Lesser Known Cambridge: Charm, Chocolate and Chaos

August 19, 2016

Cambridge isn't just a University town. Oozing rich history, quirky tradition, striking architecture and leafy green parks, it's perfect for a weekend away. Read on for Ranjit Shergill's round-up of interesting things to do and see in this picturesque city.

Think Cambridge and immediately it resonates with the prestigious Cambridge University and the Oxford-Cambridge annual boat race. However, there's more to this quaint town than academic boffins. Ranjit Shergill explores other hotspots and events less synonymous with the picturesque town of Cambridge. 

1. Charming Gardens

The Botanical Gardens in Cambridge, England

If you're arriving into Cambridge by train, the 40 acre Botanic Gardens is just a short walk away. Within the confines of the garden’s glasshouse you'll get an educational guide of the varying species of plants and the features that help them survive in all conditions.The glasshouse creates the feeling of a crowded sauna with soaring temperatures, but breathe in the fresh scent of nature and you'll forget about the clammy forehead. Once you've covered sufficient blades of grass and admired the fountains, you'll arrive at the Garden Cafe where you can delve into a chocolate cake or sip locally brewed tea. Those seeking a tipple or two will be lured by The Flying Pig pub and if in any doubt as to what they might serve, the entrance sign that says ‘here beer here’ sells itself. You can enjoy live music or get involved in the social beehive in the beer garden, while sipping your pint. 

2. Chocolate Heaven

Handmade chocolate

If you have a sweet tooth (or a whole mouthful) Cambridge is home to the Chocolat Chocolat shop where you'll stuff yourself sampling the plethora of luxury chocolates. Whilst it doesn't boast the long and illustrious history of the town’s other places of interest, the shop and its range of luxury chocolate are steeped in traditions of the journeyed chocolatier. The owners are seriously generous allowing you to sample the chocolates and there are no complaints if you ask for seconds. Bonus. It sure lives up to its grand title of 'Cambridge's favourite chocolate shop', as voted for by the locals. The ingredients used in their traditional sheet chocolate represent a range of nationalities, from Turkish hazelnut to French sea salt. If you fall in love with any of their unique chocolate creations, you can buy directly from their website for special occasions, or just, you know, when you feel like it.

3. Chaos on the Roads

Runners in a marathon

Once a year, Cambridge becomes the place to be for adrenaline junkies who are up for racing next to chasing cars. The Wings for Life run starts at Parker's Piece, where the spine-tingling atmosphere isn't quite in keeping with the town’s usual peace and quiet. Once the 'Catcher' car passes the runners, it's game over for them. As such everyone will eventually be eliminated as human capability takes its toll. Along the course, locals have their water sprinklers to hand, ready to provide runners with a much-needed spritz. The suspense grows as runners nervously look over their shoulder wondering when the dreaded car is chasing their tail while some spectators try to call their bluff by yelling ‘the car is coming’. The gritty participants, gruelling temperatures and a fun-fest park equates to organised chaos. Once the race is over, a complementary beer awaits and it's not unusual for runners to gulp it down faster than water. We call that a successful day out. 

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Ranjit Shergill Ranjit works as a Sports Trading Analyst and is addicted to travelling, combining exciting adventures with humbling life experiences. In recent times, Ranjit has embraced cultural hotspots while travelling to Latin America and Southeast Asia.