Fancy a few days away in one of the world`s most prestigious university cities taking in some of the continents greatest works of art and some of the world`s most iconic aircraft, then look no further than the beautiful city of Cambridge. Situated alongside the meandering River Cam which bears its name, Cambridge offers a number of wonderful attractions within the city and for visitors arriving by motorcar.
I stayed ten miles outside Cambridge at the Holiday Inn Duxford just off the M11 at Whittlesford Bridge, a smart modern Hotel with a timber frame and glass frontage. Visitors looking for a little more character and history could stay next door at `The Red Lion`, a 13th century coaching Inn.
Both Hotels are just a couple of miles from the Imperial War Museum, Duxford, Britain’s largest aviation museum. Before visiting be prepared for a lot of walking as the site is spread over 238 acres much of which is given to the display of Britain`s most iconic aircraft including the Typhoon, Tornado, Harrier Jump Jet, Vulcan and Concorde. There is also a very good interactive display of activities in `Airspace` Hangar one` which describes the short history of flight and the scientific theory beyond flight to keep young and older minds active.
I then drove ten miles up the M11 to junction 11 to the Trumpington `Park &Ride`, a short ten minute bus ride into the city, getting off directly outside the Fitzwilliam Museum. The `Fitz` houses one of the best collections of British and European Art work in the world, including an extensive collection of J.M.W Turner watercolours as well as collections of Egyptian Antiquities, Coins, Medals and Manuscripts. The Museum also has a fine collection of Pre-Raphaelite paintings which includes Ford Madox Brown’s `The Last of England`. The museum also has what it believes to be two bronze statues called `The Rothschild Bronzes` which are believed to be the only known surviving bronze sculptures by the Italian Renaissance artist Michaelangelo.
It is a short walk from the Fitz to the colleges of Cambridge, some of which will allow free access to their grounds (Christs College), others will charge a small fee (Trinity College £2) or you can view the Bridge of Sighs (St Johns College – a shocking £7.50!) There is a small unimpressive market and many of the shops are to be found selling the usual Cambridge University Tees and sweaters but I would suggest you go for a walk along `The Backs` to get a more measured view of the city and it`s colleges.
Cambridge is a wonderful city in which to walk around admiring the wonderful architecture or grab a coffee and do a little people watching. You could even take a punt down the river for an alternative view of the city colleges and get a river view of the Bridge of Sighs at St Johns College.
If you enjoy a little retail therapy shopping Cambridge has a wide range of boutiques, independent shops, high street brands and designer labels to the cobbled Market Square which has an eclectic mix of stalls selling everything from fine cheese, vintage clothes and quirky gifts to fresh coffee beans, photographs, books and paintings.
I particularly enjoyed strolling down Rose Crescent and Trinity Street window shopping some of the excellent independent shops and chic cafes. If you are visiting on a Saturday you should visit All Saints Garden Art and Craft Market opposite Trinity College which boasts a wide range of artisan products and quality arts and crafts at reasonable prices.
Grand Arcade is the city’s newest shopping centre with more than 60 premium and high street brands all under one sky-lit roof. The Grafton, a short walk across Christ’s Pieces, is a shopping centre with all the usual high street names fashion stores, cafes, restuarants and Cinema. Mill Road, off Parker’s Piece, is the city’s bohemian area hosting a diverse range of restaurants and shops.
I had a fantastic weekend in Cambridge and Duxford and am already planning my next visit to the area to take in some of the sights I missed on my first visit.
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