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Weekend/Day Trip Suggestions from Cambridge, UK?
February 2, 2012 3:04 AM   Subscribe

Weekend/Day trips from Cambridge, UK?

Hello! I am looking for some fun, cheap weekend or day trips leaving from Cambridge, UK. We're really up for anything -- relaxing, exciting, adventurous, food-oriented, quaint, whatever. (We know London well already).

Only problem is that we don't have a car; we could rent one, but would prefer to take the train or bus (or even cycle if it's not too far). We also don't have a lot of money, and making it cheap-ish is part of the adventure.

Thanks!
posted by caoimhe to Travel & Transportation around England (15 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
You could try a day trip to Bletchley Park. Mrs. Example and I went for my birthday last year, and it was a pretty fascinating day with all the Alan Turing memorabilia and World War II codebreaking stuff. (There's also a computer museum, if you're into that, but its opening hours are limited. Be sure to check their open times if you go.)

It's only a couple of hours away from Cambridge by train, and Bletchley Park itself is only a two-minute walk away from the Bletchley train station.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 3:41 AM on February 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Norfolk Coasthopper bus runs all along the little villages up on the north coast- it's of the windswept and dramatic kind of beach but there's a metric ton of cute pubs with fires and villages and country walks. And it's birdwatching central especially in the spring.

Ely Cathedral is a nice day cycle out.

Less specific to the Cambridge area.. York is only a couple of hours by train from you and its Railway Museum is just spectacular. Also the Guy Fawkes pub which is still lit by gaslight and candles.
posted by Erasmouse at 3:54 AM on February 2, 2012


Take the train to Ely, it takes 15 minutes from Cambridge. The Cathedral in Ely is awesome and the stained-glass museum (on a mezzanine level in the cathedral) is also worth a visit. Admission charges apply.

After you've explored the Cathedral, walk along the river and go to Peacocks Tea Rooms. The traditional cream tea comprises sandwiches, two huge scones with jam and cream and a slice of cake, plus a pot of tea of your choice. I took Specklet and TheDonF there a couple of years ago and it was total carb, fat and sugar overload. (Yes, you get one of those cake stands per person.)
posted by essexjan at 4:03 AM on February 2, 2012


The Duxford Air Museum is a bus ride from Cambridge, and they even give you a discount on entry if you take the bus. It's a must-see even if you don't think you're into planes.

(I'm probably going to be remembering things to add to this list all day, my in-laws live in Cambridge and they're days-out! and country-walk! fiends.)
posted by Erasmouse at 4:06 AM on February 2, 2012


Also recommending Ely - which has one of the best independent bookshops in the UK, Topping & Co, on the high street. I've walked from Cambridge to Ely along the river, it's about fifteen miles (but probably feels more like fifty in this muddy weather).

Wicken Fen is within cycling distance, if you like nature reserves (and it gives you a little glimpse of how the fens used to be before agribusiness took over). A little further afield is Welney, about thirty miles from Cambridge - at the right time of year (now) the washes are flooded and there are literally thousands of swans there. At the wrong time of year you will see three ducks and a blue tit, so it is a good idea to check the website for sightings before visiting.

http://www.transportdirect.info/ is good for planning trips on public transport, and I'd also second the recommendation for the north Norfolk coast - I'm heading up there this weekend, to the RSPB reserve at Titchwell (there's also a spectacular wildlife trust reserve at Cley).
posted by nja at 4:20 AM on February 2, 2012


Not cheapish but you should go to Newmarket for a race meeting at least once.
posted by epo at 4:25 AM on February 2, 2012


Wow, we're totally going to one of these this weekend! Thanks so much -- and keep more suggestions coming! :)
posted by caoimhe at 6:21 AM on February 2, 2012


Seconding Ely and York. A tip on Ely cathedral - last time I went it was on a Sunday and we got in for free even though we weren't attending a worship service.

This is still kind of "in" Cambridge so I'm not sure if it's what you're looking for, but the American cemetery in Madingley is worth seeing and easy to bus or cycle to. It wouldn't fill a whole day though.
posted by SymphonyNumberNine at 6:38 AM on February 2, 2012


If you're into cycling the busway's new cycle path is awesome, although it can get quite windy! It's also not too hard to cycle to Ely and you can take the train back. In fact, most ways you can leave Cambridge lead to a nice countryside cycle route!

The bus to Oxford is slooow -- three and a half hours -- but Oxford is a lovely place although not really too different from Cambridge. Very cheap if you book in advance; I've got £4.50 return before.

There's a bunch of stately homes pretty close: Wimpole Hall and Anglesey Abbey are the ones that spring to mind.

I take it you've been punting; have you been up Grantchester way? Punting up to Grantchester Meadows and firing up a bbq is awesone =). You can also book a punt overnight and sleep on the river (I've done this: it's great fun) although I think that's pretty expensive if you don't know anyone who works at Scuds.
posted by katrielalex at 6:50 AM on February 2, 2012


Second Duxford and Bletchley Park btw.
posted by katrielalex at 6:52 AM on February 2, 2012


SymphonyNumberNine, they've changed the entrance fee for the cathedral and it's no longer free on Sundays, from 1 January this year.
posted by essexjan at 9:43 AM on February 2, 2012


Audley End House and Gardens is on the train line between Cambridge and Liverpool Street. It's lovely on a sunny day.

Linton and Shepreth both have zoos, which are pretty fun if you're into that sort of thing.

If you can get there (I don't know about public transport links) Anglesea Abbey is stunning at this time of year - the winter garden is lovely. I don't know if the house is open year-round but I just love it for the gardens.

Norwich is supposed to be nice and is about an hour away by train last time I looked.

Thetford Forest isn't that difficult to get to by train and is fun to cycle or walk around.
posted by kadia_a at 10:39 AM on February 2, 2012


I'm told the punt to Granchester makes a great day trip (I don't know anyone who made it there; the only times I or any of my friends attempted it everybody was far too drunk within about an hour to go any further. I'm guessing this won't be your experience.) If you know anyone in a college (student, staff etc) that is by far and away the cheapest way to hire punts.

Please don't take the X5 to Oxford. It is the worst bus in the history of the universe, and can take up to five and a half hours in bad traffic. I used to get it regularly to see a girl, and it was hideous every time. I hated having to take it again within a couple of days; I can't think how miserable it would be to take it twice in one day. Avoid.

You can get a couple of buses to Hatfield Forest. It's very beautiful, and has some incredibly ancient trees which are over a thousand years old. What's more amazing is that those trees have survived because they were planted and tended and cared for by generations of foresters; I had the wonderful experience of being shown around by one of those working there now, and he explained that they have to plan their work out over the course of several human lifetimes. Also! They have introduction to forest survival days, which are pretty cheap and I think would be awesome.
posted by Acheman at 10:56 AM on February 2, 2012


Saffron Walden is really pretty too. It has the most medieval buildings that are still lived in as homes of anywhere in the UK, many of them with traditional Essex pargetting.
posted by essexjan at 12:23 PM on February 2, 2012


The Manor at Hemingford Grey is a short trip from Cambridge (even closer than Ely). It's a beautiful, not particularly large old house with a fine garden by the river, but if the words 'Green Knowe' figured in your childhood it's also much more than that.
posted by lapsangsouchong at 1:18 PM on February 4, 2012


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