It is now common knowledge that the best way to visit Cambridge is on a bicycle. Someone once told me when I had just moved here, ‘you can cycle anywhere in about 10 minutes in Cambridge!’ Which is almost true...
A cyclist’s best friend
Cambridge is set up for a carefree, enjoyable ride; wide, safe cycle lanes, bike shops at every street corner, parking galore and of course a huge number of fellow cyclists.
To start our tour-by-wheels we’ll begin at Castle Hill, a knoll in the North of Cambridge, home to Shire Hall (Cambridgeshire County Council’s headquarters). Incidentally, this is the only hill in the city so it’s no secret why people like riding a bike here.
Cycle along grand Victorian buildings on Chesterton Road and grab a coffee or some freshly baked bread at Stir. Then dismount before crossing the footbridge over to Jesus Green and say hello to the friendly swans while admiring the ancient lock. Head towards the city centre, passing some extremely cute period houses on the edge of the park.
Don’t miss the aptly named Round Church on Bridge Street, an architectural gem and my favourite building in Cambridge. Keep cycling along St John’s Street, Trinity Street and King’s Parade, where you will pass the three eponymous colleges. The colleges are an ubiquitous tourist attraction in Cambridge, all equally beautiful and impressive. They are unmissable, in every sense of the word, since the entire town centre was built around them. So take in the sites, stop and stare, take a picture, look up, breathe and immerse yourself in the timelessness of this ever charming place.
From the market square, you can decide to continue your voyage south, towards Parkside and the vibrant Mill Road, as it is often referred to. It offers a plethora of independent shops and cafes and is a thriving part of the city, with many beautiful homes adorning its adjacent streets. A great place to hunt for some quirky souvenirs.
Wildlife & wanderlust
If you fancy more greenery, carry on along the river through Coe Fen, all the way to Lammas Land. Stop for a picnic and a paddle in summer, or keep going towards Grantchester if you are feeling adventurous. The path through Granchester Meadows is a firm favourite for visitors and locals alike.
Gentle slopes run down to the river, and you will find many swimmers there, regardless of the season or the time of day. But watch out for cow pats – the Red Poll cattle come out to graze onto the commons after winter every year, notably here. Their beautiful russet colour really stands out against the green pasture and their gentle nature is very soothing. Over the last 10 years, they have become a Cambridge landmark.
See you soon!
If you come back (or stay) towards the city centre, a spot of punting is a must. Punts are flat-bottomed narrow boats with square ends and straight sides, propelled by a long pole. Punting is now open all year-round and is worth parking your bike for. Navigating up and down the river Cam is a fantastic way to watch the famous colleges, beautiful bridges and gorgeous gardens. Grab a renowned Chelsea bun from Fitzbillies before you board, maybe even a bottle of Prosecco, and enjoy the views.