“In the lazy water meadow I lay me down.Roger Waters, Pink Floyd
All around me golden sun flakes settle on the ground.”
THE GREAT OUTDOORS
There are so many parks and green spaces to explore in Cambridge and beyond. It may be flat but that doesn’t mean it is boring! Cambridge City Council has a handy map of playgrounds. www.cambridge.gov.uk
The park has a lake, two paddling pools, and play equipment for older and young children. Also a bird sanctuary.
A very central park with four free tennis courts, a refreshment kiosk and a popular play area for the under 6s. It is a good rest stop between shops and is right by the bus station. It has pretty flower beds and is also a popular hang out for teenagers. There is a Princess Diana Memorial Garden in the centre.
Chesterton Road/Victoria Avenue
This is adjacent to the River Cam, and a great place to watch the ducks and swans. It has a playground for smaller children, a small picnic area and also a skateborard ramp, tennis courts and an open air swimming pool open in the summer. There is also a small kiosk for food or ice creams. It has a beautiful avenue of London Planes and horse chestnut trees. It’s a great place to have a picnic.
The Fen Causeway This is a lovely place to take the kids. It is by the river, with a playground, and a paddling pool. There is a kiosk in the summer. On the wilder parts across the river from the playground are cows. There are some small streams and weeping willows, one side leads to Grantchester, the other the Mill Pond. It also has a free tennis court.
Riverside to Fen Road
This is quite scrub like and not good for playing on, but it has a children’s playground near the Riverside entrance. You could take a long walk along the River Cam where you can see swans, ducks, houseboats and rowers.
It has rough ground that isn’t great for running about in. But it is a nice walk following the river, and the Fort St George Pub is a good stop off for food. You can see the boat races like the Bumps in May from here.
“Stands the Church clock at ten to three?
And is there honey still for tea?”
Rupert Brooke, The Old Vicarage, Grantchester
1 Brookside, Cambridge CB2 1JE
Great for younger kids to run around by the trees, look at the ducks and explore the meandering paths.The garden was established as a University teaching and research resource by Professor John Stevens Henslow on land acquired in 1831, and finally opened to the public in 1846. It has a cafe and picnic area, a lake and woods.
Admission: £4.50 for Adults, 0-16 yrs Free.
Open: 10am-6pm Apr to Sep; 10 am-5pm Feb, Mar, Oct; 10 am-4 pm Nov to Jan.
This is a very large green in the east of Cambridge, Romsey Town area. It is near Abbey Pool and Coldham’s Lane playground. Coldham’s Brook runs through it.
The ‘Backs’ of the riverside colleges have well maintained lawns and in spring are full of daffodils and crocuses beneath the trees. More of a walk than a playing space.
Paxton Pits Nature Reserve
Little Paxton PE19
75 hectares of gravel pits, meadows, scrub and woodland next to the River Great Ouse. 19 miles from Cambridge.4ET www.paxton-pits.org.uk Open: Daily.
Getting there: Car – 35 minutes (19 miles) on A428. Train – St Neots it is 2 miles from the station.
A lovely walk on a summers day. Starting from Lammas Land, you can walk all the way to Grantchester following the river, past the willow trees. Finish up with scones at the Orchard Tea Rooms under the apple trees.
A popular large, flat green great for playing football and other games. In summer you can watch cricket. It has a public toilet and refreshment kiosk in the corner by the Catholic Church.
Wandlebury Country Park
Gog Magog Hills, Babraham CB22 3AE
Attractive parkland with woodland walks & a nature trail located within 5 miles of the city centre. 110 acres of woods and chalk grassland in the gentle Gog Magog Hills. A great place to wander with children. www.cambridgeppf.org
Open: from dawn until dusk every day.
Getting there: Bus – Citiplus X13 towards Haverhill. Car – off the A1307 (£2.50 parking charge) 3 miles from Cambridge.
Milton Country Park
Milton, CB4 6AZ
A large park created from old gravel pits, just north of Cambridge. The lakes have very steep sides so careful with young children. There is a Visitor Centre with café, two play-areas a sensory garden and sunclock. www.miltoncountrypark.org Open: All year. Admission: Free. Getting there: Car – Junction of the A10 and A14 to Milton Village.
Explore wildlife, history
Children of all ages can be inspired by history and nature. For example did you know there was an ancient river underneath Jesus Green? Or that Castle Hill was where the earliest Cambridge people lived? Explore nature – autumn leaves, ducks, insects or even bats! Or try punting to see the historic colleges – there are many different operators – just go down to the river at any point or try http://www.cambridgepuntcompany.co.ukPunting staff guide you along the picturesque River Cam. Perfectly safe for children, there is no minimum age and we can provide life jackets upon request. Cost £30 +
The river has swans and ducks, pike and perch, you may even spot kingfishers. You might be lucky enough to see more exotic species such as black swans, Egyptian geese, wood ducks and mandarin ducks which have escaped from bird collections. You can also see seagulls. The odd cow has even fallen in the river! (It has been rescued safely).
The Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences has a great guide to looking at rock types and geological features in our every day environment. You can purchase it at the Sedgewick Museum. For example, did you know that the outside of the Marks & Spencer Store is made from different types of magma (formed from hot rock), white granite, red granite and black gabbro? Grand Arcade is clad in Jaumont Limestone from France, and Jura Yellow Marble limestone. Look closely at the floor where you can see fossils of shell and cuttle fish.
…is common land. The Midsummer Fair is held every year and is one of the oldest fairs in the UK. It was granted a charter by King John in 1211. Cows are still allowed to graze there.
As you look at the river in the evening, you might be lucky enough to spot a bat. The bat flies over the water to feed on insects. Bats are the world’s only flying mammal. They emit their own sonar used to find their prey. They need to eat 3000 insects a night just to stay alive and are very important for our ecosystem. (There are punt tours for bat watching at scudamores.com). There is even a Cambridgeshire Bat group.
Jesus Green Secret River
At the entrance to Jesus Green Swimming Pool you would have been under water thousands of years ago. There is a buried channel 10-15 metres deep. It runs beneath Jesus College, past Cambridge City football ground and north towards the Histon Road.
…is named after a college cook, Edward Parker, who obtained the rights to farm it. It was here that the Cambridge Rules of modern football were first put into practice.
…There were once up to three watermills in the area. The artificially raised banks of the watercourses are liable to flooding and only suitable for grazing (hence name).