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Some information on Cambridge, Ely, The Fens and Cambridgeshire
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Cambridgeshire is famous for the University city of Cambridge with its 31 historic colleges and for the expansive landscapes of the Cambridgeshire Fens & Ely . From a bustling City to the peace and tranquillity of the unique Fenlands visitors have so much to enjoy in this lovely county, which is full of history and adventure. Visitors can enjoy Guided Tours in the City of Cambridge and also punting on the River Cam which is an increasingly popular activity, either by Chauffeur Punt or do-it-yourself! Look at Scudamores Punting Company. To get away from it all a day exploring the Fenlands is recommended to appreciate the distinctive landscape, either cycling or walking, and not forgetting a visit to the beautiful City of Ely on the way.
Cambridge is a fabulous place to visit with its 31 colleges and their courtyards & bridges over the River Cam. The most well known college being King's College Chapel, noted for its stunning architecture and beautiful fan-vaulted ceiling. There are so many lovely places to walk in Cambridge and visitors are able to enjoy the tours of the city and the colleges, and for those that enjoy shopping the new Grand Arcade shopping centre has a vast selection of shops to look around including John Lewis. Nearby there is also the Grafton Centre shopping arcade with the Cineworld complex. For evening entertainment the Cambridge Corn Exchange has a variety of shows and performances.
River trips on the River Cam are a must to enjoy the gardens of ‘The Backs’ and the peaceful watermeadows which stretch out towards Granchester. If you get this far enjoy afternoon tea in the pretty Orchard Tea Rooms These tearooms started out in 1987 after a group of Cambridge students persuaded the owner of Orchard House to serve them tea, this then became a regular practice, and the rest is history! Lodgers at Orchard House included the poet Rupert Brooke, who later moved into the Vicarage next door – now home to Jeffrey & Mary Archer. You can also hire the famous punts or even hire a chauffeured punt so you can relax and enjoy the views.
In the City you can also visit some of the many museums including Fitzwilliam Museum with its large internationally-renowned collection of antiquities and fine arts, and the Cambridge & County Folk Museum. There is also the Cambridge Science Centre. You can discover fossils at the Sedgewick Museum of Earth Sciences or enjoy modern art at Kettle's Yard. A short walk from the hustle & bustle of this fine city you can loose yourself in the University Botanical Gardens, a 40 acre oasis of beautifully landscaped gardens and greenhouses, a year round visitor attraction.
Just south of Cambridge is the Imperial War Museum at Duxford, one of the world’s most spectacular aviation heritage sites with around 200 aircraft on display. A great day out for all the family!
Just outside Cambridge Burwash Manor is a great place to shop with 16 independant shops, farm walks, tea room & free parking. South east of the city pottery is made at Abington Pottery and there is also a tea shop to enjoy! Near Quy there is Anglesy Abbey, Garden & Lode Mill - National Trust.
Ely to the north of Cambridge was once an island surrounded by marshes. It is dominated by its spectacular Cathedral where you can take a tour and then enjoy the narrow streets and lanes lined with historic buildings such as the home of Oliver Cromwell, now a museum and Ely Museum athe Old Gaol. Ely stands on the River Ouse and has an attractive riverside area with a marina, park, antique shops and plenty of places to sit and watch the boats go by! Not far away at Haddenham there is an Art Gallery - Haddenham Galleries with a tea shop. Near Ely we have Caves Farm Barns Self catering at Littleport.
The expansive landscape of The Fens forms one of the most distinctive areas of Britain, with its spectacular skies it is a breath of fresh air and a fabulous place to stay to get away from it all. It goes without saying that because of its unique flat landscape the Fens are brilliant for walking & cycling breaks! There are several cycle routes that take you through historic villages, past quaint pubs and alongside gently moving waterways. Children & adults will enjoy the Farmland Museum at Denny Abbey.There are also plenty of places in the Fens where you can actually stand below sea level! Just outside Wisbech, for instance, is a fragment of a sea defence bank that once ran right around the wash. The land on one side of the bank is 2 meters higher than the other – it is silt left by the sea. With its rich black soil the fenland farms produce lovely strawberries, apples and herbs, and you will easily find a Farm Shop on your travels, full of delicious local produce to enjoy.
To explore the wildlife of the Fens visit Wicken Fen Nature Reserve (National Trust), just south of Ely. This is the last remaining un-drained portion of the great Fen levels, and home to an incredible range of wildlife. The rich peat soil allows hundreds of plant species to thrive and they create habitats for thousands of animal species. There is also a working windpump, restored fen cottage and café. Also worth a visit is Burwell Museum at Burwell.
North of Ely Welney Wildfowl and Wetlands Centre is set in 1000 acres of wetlands with hides and footpaths allowing you to enjoy a wide range of wildfowl throughout the year, including returning swans in winter. North of Ely beyond Littleport and toward Downham Market you come to Denver with its impressive Denver Sluice Lock complex and Denver Windmill which has a lovely tearoom & shop. Wisbech is the ‘Capital of the Fens’ and is the perfect place for a day out. It is renowned for its Georgian architecture, and fine houses. For example, Peckover House, once the home of the Quaker banking family, and now in the care of the National Trust –Octavia Hill, co-founder of the National Trust was born in Wisbech. Visit Octavia Hill's Birthplace House & Museum which commemorates her life, work & legacy – A completely different example of Georgian architecture is Elgoods Brewery, one of the first Georgian breweries to be built outside London, which has stood almost unchanged for more than 200 years. You can watch traditional methods of brewing and will want to sample their award winning real ales! Brewery tours are available and you can also enjoy their 4-acre garden and maze. Towards Downham Market we have Thorpland Manor Barns at Runcton Holme near Kings Lynn.
Not far away the busy market town of March stands on the course of the River Nene. This is an ideal place to visit to watch the colourful boats cruising the Fenland waterways past the pretty riverside gardens. March is popular with boaters as they can moor up in the town centre to visit the many shops and restaurants.
Whittlesey sits on the very western edge of the Fens, close to the cathedral city of Peterborough. The Museum of Archaeology offers a reminder of Whittlesey’s rich trading and agricultural history.
Peterborough was originally founded around a Saxon monastery and is now a modern city that combines old with new with the historic centre dominated by the magnificent Norman cathedral. It has an excellent indoor shopping centre and also the fabulous Nene park. This landscaped area of parkland stretches along 10km in the beautiful valley of the River Nene, and provides lakes, nature reserves, sporting activities and steam train rides. A great day out and something for all the family –
On the eastern edge of the Fens and playing a major role in the drainage is Denver Sluice on the River Ouse near Downham Market, just into Norfolk. This complex and intimidating lock system at the confluence of 5 water courses, controls the tidal water from the Wash at Kings Lynn! It is quite impressive and well worth a visit, and if you are in need of refreshment the Jenyns Arms is a popular watering hole. Denver Windmill is a lovely place to visit and a great tea room!
Huntingdon is an historic market town and the birthplace of Oliver Cromwell. The old stone river bridge over the River Great Ouse is one of England’s finest medieval bridges. Close by is Hinchingbrooke Country Park and the National Hunt Racecourse. Godmanchester is separated from Huntingdon by water meadows and a 13th C. bridge. There are elegant 17th/18th C. town houses and timber-framed cottages.
Just outside Huntingdon is Grafham Water park with extensive views, sailing, trout fishing, nature reserve & trails, picnic areas and shop. It is a great place to cycle round and bikes can be hired on site.
To the south of Cambridge at Arrington, not far from Royston is Wimpole Hall and Home Farm (National Trust). The 18th C house is in a landscaped park with a folly and Chinese Bridge. Another place to visit is Shepreth Wildlife Park.
Linton Zoo has big cats, lynx, wallabies, lemurs and many other fabulous animals in a wonderful setting of beautiful gardens and wildlife. Not far away is Chilford Hall Vineyard where you can taste and buy award wining wines from the largest vineyard in Cambridgeshire.
Close to the Cambridgeshire border in Essex Saffron Walden is a great place to visit and the town itself has some lovely shops. Nearby Audley End House & Gardens - English Heritage are well worth a visit. Near Saffron Walden we have Holiday Cottages near Clavering Brocking Farm Cottages at Roast Green.
Farm Stay is great for motorbike holidays and guests touring with motorbikes will have secure parking.
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