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Top 5 Spring Walks in Cambridge

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The sun is reappearing and flowers are starting to bloom – if ever there was a time to venture outside for a good stroll, it’s now. Spring brings the natural landscape back to life, and Cambridge in particular makes for a picturesque scene. Here are five walks to get you enjoying the city’s natural beauty.

Along the Backs & Lammas Land
 
The most famous strip of green in Cambridge, the Backs stretches from St. Johns College to the north to Queens College in the south, an easy going trundle with plenty of scenic views. The track pathways lead you along a fairly idle length of the Cam, looking down across King’s College Chapel and Trinity’s back gardens. In March, the crocuses are still poking out among the tree roots; and in April the daffodils will be in full bloom. If you are looking to extend the walk, continue into the wilder heaths of Coe Fen and Lammas Land as they continue down into South Cambridge. Newnham Park, near the path’s end, has a children’s play area and a paddling pool – perfect for a sunny family Sunday.
 
The view from the Backs, Cambridge.
The Backs. Photo Credit: Alex Brown.
 
Madingley-Coton-Hardwick
 
Out from the bustle of the city centre, north-west Cambridge is a real rustic haven. A series of paths – much beloved by dog-walkers – wind from the small village of Coton to the similarly quaint Madingley and Hardwick. These are open tracks between farmland, so bring boots. In the spring, however, you’ll avoid the mud ponds of the autumn and winter, and be able to enjoy the fields of yellow rapeseed flowers spreading over Cambridge’s less visited periphery. A few highlights to keep in mind: the American Cemetery and Memorial lies to the north of Madingley and features a series of stunningly beautiful monuments well worth seeing; there’s also the Blue Lion gastro-pub in Hardwick that serves some of the best Sunday lunches around.  
 
American Cemetary in Madingley
American Cemetary and Memorial in Madingley. Photo Credit: Tony Smith.
 
Grantchester Meadows
 
Grantchester has been visited by many famous figures in its day – Stephen Hawking, Virginia Woolf, Prince Charles – and you can follow in their footsteps along this lush country path. The Meadows sweep round the Cam to the south and form a rolling pasture that looks back over the city. The tufty grass makes a good spot for a picnic, and you can watch the more adventurous punters drift by on their way down the river. At the far end of the trail is the Orchard Tea Gardens, a much-loved café retreat. Sit in their deck chairs amid the apple trees and enjoy a scone – or maybe a pint of cider.

Granchester Meadows
Grantchester Meadows. Photo Credit: William Marnoch.
 
Wandlebury and the Gog-Magogs
 
Cambridge is famously flat, but out to the south of the city are a series of wooded hillocks that look down across the Fen borderlands. The brilliantly named Gog Magog hills feature a number of untamed slopes with lots of overgrown trails into secluded copses to explore.  The chalky soil of the area provides lots of natural enclaves into the terrain, and wandering through this landscape feels a little like stepping into Tolkien’s Middle Earth. The slightly more polished Wandlebury Country House and Grounds lie in the centre of the hills and includes a number of plotted walks perfect for families. The slightly mystical Wandlebury Ring – a former mote, now a dried and sunken pathway – is great for sparking kids’ imaginations, and in spring the surrounding foliage will be full of colour.

 
River Cam North
 
Following the River Cam north out of the city and past the outlying village of Milton, you eventually reach the riverside trail from Baits Bite Lock to Waterbeach. This stretch of the waterway is closer to a canal and lots of barges moor up in spring. A well-kept path, ideally suited for wheel-chair users, runs right along the water, and lots of wildlife can be found near the banks. If you are a fan of quiet landscapes, this is the walk for you. Near the end of the walk you reach Clayhithe road and the Bridge pub. There’s nothing particularly fancy about this inn other than good pub food and ales. They do have a large outdoor area with plenty of benches, however, if you feel you deserve an afternoon sit-down in the sun.
 
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