By Kingfisher Visitor Guides
Bucolic landscapes, stately homes and picturesque towns and villages are what Cambridgeshire is all about. Throw in a vintage railway, some country parks and some quirky town museums and you’re all set for a fun-filled break.
Within easy striking distance of Cambridge is Grantchester, a pretty village just south of the city. It’s accessible by bike or with pushchairs via the flat, top path, or you could day out along the grassy riverside path with its small wooden bridges and stiles.
Once in Grantchester, head out towards The Orchard Tea Garden. Once a favourite place of literary figures Rupert Brooke and Virginia Woolf, it’s a charming apple orchard where you can pull up a deckchair for a spot of tea and homemade cake.
Wandlebury Country Park is an ancient wood and chalk grassland in the Gog Magog Downs, just south of Cambridge. This open space offers eight miles of walks through chalklands, woods and meadows, and you’ll get a good look at the remnants of a 5th-century BC iron-age hill fort.
History and culture
Anglesey Abbey and Wimpole Estate – both National Trust properties – are just a short drive from Cambridge. They’re both elegant buildings with plenty of tales to tell, and beautiful gardens surrounding them. Wimpole Estate also has a working farm, which will cheer up any flagging toddlers.
Just 15 miles away from Cambridge is the historic city of Ely. With its beautiful cathedral and picturesque riverside, it’s a lovely place for a day trip or more. Ely Cathedral dates from the 11th century, and is recognisable for its Octagon Tower, which can be seen from miles around. Oliver Cromwell lived in Ely for 10 years, you can go out to his house, not far from the cathedral, almost all year round.
If you just want to have a wander, the riverside area is the place to do it. There are plenty of restaurants to pop into for lunch along the water’s edge, while the huge antiques wharf, Waterside Antiques, is a fantastic place to lose yourself for an hour.
Huntingdon, around 16 miles north of Cambridge, was the birthplace of Oliver Cromwell – born in 1599 – and the Cromwell Museum tells the story of his life and legacy. This quaint market town dates to around 1205 and is great for both shopaholics and history buffs. The Historic Town Trail is a self-guided circular walk, taking in the town hall, the 16th-century Falcon Inn, All Saints’ Church and the picturesque riverside park.
Nearby is Houghton Mill, an 18th-century working watermill and National Trust property. Go and try your hand at making flour or enjoy a relaxing walk by the water.
Trainspotters should get down to the Nene Valley Railway, near Peterborough. Both steam and diesel trains run along the track every weekend. It uses part of the original London and North Western line, and also features a vintage bus service.
Wisbech, in the heart of the Fens, is a market town noted for its Georgian architecture. Peckover House, a National Trust property, is filled with fine panelled rooms and elaborate Georgian fireplaces, and dates to 1722. Behind the house is a two-acre Victorian walled garden, filled with rare trees, herbaceous borders and summerhouses.
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