It was difficult choosing which run route should be my first Cambridge-related post on this website, but I went out this morning and did this route, and it was an absolute winner. This was probably my favourite regular run route as a student, as I tried to visit Grantchester Meadows at least once a week. ​
“Happy” at the 5km mark
In the summer I like to go right to the end of the path (popping out behind a pub, and in front of a little church), and then loop back going along the path by the river. This path is extremely damp at the best of times, so expect mud, but is extremely pretty. This whole route is very popular with walkers/runners, but it’s big enough that it never feels busy or congested.
If you want a slightly longer route, you can turn left when you reach the church, and follow the road down (for about 2km) until you see a sign for Byron’s Pool. If you cross the road, and head into the little nature reserve on your right the path takes you out to a little weir in the river, which Lord Byron used to frequent during his Cambridge days. It’s an excellent spot for swimming, as is much of the river in Grantchester (as it’s upstream of the town, so significantly cleaner than the stretch the rowers use!).
Grantchester is undoubtedly one of my favourite spots in Cambridge, as it is a welcome change from the claustrophobia of the city centre. Particularly if you visit at weekends the centre is usually  packed with tourists, and Grantchester is wonderful place to escape too (without having to go particularly far). Unusually, it is the kind of place that is equally beautiful with grey skies and mist, as on a clear, sunny day. It was foggy and particularly dark when I stepped out this morning, so I knew Grantchester was the best place to run for striking views.

The best part of Grantchester, however, is its history. It was home to the poet Rupert Brooke, who lived in the Old Vicarage (now home to Mary Archer, the acclaimed scientist, and her husband, the novelist, Jeffrey Archer), and there is a fantastic restaurant (called the Rupert Brooke) not far from the meadows, which I highly recommend. The meadows were frequented by Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes, who met whilst studying at the University, and are the setting for Hughes’s poem Chaucer:

‘Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote…’
At the top of your voice, where you swayed on the top of a stile,
Your arms raised – somewhat for balance, somewhat
To hold the reins of the straining attention
Of your imagined audience – you declaimed Chaucer
To a field of cows. And the Spring sky had done it
With its flying laundry, and the new emerald
Of the thorns, the hawthorn, the blackthorn,
And one of those bumpers of champagne
You snatched unpredictably from pure spirit.
Your voice went over the fields towards Granchester.
It must have sounded lost. But the cows
Watched, then approached: they appreciated Chaucer.
You went on and on. Here were reasons
To recite Chaucer. Then came the Wyf of Bath,
Your favourite character in all literature.

You were rapt. And the cows were enthralled.
(the rest of the poem can be found here)

So if you are in Cambridge (whether you live there, study there, or are just visiting), it is well worth having a go at this route. Any time of the year, this place is sure to make you smile. If the views alone aren’t enough for you, have a go at shouting Chaucer quotations at passing livestock, I guarantee that should do the trick.
Finishing outside the beautiful St John’s College in the mist.

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