Learn all about the home of the English afternoon tea and discover the historic city of Cambridge, with its magnificent universities, stunning architecture and heritage listed botanic garden on this two-day tour in the East of England.
Your tour begins at Woburn Abbey in Bedfordshire, home to the Duke of Bedford and the English afternoon tea. On arrival at Woburn Abbey you are met with a stunning historic house, set in a 3,000-acre deer park. Take time to explore the house and learn all about English history, the family’s stories and the stunning art collection including works by Rembrandt, Gainsborough and even Queen Victoria.
When you’re ready, move into the 28 acres of garden and take a stroll around the Glades, The Chinese Dairy ponds, Rockery and Pavilion and Kitchen Garden. Visit on a bank holiday weekend and get lost in the Hornbeam Maze, dating back from 1831 – but can you find your way to the Chinese Pagoda in the centre? If you’d like to hear more about the gardens and their restoration over the years, download the audio tour podcasts narrated by the estate’s garden manager.
Afternoon tea was made popular in the 1840s by Duchess Anna Maria, wife to the 7th Duke of Bedford, who entertained her friends in the Abbey – so where better to enjoy one than here? Afternoon tea is served in the Duchess’ Tea Room, located in the grounds of the Abbey. Insiders know to book in advance, or before you begin your visit to the garden.
To continue your education, set off for a one-hour drive to Cambridge along the A421 and A428, passing through some pretty local villages. Set on the river Cam, Cambridge is full of beautiful architecture, including majestic university college buildings. Learn all about Cambridge on a punt (long boat) tour of the river – cameras at the ready for one of the best views of the university colleges and surrounding architecture. If you prefer being on land, take a tour of the city by open top bus or explore on foot or by bike. Enjoy an early evening stroll down cobblestone streets and through quaint passages, leading to the historic market place and colleges. You’ll be sure to find a great place to eat in Cambridge, including some Michelin-starred restaurants.
For great places to stay in Cambridge: visitcambridge.org/accommodation
After a hearty English breakfast, get ready for your next discovery: the University Botanic Garden with over 40 acres of beautiful gardens and glasshouses. Located just south of the city centre, the garden can be accessed by the Park and Ride bus service or a short drive. Learn about plants from all over the world in this heritage listed garden. Cambridge University Botanic Garden was opened in 1846 by John Henslow, mentor to Charles Darwin and houses over 8,000 plants from around the globe, including nine national plant collections and an arboretum. The garden has been designed to be visited throughout the year; experience the scented garden, buzzing bee borders or winter garden. Step inside the glasshouse and discover huge cacti, exotic plants and even a tropical rainforest. Take a rest and perhaps lunch at the Garden Café; a table in the terrace area will provide a beautiful garden view.
Return to the city of Cambridge to learn all about King’s College Chapel, located in one of the oldest of the 31 colleges in the University of Cambridge. Explore this magnificent chapel, home to Ruben's masterpiece ‘The Adoration of the Magi’, and look up to the elaborate fan-vaulted ceiling and magnificent stained glass windows. For an experience you’ll never forget, visit during a chapel service and hear the choir in full song.
You’re spoilt for choice with the number of chapels and churches in Cambridge. Definitely worth a visit are St Bene’t’s Church, dating back to 1020, the Round Church, one of only five surviving round churches in England, and the Leper Chapel, one of the finest examples of Norman architecture. Don’t leave Cambridge without a bit of shopping: the city has a busy market every day of the week plus the Saturday All Saint’s Garden Art and Craft market.
Summer in the City, Cambridge: June – September. Visit in the summer and enjoy the city’s beautiful open spaces with a range of fun activities.
Woburn Abbey Garden Show, Woburn, Bedfordshire: end June. Come and learn all about gardening at ‘The Gardener’s Garden Show’.
Cambridge Folk Festival, near Cambridge: end July – early August. Visit one of the longest-running and most famous folk festivals in the world.
Chariots of Fire, Cambridge: September. This charity race follows in the heroic footsteps of the famous film ‘Chariots of Fire’. Teams of six runners each run a 1.7 mile / 2.7 km course in relay format following a picturesque route through historic Cambridge.
|Recommended transport||Mostly by car with some walking|
|Top travel distance||44 miles/71 km|
|Approximate travel time||1 h 20 min plus time walking|
|Nearest airport||Cambridge cambridgeairport.com |
London Stansted (30 miles/48 km from Cambridge) stanstedairport.com
|Nearest main rail station||Cambridge and Milton Keynes nationalrail.co.uk|
|Visitor information||Real-time local information realtimetravelguide.co.uk |
Cambridge Tourist Information Centre visitcambridge.org
Get a fast train to London and continue your tour of gardens with the London on foot itinerary
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