Cambridgeshire is towards the north of the East Midlands, the university founded by a group of scholars fleeing Oxford, over 800 years ago. Its famed mathematical bridge is so-called as it’s an arch shape, yet built with straight timber (a ‘feat of engineering’). The Fens are boggy marshland with fertile soil that means most of our organic food grows here. It’s also home to endangered wildlife (a reason never to buy peat – which is also removed to flatten the land for the pheasant hunting industry).
The Fens is a complete guide to this low-lying marshy and mysterious land, formed by marine and freshwater flooding and historically wealthy, due to the fertile soil. Situated in Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire, the Fens are one of the most extraordinary yet neglected areas of England, and the author has worked with its soils for 40 years as an archaeologist. In this book he looks at the history and landscape of the area from the rise of prosperous towns like Ely and Cambridge to drainage projects that created the Old and New Bedford Rivers.
Cambridge is one of England’s oldest cities (the university was actually formed by students fleeing from Oxford University!) Along with Lincolnshire, the county of Cambridgeshire sits on the Fens, a type of wetland fed by ground and surface water and dissolved mineral levels, which is why it’s the most fertile land in the country. That’s why it’s where most of our local food comes from. Cambridge Organic is the oldest box scheme in England, which supplies plastic-free produce from kale to squash, all grown within a few food miles. It also works with Cambridge Food Hub to encourage local shops, caterers and hotels to buy local organic produce.
The university and the famed Bridge of Sighs (named after a bridge in Venice) makes this city a big attraction for tourists, with over 1 million visitors each year, many of them punting down one of the many rivers in a boat. The Mathematical Bridge is also a tourist attraction, as it uses straight pieces of timber to create an arch, an ‘architectural masterpiece’. This is of course a city of great minds due to the university, and also home to more cyclists than any other city – Cambridge is the Amsterdam of England!
But on a negative, colleges selling off buildings to produce income as led to it being named ‘the most cloned town in England’, with less indie shops than anywhere else (the least-cloned town is Whitstable, on the Kent coast). For this reason, the website Indie Cambridge was founded, to promote and serve the indie community in the city, where members are listed online. There is also a free bi-yearly magazine solely devoted to promoting local shops, packed with features and people, and available in many of the indie shops featured. All their members get featured in one edition each year. Members also get a professional photo shoot and invites to pop-up get togethers to support other indie businesses.
If you fancy visiting Cambridge, then find locally-owned places to stay at Snaptrip. You can filter by type of property you wish to book, and their exclusive discounts means you often make big savings, rather than on the big holiday booking websites. From studio annexes in surrounding village gardens to two-bedroom cosy terraced houses tucked away in historic Cambridge streets, there’s something for everyone in one of the most popular holiday destinations in England!