Join a bike tour
When thinking about what to do in Cambridge this time, I was considering renting a bike and riding to Grantchester. But I wasn't completely sure if I could manage on my own, keeping to the left, braking without a back pedal and making sure I was't hit by or hitting any other cyclists. As in any university town there are thousands of cyclists in Cambridge, not all are always paying close attention to the traffic around them. I had cycled there before, but then I was simply following my son.
I came across a website offering guided bike tours , both through Cambridge centre and to Grantchester and I signed up for the Grantchester one. It was great!
Our guide was Anthony and he took us to Grantchester through back streets in Cambridge . It was a leisurely pace, we stopped quite often and Anthony told us about the history of the places he showed us.He is a very knowledgable tour guide.
We had a nice break in a pub in Grantchester, where I tried to throw a ring through a hook on the wall there, but kept missing it. Then the rules of cricket were explained to me. I really thought I had finally grasped them, but when I watched a cricket match the next day, I was just as lost as before.
When we rode back to Cambridge the cows were on their way home as well, this gave us a slight Heidi feeling.
It was a great way to spend the afternoon, I learned a lot about Cambridge and Grantchester and a little bit about cricket. This is a tour I can only recommend.
An added plus: signing up is very easy even from outside of the UK, a simple email is enough. Payment is cash on the day of the tour, £ 20 for this tour.
The last picture is not about the tour, but it illustrates nicely how many cyclists there are in Cambridge.There is bike counter machine near Parker's Piece. When running early in the morning it read about 10/15 cyclists, two hours later the number was already in the hundreds and alltogether the 400 000 mark has been reached already for this year.Related to:
A Ghost Walk
During my stay in Cambridge in August 2014 I booked the ghost walk. Now it stays light until late in August and the tour started a 8 pm - maybe that was one of the reasons why it wasn't particularly spooky.Quite a lot of people had signed up for the walk, so it was a big group and in the narrow alleys and streets of Cambridge this meant you had to stay close to the guide to hear anything.If you were in the back, you missed out on what he said.
Our guide knew a lot about history and the many quirky things of college life there, but not so much about ghosts and ghost stories. To me it seemed that he had got a last minute call to substitute for the ghost walk guide and had read up a few stories very quickly.That's not to say that it was not an interesting walk, just not what I had expected.A good story teller can make you listen even if you don't believe the stories.Our guide was more of a historian.
I signed up for the walk at the tourist information office, cost is £6.00.
The picture is about the open window in the Eagle, which must stay open all time ( it's a condition of the rental contract), so that the ghost of the poor child burnt to death there can freely enter and leave.
Go on a safari
A safari in Cambridge? You won't be on the look-out for elephants or lions, but for bats.
This is a punting tour in the evening, guided by a scientist who explains the different bats living in Cambridge. It was one of the highlights of my stay there this time.
The boats left around 8 pm, when it was still light, and first we learned about the bats. Everyone got a bat detector, a little device which made the bat sounds hearable for human ears.It didn't take long and we saw the first bat. As soon as it got darker, we saw lots of them, even a tiny baby bat which seemed to be just a little bit bigger than my thumbnail.
On our way back we even say an owl flying out of a tree.
The tour lasts about 90 minutes and costs £ 17.50, half of which go to the Wildlife Trust.
Signing up was more difficult than for the bike tour, my credit card wasn't accepted so I couldn't sign up in advance ( the tours only run twice weekly), the tourist information centre does not take any sign-ups for them, the staff in the booths at the punting station didn't t take any sign-up as their telephone was out of order, so I didn't know until shortly before the tour if I could go or not.Finally I found a staff member who was able to phone the headquarter and accepted me.
I would have hated to miss this.
Guildhall (Town Hall)
Cambridge has no classic town hall, but the Guildhall. The Mayor and City Council of Cambridge have their see in there. The neoclassicist building was erected in 1939 at market square, but there have been government buildings on this spot since Henry III's reign in the 1320s. Before that, even the house of a Jewish merchant was recorded at this place.
Due to the small size, part of the city government has been moved to the Castle Hill area, where the county government and the law courts are located. Most areas of the town hall are not open for the public. However, the two halls (Large Hall and Small Hall) are often used for fairs, music concerts, conferences and private parties.Related to:
St. Edward - King and Martyr
St. Edward's church is often missed by tourists as it is located in a side street - somewhere in between the Market Square and King's Parade. And even if you pass by, it doesn't look as splendid as Great St. Mary's or King's College chapel from outside. Friends of medieval churches should however give it a visit as it has preserved its Gothic interior. And for those interested in history: St. Edward has a key role in English history.
There have most probably been older churches on the same spot. The oldest parts of the present building date from the 13th century which includes the gothic arch at the base of the tower. Most of the structure dates from the early 15th century. In 1445, the church got under influence of Trinity Hall College as this college (as well as Clare) lost its own chapel during the construction of King's College. Henry IV granted the members of those colleges to use St. Edward and build own chapels as an act of compensation. The strong bond with Trinity Hall still exists today as the chaplain is still appointed by the college. In the 1520s, the church became a thriving power of reformation. The Christmas Mass of 1525 is often regarded as the first openly evangelical mass in the country. Some historians name the church the cradle of reformation. The stained glass windows behind the alter (East Window) are from the 1860s.Related to:
St. Botolph's Church
A small, beautiful 14th century church which was once one of the most important of the city. It is located right in the middle between the big colleges so that it does not receive a lot of attention from the visitors. Most of the church building has been preserved in its original status, the tower and some of the chapels on the southern side were added in the 15th century. There are a lot of small details to discover and as a whole, the church is well preserved. Due to the high amount of other architectural treasures, I would not put it up high on my "to do" list for Cambridge. If you like medieval churches however, this might be a good place to visit.Related to:
Here, we have an exhibition space for contemporary art which supplements the more classical museums of Cambridge on the field of modern artworks. As of 2011, entry is free - one of the reasons why I went to see two exhibitions. I liked both of them, although I have to admit that they are not the type of exhibitions which would attract a larger audience than the interested and the curious. It's still a place I would recommend for any longer stay in Cambridge.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
- Museum Visits
Almshouses in King Street
King Street is usually pub and restaurant territory, so most people looking for architecture skip King Street, especially its western end. Those, however, miss the 19th century almshouses. The original almshouses on this spot date back to the last will of Henry wray and were built in 1634, but unfortunately, nothing of these houses remains. Today's bulding date from 1880. They were erected by wealthy citizens to offer a ome for those in need, mainly poor elderly women unable to care for their own. The wealthy gained prestige and/or a better ticket to heaven, the poor had a place to live for free or for little money. Today's almshouses still serve caritative purposes and are maintained by the King Street Housing Society.Related to:
My friend called that College by the name "Stabbity College" after she saw a coat of arms with a knife in it. Indeed, Magdalene is probably not known for a friendly and welcoming tradition. It was the last College to accept female students in 1987 and the girls were welcome with a flags at half-mast. Tourists, however, are well welcome and are free to roam the grounds (= no entry fee!). The gardens are a wonderful place to relax in summertime. If you are lucky, you can take a peek into the dining room, but this is usually not open to visitors. There is a library, the Biblioteca Pepysiana, which contains the collection and the famous diaries of the 17th century London chronist and naval officer. The Pepys Library, located in a beautiful 17th century building, is open for visitors, usually for two hours on every day. Please check the College's website for opening times and entry fees for the library.Related to:
- Museum Visits
Our Lady and the English Martyrs
This beautiful neogothic, roman catholic church was built between 1885 and 1890. What makes it interesting are all the small gothic details, like the richly decorated windows or the Gargoyles. The stained glass windows show the sufferings of English martyrs which were executed in the reformation troubles between 1535 and 1681. Today, it is the main Roman Catholic church in Cambridge. Its name is commonly just called "The Catholic hurch" or abbreviated to OLEM.Related to:
Pembroke is the only College to offer an architectural potpourri on its main grounds. While most of the other colleges have a dominant architectural style (mostly Tudor or medieval Gothic), Pembroke offers the whole range from medieval Gothic via Victorian to modern just within a few metres. Furthermore, Pembroke has opened its court by pulling down its southern part, so that it is possible to reach various University and College buildings just by crossing the courts and gardens of Pembroke. Once, Pembroke had the smallest college court in Cambridge, now it has one of the largest.
The foundation year of 1347 makes Pembroke the third oldest College in Cambridge. The front facing Trumpington street and the gatehouse from around 1400 are the oldest preserved parts of the College. Probably the most interesting buildings are the chapel and the library. Pembroke's chapel was built by Christopher Wren in 1665 and was his first larger project. The Victorian library was built by Alfred Waterhouse in 1877 with a clocktower as its trademark.Related to:
Cambridge Castle was erected during the Norman Conquest on a strategically convenient place, the location of a former Roman fortification. Under Edward I, it was expanded to become a major stronghold. However, from the 14th century on, it fell into disrepair until it was finally given up and destroyed during the English Civil War in 1647. Most of the stones were used for other buildings in the city, including Magdalene College. Today, only the motte of the castle is still standing, overlooking the City of Cambridge like a natural hill. Explanatory boards with the history of the castle with the history of this place from Roman times on are available. You could see on them how the castle may have looked like.
Even if you are not that much interested in the history of the castle, the place is also interesting from another point of view: From here, you can enjoy a view over the City of Cambridge (even if St. Giles Church stands a little in the way). During summertime, this place is particularly popular with the local youth for the one or other party. That’s the reason why from time to time a couple of empty beer and wine bottles can spoil this place…Related to:
- Castles and Palaces
Tourist Information Centre
The Cambridge Tourist Information Centre is located in the Guildhall a listed building that was built in 1939 and refurbished in 2009. The centre is a good source of local accommodation, public transport, U.K holiday information, walking tours of Cambridge maps & guidebooks, information for those with disabilities and the usual Cambridge souvenirs.
May to September
Monday to Saturday: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Sunday: 11:00 am to 3:00 pm
October to April
Monday to Saturday: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
ST. ANDREW'S BAPTIST CHURCH
This Church is really quite distinctive as it's built in a really unusual colour of stone.
In 1721, a group of worshipper's moved from their meeting place, a former stable and granary into their new Church.
In 1764 the old buildings were pulled down to be replaced with a chapel large enough to seat 600.
The congregation kept growing until they out-grew the Church, so in 1836 it was replaced by a larger Church, the one I saw today.
The Memorial window above and behind the choir stalls, was erected to commemorate members of the congregation who gave their lives in World War I. An additional plaque records those who died in World War II.Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Religious Travel
This college to me, was one of the least appealing. Perhaps because it is not as old as the others, only be built in 1674, but it was designed by Sir Christopher Wren.
The building's are from the late 20th century, and it does have plenty of lawned space, tree's, garden's and many Duck's.
It's located quite close to the city centre.Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Budget Travel
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