Cambridgeshire (abbreviated Cambs) is a county in England’s East Anglia region. Its world-famous cultural heritage makes it one of the country’s leading tourist destinations. The city of Cambridge showcases ancient architecture, abundant history, quaint passages and bridges, and gorgeous parks and meadows. It also stands out for its international student atmosphere and lively pubs.
Cambridgeshire borders Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire. Its county town is the city of Cambridge while other primary locales include Huntingdon, Peterborough plus much of the Silicon Fen area of technology companies.
The county was recorded in the Domesday Book as ‘Grantbridgeshire’. One of the UK’s earliest Neolithic settlements was discovered here – and hoards of archaeological treasures from the Stone Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age have been uncovered in the area. Demonstrating the county’s low-lying rural landscape, Holme Fen is reportedly the UK's lowest point.
Officially formed in 1974, modern Cambridge literally means 'Bridge over the Cam' –the river forming the city’s spinal column. Most of the old colleges were built alongside the river linked by the landmark Bridge of Sighs. Indeed, Cambridge’s world-famous university is a haven of historic buildings – including the awesome Gothic masterpiece that is King's College Chapel, as well as Queen's College (est 1448) and Trinity College.
Roads: Cambridge is situated on the A10. It hosts several major roads, including the M11 motorway, the A14 freight route, the A1, A428, and A1303. There’s a ring road around the city, inside which traffic restrictions apply.
Rail: Cambridge railway station (est 1845) runs direct links to London. Cambridge’s regional rail links serve King's Lynn, Ely, Norwich, Leicester, Birmingham, Ipswich and London Stansted Airport. (There are plans for high-speed trains to the capital while East West Rail Link will open a route to Oxford.)
Cycling: Biking is hugely popular in flat Cambridgeshire; one in four residents cycle to work. The city is threaded by over 80 miles of cycle lanes.
Air: The nearest airports are London Stansted Airport and London Luton Airport, although Cambridge Airport flies to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport.
Buses: Various bus services link five Park and Ride sites. The Cambridgeshire Guided Busway runs into central Cambridge – where its main station is in Drummer Street with another interchange at Addenbrooke's Hospital. CitySightseeing is a hop-on, hop-off tourbus that provides a good overview of the city.
This wondrous city combines cosmopolitan delights with old-world charm. The Sunday Times cited three areas of Cambridgeshire as among the UK’s most desirable places to live. Newnham was voted in for its village atmosphere; Great Shelford for its own private railway station; and Saffron Walden for being laid back and arty.
The Cambridge News thought this was a rather limited selection, so responded with further suggestions. At the top of the local newspaper’s list: Round Church Street, for its close proximity to the city centre. Other noteworthy propositions included Gwydir Street for its “best community spirit” – and De Freville Avenue for its “best reputation”.
Cambridgeshire’s tight surrounding greenbelt protects it from unfettered urban sprawling. However, the Cambridge sub-Regional Housing Board (CRHB) works to deliver new homes and communities, meet housing needs and extend property choice. The organisation’s economic success shows in Local Economic Assessments. It boasts a continued record of housing delivery, even during recessions. The CRHB also create strategic housing market assessments and regular market bulletins to compare local areas to the regional and national pictures.
Cambridge has everything you might possibly want or need. From the open-air bustle of the city’s weeklong market and Saturday’s similarly al-fresco All Saint’s Garden Art and Craft Market to its abundant boutiques and independent shops. Naturally, high-street brands, designer labels and shopping centres compete for browsers’ attentions.
Check out the retailers located around the cobbled Market Square; stroll Rose Crescent, Trinity Street, Magdalene Street, Bridge Street and King Street for further shops and cafes. Grand Arcade is the city’s newest shopping centre – housing a flagship John Lewis department store and an Apple Store. Lion Yard Shopping Centre offers various restaurants – including Yo! Sushi and Jamaica Blue – as well as Cambridge Central Library. The Grafton shopping centre has high-street brands like Debenhams plus a Vue Cinema.
The bohemian Mill Road district hosts innovative eateries and quirky shops. Burwash Manor in Barton provides country chic shopping at its finest. It’s also a postcard-perfect village with a working organic farm and stylish set of specialist fashion, toy, wine, home, gift and food outlets, a beauty spa and tearoom.
Sports: The legendary annual university boat race – Cambridge versus Oxford – actually plays out on London’s River Thames. Many rowing clubs practice on the River Cam. Forms of football have been popular here since ancient times. (In 1848 ‘the Cambridge rules’, precursor of association football, were drawn up.) The Tour of Cambridgeshire cycle race takes place on closed roads across the county. Footie fans can catch games at Cambridge United and Histon Football Club. The area also offers many excellent golf courses.
Cultural: Cambridge boasts the country’s highest concentration of internationally renowned collections outside London. Many of its university’s eight museums are free and offer children’s activities. Lots of independent galleries and exhibitions display art. Visit the National Heritage Centre for horseracing and sporting art or learn about the history of aviation at IWM Duxford. The buzzing local performance scene presents drama, dance and family shows – plus loads of live music.
Outdoors: Cambridge is one of the world’s best cities in which to take a simple sightseeing walk. There’s also Cambridge University Botanic Garden for fans of flora and fauna. Try boating on the river – or enjoy the scenery via a leisurely chauffeured punt. The county contains many green open spaces, like Parker’s Piece, where you can play sports, walk your dog or just laze about. Joggers can choose from many tracks taking in splendid views.
Events: The annual Summer in the City programme showcases outdoors musical performances including Jazz in the Park on Jesus Green, the Midsummer Fair and the three-day Big Weekend – featuring free music and a whole host of family entertainment. The Cambridge Literary Festival promotes all reading genres. Strawberry Fair is a free festival in June that transforms Midsummer Common into a visual extravaganza. There’s the world-famous Folk Festival, ever-popular Beer Festival, and magical Secret Garden Party. The Cambridge Shakespeare Festival offers an eight-week programme of Elizabethan drama. The University of Cambridge Festival of Ideas is the UK’s only free arts, humanities and social sciences festival.