20 of the best walks in Cambridgeshire

This post was originally published in December 2020, and was updated in April 2023 following further walks.

Since COVID lockdown forced me to explore a variety of local walks, I’ve really enjoyed spending time out in Cambridgeshire on foot. Statistically Cambridgeshire is the flattest county in England, and contour lines on maps are virtually non existent – so if you want epic views and climbs, then you’re in the wrong county.

However, what it does give you is a diverse range of landscapes from riverside scenery, chocolate box villages, market towns, historic cities, beautiful stately homes and its unique Fenlands – waterlogged lowlands which have been drained creating huge flood plains and fertile agricultural land. It’s the perfect place to explore on foot, so welcome to the county I call home.

Most of these walks I have taken from the awesome Ordnance Survey book for Cambridgeshire and the Fens. For the purposes of this blog, I’ve tried to find the closest free online link to the route I followed, but I also really recommend buying the book so you have totally clear directions.


Short Walks (<5km)

1. Cambridge city centre stroll

Distance: 4km Time: 1hr Best for: Historic city centre, ancient buildings, photography Route Link: Cambridge city centre trail

If you’re wanting to spend some time in Cambridgeshire exploring then the best place to start is Cambridge itself. Taking a walk around the city centre will enable you to breathe in the history – from the ancient University buildings to historic churches. Also be sure to stroll along the river Cam and along the Cambridge Backs for some of the most photogenic spots in the county.

If you are wanting to make more of a visit to the city, then you can read my full guide of things to do in Cambridge HERE and my two day itinerary HERE.


2. Anglesey Abbey

Distance: 3.2km Time: 1hr Best for: Stately home, well marked trails, no map needed Route Link: Angelsey Abbey (example only, you could follow any of the property’s well marked trails)

Just north east of Cambridge is Anglesey Abbey, a National Trust property. The abbey was originally a religious monastery, dissolved in 1536 during Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries. Later, a Jacobean House was built on the site of the former priory, and was privately owned until 1966, when it was donated to the National Trust.

Visiting today, there is a lovely set trail that you can walk around the abbey grounds and up to Lode mill, through the seasonal gardens. There is also a huge woodland area to walk as well, and there are loads of well signed trails. There is also a light trail and decorated house for Christmas.

Inside the abbey at Christmas


3. Fen Ditton to Horningsea

Distance: 4.5km Time: 1hr Best for: Riverside stroll, easy, pubs along the river Route Link: Fen Ditton

Just to the east of Cambridge lie a number of gorgeous villages. Fen Ditton and Horningsea are two lovely areas, and a walk between the two takes about an hour, starting at the Cambridge Museum of Technology. You can stroll along the river in Fen Ditton, through Ditton Meadows and Stourbridge Common and then follow the Cam north until you reach Horningsea. You can also cross over to Milton Country Park (below) to extend the walk.


4. Milton Country Park

Distance: 3-5km Time: 1hr Best for: Large park, well marked trails, no map needed Route Link: None needed, just enjoy walking around the park

For a great option close to Cambridge, head to Milton country park – a lovely little spot home to woodland and lakes with lots of clearly marked walking paths. You won’t have to navigate any maps here, and can just walk at leisure amongst nature. I loved all the mini lakes around the park on a beautiful spring day.

Lovely views round the park


5. Mepal and the Hundred Foot Drain

Distance: 5km Time: 1hr Best for: Fenland, easy stroll, waterways, pub lunch Route Link: Mepal Loop

Another easy stroll in Cambridgeshire, this one taking in the incredible Fenland and its drainage systems, is Mepal and the hundred foot drain. A short loop taking in the river and fields surrounding Mepal village, it also has a great pub on the route – The Three Pickerels near Mepal bridge.

The Three Pickerels at the riverside


Middle Distance Walks (5km-10km)

1. St Ives, Houghton & The Hemingfords

Distance: 9.5km Time: 2.5hrs Best for: Chocolate Box villages, thatched cottages, day out, Instagram Route Link: National Trust St Ives Walk

This walk is all about the beautiful thatched cottages and pretty river views. It’s my favourite in all of Cambridgeshire and takes in the stunning villages of Houghton, Hemingford Abbotts, Hemingford Grey and the riverside town of St Ives. There are also plenty of restaurants, pubs and places to stop on the way round to make a full day out of it.

You can read my detailed write up of the route HERE.


2. Grantchester Meadows

Distance: 7km Time: 1.5hrs Best for: Easy access from Cambridge, riverside scenery, village & tearooms Route Link: Grantchester Meadows walk

The picture perfect village of Grantchester is just outside the centre of Cambridge. The meadows are the area between the village and the river Cam, full of wild flowers with lots of benches and picnic spots. You can walk directly to Grantchester from Cambridge city centre, so you can do this walk easily if you’re staying in Cambridge and fancy seeing a bit of the English countryside.


3. Over to Swavesey Fenland circular

Distance: 7.6km Time: 2.5hrs Best for: Fenland, rivers Route Link: Over and Swavesey

If you want to explore Cambridgeshire’s stunning Fenland, then there’s no more beautiful a walk than the loop from Over to Swavesey through Mare Fen and the RSPB Fen Lakes land. On a sunny or clear day, it really is beautiful -but just be careful the rivers aren’t in flood and be prepared for muddy paths all year round.

You can also read my guide to Fenland Cambridgeshire HERE (post coming soon).

Wow


4. Burghley House & Stamford

Distance: 6.4km Time: 2hrs Best for: Stately home, beautiful town, day out Route Link: Burghley House & Stamford

This walk pushes right up to the Northern border of Cambridgeshire, starting at the historic Burghley House. The house is a prime example of Elizabethan architecture and is still lived in by the Cecil family to this day. The house is open on a seasonal basis, and the grounds and park are open year round.

I combined a visit to Burghley house with a bit of a cheat walk because it actually crosses the county border in to Lincolnshire. Stamford is a stunning town though, perfect for a spot of shopping, exploring the beautiful streets and treating yourself to a delicious dinner in one of its many eateries to make a day of it.


5. Buckden and The Offords

Distance: 8.6km Time: 2.5hrs Best for: Riverside views, ancient palace, waterways Route Link: Buckden walking route

Right in the west of Cambridgeshire lie a lot of beautiful little villages. Offord Cluny and Offord Darcy are full of picture perfect houses, and a stroll along yet another river, this time the river Ouse, brings you to Buckden. Famous for its towers, which are also known as Buckden Palace – a 12th century house which was once visited by Henry VII, it’s well worth a visit.

Buckden Palace


6. St Ives to Woodhurst

Distance: 7.2km Time: 2hrs Best for: Rolling fields, pretty villages Route Link: St Ives to Woodhurst walk

This walk is about a 4.5 mile round route. It doesn’t take in the centre of St Ives (if you want to do that then have a look at the Houghton to St Ives walk above) as it starts in the car park at the Co-op in St Ives. Turn right on to the main road out of the car park and walk until you hit the public footpath which guides you on to Woodhurst on a beautiful ramble through the fields and hedgerows. I recommend doing this walk in the summer to enjoy the wide open views, and woodland paths full of butterflies, as well as Woodhurst’s small duck pond.

Woodhurst duck pond


7. Stow cum Quy Fen

Distance: 7.2km Time: 2hrs Best for: Fenland walks, thatched cottages, woodland Route Link: Quy Fen walk

This walk really made me appreciate the incredible water systems we have in place across Cambridgeshire. I’ve talked about the Fenlands already above but by their nature it means we flood easily and we’ve had to install drainage systems all across the area. This walk takes in many of these small waterways which are really atmospheric in the depths of winter.


8. Wimpole Hall & Park

Distance: 7.6km Time: 2hrs Best for: Stately home, spring time daffodils, Christmas trails, history Route Link: Wimpole Park

Wimpole Hall is a beautiful National Trust property, not far from the centre of Cambridge – making for a perfect trip from the city. It’s particularly beautiful in the spring with its daffodil gardens and you can easily spend around 3-4 hours exploring the Hall and Gardens, or walking one of the recommended trails around the park, especially the route up to the folly.

Wonderful Wimpole


9. Elton to Fotheringhay loop

Distance: 8.1km Time: 2hrs Best for: Beautiful villages, rolling fields Route Link: Elton Fotheringhay circuit

Pushing the northern border of Cambridgeshire close to Peterborough, Elton is one of the county’s most picture perfect villages. Even better when you can combine it with a 8km flat walk, and a pub lunch via Fotheringhay. A beautiful way to spend a morning.


10. Stilton and Folksworth

Distance: 9.5km/13km adding Caldecote Wood Time: 2.5hrs Best for: Rolling fields, animals, farmland, history Route Link: Stilton and Folksworth loop (perimeter of Caldecote Wood added on vs the route I did)

Visit the home of the famous cheese on this walk. This easy walk is a lovely way to spend an afternoon rambling through all kinds of agricultural fields and farmland. Say hello to donkeys, sheep and horses too along the route – as well as see the historic sites of what was Washingley castle and village. Our Easter weekend walk was so much fun as well as there were decorations everywhere.

Beautiful trails


Long Distance Walks (>10km)

1. Gog Magog Hills and the Granta Valley

Distance: 11.3km Time: 3.5hrs Best for: Woodland walks Route Link: Gog Magog Hills walk

Deep in the south of Cambridgeshire lie its equivalent to a mountain climb. The Gog Magog Hills (what a name) are a range of low chalk hills. To be honest, you’d barely notice they were hills unless everything else in the county was flatter than a spirit level! Next to the ‘Gogs’ is Wandlebury Country Park which is beautiful in autumn with all the golden leaves, and is where I recommend parking to then join the trail linked per the route above. This is a stunning one for autumn.


2. Abbotts Ripton to Kings Ripton

Distance: 11km Time: 3.25hrs Best for: Pretty villages Route Link: Abbotts Ripton walk

Two beautiful villages in west Cambridgeshire, Abbotts Ripton and Kings Ripton are the perfect option for a half day trip to include a walk followed by a yummy pub lunch. Starting in Kings Ripton, a walk through the (unsurprisingly) flat fields will bring you to one of my favourite villages in Cambridgeshire, Abbotts Ripton full of pretty thatched cottages and a quaint village centre.

Most importantly, there’s also a great pub called The Abbotts Elm in the village which is a good spot to have lunch. As you can see, we’ve done this walk on both cold, crisp winter mornings and in mid-summer.


3. The Bishops Way (Ely & Little Downham)

Distance: 17km Time: 5hrs Best for: Spiritual, ancient cathedral, history Route Link: The Bishop’s Way

Ely is my favourite town in Cambridgeshire and this is such a beautiful walk to explore another side to the county. Following medieval tracks out across the fens, The Bishop’s Way takes you along the route used by the Bishops of Ely to their Palace in Downham. 

Hundreds of years ago before the fens were artificially drained, Downham-in-the-Isle was a real island among flat and boggy reed fen.  It was here that Athelwold, Bishop of Winchester set up his monastic settlement in 970.  The estate grew and prospered for 500 years and played host to many bishops from Ely.  In the summer months, when the roads were best, they travelled by horse up what is now Hurst Lane to their summer Palace. 

If you have time it’s also really worth spending time in Ely given it’s beautiful Cathedral, old buildings and riverside pubs.

You can read my full post on visiting Ely HERE.

Exploring historic Ely


4. Ferry Meadows, River Nene and Peterborough

Distance: 16.5km Time: 5hrs Best for: Country Park, Tudor History, riverside views Route Link: Ferry Meadows (plus add on the extra short distance to the centre of Peterborough)

For this walk it’s time to explore another historic centre in the county – Peterborough. Peterborough is home to Catherine of Aragon’s tomb (she was the first wife of Henry VIII), and lots of beautiful nature spots included Ferry Meadows and lovely riverside views along the Nene river.

My full guide to Peterborough can be found HERE.

At Ferry Meadows


5. Grafham Water

Distance: 15km Time: 4.5hrs Best for: Lake views, watersports, Cambridgeshire’s answer to a beach Route Link: Grafham Water

Grafham Water is a reservoir on the very west border of Cambridgeshire. It offers lots of water sport activities, as well as cycling and hiking trails. There are also a few stretches of shoreline which could *almost* pass as a beach. I recommend doing this walk in summer – we did it in winter and to be honest it was a little miserable and my least favourite walk on this list.

Cambridgeshire’s answer to a beach


Thanks for reading – I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing some of my home county, through all the seasons and I hope this post has given you some good ideas for walks if you’re visiting. Which was your favourite? Stay safe and happy travelling.

36 Comments

  1. Wow! Every photo is like a postcard! Cambridgeshire looks to be the quintessential views of the UK countryside; everything is so quaint! There’s truly an intimacy to the quiet and solitude in nature, and I appreciate you sharing your walks with us. πŸ™‚

    Like

    1. Thanks so much Rebecca – it definitely is quaint and a beautiful place to live. I feel like this post took me so long because I want to be able to share the beauty of home πŸ™‚ Thanks for commenting and have a great day x

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I love this area of England; my great grandparents lived in Bottisham and we have been there a few times. We always find more to see and do in that area. Great job with ideas for walks next time (post Covid,) when we finally get back to England.
      Take care and stay safe.
      Bernie

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww thanks Lyssy – well if you guys ever visit the UK I will happily show you all the best spots! I also wish I could teleport to all your amazing NYC locations – so envious of all the food on your doorstep. We can’t even get takeout delivered here haha! Have a good weekend x

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      1. I’m doing good except I blame drugs for my sense of humor. 😊 Walking is my primary source of exercise. I wish my walks were half as interesting and stunning as the ones you have in the beautiful county of Cambridgeshire. Enjoy and stay well!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I hope the drugs are manageable John, I can only imagine so I’m in total admiration you’re able to have a sense of humour at all πŸ™‚ Aw yes, we are very lucky to have them on the doorstep.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. What a wonderful collection of walks for every time and season in this beautiful area! πŸ™‚ I may have told you before, but my dad lived in Cambridge for a few years and I still have the postcard he sent me taped to my mirror. So I had to share your post with him. He was thrilled to see this place that meant so much to him.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well, here’s 20 walks that need to go onto my list ha ha. I’m not sure if we’ll ever hang out in Cambridgeshire. but if we do this all looks great. So much quintessential English on display, from the colours and shades of Mother Nature to the decorative flourishes of Christmas and Easter. You are totally forgiven for the cheat walk πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

  4. With an adorable name like Cambridgeshire, I’d expect the rural scenery to be fantastic and your pictures did not disappoint. It sounds like there are a lot of great walking options to enjoy the city, some nature and your surroundings. Those thatched cottages are beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

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