Walks index

Greens, Commons and Pieces


This is not so much a walk, as places that you might like to walk. Cambridge has many green areas and I couldn't cover them all. I have tried to cover the best known, and some of my favourites. I haven't covered any nature reserves, or the normal 'Recs', or the open areas outside the city, or anywhere you need to pay to enter. Here are some external links which cover those:

Parks and playgrounds from Cambridge City Council
Cambridge Nature Reserves
Cambridge Botanic Garden - paid admission
Wandlebury near the Gog Magogs
Milton Country Park
American Cemetery

In the map below, there is a scale. 200 metres is similar to 200 yards and and a kilometre is about half a mile. The commons described on this page have red names. Click on these, or on the links below, for descriptions and pictures.

Commons Greens Pieces Other
Stourbridge Common
Midsummer Common
Donkeys Common
Coldhams Common
Jesus Green
Queens Green
Laundress Green
Sheeps Green
Christs Pieces
Parkers Piece
St Matthews Piece
All Saints Garden
The Backs
Coe Fen
Lammas Land
Mill Road Cemetery
Petersfield
New Square
Stourbridge Common Midsummer Common Jesus Green The Backs Queens Green Laundress Green Sheeps Green Coe Fen Lammas Land All Saints Garden Christs Pieces New Square Parkers Piece Donkeys Common Petersfield Mill Road Cemetery St Matthews Piece Coldhams Common

Map of Greens, Commons and Pieces in Cambridge

Click on the photos for a bigger version.


Stourbridge Common

Stourbridge Common

Stourbridge Common stretches along the southern bank of the River Cam, to the east of Cambridge. You can enter it from Riverside, Garlic Row, or the Green Dragon footbridge. There are also footbridges over the railway line to Ditton Meadows, the next common along (not covered in this website).

Stourbridge Common usually has grazing animals, often cows. It feels like countryside, with rough grass, some trees, thistles, and cowpats! So it's probably best to keep to the paths. There is an attractive walk along the river, and another walk to Fen Ditton. From Stourbridge Common, you can also cross the Green Dragon bridge, turn right and walk until you rejoin the river, walking along the other river bank with views of Stourbridge Common across the river.

There is a children's playground near Riverside.

There is a stream called Coldham's Brook which runs through Stourbridge Common, but it was never called the Stour (which might have explained the name of the Common). Another explanation is Steer Bridge, i.e. a bridge for oxen.

Stourbridge Common is part of the first river walk, which describes it more fully.

Midsummer Common

Midsummer Common stretches along the southern bank of the River Cam, near the centre of Cambridge. You can enter it from Riverside, Walnut Tree Avenue (near the Elizabeth Way Bridge), Auckland Road, Parsonage Street, Maid's Causeway (near Fair Street) and Victoria Avenue, or cross the river by the Cutter Ferry bridge or the Fort St George bridge.

Midsummer Common is rough grass with trees round the edge. You can walk anywhere on it. It occasionally has grazing cows, but they are removed for the events which happen on the common, such as Midsummer Fair (which gives the common its name), the city firework display on Bonfire Night, Strawberry Fair, and other fairs and events during the year. People enjoy walking along the river. It is a large, fairly empty space of grass, where you can fly kites or even toboggan down the very gentle slope of one of the few grass hills within the city!

There is a toilet near Victoria Avenue which is rather a striking building and has won awards. Click here for more information.

Midsummer Common is part of the second river walk, which describes it more fully.

Midsummer Common

Jesus Green

Jesus Green

Jesus Green is next to Midsummer Common, along the southern bank of the River Cam, near the centre of Cambridge. You can enter it from Victoria Avenue, Park Parade and Richmond Terrace (along the river) or cross the river by the Jesus Lock bridge. It has been called Jesus Green or Common (after the college) for centuries but it was joined to Midsummer Common until the building of Victoria Avenue in 1890.

Jesus Green is mown grass, with some trees, including a beautiful avenue of London planes (see left). You can walk anywhere on it. The main event is CAMRA's beer festival in May, although there are other events, including music in the summer. There is a skateboard park, a children's playground and a refreshment kiosk, as well as informal sports. There is also Jesus Green outdoor pool, open in the summer, which is 100 yards long. However Jesus Green is a large area, and there is always somewhere quiet just to sit and enjoy the sun, or the river.

Jesus Green is part of the second river walk, which describes it more fully.

The Backs

Strictly speaking, the Backs is the backs of the river colleges, their land stretching down to the river, and beyond. This land has limited public accesses. Some colleges charge for entry, all colleges forbid any public entry during the exam season, and there may be other limitations, such as during May Balls. Also, you cannot walk along the Backs, as there is no path leading from one college to the next. However, there is a strip of land between Queens Road and the Backs, parallel to the river but not next to it, where anyone may walk at any time. You can see glimpses of colleges through the trees, and there is an excellent view of Kings College Chapel (indeed, Cambridge people call it the standard view, as we see it so often!) You can get to this area from Queens Road, or by crossing the river by Garret Hostel Bridge.

This area is wooded. There are crocuses in spring. It is an attractive walk, despite being quite close to the busy Queens Road, and is used by Cambridge residents to show off the city to their visitors. You get a better view of the colleges from a punt on the river, or by paying to enter them, but this is a way to do it for free!

This area is part of the third river walk, which describes it more fully.

The Backs

Queens Green

Queens Green

Queens Green lies between Queens College and Queens Road, so it could hardly be called anything else. (In fact, Queens Road is not called after Queens College - different queen!) You reach Queens Green from Queens Road or Silver Street.

Queens Green is a fairly nondescript piece of grass, mostly used as a pleasant short-cut. However, along one side runs one of the many drainage ditches that surround the colleges, with wild plants and ducks. There is an attractive 3D map of Cambridge here - click here for a photo.

Queens Green is part of the third river walk, which describes it more fully.

Laundress Green

Laundress Green can be seen looking south from Silver Street Bridge. College washerwomen used to use the green for washing and drying, hence its name. It is a small island. You get to it crossing the sluice at the end of Mill Lane, or along the river from Sheeps Green. There are several small waterways in this part of the river. Some were mill races, to feed water mills. Others are drainage ditches.

This area has some trees. It is popular as a place to laze and enjoy the sun, as it is close to town, yet fairly wild looking. It is also the start of a walk along the riverbank.

This area is part of the fourth river walk, which describes it more fully.

Laundress Green

Sheeps Green

Sheeps Green

Sheeps Green is quite a long strip of land lying between two branches of the river (which makes it an island) to the south of Cambridge. It is on the west bank of the main river channel. There are two footbridges to it from Coe Fen, and you can get to it from Laundress Green, and Lammas Land. Fen Causeway cuts through it, and you can get to it from that road. This name comes from the fact that sheep used to graze here.

Although it is called a green, it is really a fen, with trees, rough grass and grazing cows. There are drainage ditches across it, and it is marshy in wet weather, so best to keep to the paths. But it makes a pleasant walk, as it feels remote despite being so close to the centre of Cambridge.

Sheeps Green is part of the fourth river walk, which describes it more fully.

Coe Fen

Coe Fen is on the other side of the river from Sheep Green, on the east bank. It is not an island, although there is a drainage ditch running its length. It can be reached from Sheeps Green via the footbridges. You can also get there from Fen Causeway, and from Granta Place (which bends round from Mill Lane, and is connecte to Little St Marys Lane). There is a footpath from Trumpington Road, which starts the opposite side of the road to the Botanic Gardens and goes to Coe Fen. There are often grazing cows here.

This is more open than Sheeps Green. The only footpath runs alongside a wall, and the drainage ditch along the fen stops you from wandering anywhere. Still, there is a pleasant circular walk along Sheeps Green, then back along Coe Fen.

Coe Fen is part of the fourth river walk, which describes it more fully.

Coe Fen

Lammas Land

Lammas Land

Lammas Land is next to Sheeps Green. It is on the corner of Fen Causeway and Newnham Road, and you can reach it from any of these.

Lammas Land is a town park, and popular with children as it has a small outdoor paddling pool, as well as a children's playground. There is a carpark next to it, and a refreshment kiosk, and toilets as well.

Lammas Land is part of the fourth river walk, which describes it more fully.

All Saints Garden

You can reach All Saints Garden from Trinity Street, or via All Saints Passage. The church of All Saints in the Jewry which gave the garden its name was demolished in 1865. The cross in the photo marks where it was. You can reach All Saints Garden from Trinity Street.

All Saints Garden is small, and does't have much growing in it, although there are a few trees. It is a quiet place to sit. It is useful for taking pictures of St Johns gatehouse across the road, since the road is quite narrow at this point, and it's a big gatehouse! All Saints Garden is mostly known as the location for the Cambridge Art and Craft Market, every Saturday and more often in summer and leading up to Christmas - see their website.

All Saints Garden

Christs Pieces

Christs Pieces is right by the bus station, close to Christs College. It is used as a pleasant way to walk from the city centre to the Grafton Centre, and Fitzroy St and Burleigh St. 'Piece' means a piece of land, and is used of several green areas in Cambridge. You can get here from Emmanuel Road, Kings Street (down some passage ways) and the new Christs Lane.

Christs Pieces

Christs Pieces

Christs Pieces is the most formal public garden in the city, with beds of flowers, closely mown grass and paths lined with avenues of mature trees. Click here for photos of Christs Pieces throughout the year (much better than mine!)

This shows the Diana Memorial Garden, with the children's playground behind. The spire of All Saints in Jesus Lane provides the backdrop. There are tennis courts as well, next to the playground, and a bowling green at the other end of the Piece.

Christs Pieces

Christs Pieces

Christs Pieces attracts plenty of people sitting on the benches or on the grass, taking time out from shopping or waiting for a bus. But it is quite large, so you can usually find a quiet spot for yourself.

New Square

New Square is mostly used as a pleasant walk from city centre shopping to Grafton Centre shopping, and parking, hence all the shopping bags! Sometimes people sit out on the grass. This area used to be a carpark itself so perhaps people aren't used to it being a park. And of course, the beautiful Christs Pieces is close by.

New Square

New Square

New Square is on the other side of Emmanuel Road from Christs Pieces. The famous rising bollards stop cars, but let buses and taxis through. If a car tries to follow a bus when the bollard is down, it will rise up under the car, and badly damage it. You have been warned!

Parkers Piece

Parkers Piece is a popular open patch of grass to the south of the city centre, between Park Terrace, Parkside and Gonville Place. You can reach it from any of these roads, or from Regent Street. It is called after Edward Parker, a cook at Trinity College, who was granted the lease in 1587. At first sight, it may seem odd that it's so popular, being just open grass, surrounded by trees. One reason is that it is a popular meeting place.

Parkers Piece

Parkers Piece

Parkers Piece has had a long association with sport. A local school uses it as its sports field. Cricket is often played here, by a building called Hobbs Pavilion (which is now a restaurant). A plaque describes who Jack Hobbs was. Also, the rules for Association Football (soccer) were first devised on Parkers Piece. At the time, there were different rules for football all over the country, so the Cambridge students had to work out one set of rules that they would all follow.

Parkers Piece has always felt like part of the city rather than the university. In the middle, there is a splendid lamp called Reality Checkpoint, with dolphins round it. In this photo, you can also see the corner of the University Arms, a hotel with green roofed turrets, which dominates Parkers Piece.

Parkers Piece

Parkers Piece

Parkers Piece has many events happening on it, apart from the sport. In the summer, the Big Weekend has 3 days of music, with stalls and fairground rides. In the photos below, you can see the Roman Catholic Church. This is on the corner of Lensfield Road and Hills Road, and is one of the important building seen from Parkers Piece. Other buildings include the modern fire station and police station, and the swimming pool on Donkeys Common. There is also a kiosk which supplies refreshments, and also has toilets - an award-winning building!

Parkers Piece

Parkers Piece

Donkeys Common

Donkeys Common

This was originally a piece of common land near Parkers Piece. Part of it got made into Petersfield. Part of it got built on, including the swimming pool. But some grass and trees were left round the swimming pool. Since the pool has a glass wall, you can almost imagine that you are swimming outside. A skateboard and bike park has been built on this grass, so it has become a meeting place for young people.

The pool has an attractive curved roof, like a wave.

You can reach this via Mill Road or Gonville Place. People tend to use it as a short-cut. The pedestrian crossing across Gonville Place for the junction with Mill Road, or to get to Parkers Piece, is actually further along Gonville Place, so you reach it by crossing Donkeys Common.

Petersfield

Petersfield is also close to Parkers Piece, on the corner of Mill Road and East Road, and you reach it via those roads. This means that a busy road junction has grass on three corners (and a fire station on the fourth!) There is also an entry to Petersfield from Bradmore Court, but this is only likely to be of interest to people from Anglia Ruskin University. Petersfield has lovely trees. It is small, but attractive, and people both walk through it and sit on the grass. It also has a small children's playground. At one point, this area was owned by Sir Peter Burrell (or Lord Gwydir) and Petersfield may be named after him.

Petersfield

Petersfield

In the middle of Petersfield there is a lamp which used to be a gaslamp. It was very attractive glimpsed through the trees. Anyone who has read the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C S Lewis might be interested to know that C S Lewis, although an Oxford man, did spend some time at Cambridge. I've always wondered if he ever walked across Petersfield!

Mill Road Cemetery

It may seem strange to include a cemetery here. Mill Road cemetery is no longer in use. There are plenty of trees, and some of the cemetery is managed to encourage wildlife.

The cemetery lies between Mill Road and Norfolk Street. The main entrance is in Mill Road, opposite Covent Garden, with a side entrance from the corner of Mackenzie Road and Collier Road. There is an alleyway which leads to Norfolk Street at the other end of the cemetery, and a side gate leading through the Gwydir Enterprise Centre off Gwydir Street (near the bollards). Plenty of people enjoy walking through the cemetery as a pleasant short-cut.

There is an interesting grave of a coach driver. There is also a tap and bowl if your dog is thirsty. The old custodian's house is made of flint.

Mill Road Cemetery has its own website.

Mill Road Cemetery

St Matthews Piece

St Matthews Piece

This is the third Piece in Cambridge (although Christs Pieces is plural, of course), the smallest and least known. It is named after the local church. People walk through, and sit down on the benches. There is a children's playground and a basket ball hoop. Best of all, there are mature trees for shade and interest.

You can reach this area from Sturton Street or York Street, or a small road called Abbey Walk.

Coldhams Common

Coldham's Common is large. It has quite a complex range of uses, so I have provided a map showing some of them, and the relationship of Coldham's Common to its surroundings, including other green areas. The Cambridge Cemetery, by the way, is the current cemetery, unlike the Mill Road cemetery. Click on the red names for descriptions and photos. There is a scale on the map - 100 metres is similar to 100 yards and 400 metres is about a quarter of a mile.

Leper Chapel Football Stadium Abbey Swimming Pool BMX park Sports fields Rail underpass Woodland walk Rail bridge Wild flowers Playground Blackberries Rifle Butts

Map of Coldham's Common and surrounds

You can reach Coldhams Common from Coldhams Lane, Newmarket Road (over the railway bridge), Barnwell Road and from the Whitehill estate, in particular, past Abbey swimming pool, which has a car park. But this description starts at the Coldhams Lane entrance.

Part of Coldhams Common is cut off from the rest by the railway line. This part lies along Coldham's Lane. It is rough grass, with trees round the edge. Take the path to the underpass, which is one way to cross the railway line. Walk through the underpass. You now have a choice of paths, and there is a helpful sign which tells you where to go.

Coldhams Common Coldhams Common underpass Coldhams Common sign

If you choose the path to Abbey, Chesterton and Kings Hedges, you will end up on the Newmarket Road. This is a pleasant walk across the common, with interesting areas to look down and explore, and a little stream running alongside the path.

Coldhams Common Coldhams Common Coldhams Common

Cows may come up to say hello. Near Newmarket Road, the Cambridge United football stadium starts to dominate, suggesting that the common might not be so quiet on match day! But you can glimpse the Norman Leper Chapel through the trees, across Newmarket Road, hinting at a little of the history of this ancient common.

Cows on Coldhams Common Cambridge United Football Stadium, seen from Coldhams Common Glimpse of Leper Chapel

From the underpass, the other path leads to Abbey swimming pool.

Coldhams Common path to Abbey swimming pool Abbey swimming pool

Close to Abbey pool, we get more uses of Coldhams Common:

BMX park
BMX park on Coldhams Common
Sport fields
Sport fields on Coldhams Common

You can walk round the sport fields, if you want, but there is another way. Go to the Abbey pool, and through the first carpark. At the end of the carpark there is a beaten earth track (marked on the map above) which is a secret woodland walk. The 'wood' is only a few trees thick, and you can often glimpse the sports fields on one side and houses on the other, but it shows another side to Coldhams Common.

Coldhams Common woodland walk Coldhams Common woodland walk

When you come out on to the open common again, it is rough grass, with trees, a little stream, interesting paths to discover and walk down.

Coldhams Common Coldhams Common Coldhams Common

Halfway down the east side of the common, there is an exit to Branwell Road. Just by there is a hummock called the Rifle Butts. It is a scramble to get to the top of this, but there is a good view over the common and beyond.

Path to Rifle Butts on Coldhams Common Rifle Butts on Coldhams Common View from Rifle Butts on Coldhams Common

Carry on walking round the edge of the common. There are wild flowers in some areas and blackberries in others.

Coldhams Common Flowers on Coldhams Common Blackberries on Coldhams Common

Eventually you will find yourself back on the sports fields where you discover the railway bridge. This is the other way across the railway line, and takes you back to the Coldhams Lane part of the common. As you leave the common, you can see a playground ahead, and to the left. It has the usual swings and slides, plus a basket ball court and activities for older children.

Coldhams Common railway bridge Coldhams Common Playground on Coldhams Common