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Cambridgeshire Flag

A county full of heritage and history – and a certain famous university – Cambridgeshire is also incredibly scenic. Rivalling many others for its beauty and spectacular, though famously flat, landscapes, it’s the perfect place to explore. Together with the idyllic countryside, the county’s three thriving cities ensure there are plenty of things to do in Cambridgeshire.

Days out in Cambridgeshire

With protective green belt land around the county town and city of Cambridge, alongside the beautiful fens and surrounding countryside, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the landscape. The county’s market towns, including Huntingdon, St. Neots, and Soham, and the other cities of Peterborough and Ely offer more besides, giving you heaps of choice to enjoy family days out.

While Cambridge is just one of the county’s cities, unusually, it’s one without a cathedral. But, being steeped in history, there’s still lots to discover. As a world-famous university city, there’s a wealth of sightseeing and walking tours leading you through the college’s many hallowed halls where you can enjoy the beautiful architecture and surroundings. Don’t miss the 13th-century Great St. Mary’s church and a tower climb for panoramic views across the city.

Beyond the university, a visit to the Fitzwilliam Museum is highly recommended, with its collections of art, artefacts, exhibits, and displays from all over the world. Discover the wonders of animal life at the University Museum of Zoology , while the Centre for Computing History offers a fascinating insight into its collections of computers and games consoles from over the decades.

In the county’s other cities, Peterborough is famed for its stunning 900-year-old gothic cathedral, the Peterborough Museum and Art Gallery featuring over 200,000 items, and Railworld Wildlife Haven – a curious mix of rail and train displays and attractions in a beautiful, green space on the banks of the River Nene.

Ely is also home to its own 900-year-old cathedral with its famous 14th-century octagonal lantern tower and Stained Glass Museum which houses a collection spanning more than 800 years. The Ely Museum gives you a captivating history of the area and the surrounding fens, while a visit to Oliver Cromwell’s House presents a history of one of the county’s most famous residents.

For enjoyment of the great outdoors, the Cambridgeshire Fens are a real bonus. Covering almost 200 sq. miles between Peterborough and Cambridge, this open countryside and agricultural land is perfect for exploring on foot or by bike thanks to its flat terrain. The area’s main market towns of Whittlesey, Chatteris, March, and Wisbech are also well worth visiting for a look into the county’s history.

Topography, geology, and climate

With Cambridgeshire’s flat landscape, much of the county is low-lying, with several land areas actually below sea level. These features give the county a mix of diverse land qualities and medium to high fertility soil types.

The north of the county consists almost entirely of flats with naturally high groundwater and a mix of loam and clay soils. Amid this, there are pockets of wet, fen peat soils and an area of raised bog peat soils around Holme Fen. Much of the west is largely lime-rich loam and clay soils while the south, reaching into the east, is a patchwork of differing lime-rich soils, slight acid, base-rich soils, and peat soils around Wicken Fen.

Like neighbouring counties, Cambridgeshire benefits from a mild, temperate climate with the county’s easterly location. Warmer temperatures in summer can average at around 22ºC (71ºF), while winter temperatures can drop to just over 1ºC (33ºF). But Cambridgeshire is relatively dry with annual rainfall across the county being around 575mm (22”) thanks, in part, to its low-lying land.

Cambridgeshire’s parks and gardens

Despite Cambridgeshire’s flat, natural landscape, the county does have a selection of interesting and impressive gardens to enjoy. With each offering a relaxing day out for families, there’s more than enough to keep green-fingered gardeners and horticulturalists inspired, with lots of interest throughout the year.

North Cambridgeshire

Just south of Peterborough, on the Northamptonshire border, Elton Hall is a wonderful, Gothic-style mansion with a fine collection of different gardens. The Flower garden includes a Wisteria walk plus borders and beds filled with colour, while the Topiary and Shrub garden provides a well-manicured green space. Also, look out for the Orangery garden, complete with a range of Mediterranean plantings, and a sunken lily pond surrounded by herbaceous plants and shrubs.

For something different, the Walpole Water Gardens near Wisbech are small but perfectly formed, covering just ¾ of an acre. Described as being ‘unique to the UK’, the main pond in this relaxing, south-facing, watery oasis is hidden away but features an abundance of unusual plantings including grasses, bamboos and over 20 varieties of Eucalyptus.

Also in Wisbech, Peckover House and Garden is a grand Georgian townhouse complete with a 2-acre garden. These stunning gardens include a magnificent rose garden with over 50 varieties blooming throughout summer, with plenty of repeat flowerings that continue into early autumn. There’s also the Orangery with three well-established orange trees, the Orchard lawn, and well-stocked herbaceous borders providing masses of seasonal colour and texture.

Near Huntingdon, The Manor Garden at Hemingford Grey is a tranquil space on the banks of the River Great Ouse. With a historic house to explore, it’s the 4-acres of gardens that will delight visitors. Famed for large Iris and Rose collections, the wide herbaceous borders are filled with seasonal colour and scent, and the Meadow features exotic Fritillaries and violet Marsh Orchids.

South Cambridgeshire

In the heart of Cambridge, you’ll find the University Botanic Garden. A fantastic and inspiring sight, this 40-acre heritage garden is designed for interest all year round. With over 8,000 plant species from around the world in dozens of garden sections, there’s plenty of important horticultural collections, including a collection of specimen trees, and diverse national plant collections, including the infamous Corpse flower, and the pollinating bee borders.

In nearby Lode, Anglesey Abbey features over 100-acres of gardens, offering the best in seasonal colour, scent, and nature. With particular features throughout including sculptures, statues, and tree-lined avenue paths, there’s a mix of herbaceous borders and different gardens to explore, including the wonderful Dahlia garden with over 70 varieties, the Rose garden with more than 40 vibrant varieties, and the Wildflower Meadow.

And in Arrington, near Royston, the Wimpole Estate is a working, country estate owned by the National Trust. With the wider parkland designed by garden designer Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown in the 18th-century, Wimpole’s gardens are equally impressive. Featuring glorious parterre gardens that are alive with colour throughout the seasons, you can also explore the Pleasure Grounds before discovering the large walled garden filled with fruits, vegetables, and wonderful herbaceous borders.