Cambridge has many hidden gems just waiting to be discovered. First-time travellers to this city are simply overwhelmed by its rich cultural heritage and history that dates back many hundred years. Hats off to Cambridge Bike Tours for doing a fantastic job of giving tourists (and local British travellers) a flavour of this remarkable heritage through an exploration of the city, its iconic buildings and their splendour.
I recently took the opportunity to explore this magnificent city and its countryside on a cycle. I took two of Cambridge Bike Tours’ most popular tours – the City Tour and the Grantchester Tour. The first one covered all the interesting and touristy spots around Cambridge university like Midsummer Common, Stourbridge Common, Eights Rowing, College Boat Houses, Jesus Green, Round Church (one of the only four in the UK), front of St. Johns College, Trinity Great Gate, the Wren Library, Garrett Hostel Bridge, Cambridge University Real Tennis Club, the Backs, Senate House, Kings Parade, Corpus Christi Clock, St. Bene‘t’s Church, the University Library, some of the faculties, and what they call ‘The Best Spot’ to take iconic pictures of Kings College Chapel.
Although many of these famous Cambridge sites were not unfamiliar to me (having lived in the city as a student), just revisiting some of them on a bike became an exciting adventure. When seen through a poet’s eyes, these landmarks seem to be frozen in time, bearing testimony to its vagaries, often reminding travellers that the journey is also the destination.
A part of the reason why these popular bike tours appeal to tourists and often locals too is that of the fascinating (and often amusing) narratives recounted by well-informed guides. On our tour, we had a guide of South African origin – Jaco – who turned out to be a living reservoir of enchanting information and trivia on the university and its colleges.
The Grantchester Tour
The second tour – the Grantchester one – was more captivating. It was also more relaxing with fewer stops on the way as we cycled through the picturesque green meadows into the village of Grantchester to the south of Cambridge. This intriguing village has a quaint attraction for Nobel prize winners, boasting of the world’s highest concentration of them.
As I pedalled out of the city through the fens toward the village, I was transported back in time to my childhood fairy-tale days. For as far as the eye could rove, the sprawling expanse of green fields gracefully draped the mesmerizing English countryside, enticing the passersby with a promise to hold eternity in its fold. It is scarcely a wonder that the British countryside has been a great source of inspiration for striking landscape paintings and many famous poems.
Our final stop was the Orchard Tea Gardens – a tea room – before we headed back into the city. This tea garden has had many notable patrons such as Rupert Brooke, Virginia Woolf, John Maynard Keynes, Bertrand Russell, and Ludwig Wittgenstein, who were famously called the Grantchester group. It is a quiet and secluded tea room, tucked away in rustic surroundings, ideal for reading a book by yourself or chatting with friends over tea and scones on a warm summer afternoon. It is an idyllic setting for meditation, self-reflection and soul-searching.
Cambridge Bike Tours – off the beaten track
By the time we got back, all the cycling had left me heady and tired but in a refreshingly exciting way. It is hardly surprising that these tours are popular pastimes in England. They are not just targeted at tourists but anyone (including local British residents) looking for a bit of adventure and excursion can join in. It’s also a great idea for family outings and bonding.
Cambridge Bike Tours has done thousands of tours since its inception in 2010 and is an expert at delivering a safe and unique experience to customers. It is affiliated to Cycle Cities, which is a local network of global bike tour operators. These tours are particularly popular among students in the UK and from other parts of the world, both educating and informing them. They make a great itinerary for single travellers, group travellers, and families looking for an experience that is off the beaten track.
Want to know more about Cycle Cities – a network of global bike tour operators? Click here to learn more.