We left Sheringham in the rain to travel about 60 miles south to Cambridge. Shortly north of Cambridge you will find Ely (that’s Eel-ee as opposed to Eel-I…), a city that I have been fascinated by since I was a child. I have no idea why – I think I read a book that was based there; anyway I was very excited to think that I was soon to visit!
We drove past on the way to Cambridge and the cathedral was clearly visible from the A10 – just heightening my excitement 🙂
We were always going to visit Cambridge, but timed our visit to coincide with my cousin’s barbeque. Therefore we stayed in the closest campsite to them, which turned out to be Highfield Farm Touring in Comberton.
On Friday we went into Cambridge. Don’t drive into the city centre! There are 5 park and rides available – we used Madingley Road from where you can catch the City Bus Tour (turn right when you walk out of the site for the bus stop). It’s £1 to park… yes £1! Many people were parking and then cycling into Cambridge, which is very cycling friendly. (Motorhome parking is possible only at the Trumpington site).
Cambridge is truly the city of cycling – not least due to the fact that students aren’t allowed to keep a car within 5 miles of their college. There are bikes everywhere and therefore lots of parking for them and safe cycle paths criss-crossing the city and beyond.
We had already decided to use the City Sightseeing bus for sightseeing. We also, eventually, decided to include the option of a punting tour. A total cost of £58 between us, which we were quite happy with in the end.
We missed the 1st bus, as the man in the park and ride didn’t tell us which way to go when we left the site (‘turnright’..) This is a hop on/hop off service and the ticket is not only valid for 24 hours, but also gives you 10% off any other city tour from the same company (including those in Europe), so keep hold of your ticket!
The best stops for accessing your punt tour are 1 & 15 (Silver Street) – however we got off at Stop 5 and then walked through the city centre to Silver Street.
The stop was by The Round Church. I would like to have visited but there was an exhibition in the church and a charge of £3.50 each – as we weren’t interested in the exhibition we weren’t happy to pay out £7 to go in. (This was proved to be sensible as it would be very easy to spend a ridiculous amount of money in Cambridge…)
We carried on through the historic taking in the fronts of some of the various colleges; Trinity, Kings and Gonville & Caius, this being the only one that we were able to visit the precincts of on the day – and also the chapel. Kings College wasn’t open for visitors; however the chapel was open. At a cost of £9 each – which we thought was excessive.
We ate at Agora – The Copper Kettle which had a prime location opposite Kings. They certainly know how to attract diners, and we were really looking forward to our lunch. Unfortunately the reality didn’t live up to the expectation and we wouldn’t recommend it.
After lunch we continued on down to the river to Scudamores for our punt trip. This proved to be really enjoyable; we had a really knowledgeable and informative guide, Claudia. Our trip took us along the backs of the colleges and she was a wealth of information. For instance Magdalen College was the last to admit women; the bridge of sighs was named after it’s Venetian counterpart (although it doesn’t resemble it in the slightest) and the mathematical bridge was originally a self-supporting bridge, apparently only gaining any other support when students took it apart and couldn’t put it back together! We learned so much more 🙂
Heading back to the bus stop we went into Great St Marys Church where you are able to climb the towers. Unfortunately, once again, the cost seems to be excessive and so we didn’t go up.
Before we got back on the bus we accidentally found ourselves eating cake in a Patisserie Valerie…. a much better experience than our lunch 🙂
Back on the bus tour we learned all sorts of information, including the origin of the term ‘pub crawl’ and the fact that many parks in Cambridge are called ‘pieces’.
We got off the bus at the American Cemetery. Please note the site closes at 5pm. We got off the bus at 4.55…. The next bus was 15 minutes late and we were about to walk back to the park and ride (which was just over a mile) when it turned up.
A very poignant site, beautifully kept. I would suggest arriving a little earlier though.
The following day we needed to go to the supermarket to get supplies for the evening’s barbeque at my cousins. We drove into Cambridge. Our advice is that you try to avoid doing this!!
We drove to the bbq, a couple of villages further on from where we were staying. We phoned the local taxi firm, who were busy until 2am! So we walked home across the fields (proper footpaths) which was almost 4 miles. We then forgot to take the keys for the cycle padlock home with us so had to walk back in the morning to get the car!!
Next stop is Ely – I can’t wait 🙂