Becoming St Ivian: St Ives Town FC and a walk to Woodhurst

For the past week I’ve lived in St Ives – Cambridgeshire division (rather than the poncey Cornish version). I’ve never lived in a town before, having spent my entire life in cities apart from a brief spell of pseudo village life (in Milton, just outside Cambridge). Neither here nor there, much like your average town I guess, but I thought it was worth a mention.

We chose St Ives, although if prevailing winds had gone the other way we could’ve ended up in Ely (coincidentally one of the UK’s rare pseudo cities). A week in and I’m happy to say, so far, I’m glad we ended up here. The house is as lovely as we remembered it from back when we started the ridiculous UK house buying process, while the commute into Cambridge for work is actually a pleasure (a 30 minute bus ride though nice countryside). But more than that, St Ives itself has welcomed us more than I expected.

There’s something honest about the place, much as you’ll find in any town within 100 miles or so of London. they all feel a bit like London overspill – and many of them are. But as someone brought up in greater London that just makes me feel at home. The average person isn’t quite openly friendly, but they’re more forgiving than Londoners and quite a few will say hello in the street if you smile at them. And outside of twats on a Saturday night, you soon feel safe wandering about – even if you’ve got stupid hair and T-shirts like me.

Arsen, je ne regrette rien

A year ago I posted a blog about falling out of love with football, and more specifically my boyhood/teenhood/manhood club Arsenal. My sentiments haven’t changed, despite the club’s glorious achievements since (cough) and I’ve been looking forward to moving to St Ives to see if I could rekindle my love of the game at a slightly less exotic level.

A season of unfettered glory can only start here

A season of unfettered glory can only start here

As chance would have it, the first Saturday after we moved into the house saw big time charlies Cambridge United visit St Ives Town for a pre-season friendly.

A beautiful sunny day, nothing in the diary and five quid to get in – what could possibly go wrong?

Absolutely nothing, as it happens. You could buy a beer while watching the game, a good few hundred turned out to watch and the mighty Saints put those posh city gents to the sword 3-1. It was men against boys – quite literally, as it turned out, as the Us had sent what had to be their youth team along (judging by the uniformly tragic boy band haircuts).

But a win’s a win and we saw four good goals – well worth a fiver of my money. But more importantly, despite being the only dickhead there with a ponytail and one of about three not wearing shorts, I was made to feel thoroughly welcome.  A few lads went as far as including me in a bit of banter (not at my expense, thankfully), which only helped me decide a season ticket (£80 before August 1, bargain hunters) will indeed be mine.

The only real downside was that I saw far more spurs shirts than I was happy with (one, plus a tattoo) – but I suppose you have to expect that. And he had his back to the match for most of the game; clearly a season ticket holder used to seeing his adopted charity London side mangle the beautiful game on a weekly basis. Yes, despite falling out of love with Arsenal, I still find I hate spurs.

Match highlight: A new signing scoring St Ives Town’s second goal, prompting the announcer to proclaim: “And the goal was scored by… Tom!” I can only presume he’s a swarthy yet genius young Brazilian who’ll have just his first name emblazoned across the back of his shirt.

A walk on the wild side – to Woodhurst

Looking back to St Ives, less than 30 minutes after leaving the house

Looking back to St Ives, less than 30 minutes after leaving the house

Zoe and me decided to conclude our first weekend in St Ives with a wander.

While we’re perhaps a little too far from the town centre (about a 25 minute drunken stagger) we’re blissfully close to some proper countryside; about 10 minutes walk either north and west. It seemed unadventurous of us not to at least try and get lost/bitten/murdered once before this rare summer gives up the ghost.

Retiring to the interweb I found the tip top blog Cambridgeshire Walks. Luckily it had a walk to a village we’d seen on Google Maps and new was in range, even with the afternoon growing late, so with smartphone in hand we headed off into the undergrowth.

I can’t quite describe how chuffed we were within about half an hour of leaving home. Blue skies, green fields and not even a whiff or hum of traffic – lovely.

This just doesn't get boring. Unless you're a farmer, perhaps

This just doesn’t get boring. Unless you’re a farmer, perhaps

Everyone we met en route gave a smile and “hello” (not that we saw more than a few people) and despite going completely the wrong way (much like a city twat) we made it to the pretty Anglo-Saxon ring village of Woodhurst without incident.

I’m not kidding – my reading skills managed to take us on the completely wrong path, but luckily it was a circular walk and I managed to take us the wrong way around it, rather than into a field of wild bulls (or worse, stinging nettles). GPS was a waste of time too – it had me about five miles east of where I was (reasonably) sure I was.

Woodhurst is a pretty if rather pointless place (unless you live there, I guess). No shop is one thing – but no pub?! It’s a village for god’s sake – did I miss a meeting? I thought there was some sort of ancient charter or Magna Carter or something, demanding every village at least has somewhere to buy booze? At least they have neighbourhood watch…

But I’m not going to let the lack of an early evening Sunday pint sour the experience; the walk was the perfect end to a really lovely first week in St Ives – to which I should briefly add a nice evening out with local friends Lee, Morph and Davina (and not so local Matt), a friendly welcome from neighbours Gill (and dogs) and George (via beautifully drawn work of art that’s now on the fridge) and a few beers in the rather lovely Oliver Cromwell pub. Not to forget Zoe’s mum, who was a great help on moving day – cheers!

4 thoughts on “Becoming St Ivian: St Ives Town FC and a walk to Woodhurst

  1. Hi … in response to your latest comment on Cambridgeshire Walks, I got a ‘phone call later in the day of reporting the tree problem by email checking a few location details, so looks hopeful something will be done reasonably quickly.

    There is a walk to Pidley, which takes you past the remains of a good (though overgrown) moated site. The route is an extension of the walk to Woodhurst, or park in Woodhurst. Walk along the eastwards road out of Woodhurst towards the main Somersham road. About 200m on the left there’s a footpath signposted that will take you to Pidley. Unfortunately there’s no circular route, so you’ll have to return by the same route.

    I find using the OS maps at the following web site useful for finding and planning walks, hope you do too :

    And welcome to St Ives! I moved here from Reading almost 30 yrs ago and I’ve no intention of ever moving away from this, what must be the most beautiful village in England (for village it still is, if you ignore the big carbuncles of housing estates to the north). Have you discovered the pleasures of sitting out on The Dolphin patio beside the bridge, partaking in one of their coffee and cake deals? Or Holt Island? The Band on The Waits on Sundays, with one of Vito’s special Italian ice creams to accompany the music wafting over into the Norris Museum garden? Holt Island? The Thicket? The water meadow? Great live music hammering out from many of the pubs in St Ives on a Sunday afternoon? The markets on Monday and Friday? The huge Bank Holiday market? The 137 year old Flower & Produce Show on Sat 31 Aug? And….

    Better stop while I can, but there’s loads more!

  2. Hi Chris… Thanks for the comment on my walk blog telling me the obstruction has been cleared… I got an email on Friday telling me, hadn’t had time to pass on.

    I’ve not included a walk to Oldhurst because you have to walk about a mile along a road without a pavement. I only include walks on my web site which avoid traffic, and although I’ve had a good search and asked around, there’s no footpath across the fields from Woodhurst to Oldhurst. Did you notice the track opposite when you turned right into Oldhurst? That’s the continuation of Old Ramsey Road, before it was cut off in the 1950s when Wyton runway was extended.

    Please tell me when you were at the farm shop you didn’t miss the great cafe there. One of the best if you’ve got kids to entertain since there’s a big play area and lots of interesting animals to see. Not least the crocodiles! And the food is great, patio area nice.

    Finally… you’ve encouraged me to finish the walk starting at the top of Ramsey Road going to Houghton via Wyton on the Hill. Did the walk yesterday (although most of the photos are from earlier in the year), Houghton Mill cafe is open Fridays as well now through to early September. I’d highly recommend this walk, one of my favourites! Here’s the link :

  3. Pingback: Becoming St Ivian, part 2: Of antelopes and season tickets | Go Play Listen

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