5 Great Things to Do in Cambridgeshire
Looking for things to do in Cambridgeshire? Take a punt on the home of Cromwell and TS Eliot.
The county is probably most famous for its almost-namesake city of Cambridge, which, as you already know, has one of the world’s most famous pubs in the form of The Eagle, which has been running since the 17th century. You thought we were going to say the university. Well, we suppose that is pretty well known too, and we’ll get to writing about it in a jiffy.
But did you know that the county, which is just a couple hours' drive north of London, has more to offer than the colleges of this medieval educational institution? There’s the cathedral city of Ely and the town of Huntingdon, which was home to Oliver Cromwell. (Which one was he? We always get confused between the two Cromwells). Oh, and don’t forget the aircraft museum in the quaint village of Duxford and the funny-named hamlets of Little Gidding and Shingay-cum-Wendy. Intrigued? Read on for Plum Guide's expert list of things to do in Cambridgeshire.
You must be (Little) Gidding
While we’re on the strange names, let’s start with Little Gidding, which was made immortal by the poets TS Eliot and Nicholas Ferrar. It’s a popular stop when traveling between Peterborough and Cambridge, and hit the big time when poet Ferrar brought his enormous family of 40 people here in the 17th century. With the poet long gone, it's remarkably tranquil and scenic in this little village, which is said to have inspired TS Eliot when he moved here in the 1930s. See the restored church that dates back to the 13th century, and read out Eliot's poem "Little Gidding" to make the experience complete.
Visit Duxford's Imperial War Museum
We’re going to wager Duxford's name has something to do with a ford (a kind of stream) that was being crossed regularly by dachshund sausage dogs. Or ducks, we suppose, but we prefer the image of the dachshunds. Anyway, if you’re in Duxford, this is no time for cutesy dogs and the like, because you've got war on the brain: you’re probably heading to the Imperial War Museum Duxford. See the air shows and collections of aircraft and other military artefacts and machines. The museum stands on the site of a Second World War British and American airfield. Browse the Battle of Britain exhibit and look at the memorial to the 30,000 Americans who died flying from the UK in the war.
Enjoy the Ely scenery
Ely: the best cathedral city you’ve never heard of. This tiny city is particularly scenic, standing atop a chalk hill. It used to be hidden in inaccessible marshlands, and its original cathedral served as an excellent hiding place for Hereward the Wake, who was a medieval kind of social justice warrior, we think? Who knows. See the Ely Cathedral that was founded in the 7th century (the present structure dates back to the 11th century, but 7th sounds more impressive). Inspect the pieces on show in the Stained Glass Museum in the South Triforium (posh word for arcade or transept) of the cathedral.
For something a little different, head out into the countryside and enjoy the pastoral sheen of the Wicken Fen. Take on the trails that meander through the wetlands or rent a bike to try the cycling route. With luck, you may even spot some Konik ponies drinking from the water. Definitely one of the cuter things to do in Cambridgeshire.
While we're talking nature trails, England is full of outstanding natural beauty. We've rounded up a few of the prettiest place in the country in our list of things to do in England.
Discover Cromwell's legacy in Huntingdon
Stroll along the banks of the River Ouse, which you’ll find at several places throughout the county. It’s not following you, or anything, it’s just a long river. Huntingdon is known as the birthplace of Oliver Cromwell. Not the one who was beheaded by King Henry VIII – that’d be Thomas. This was the one who led England during the country’s civil war in the 17th century against the monarchy. Enter the Cromwell Museum to see the collections relating to this parliamentary leader. He lived here for most of his life, and was the first person recorded in England to have eaten a pineapple. You didn’t expect that, did you? Suppose someone had to be first.
Ok, ok, we relent. You can't have a list of things to do in Cambridgeshire without mentioning Cambridge. It’s time to check out the county’s eponymous gem, the beacon of education respected across the globe. There's plenty to do in this university city. Go punting (that means get on one of those Venetian-looking boat things in the river) and explore the various colleges that have housed such prestigious academics as Stephen Hawking and Charles Darwin. Pass beneath the Bridge of Sighs and chat to some of the students about life studying in these iconic colleges. Explore the Cambridge University Botanic Garden and study the fascinating exhibits in the Fitzwilliam Museum. Go for a few pints at the Eagle pub, a Grade II listed watering hole where it’s thought the announcement of the discovery of DNA took place. So, have another beer why don’t you? After all, it’s in your genes. While in the city, stay somewhere gorgeous, like The Sketches or the Godwin.