Back to School Special Edition: Cycling route across Cambridge
As the A-level results came out, so did the university placements. To mark the date, we want to feature a special piece about the best cycling routes in two of the most renowned student cities in the United Kingdom: Oxford and Cambridge.
By Vanessa Alves Ferreira
Read this week’s story about Cambridge and because we love Oxbridge (name given to reference both Oxford and Cambridge to avoid offending any of them), check out the Oxford’s version here.
Our guide was designed to get sight of the core markers of the city of Cambridge. You can choose any means you want to go all over the town. Being smaller than Oxford, you can get easily and quickly to all the mains points of the city. Go to the end of this story to fill your lungs with fresh air and find more extensive paths.
If you choose to cycle in the city, OFO and Mobike have dockless bikes that you can rent. Spot one of their bikes on the street or through their apps and unlock them with the QR codes, usually visible on the handlebars. Return the bike at a drop-off point and lock it through the app.
When going to Cambridge, punting is a town’s tradition that can’t be missed. Rent your own punt or with random groups for more affordable options.
There are several companies through which you can book your tickets for punting and online reservations are generally cheaper. Let’s go Punt and Punting Cambridge are some of the companies operating.
Starting in Jesus Green, the tour will allow you to see riparian colleges, among which the 3 most famous one’s (King, Trinity and St John’s) and to go under famed bridges such as the Bridge of Sighs and the Mathematical Bridge.
University of Cambridge
Just like Oxford, the University of Cambridge is a collegiate public university. There are 31 constituent colleges, but you probably don’t want to see them all, so we prepared a selection of our favourites along with other town’s delights.
Let’s start with St John’s College. With 500 years of history, the college alumni include the winners of 10 Nobel prizes, seven prime ministers, two princes and three saints. Prince William was affiliated to St John’s for a course in agricultural estate management in 2014.
Why is it a must see? Well because the Bridge of Sighs, one if not the main tourist attraction in the city, is part of St John’s College, linking the Third Court to the New Court.
Next, experience gravity while going to the college which educated Isaac Newton: Trinity College. The physicist is just part of college prestige as members of the institution have won 32 Nobel Prizes, five Fields Medals in mathematics and included several royals such as Prince Charles, whom was awarded a BA in 1970.
The College is also the richest institution of Cambridge and Oxford included, with assets worth of 1.3bn pounds according to their latest accounts of which 800 million in properties.
Run along Wren Library, part of Trinity College, to find Newton’s notebook and his annotated copy of Principia Mathematica, the Capell collection of first Shakespeare editions or yet, Lord Byron’s full-size statue. Enjoy the beauty of the wooden rows and black and white tiled floor.
Walk through the ground roots to DNA structure, penicillin and neutron discovering’s in Gonville & Caius College, commonly referred to as “Caius”. Home to 14 winners of the Nobel Prizes, being the second Oxbridge college to receive more Nobel Prizes, Caius counted Stephen Hawking as one of its fellows.
Spot the representations of discoveries of their most notable students in the dining hall’s stained-glass windows and enjoy the charm of Caius’ chapel.
Then head to Market Street and climb the 123 steps leading to the to the tower of St Mary’s Church. Be amazed by the panoramic views over King’s College and adjacent institutions. The church has a great heritage as it was the first house of the university. The very first lessons of the institution were given in these walls.
If the hunger is killing you by this point, Market Square is a great spot for local food. To sit down, give a go at Benet’s Street to find a countless variety of restaurants and coffee places. Lie down & picnic at The Backs to catch an eye of the several colleges and River Cam.
On your way there, the Corpus Clock is unmissable. Awarded to be one of 2008’s best inventions by Time Magazine, it was unveiled to the public by Stephen Hawking in the same year.
Pass by Queen’s College and make sure to see the Mathematical Bridge. Popular belief has it that Isaac Newton designed and built this platform, but he was dead before it was constructed. Its design belongs to William Etheridge and James Essex was the one to build it.
A few minutes away is Selwyn’s college. The establishment was featured in 2014’s film depicting Stephen Hawking‘s life, The Theory of Everything. The red brick building is home to a Chapel and a Dining Hall worth the visit.
Make your way through Sheep’s Green until Fitzwilliam Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Referred to as the “finest small museum in Europe” by one of the directors of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, this museum is famous for its collection of antiquities and has a rich collection of paintings among other items.
Don’t miss out on the opportunity to see the Queen Victoria bust sculpture by Gilbert, recently saved from having to move to New York.
With Peterhouse being just next door, grab your chance to visit the oldest college in Cambridge.
Have a well-deserved drink at The Eagle, very popular as it was close to old Cavendish Laboratory’s site back then, this pub became compulsory to any visitor being the place where Francis Crick announced that he and Watson had discovered the structure of DNA. In remembrance of the two scientists, the pub has a commemorative ale named “Eagle’s DNA”.
Finish the day by a stroll in Jesus Green and/or Recreation Ground. If you’re lucky, you may dance to the sounds of “Jazz & Brass in the Parks”. Catch the shows on Sunday the 2nd and 9th of September.
Enjoy the ride
As we mentioned, this route was mainly thought for sightseeing but for longer rides we suggest you to cycle your way to Grantchester or Wandlebury for a 30 minute stretch.
The picturesque village of Grantchester features a medieval church and unusual thatched cottages. The meadows are a great location for peaceful walks and it is said that Lord Byron used to swim in the pool named after him. On your way back, stop by Cambridge University Botanic Garden for a peek of all-over-the-world plants and scents and marvellous gardens and glasshouses.
When going to Wandlebury, try its Country Park and Nature Reserve which is a perfect place to go in family and have a relaxing time in the countryside.
If feeling more energetic, an hour and a half ride will take you to Ely from Jesus Green. And depending on the strength left in your legs, an ascent to the tower of Ely’s is said to be a great location for admiring the sun setting over the city and countryside.