11 great places to enjoy nature in Cambridgeshire
- Credit: OC Gonzalez on Unsplash
Cambridgeshire is full of natural countryside, nature reserves, lakes and gardens.
With the weather slowly improving, now could well be the time to go outdoors and soak up the sunshine.
There is a wide variety of areas available to explore, across the county, in order to make good use of the rising temperatures.
To help you decide where to try, we've put together a list of great places to enjoy nature in Cambridgeshire.
1. Railworld Wildlife Haven, Peterborough
The Railworld Wildlife Haven in Peterborough began when reverend Richard Paten purchased a derelict coal yard.
The charity now has over 2,000 sq ft of "intriguing, exciting model railways" with a "landscaped haven with ponds and waterfalls".
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The volunteers who work on the area aim to create a biodiverse habitat for wildlife.
To visit, prices range from £4 for adults, to free for those under the age of one.
2. Cambridge University Botanic Garden, Cambridge
Cambridge University Botanic Garden holds over 8,000 plant species from across the globe, allowing teaching and research from the location.
It's website states that visitors can enjoy "the drama of plant diversity".
The original garden was founded in 1762, but but began planting at its current site in 1846.
Standard adult pricing stats at £6.80, but rises to £7.50 with an optional donation included.
3. Paxton Pits Nature Reserve, Little Paxton
Paxton Pits nature reserve is set in a former gravel quarry near the village of Little Paxton.
The reserve is known for its nightingales and cormorants specifically, but is also home to a variety of other birds, mammals and insects.
The area is run by volunteer group the Friends of Paxton Pits, and Huntingdonshire District Council.
A visitors centre is present in which food, drinks and bird feed can be purchased.
4. Nene Washes, Whittlesey
Nene Washes is an RSPB nature reserve, which is often flooded during the Winter.
The RSPB website describes it as "an excellent spot to watch birds of prey".
Notable species to see at the reserve include cranes, black-tailed godwits, short-eared owls, snipes and garganeys.
The site is a 15 kilometre biological site of special scientific interest.
5. Elton Hall & Gardens, Peterborough
The ancestral home of the Proby family, Elton Hall, has an award-winning garden in its grounds.
The house won 'Historic Houses Garden of the Year Judges’ Choice Award' in 2021.
The garden is the work of Meredith Proby, who has spent the past 40-years re-designing and re-planting the area.
The location is open to visitors on various dates throughout the year, which can be booked via the hall's website.
6. Pingle Wood Nature Reserve, near Ely
Pingle Wood is part of the wider Little Downham reserve, near Ely.
The wood was planted in December 1995, when 500 trees and shrubs were planted.
Since this initial event, the wood has continued to grow with other events and the natural progression of the wood itself.
One reviewer on Google, usernamed Jason Randall, wrote: "Lovely, community run nature reserve. Well kept grass paths, places to sit and relax and enjoy the fresh air.
"Popular with dog walkers, litter free, great!"
7. Hinchingbrooke Country Park, Huntingdon
Hinchingbrooke Country Park - near Huntingdon - covers 180 acres of grassland, woodland and lakes.
The park has held a Green Flag award since 2018, an award which recognises parks and green spaces internationally.
Huntingdonshire District Council's website states: "The park has a wealth of wildlife, whether you are armed with a camera or binoculars!
"All three species of British woodpecker can be seen here, along with nuthatch and marsh tit or you may be lucky enough to spot an otter or a kingfisher."
8. Wicken Fen Nature Reserve, Wicken
Wicken Fen Nature Reserve is the national trust's oldest nature reserve.
It is also described by the National Trust website as "England's most famous Fen".
A number of walks are available around the reserve, from boardwalk strolls to long nature walks.
Occasional boat trips are also available, aboard the National Trust's 'Mayfly'.
9. Kings Dyke Nature Reserve, Whittlesey
Kings Dyke Nature Reserve offers "a peaceful place to observe an abundance of wildlife" according to it's website.
The reserve also provides a fossil-hunting area, bird watching hides, nature trails, a pond-dipping area and elevated viewing areas throughout.
The site dates back to the 1920s, but it was fully restored for its current purpose in 1995.
It is now "a wonderful example of how industrial land can be transformed to benefit both wildlife and the local community".
10. Wandlebury Hill, near Cambridge
Wandlebury Hill is a hill within Wandlebury Country Park, with nature walks and bird-watching spots around it.
On a clear day, it is possible to see Ely Cathedral from the hill's summit.
The landmark is no less than 17 miles away from the hill.
The Rural Coffee Project is also present at the location, selling food and drink.
11. Holt Island, St Ives
Holt Island is a nature reserve on the Great Ouse river, predominantly occupied by wet woodland habitats.
It is open to visitors on weekends and bank holidays, but only between Easter and October.
A circular boardwalk is present throughout the island, with picnic tables, an 'interpretation centre' and seating available.
Events, such as family fun days and heritage open days, also take place at the location.