England Grand Tour (2021): Day 16: Cambridge and more

Beautiful Cambridge

Our first true destination in this second ‘road trip within a trip’ was a new one for Bruce: the beautiful university city of Cambridge. Although I had visited on three previous occasions, the last time was around twenty years ago. The city lay just under 50 miles northeast of our temporary Borehamwood base, a distance that we covered in an hour, mostly on the A1(M). On arrival in Cambridge, by sheer chance, we found ourselves parking just yards from perhaps the city’s most celebrated view: King’s College Chapel as part of The Backs, a shot that opens each Christmas Eve broadcast of A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, an established Christmas highlight for millions of television viewers.

As we made our way into the central area via Trinity College, the Senate House and Great St Mary’s Church, it quickly became apparent that this visit to Cambridge, sadly, would not involve college visits. Without exception, these were all closed to visitors, presumably to minimise the risk of a Covid-19 outbreak among the various student populations. I knew that visiting the colleges was normally a highlight of coming to Cambridge, but the city is so attractive that it was still a joy to be there in circumstances where the highlight was unavailable.

After taking in the views and the atmosphere in front of Kings College, we headed up Trumpington Street and back to the River Cam at Silver Street Bridge. We then took a stroll southwards through Sheep’s Green, crossed the river, headed back northwards and returned to Trumpington Street via Little St Mary’s Lane. We took a look at the Fitzwilliam Museum before heading eastwards on Pembroke Street/Downing Street towards the strangely named park Christ’s Pieces. (The name probably derives from the park’s proximity to Christ’s College.) In due course we came across a restaurant called Stolen on King Street, and decided that it would make a good choice for lunch. I had a lovely midday meal of seared tuna with Niçoise salad.

After lunch, we made for another oddly named park, which again got half of its moniker from an adjacent college: Jesus Green. We strolled along the increasingly busy riverside walkway, eventually exiting to Bridge Street, where we made our way back to the car.

Cambridge American Cemetery

With Bruce having joint UK/US nationality, I suggested a visit to the Cambridge American Cemetery, located less than three miles away. I visited it during my first time in Cambridge, when I had taken the open-top bus tour in order to get a good overview. Dedicated in 1956, the cemetery contains nearly 4,000 war dead. As ever in such locations, it was impossible not to be moved by the sheer scale of the loss of life.

Welwyn Garden City

On the way back to base, we left the motorway to have a look at Welwyn Garden City in Hertfordshire. Despite its full name, Welwyn is a planned town dating from 1920. We found the central, linear parkland area known as the Parkway, where I was able to grab a few photos. The architecture struck me as American-influenced, with the town hall in particular looking as though it had escaped from New England!