By Kingfisher Visitor Guides
Cambridgeshire is a great place to spend time with so much see and do, but if you fancy a change of scenery there's a world of activities waiting for you if you travel a little further afield.
Outside the city
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.
London is just 45 minutes away by train, and many visitors to Cambridge combine it with a day out in the capital city. A trip to the theatre is always a treat for the entire family and London’s stages host some of the world’s leading plays and musicals. The West End is where you’ll find most of the biggest and well-known shows but there is a host of smaller, independently-run theatres throughout the city that are well worth seeking out. Easily accessed by rail from Cambridge, the recently-reopened Alexandra Palace Theatre is definitely worth exploring.
There are around 17,000 restaurants in London serving menus from more than 50 major national cuisines and over 60 of them are rated with a Michelin star. So you can enjoy some of the most diverse culinary experiences in the world. As well as its museums and galleries, London is also home to four UNESCO World Heritage sites including the Tower of London, Maritime Greenwich, Westminster Palace and Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Each of these sites make a great day out for all the family but also provide a fantastic insight into London’s history and how it has been shaped over the years into the centre for arts and culture that it is today.
To experience London’s heart, head down to the River Thames and enjoy a riverboat cruise. Running 215 miles – it’s the longest river in England – the River Thames boasts hundreds of attractions on its banks, from the historical to the brand new and everything in-between. Cambridge also makes a great base from which to head to the coast. Designated a city despite its lack of a cathedral, the cosmopolitan centre of Brighton & Hove should not be missed as it is one of the most popular seaside destinations to visit when the sun comes out.
Just an hour by train from Victoria station, there is so much to see and do there – from exploring the quirky, funky shops of North Laine, to losing yourself for a few hours in one of the many antique markets. Or why not sit and watch the world go by at one its incredible cafes? Another side of the city well worth exploring is Brighton Marina. As well as a fabulous selection of shops and restaurants, it has an eight-screen cinema, health and fitness club, 26-lane bowling alley and casino. There’s also a great range of water sports, from learning to SCUBA dive or sail, to fishing and jet skiing. Or you can just sit back and relax on a leisurely boat trip along the Sussex coastline. 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.
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. 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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