If you have decided to escape from London and go to Cambridge, maybe it is because you need to slow down a little bit the pace of your trip around England. If that’s the case, I’m telling you, you’ve picked the right place. This university city is a stop on the way and its municipal park the Backs, the ideal space to breathe and enjoy the vegetation next to the spectacular buildings of the most prestigious colleges.
Are you coming for a walk?
The Backs, what exactly are they?
The Backs, as its name suggests, refers to the back of the universities that meet by the river Cam. In particular, this park runs through the buildings of St John’s, Trinity, Trinity Hall, Clare, King’s and Queen’s colleges.
The back of Trinity College, Fellow’s garden
Located east of Queen’s Road, what was once a grazing area is now considered a Grade 1 Historic Park, a distinction awarded by English Heritage and which in 1995 earned The Backs entry into the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England.
Walking around the areaThe River Cam
Visit on the River Cam
You can visit the area by taking a walk or also by accessing it from one of the schools, but for this option you have to pay. Better still, if you don’t mind investing a few pounds and you’re the “boat he sees, boat he wants to get on” type, you can sail down the river on the punts, gondola-type barges, often driven by students looking for a small income.
Punts sailing on the river CamTypical Cambridge print
Punting tours are very popular, if you do one you will pass under the most famous bridges of the city, honoring the name of the city. The price depends on whether you book the whole boat for your group or share it with other travellers. Calculate around 20 pounds per person to get an idea.
Touring The Backs
If you start from the back of St John’s College, you’ll cross under the Bridge of Sighs. It connects two buildings of St John’s University and is one of the most photogenic in the park.
Bridge of Sighs
Along the route you will also find the famous mathematical bridge, which connects the old part of Queen’s College with the more modern area and owes its name to its structure. Although some stories tell that it was built by Isaac Newton without using a single screw, the truth is that this famous student of Trinity College died years before its construction. Actually, its mathematical design is due to William Etheridge and it was built by James Essex in 1749.
You won’t be able to cross all the bridges because some are privately owned by the universities, but you will be able to walk over the Silver Street Bridge, which is next to the Mathematical Bridge, as well as over the Magdalene Bridge and the Garret Bridge Hostel, which are publicly accessible.
Garret Hostel BridgeTourists on one of the bridges
In addition to these and other bridges, don’t miss out on the architecture of some of the great buildings. For example, King’s College, whose view from behind is one of the most recognizable in the old postcards and the new selfies.
King’s CollegeBuildings from the backsViews from the backs
Once the walk is over, go back to the front and keep walking until you find a pub to celebrate the visit. Cheers!