The weather this Autumn in Cambridgeshire has been very reasonable for the time of year. Fairly dry most days with some clear skies and sunny periods allowing me to get out and take some reasonable pictures. Several evenings have provided really dramatic sunsets but unfortunately none lasting long enough for me to get out and take some good shots in time.

Melton Mowbray | St Neots | Bourne | Kettering | Peterborough

Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire

The planned destination for this day trip was for a quick drive through Leicestershire to Nottingham city centre, in order to take pictures of Nottingham Castle and Museums. However, we only got as far as Melton Mowbray! as we were sidetracked by the number of quaint little villages we drove through on the way.

Greetham

The first point of call was Greetham, just off the A1 past Stamford, on the B668. As you round the bend on the way into the village you are greeted with an idyllic view of the old stone built Wheatsheaf pub, with a backdrop of honey coloured stone and thatch cottages and a small stream running past. We just had to stop in the pub car park to take a few pictures, then stroll up the hill past the stream to admire the picturesque nature of this little village.

A little further west along the B668 we found the equally picturesque village of Cottesmore, with the magnificent parish church of St Nicholas, lording over the Main Street and bounded by thatched cottages. This area was once prime hunting country and the oldest fox hunt in Britain, 'The Cottesmore Hunt' derives its name from the village. Between Cottesmore and the smaller, but no less attractive village of Ashwell, we came across the locally run, Rutland Steam Railway Museum. An ideal stopping place to reminisce and capture the bygone stream era with a few photographs of working tank engines. After admiring its many lovingly restored 'Thomas the Tank Engine' look-alikes and plank wagons, we headed off for the historic windmill at Wymondham, first stopping in Ashwell, to take a picture of the Grade II listed village well (located at the side of the Oakham road).

Wymondham Windmill

The part ironstone, part brick and built windmill at Wymondham has been partially restored, except for its six main sails, which are conspicuous by their absence. It is one of only four six-sailed windmills remaining in Britain. The adjacent tearoom was a very welcoming sight by this time, as we were both peckish and enjoyed a mouth watering bowl of homemade soup and rolls, followed by a slice of homemade cake and cuppa to wash it down. The facility has ample parking, a small shop to browse in, plus 2 acres of woodland containing mostly native British trees.

We found the nearby village of Wymondham (pronounced: Why - Mun - Dumb) a peaceful place to walk around, with an art gallery, an antique shop, and a lovely old pub (Berkeley Arms). The village has many old and unusual buildings, many restored to there former glory and others in need of refurbishment. The church graveyard contained several old slate gravestones, in very good condition, that reminded me of the type found in Yorkshire. We only had time for a short stroll around the village, there was so much to see here (including a stable with Llamas) that we decided it was worth revisiting at a later date.

Melton Mowbray Market Cross
Melton Mowbray

Anne of Cleves Sign

Our final destination for the day was the market town of Melton Mowbray - first stop the Carnegie Museum. Although the car park was some way from the museum building, it was clearly sign-posted and free on Sundays. The museum is small but very informative about the history and culture of the town, retelling the history of Stilton Cheese, Pork Pie baking and Fox hunting in the locality. On the way out we picked up the 'Melton Heritage Trail' leaflet from the information desk and set out to explore the town. The Heritage Trail is clearly marked, with useful information-panels positioned at key places, en route. The trail starts in the market place, by the Corn Cross, and runs in a circular path around the central streets of the town. One of the oldest and most interesting buildings is the Anne of Cleves pub, located next to the parish church. It dates back to 1327, then home to some chantry monks. The old inn takes its name from Henry VIII's fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, when the property was gifted to her as part of their divorce settlement in 1541. The inn is said to be haunted. For more information on Anne of Cleves and Henry VIII, visit Lara's excellent Tudor History site.

St Neots, Cambridgeshire

Today we went for an Sunday afternoon stroll in St Neots, a pleasant little market town on the River Cam, just off the A1 near Cambridge. Parking was easily found at the park by the river (free parking on Sundays). The riverside park is a lovely area to walk and watch the various boats cruise along the river, in and out of the small marina next to the town. The river bank seems a very popular spot for fishing too, as we counted at least 10 anglers enjoying their afternoon sport. The river is said to offers some of the best coarse fishing for Bream, Pike, Roach, Rudd and Tench in the East of England.

St Neots

At the end of our circular walk around the park we crossed the river into the town centre. I was surprised by the large size of the Market Square for such a small town; a wide open expanse surrounded by shops, with some interesting old buildings on the south side. The market cross looked unusual, with some impressive Victorian style metalwork on top. After close inspection we discovered it wasn't a market cross but actually an ornate cast iron street lamp erected in 1822 by local brewer, John Day. From the market place we followed the "St Neots Historic Town Walk" leaflet, available from the Tourist Information Centre and Museum, in New Street, (located just off the High Street). The oldest buildings are the two 12th century churches, located at each end of St Mary's street, and both called St Mary's! The most interesting part of town is along St Mary's street itself, most of which lies in the parish of Eynesbury, now deemed a Conservation Area. Here you will find some of the fine older buildings, including a late 17th century timber-framed building and the rustic 16th century Chequers Inn, still serving good food and local real ales.

Bourne

Bourne Town Hall

We often drive through the small market town of Bourne on the way to visit family who live there. This day we arrived early so decided to take a walk in the town park. Near the park entrance we found an old mill house by the stream, which has been lovingly restored and turned into a museum, mainly dedicated to the motor racing heritage of Bourne. The water wheel, that once used to mill corn, now turns a generator to power the museum. The park is a peaceful green expanse, through which the mill stream meanders, lined with weeping willow trees. The remains of a castle mound can be seen that was destroyed soon after being used by Cromwell's troops in 1645.

Kettering, Northamptonshire

Kettering Town Centre

We decided to stop for a few hours in Kettering, on one of our many journeys to the Midlands from Cambridge along the A14. We have visited Wicksteed Park several times in the past but had not taken the time before to venture just that little bit further along the A6003 into the town centre. Parking was easy to find, located between the town hall and parish church. Kettering is a small market town with shops located around a paved and terraced market square, overlooked by an impressive old Corn Exchange building (once used as a Hippodrome), with several streets of shops leading off. Much of the town has been swallowed-up in modern development but there are still a few fine older houses in the narrow lanes. The small Manor House Museum, next to the parish church, provides an interesting insight into Kettering's long industrial heritage. Shoe manufacturing was once a key industry here along with lace and clothing; most of which has now moved to far eastern countries. Not far from the museum we found a pleasant little park with a water fountain. Opposite which is a small art gallery, which contains works donated by Sir Alfred East and Thomas Cooper Gotch, plus other local artists.

Peterborough

Peterborough CathedralToday I took the bus into Peterborough town centre, having decided to leave the car and go green for a change. I disembarked near the town bridge and walked along the river bank taking pictures of the River Embankment, including the Old Customs House and the contrastingly modern, glass fronted, Key Theatre. The usual large flock of swans and geese were parading on the river and embankment. A couple of narrow boats, using the embankment for overnight mooring, were just getting ready to head off down river. A walk through the embankment park and gardens took me towards the Cathedral. On the way I took a couple of shots of the old Lido (outdoor swimming pool) that is now closed for the season.

After a peaceful walk around the Cathedral precincts, I passed through the great Norman Gateway to the Cathedral Square. The square is currently being re-paved, following demolition of the old post office building behind the parish church of St John the Baptist. Work is still going on despite several promises from the council that it would be completed six months ago! The new fountains in the square make an interesting foreground for a photograph of the Old Guildhall and Butter Cross, however, take care, as I got my camera lens soaked from the spray of an unexpectedly high water jet!

After a trip to the town museum on Priestgate, which is lined with some of the city's finest buildings, I headed south towards the park across town. On way I passed by the abandoned Broadway theatre, sadly damaged by a fire in 2009 and currently up for sale. Peterborough Central Park (Opened in 1877) still maintains much of its original Victorian layout, and one of the few parks left in Britain that still maintains a bird aviary.

Content by Steve and Susanne

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