Flowing through the heart of Cambridge, the River Cam is not only the city’s lifeline, but one of its most captivating natural landmarks. The most visited section of the river runs between Bishops Mill and Jesus Lock, lined by the grand buildings of Cambridge University and aptly nicknamed ‘The Backs’ as it’s framed by the ‘backs’ of eight colleges. Following the river along this stretch affords impressive views of King’s College, the Wren Library at Trinity College and landmarks like the Bridge of Sighs and the Mathematical Bridge.
For visitors to Cambridge, the quintessential local activity is punting along the River Cam – a chauffeured cruise in a flat-bottomed boat or ‘punt’, propelled along by a 5-meter-long pole. A romantic, slow-paced punting tour is ideal for sightseeing as you’ll float downstream with plenty of time to snap photos and admire the riverside landmarks.
The River Cam is also a popular recreational ground, with university rowing teams using it to practice for the prestigious Oxford-Cambridge boat race (held along the River Thames in London each spring). Walkways run along parts of the river and many pubs and restaurants offer riverside views, while the grassy banks make an idyllic picnic spot during the summer months.
The River Cam runs for around 14 miles (23km) from Ashwell in Hertfordshire and through central Cambridge until it meets the River Ouse.