20 quirky places to visit in South Cambridgeshire
Stuck for a day out and hoping to discover something new? There are plenty of hidden gems that local residents are being encouraged to try out following the launch of a new tourist website.
As well as attractions that have become firm family favourites over the years such as National Trust estates, zoos and historic sites, some of the places waiting to be explored may be completely new to most visitors.
Here we reveal our highlights from the site with our top 20 places that South Cambridgeshire has to offer in terms of activities, places to eat, cultural attractions and green spaces.
The new website, visitsouthcambs.co.uk, also provides B&B, camping, hotel and self-catering listings, making it easier for visitors to the area to find a place to stay to make the most of the district. Plus there's a filter available to check whether an attraction or eaterie is dog friendly.
Cllr Peter McDonald, lead cabinet member for business recovery at South Cambridgeshire District Council, said: “This is a treasure trove of information. We have really high quality places to visit and to eat and this website should really help our local businesses to flourish post-pandemic. In a district that literally surrounds the city of Cambridge but itself is comprised of over 100 villages, it can be difficult for people visiting the area to find places to stay without knowing all our villages’ names; the website solves that and enables people to use search filters to find different types of accommodation, independent shops, things to do and places to eat.
“Visit South Cambs has come about as a result of the Council’s commitment to encourage residents to use local shops and food outlets, so that high streets are retained – but people can only support these local businesses if they know they exist. There really is so much on offer but, without one major ‘high street’ on which to discover our independent cafés or boutiques, or with our best days out being hidden away in countryside locations, people may not be aware of everything available to us. I’d encourage local people to visit the website and explore, discover and enjoy what’s on our doorstep.”
The website has received funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.
Here are our top 20 highlights from the site:
Anyone in need of a little relaxation and some time reconnecting with nature could try out the new wellbeing experience at PAUS. It’s described as a breathing and bathing space located in the heart of the Cambridgeshire countryside, inspired by the philosophy of balance. Relax in open-air, wood-fired, red cedar hot tubs or unwind and recharge in authentic Finnish barrel saunas. There are also workshops and creative classes for mind and body. Feeling adventurous? There’s the barefoot sensory trail to try out. After your soak there is a seasonal menu served in the cosy Hilltop Bistro with a lovely view over the rolling countryside.
PAUS, Toft Road, Bourn, Cambridge CB23 2TT
The Oakington Martyr's Graves
Cambridgeshire is steeped in history but this may be a spot you haven’t discovered before. The Oakington Martyrs' graves can be found in a private burial ground behind St Andrew's churchyard. These are the graves of three 17th century vicars who, between them, were largely responsible for the establishment of various non-conformist churches in Cambridgeshire at that time. The Reverends' Francis Holcroft and Joseph Oddy were 17th century pioneers of the non-conformist movement and are known as the 'Apostles of Cambridgeshire'.
There is an information board, near the access gate, alongside the public footpath between Water Lane & High Street (No1).
The gates remain unlocked, but for safety reasons, visits after dark are not recommended.
The Oakington Martyr's Graves, St Andrew's Churchyard, Oakington, Cambridge CB24 3AG
Hinxton Water Mill
A working 17th century watermill located in a beautiful setting on the River Cam, in the village of Hinxton. Hinxton Watermill is owned and cared for by local charity Cambridge Past, Present & Future.
The exterior of Hinxton Watermill can be visited at any time. The watermill is open on 6 Sundays between May and October. There are 2 picnic tables to enjoy this lovely location and a riverside walk.
There are no toilets.
The ground floor of the mill is accessible for wheelchairs. Access to the first floor is by a steep wooden ladder.
Group visits can also be arranged at other times,Get in touch via the website: https://www.cambridgeppf.org/Pages/Category/hinxton-watermill
Hinxton Watermill, 17 Mill Lane, Hinxton, Saffron Walden CB10 1RD
The Art Hound Gallery
The Art Hound Gallery exhibits modern and contemporary art in a converted barn. The gallery is packed with neon art, cutting edge urban and pop art and work from some of the most prominent contemporary artists on the scene today. The Art Hound also sells online and exhibits internationally - from the biggest collectible names to up and coming urban artists who make work in the Art Hound's own graffitied printmaking studio in a Cambridgeshire sheep field.
The Art Hound Gallery, Unit 16, Burwash Manor, New Road, Barton, Cambridge CB23 7EY
Wildly Curious offers outdoor education in all weathers - bush craft, traditional skills, archery and outdoor challenges for children and families, available for private bookings. Based at Manor Farm in Bourn where there is also a fantastic coffee shop, butcher's and bakery, plus countryside walks
Wildly Curious, Manor Farm, 14 Alms Hill, Bourn, Cambridge CB23 2SH
Kingsway Golf Centre
Kingsway Golf centre has something for all ages to enjoy. As well as four courses and a Toptracer range, there is also dinosaur adventure golf, the Jamaica Blue café, and the AF Golf Store Pro Shop. Players of all ages and abilities are welcome. Book pay and play, practise your driving or putting, or even book those professional lessons you may have been considering to improve your game. Whether you are a serious golfer or a beginner, or looking for something to do outdoors, this centre is a fun day out for the whole family.
Kingsway Golf Centre, Cambridge Road, Melbourn, Royston SG8 6EY
Cambridge Ice Arena
This permanent ice rink is situated inside the Newmarket Road Park and Ride site. It houses a full-sized ice rink offering public skating, learn to skate lessons and lively discos. There is free parking and a warm café.
Cambridge Ice Arena, Newmarket Road, Cambridge CB5 8AA
Newton Farms secure dog field
Struggling for somewhere to let you pooch off the lead for a run around? Established in 2020, Newton Farms dog field provides a secure three acre, private hire field for dog owners. Located just outside Newton, this field is easily accessible from Cambridge.
Newton Farms Secure Dog Field, Newton Manor, Town Street, Newton, Cambridge CB22 7PE
Burwash Manor has courtyards of converted farm buildings housing a collection of independent unique shops, a café with both indoor and outdoor seating, and beauty salon, all open seven days a week. It has free parking and a children’s play area. There is also an opportunity to visit Burwash Manor Farm, a working organic 400 acre mixed arable and livestock farm.
The farm has signposted walks which anyone can turn up and do at any time. The farm holds regular seasonal events such as Open Farm Sunday and Apple Day.
Burwash Manor, New Road, Barton, Cambridge CB23 7EY
Evolve Coffee Shop and Bar
Evolve Coffee Shop and Bar is a new family business in the village of Waterbeach. It's an ideal place for business meetings or general meetups. Now hosting live music on Friday evenings and quiz nights every Saturday evening.
Evolve Coffee Shop & Bar, Cambridge Innovation Park, Denny End Road, Waterbeach, Cambridge CB25 9QE
Coton Country Reserve
Coton Country Reserve is located at the western edge of Cambridge and aims to improve the green belt. There are miles of paths for visitors to enjoy the countryside, including a walk up to Red Meadow Hill, where there are fantastic views. The main spine path through the reserve is hard surface and suitable for wheelchairs and cycles.
Coton Country Reserve, Grantchester Road, Coton, Cambridge CB23 7PZ
Wandlebury Country Park
Countryside estate close to Cambridge with miles of walks through woodland and amazing views of Cambridge. The park includes wildflower meadows and orchards, an Iron-Age hill fort, 18th century buildings, den building, picnics, BBQ areas to hire, weekend pop-up café, games field and wildlife pond. Don't forget to visit the Dinky Door.
Wandlebury Country Park, Wandlebury Ring, Gog Magog Hills, Cambridge CB22 3AE
Cambridge American Cemetery & Memorial
Cambridge American Cemetery & Memorial, commemorates the service, achievements, and sacrifice of American military service members and civilian volunteers who fought for freedom during World War II. This is one of 26 overseas American national shrines managed by American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC), which is America's preeminent sentinel of memory.
The site is 30.5 acres in total and was donated by the University of Cambridge.
Visit this pristine memorial near Cambridge, and learn of America‘s experience in the UK from 1942 to 1945
Cambridge American Cemetery & Memorial, Madingley Road, Coton, Cambridge CB23 7PH
RSPB Fen Drayton Lakes
Fen Drayton Lakes is an oasis for wildlife and people. Explore tranquil wooded paths and glimpse secluded bays and pools. You won’t be able to miss the mute swans but you’ll need to look a little harder to see the many colourful insects. The lakes are alive with the sound of reeds rustling, birds warbling and bees buzzing. With 16 km (10 miles) of trails to explore, there’s always something to see.
RSPB Fen Drayton Lakes, Fen Drayton Road, Swavesey, Cambridge CB24 4RB
Bury Lane Farm Shop
Children and adults alike will enjoy a day out here as there is a soft play area plus an impressive food hall packed with gourmet delights, including a traditional butcher, British artisan cheese counter, bakery, cellar and more. The gift hall is perfect for presents and treats from children's toys to kitchenware. The garden shop has a range of plants, tools, décor, feeds and an outdoor living section.
The café is open 7 days a week for freshly prepared food, cakes and drinks.
The farm-themed indoor soft play and unique outdoor Beach @ Bury Lane are brilliant fun for children from 0 to 10.
Bury Lane Farm Shop, A10 Bypass, Melbourn, Royston SG8 6DF
Linton Zoo Conservation Park
At Linton Zoo, emphasis is on conservation and education, while providing an enjoyable family outing. There is a wealth of rare and exotic creatures to see including tigers, lions, tapirs, lemurs, owls, parrots, giant tortoises, tarantula spiders and many others.
The zoo is an ever evolving attraction, set in 18 acres of gardens and woodland. It is generally considered a 1.5 to 2 hour visit.
Linton Zoo Conservation Park, Hadstock Road, Linton, Cambridge CB21 4NT
Duxford Imperial War Museum
IWM Duxford is Europe’s largest air museum.
Inside every hangar and exhibition (and outside them too) there are hundreds of huge aircraft, tanks, boats and more. Walk around them, inside them, above and below them and get the chance to see aircraft take off from our historic runway.
The site is an exhibit itself as it played a central role in some of the most dramatic days in 20th century history – serving as a base for many of the Spitfire and Hurricane pilots during the Second World War.
Duxford Imperial War Museum, Imperial War Museum, Duxford, Cambridge CB22 4QR
Wimpole Estate, National Trust
A unique working estate, with an impressive mansion at its heart. Wimpole has acres of parkland, miles of walks, a walled kitchen garden and home farm.
Wimpole Hall continues the 3rd Earl of Hardwicke’s passion for trail-blazing food production and design, echoing Elsie Bambridge’s 20th century revival. As owners changed, a roll-call of ingenious architects, artists and landscape designers shaped the estate. Wimpole is a place to visit all year round, reflecting the changing seasons.
Wimpole Estate, Arrington, Royston, Cambridgeshire SG8 0BW
Shepreth Wildlife park
There are so many different animals to meet you won’t know where to start at this multi award-winning attraction. From admiring tigers in the Big Cat House to spying upon mischievous primates on Lemur Island, with over 100 species to see you’re in for an amazing treat, rain or shine.
Shepreth Wildlife Park has helped raise over £450,000 for conservation projects worldwide.
Shepreth Wildlife Park, Station Road, Shepreth, Royston SG8 6PZ
The Orchard Tea Garden in Grantchester
Just a short stroll, ride or punt trip away from the centre of Cambridge lies The Orchard in Grantchester. Renowned for the huge number of famous people who have enjoyed its genteel setting, The Orchard is the place to relax and soak up the atmosphere of a bygone era. Sitting under its trees, or sheltering in the warmth of its historic Pavilion, you are sharing in the great English tradition of afternoon tea, and following in the footsteps of generations of Cambridge students. They offer light lunches, cream teas, cakes and pastries.
The Orchard Tea Garden, 47 Mill Way, Grantchester, Cambridge CB3 9ND