River Walks in Cambridge

Jul 13, 2022
River Walks in Cambridge
World-renowned for its top-class university, Cambridge is a real gem. Its romantic charm is enhanced by the River Cam passing through the centre and the majestic architecture. But Cambridgeshire isn’t only famous for its county town. 

Whether you’re travelling from neighbouring Hertfordshire, or from the South West of England, you’ll find scenic river walks here, some owned by the National Trust. Read on as we give you our top picks for the best waterway trails. 

Historic river walks

Fancy learning a thing or two about Cambridge’s history while taking in its beauty from a different perspective? Look no further. Here are three of the best historic waterway trails not to be missed.

Cambridge City Circular

Difficulty: Low

Terrain: Flat for the most part, but expect a steady hill at the start

Length: 3.4 miles (6.4 km)

Time: Approximately 2h


With over 800 years of history, the university city of Cambridge is all to discover. Home to some of the most notable figures, such as Stephen Hawkings, Charles Darwin and Lord Byron, Cambridge boasts superb architecture. Pay a visit to the spectacular King’s College Chapel, get lost in The Backs and wander around Parker’s Piece.


Houghton Mill to St Ives and the Hemingfords

Difficulty: Low

Terrain: Flat. Footpaths, lanes and fields on the way back

Length: 5.7 miles (9.2 km)

Time: Approximately 2h 5 minutes


Picturesque cottages, flower meadows and riverside pathways – this scenic trail has it all. Stop at Norris Museum to learn about St Ives’ and the Great Ouse Valley. Walk along the Waits by the waterside and visit the Parish Church in Hemingfords. You can also bring your furry friend along and explore the Hot Island Nature Reserve and the Victoria’s Memorial.


Ely Cathedral

Difficulty: Low

Terrain: Mixture of pavements and stone park paths

Length: 3.3 miles (5.3 km)

Time: Approximately 1h 15 minutes


Famous for its magnificent 11th-century cathedral, Ely is a charming city in East Cambridgeshire. This circular riverside walk will take you around Ely’s surrounding countryside, from its market square to Rowsell nature reserve. Learn all about Oliver Cromwell’s residence, pay a visit to the UK’s only stained glass museum and enjoy a picnic in Jubilee’s Gardens, a Green Flag-awarded site.


Nature river walks

If you love being immersed in nature, you’ll enjoy these riverside walks. Be ready to spot rare local wildlife and get lost in the beautiful Cambridge scenery.

Anglesey Abbey and Quy Fen Circular

Difficulty: Low

Terrain: Footpaths and bridleways

Length: 3.6 miles (5.8 km)

Time: Approximately 1h 20 minutes


This gentle loop around the picturesque Cambridgeshire countryside follows the river down to Anglesey Abbey – the remains of an Augustine priory. Today, the abbey is owned by the National Trust and is worth a visit. Head alongside Quy Water, towards Stow-cum-Quy and explore the local wildlife.

Wicken Fen

Difficulty: Low

Terrain: Recycled plastic boards. Ideal for differently-abled visitors

Length: 0.7 miles (1.1 km)

Time: Approximately 50 minutes


Owned by the National Trust, this short walk will take you around Wicken’s Sedge Fen – one of the few remaining undrained areas of East England fenland. Follow the waterway and you’ll stumble upon rare wildlife. Look out for hen harriers, owls and wigeon ducks. And if you’re lucky, you might get to see the starlings’ murmuration.

Fore Lodes

Difficulty: Moderate

Terrain: A mixture of made up and grass footpaths. It can get wet and muddy

Length: 4 miles (6.4 km)

Time: Approximately 1h 30 minutes


This National Trust-owned waterway trail will take you around Cambridgeshire’s four lodes – Monks Lode, Burwell Lode, Reach Lode and Wicken Lode – each with its own distinctive character. Keep your eyes peeled for Konik ponies, Highland cattle and harriers.