Punting in Autumn

Canal boating in Cambridge

7 facts you didn’t know about Cambridge


Cambridge is perhaps best known for being a university city. It lies in East Anglia, on the River Cam, about 50 miles north of London.

Visit England - Iain Lewis

Visit England – Iain Lewis

1. Punting along the River Cam in Cambridge is famous. However did you know that you can cruise from our Black Prince canal boat base at Ely along the Ouse, to Wicken Fen – a stunning wetland nature reserve – then down the beautiful River Cam towards the city of Cambridge.   A different way to enjoy the river!

Cambridge 2. Cambridge isn’t a huge city – in fact it’s a fairly small, pretty old town that you can easily walk around in a day. It escaped damage in the Second World War, unlike many other towns in England, so it still has many beautiful old buildings in narrow, medieval streets.

Visit England - Iain Lewis

Visit England – Iain Lewis

3. The University of Cambridge, founded in 1209 is now ranked one of the top five universities in the world.  The university includes the renowned Cavendish Laboratory, King’s College Chapel, and the Cambridge University Library.

4. Cambridge was important long before the University existed, due its perfect location of fording the River Cam between dense forests and marshy fens.   In the first century BC an Iron Age Belgic tribe built a settlement on what is now Castle Hill. Around AD40 the Romans took over the site and it became the crossing point for the Via Devana which linked Colchester with the legions in Lincoln and beyond.

The Saxons followed, then the Normans under William the Conqueror, who raised a castle on a steep mound deep in the Fens at Ely. The motte (or remaining mound) of William’s castle still stands and Ely Cathedral is visible from the top on a clear day.

5. Today, Cambridge is at the heart of the high-technology centre known as Silicon Fen – a play on Silicon Valley and the fens surrounding the city. Its economic strengths lie in industries such as software and bioscience, many start-up companies having been spun out of the university.

Parker's Piece

Parker’s Piece

6. Parker’s Piece hosted the first ever game of association football.  This green space is a 25-acre flat and roughly square green common located near the centre of Cambridge and is now regarded as the birthplace of the rules of Association Football.

Visit England Iain Lewis

Visit England Iain Lewis

7. Cambridge has provided a stunning backdrop to many films and TV series, most recently for the film ‘The Theory of Everything’.  This romantic biopic is based on the life of world famous astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, who famously studied at Cambridge University.  The film has been such a success that it has won two Golden Globe awards, one Oscar and ten BAFTA nominations.


You can enjoy a narrowboat trip to Cambridge from our Ely base in Cambridgeshire; find out more about Ely here.

2 replies
  1. Louise Twentyman
    Louise Twentyman says:

    Can you tell me if two people on a narrowboat can manage the manual locks by themselves? By this I mean one person steering the boat, and only one person operating the locks. Are any of the locks from the base in Ely electrically opened/closed?

    Much appreciated.

    Louise and David Twentyman
    Garden Bay, BC


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