Car-free adventures nearHuntingdonCambridgeshire
Tourists often overlook the area round the market town of Huntingdon, twenty miles north east of Cambridge. Trains take just an hour from London and there are some hidden gems hiding here among the thatched villages beside the River Great Ouse. Explore them by bike and boat, on foot and using the world’s longest guided busway.
1. Visit Houghton Mill
The National Trust’s Houghton Mill is a working water mill beside the River Great Ouse. There is the 18th century mill to explore, a network of walking and cycle tracks through the nearby meadows, a simple cafe and bags of stoneground wholemeal flour for sale. It feels completely rural, but is relatively easy to get to by bus.
- Twice an hour Busway B stops outside Huntingdon railway station for the journey towards St Ives and – beyond, on the guided busway – to Cambridge.
- Get off at Mere Way and follow the map below. It’s a mile through the village to Houghton Mill, perched beside river with a popular swimming place nearby.
- If you want to get nearer to the mill, bus 45A leaves Huntingdon bus station (ten minutes signed walk from the railway) every couple of hours and stops near Houghton’s Mill Street.
- The mill often opens in the afternoon; the cafe is open all day and the surrounding area is fabulous for flat, but scenic walks – perfect for a rural day out.
- Another way to walk to the mill is to take the busway to St Ives and walk back along Thicket Lane with views across the River Ouse to Hemingford Grey.
2. Riverside walks and secret gardens
Across the river from Houghton, the idyllic villages of Hemingford Abbots and Hemingford Grey have pubs, thatched cottages and old churches to explore. The gardens of Hemingford Grey manor house, one of Britain’s oldest continually inhabited houses, are through a gate just off the riverside path and cost £5 to visit.
- To get to the manor from Houghton, cross the bridges behind the mill (see 1 above), take the path across Hemingford Meadow and turn left through Hemingford Abbots (perhaps stopping for lunch in the Axe and Compass pub). Keep going beside the river and the manor is on your right.
- Alternatively, you can walk there from St Ives, a lovely town well served by the Cambridge Busway. Just follow this National Trust walk over ancient meadows and through pretty villages. Either way is a couple of miles’ walk.