Short and relaxing paddling trips in Cambridge


Most of the time River Cam is calm and slow. This creates a great opportunity for short and relaxing paddling trips, even during the week when you have only a few hours after work. There are a few options for this within Cambridge. They include unusual sightseeing, picnics, visits in local pubs. Below I present a few ideas suitable for kayaks, canoes and SUPs.

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Rowing clubs and ‘The Backs’

  • Start: Midsummer Common
  • Endpoint: Silver St Bridge (The Mill pub)
  • Distance: 3km (one-way)
  • Time: 0.5-1h
  • Suitable for: kayak, canoe, SUP
  • Portages: yes – one (Jesus Lock)
  • What to do: sightseeing from the river, picnic on the Jesus Green, visit in one of the pubs on either side of the route

First part of this trip leads along Midsummer Common and Jesus Green (on the left side). From Midsummer Common paddle in upriver direction, towards the city centre. On the right side you should see rowing clubs. Most of the time you will also observe boats and rowers on the river.

Next, you will row through ‘The Backs’, which are backs of the colleges located in the very centre of the city. You will have opportunity to look at them from unusual perspective – the views are stunning, especially when the weather and the light are good.

One thing to consider when planning this trip is the right time. Keep in mind that the river on ‘The Backs’ is full of punts during tourist season. It is better to go for this trip in the morning or in the evening.

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Grantchester Meadows

  • Start: Midsummer Common
  • Endpoint: Grantchester Meadows
  • Distance: 5km (one-way)
  • Time: 1-2h
  • Suitable for: kayak, canoe, SUP
  • Portages: yes – two (Jesus Lock and by the Silver Street)
  • What to do: sightseeing from the river, picnic on the Grantchester Meadows, visit in one of the pubs on either side of the route

First part of the trip leads as described above (‘Rowing clubs and ‘The Backs‘). When you get to the Silver St and The Mill pub you will need to use the portage to get the upper part of the river. You can also shorten the trip and start from this place. Next, you need to paddle through Sheep’s Green, Coe Fen and along Paradise Local Nature Reserve, leaving the city behind and reaching wilder part of the river. In next 15 minutes you will get to the Grantchester Meadows. Grantchester Meadows are quite long (around 2km along the river). It is worth to paddle a little bit more to pick up best spot for a picnic.

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Ditton Meadows

  • Start: Midsummer Common
  • Endpoint: Ditton Meadows
  • Distance: 3km (one-way)
  • Time: 0.5-1h
  • Suitable for: kayak, canoe, SUP
  • Portages: no
  • What to do: picnic on the Ditton Meadows, visit in a pub by the Green Dragon Bridge

The trip starts at the Midsummer Common. This time you need to paddle down the river along Riverside street. Leaving behind rowing clubs, Cambridge Museum of Technology and Logan’s Meadow LNR, you will kayak under the Green Dragon Bridge and along the Stourbridge Common. Stourbridge Common ends with railway and foot/cycle bridges. Paddle under these bridges and you will get to the Ditton Meadows.


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Categories:Kayak, Short trip, Trips, Wetland

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