Look out for the Good Journey Mark – where car-free visitors are welcome and enjoy a discount
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 quite easy to get to by bus.
- A guided busway involves a track with concrete kerbs. Smaller guide wheels projecting from the bus’s own big wheels can connect with the kerb and run along it to steer the bus. The busway between Huntingdon and Trumpington is the longest in the world.
- Twice an hour Busway B stops outside Huntingdon railway station for the journey towards St Ives and – beyond – to Cambridge.
- Get off opposite Hartford Marina. Cross and continue along the main road for 300m before turning R along a lane towards Houghton. It’s less than 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) at 10.30am, 12 noon and 2pm. The mill often opens in the afternoon, but the cafe is open in the morning 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, 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.