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"Beating The Bounds" - Dry Drayton Boundary Walk


Back in 1999, Dry Drayton, like many other villages, engaged in a series of events to promote local distinctiveness and to celebrate its own special place in the Millennium. Activities included publishing a local village history, a Parish Map, and a footpath booklet. This website was another off-shoot from those projects. One idea which was discussed, but never carried out, was to "Beat the Bounds" of the Parish. It was to be Alec Hawkes who eventually carried this idea into effect in the summer of 2019 as a new event for Feast Week that year.


Based on the ancient custom of "Beating the Bounds" Alec planned to walk the Dry Drayton Parish Boundaries. In England the tradition is centuries old, dating from at least Anglo-Saxon times and would have been held in Dry Drayton on Rogation Sunday. An annual walk, such as this, was an important way for our forefathers to pass on detailed knowledge of the Parish, the location of boundaries and landmarks through the generations, long before we had the Ordnance Survey to do it for us.


More than half of the ten mile Parish Boundary falls on private land and Alec negotiated the necessary permissions with local land owners to allow the walk to follow the boundary as closely as possible. The first such event took place on Saturday June 29th 2019 (which happened to be the actual parish Feast Day of Saint Peter & Saint Paul). Around 30 people took part and enjoyed:

▶️ Travelling along paths and through woods never visited before

▶️ Visiting and taking photos at all 4 corners of the parish 

▶️ Rest, comfort and picnic stops, and a well earned celebratory drink at the end of the walk at the Black horse.

After the event Alec wrote: It was wonderful to see so many on the walk; I believe we all enjoyed it, including those who made a short cut for the Black Horse. Chris Turner and I have put some photos on Dropbox. You can view them here:

Alec also prepared laminated souvenir copies of the map of the walk - proceeds from which went to the S&VA


In 2020 the whole Village Feast was affected by the Corona Virus Pandemic. Despite the additional challenges this presented, Alec planned and ran a second very successful Dry Drayton Boundary Walk which took place on Saturday 4th July. Around 40 people took part and appropriate social distancing was observed. The weather was perfect and walkers enjoyed good views of the distant Ely Cathedral from the Madingley Estate section. Again the walk terminated at the then newly "unlocked" Black Horse, for drinks in the village marquee on the school field. In 2020 the walk travelled clockwise around the boundary, in 2019 anti-clockwise.


Below are some photographs from the 2020 walk. Thanks to the photographers, who were: Jelle van den Ameele and Cinnamon Bair. You can see more detailed versions of the photographs here:



Dry Drayton Boundary Walk 2020


Dry Drayton Boundary Walk 2020


Dry Drayton Boundary Walk 2020


Dry Drayton Boundary Walk 2020


Dry Drayton Boundary Walk 2020


Dry Drayton Boundary Walk 2020


Dry Drayton Boundary Walk 2020


Dry Drayton Boundary Walk 2020


Dry Drayton Boundary Walk 2020



You will find more on the ancient custom of Beating the Bounds in this article on Wikipedia.