I couldn’t settle in Cambridge for good; for one thing, owning a house would never be more than a pipe dream, but for another, it’s distinctly lacking in mountains, in hills even, in dirt tracks and trails, all things which make me feel at home. But, I digress. Today, I’d like to take you on a virtual walk to Grantchester, a quaint village to the south of Cambridge, home to chocolate-box cottages, a medieval church and more pubs per capita than most other settlements of its size.
While you could punt your way upstream, I’d take the walk by the river any day (not least because punting is hard work). From Lammas Land, head towards Paradise Fen Nature Reserve, a woodland path and boardwalk which hugs the River Cam. In ten to fifteen minutes, you’ll emerge onto Grantchester Meadows (a street, not the meadows proper). Turn left, then left again to remain on Grantchester Meadows. Keep going straight ahead, and you’ll reach the meadows: expansive fields of green, complete with grazing cows in the summer months.
I’ll normally veer left and skirt the river, but if you prefer you can stay on the top path (which usually isn’t so muddy). Now, it’s just a case of following the path until you reach The Orchard Tea Garden, on the outskirts of Grantchester. Loop through the orchard and exit the car park onto Mill Way. On your left, you’ll see the Church of St. Andrew and St. Mary, which dates from the fourteenth century. It’s a pretty little parish church, and well worth a detour.
Related: An A-Z of Cambridge
Continue along High Street and you’ll pass Grantchester Village Hall, and the first of four pubs, The Green Man. It’s characterful enough inside, but my favourite pub is a little further on, on Broadway. The Blue Ball Inn has a cosy log fire inside (ideal for warming yourself up after a winter walk) and a beer garden to the rear, which is a real suntrap in the summer months. Once you’ve had your fill of the local ales, cross the stile opposite the pub to rejoin the top path along Grantchester Meadows and return to Cambridge.
- Lammas Land has free parking, though this tends to fill up quickly on weekends.
- If it’s rained within the last couple of days, wear wellies, or shoes you don’t mind getting muddy. Parts of Paradise Fen Nature Reserve, and the riverside path further on, can get very boggy.