BC to about 55BC when the Romans started to settle in Britain. Excavations suggest that it was hastily constructed to act as a defence against the Roman forces but it did not serve its purpose. The Romans had settled in this area by the early 1st century and this bridleway was almost certainly used by them. It follows the western edge of the woods up a gentle slope up the side of the ridge until it meets footpath 15 (TL 178491).


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