As regular readers know I occasionally like to spend a day in my local city (Cambridge) pretending to be a tourist. I did just that recently with a friend of mine. It involved walking up and down 123 steps, picnicking in the company of some cows and canoeing down the Cam!
St Mary’s Church
Our first stop was the eight hundred year old St Mary’s Church, situated in Cambridge’s market place. Although a parish church, it is also known as the University Church. It became the church of choice for university ceremonies and official meetings in the 13th century, although it was also used as the first home of the University when scholars from Oxford arrived in the 12th century. If you would like to find out more about the University of Cambridge’s history you can do so here.
I visited the church a few months ago, but didn’t walk up the 123 steps of its tower. At the time I was put of this by seeing a reasonably fit man looking very unfit after having walked up and down the steps! I thought, if it’s hard enough for him, there’s no point in me trying
However, my friend was not going to let me get away with not walking up it a second time so up we went. There is a very small fee for the trip up the tower, it is definitely worth taking the time to go up! I was surprised how easy it was to climb the steep narrow steps and we reached the top in no time at all! I wasn’t sure why I had put it off before!
Here are some pictures of the view from the top.
The view from the top really is lovely. A word of warning though…walking up the steep narrow steps is much easier than walking down them. By the time we got down our thighs had turned to jelly!
After resting our wobbly legs we walked along ‘the backs’ (the area which encompasses the river Cam and University colleges) towards one of the Punting stations in the Silver Street/Mill Pond area of Cambridge. Before I go any further here is a guide to punting. I also like this little guide too. I discovered once that ‘Punting’ means different things in different places, I confused someone once!
So, after having a little picnic surrounded by cows (yes, cows! Cambridge is a city but there are some enclosed public green spaces where cows wander freely about!). Here is a pic of me and some cows!
Once we had eaten we took to the water in a Canadian Canoe, which you can hire from one of the many boat hire companies in Cambridge, Scudamores. Having never done anything like it before I was slightly nervous. I have been on the Cam on a punt before (always chauffeured, never self punted…it would be a disaster, hehe) but have never paddled down it, especially as the thought of falling in it makes me feel a little ill!
However, it was surprisingly easy to do, there were two of us so we were based at opposite ends. Using the paddle came very naturally to me.
It can be quite expensive though as they charge you a fixed amount for the first hour and then in increments (minutes not hours!) after that. Also, you pay the hire charge at the end of your time, so if you aren’t careful you might pay more than you intended to. Something to bear in mind.
Parts of the river, which is the route to Granchester, are gorgeous and like being somewhere other than Cambridge. Cambridge is like that, one moment you are in the busy city then you walk through college grounds, the backs, or go on the river and it’s has such a different atmosphere and feel.
Everything is so close together but completely different.