Cambridgeshire is a great place to spend time, with loads to see and do, but if you fancy a change of scenery there’s lots to do a little further afield.
The Orchard in Grantchester is a lovely place to take afternoon tea or have morning coffee while reading the papers. It’s situated in a blooming apple orchard just a couple of miles down the river from Cambridge, and was the one-time home of poet Rupert Brooke during the early 1900s. He, along with Virginia Woolf and others, formed The Grantchester Group here, and the friends would meet regularly. Today, the deckchairs in the meadow are the perfect place to relax, while the café serves tasty lunches. Try biking or walking from Newnham in Cambridge either along the river or on the firmer top path (suitable for pushchairs).
Just out of town in Madingley is the Cambridge American Cemetery. It’s the only American World War II cemetery in the UK, and is the final resting place of 3,812 men and women. First opened as a temporary cemetery in 1943, it was chosen as a permanent site after the war ended. As well as the graves and memorials, the memorial chapel features a mosaic ceiling, while the flag pole at the centre is a good place from which to view the entire site.
A short 30-minute drive away, the city of Ely features a magnificent cathedral dating from the 11th century, with a tower that you can climb for the most amazing views. Ely was also home to Oliver Cromwell for 10 years, and his house – dating back to the 1600s – where he lived with his family, is worth a visit. The riverside area is also picturesque, featuring restaurants and a huge antiques wharf.
Wimpole Hall, near Royston, around 10 miles from Cambridge, is a beautiful National Trust property with delightful gardens and a working farm. You can come here and take a long walk around the meadows and up to the folly free of charge, or pay to visit the house, gardens or just the farm.
Situated in a blooming apple orchard just a couple of miles down the river from Cambridge, it was the one-time home of poet Rupert Brooke during the early 1900s. He, along with Virginia Woolf and others, formed The Grantchester Group here
Driving out east from Cambridge, you’ll find Anglesey Abbey in the small village of Lode. Stroll along the winter walk and down to the water mill whatever the season, or admire the beautiful blooms in the formal gardens. There’s also a woodland area and trails for children.
Wicken Fen is a wonderfully wild area of fenland and wetlands on the way from Cambridge to Ely. It has a long boardwalk, which makes it easy to navigate, from which you can spot dragonflies, butterflies and all kinds of birds.
Wandlebury Country Park in the Gog Magog hills to the south of Cambridge is an ancient woodland and chalk grassland which is a lovely place for a long walk. There’s also the remains of a 5th-century Iron Age hill fort, which is a Scheduled Ancient Monument. Take the circular route along the inner Wandlebury Ring, or pick up a map for longer trails.
If literature is your thing, take a day trip to The Manor in Hemingford Grey, where novelist Lucy Boston penned the children’s book The House of Green Knowe, as well as a number of others in the same series. The house, which was built in the 1130s, is only open by appointment, but the garden can be visited all year round.
The Imperial War Museum in Duxford is around 12 miles away, an easy drive just off the M11. It’s Europe’s premier aviation museum and features a stunning range of the finest historic aircraft. You’ll often spot vintage aeroplanes flying across the skies over Cambridge, practicing for displays or just enjoying the open space. In the summer, there are a number of dramatic air displays featuring these flying legends, though with seven acres of exhibition space, there’s plenty to see on the ground, too.
Wicken Fen is a wonderfully wild area of fenland and wetlands on the way from Cambridge to Ely. It has a long boardwalk, which makes it easy to navigate, from which you can spot dragonflies, butterflies and all kinds of birds
A trip to the capital
If you’re a horse lover, no visit to East Anglia would be complete without a trip to Newmarket, Suffolk – the home of horse racing. This attractive market town is surrounded by studs, the most famous of which is Sheikh Mohammed’s Darley. You can go on a guided tour of the racecourses, the gallops, the National Horse Racing Museum or the National Stud, while Newmarket Nights in the summer mixes live music with live racing – the perfect night out!
Thetford Forest in Norfolk is just a bit further on, and is a lovely place to walk, picnic or play, with plenty of imaginative wooden play areas and exciting adventure trails for children.
London is just 45 minutes away by train, and many visitors to Cambridge combine it with a day out in the capital city. The cathedral city of Norwich is about 90 minutes away, with its quaint, winding streets and wealth of independent shops, while the Norfolk Broads, a network of man-made yet picturesque rivers and scenic waterways, lies just the other side of the city.
And while the coast is a good 90 minutes away in both a northern and eastern direction, it’s well worth a visit if the weather’s right. Treat yourself to a trip to the lovely coastal towns of Southwold and Aldeburgh, or head to the north Norfolk coast and lose yourself on Holkham beach.
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