Cambridge is an historic English university town located one hour north of London by train. It is the site of some of the oldest educational establishments in the UK, a collection of colleges now united under the name of the Universityy of Cambridge.
Many of the colleges, with such recognisable names such as Peterhouse, Trinity, Kings and Corpus Christi, can be visited by the public. The buildings are all hundreds of years old and quite stunning – Kings College, which many will know from the annual carol service Carols from Kings, in particular is a very beautiful building.
Cambridge is also famous for its river, and the punts – visitors can take a jaunt on the river in a punt, whether a large one manned by an experienced punter (often students) or hire a smaller private one which you "drive" yourself. If you don’t fancy taking to the water, you can watch from the banks or the bridges – on my recent visit we spent some time watching the punts, and laughing at traffic jams.
Cambridge has a reasonable selection of shops and eateries, from the larger chains to small independent shops and cafes. I visited on a Saturday, when there was a market located near Kings, selling souvenirs, plants, food, second hand books and more. The town, however, was very busy, due to it being a Saturday in July and there being graduation ceremonies taking place. As a result, we struggled to find somewhere to have lunch – we ended up at Pret a Manger, hardly very exciting, but at least we got a table.
I was keen to visit the Cambridge University Press bookshop, which was packed full of academic texts on all subjects. Sadly the prices were rather high so I didn’t make any purchases.
If you are staying outside Cambridge, it is recommended to make use of the park & ride rather than trying to drive into the town – the streets are narrow and it gets very busy. There are several to choose from, depending on what direction you are travelling into Cambridge from – we used the Trumpington service, which cost £2.40 return, with no parking charges.
Cambridge is a beautiful town, with wonderful architecture, but unfortunately I came away with a slightly negative impression. The pavements on many streets were narrow and uneven, meaning it was almost impossible to use my mums wheelchair – she was happy to walk, but it would be difficult for those who could not. I also didn’t like a lot of the streets because in addition to the narrow pavements, the buildings were right up to the pavement – they were not set back slightly. This gives a claustrophobic feeling, and while I realise that it is due to the old buildings and layout of Cambridge, it wasn’t quite for me. It didn’t help that the town was extremely busy.
Cambridge is a beautiful place to visit, and I imagine it would be very relaxing in summer if you were lucky enough to visit on a quiet. However, given my experience on a Saturday in July, I would recommend visiting in spring or autumn in the hope of avoiding some of the crowds.