Bedwell Hey
"How To Find A Lost Village"
 
 
by Brian Watson

The course of the Lane is quite obvious, though having a map helps, and once one is a little away from human habitation it was a real treat to hear a lark's song as it rose higher and higher in the clear July sky. There is one very surreal moment here along the diverted part of the route - a huge articulated truck trailer with Mega-Fisch Aquatic Supplies emblazoned on the side is parked in a lay-by of the path. There are no signs of how long it's been there, or why, and I found myself wondering what state its cargo might be in now. Never mind, press on.


On the last part of the diversion round the airfield, we are now on an old path to Brame. We need to go to the right of that tree up ahead...

Just before Bedwell Hey Lane resumes it's former straight course past the Aerodrome diversion there is a track off to the right that is marked on the map as Little Lane. It seems to go to nowhere in particular - it terminates at the Grunty Fen Catchwater drain and Grunty Fen Road - but it may be a continuation (or the end) of St John's Road which emerges out of the east side of Ely near Westfield Farm.


and here we are, bearing right towards Bedwell Hey

One of the things I picked up when researching the former courses of old railways, Roman roads and ley lines many years ago is that one can often detect former "through routes" from the fragments of them that remain and still show up on maps. Another tip is that where there is a hedge there is or was a "de facto" boundary of some sort. It may have been just a field or a pond, or even a whole farm or other property or a settlement comprising several buildings. Whatever it was, to go around the area one needed a path so if you're lost for a path look for a hedge!

Anyway, once past the Mega Fisch trailer, the Lane runs parallel to the former Witchford Aerodrome's main runway for a few yards and it was here that I suddenly paused, thinking I could hear a twin-engined aircraft somewhere quite near. Surely it could not be a Lancaster?

No such luck! It was the last surviving Dragon Rapide twin-engined biplane that still gives tours over this area, and it was passing overhead towards Ely from the direction of Duxford. Perhaps it was rather a drop in status for it after a long career as the then-apparent last word in comfortable transcontinental air travel, but it was a remarkable sight for me just there, just then, nevertheless.

Explorers should beware of the next bit as it's quite easy to take a wrong turn. You need to branch right past the small wood, not carry straight on.
The wrong turn leads on towards Brame, as it happens.

As a point of historic interest, just past the junction of the paths, a road (now not visible on the ground) ran down from the Aerodrome perimeter road, past Eccleston and Pruden, to the old Stretham railway station, from where armaments and other supplies were brought into the Aerodrome when it was active. Only part of it still shows on the map, but you can see where it went if you start at Stretham station and follow the road straight up, finishing with a slight bend to the east once over the Grunty Fen Catchwater drain.

 
 

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