Shelford to Cambridge walk

Granchester, the River Cam and the Cambridge colleges.


This is a list of previous times this walk has been done by the club (since Jan 2010). For more recent events (since April 2015), full details are shown.

Date Option Post # Weather
Sat, 15-Jan-22 Saturday Walk Shelford to Cambridge - the Rupert Brooke Walk: Haslingfield, The Orchard (cafe) in Grantchester, the River Cam, and Cambridge Colleges 8 foggy to start with then overcast with glimpse of late afternoon sunshine
Wed, 09-Oct-19 Wednesday walk Shelford to Cambridge - Grantchester - the Rupert Brooke walk, plus Cambridge Colleges 5 sunny with a strong breeze
Tue, 04-Jul-17 Grantchester and Cambridge - the Rupert Brooke Walk 2 warm overcast and humid in the morning sunny and hot in the afternoon
Sat, 16-Jul-16 Saturday Third Walk - Book 1 Walk 26 Shelford to Cambridge 8 warm and humid
Sat, 29-Jun-13 ? Shelford to Cambridge, via Rectory Farm 0
Sat, 26-May-12 Shelford to Cambridge
Sat, 25-Jun-11 Shelford to Cambridge
Sat, 26-Jun-10 Shelford to Cambridge
Sat, 27-Jun-09 ? Shelford to Cambridge
Sat, 27-Sep-08 Shelford to Cambridge
Sun, 19-Aug-07 ? Shelford to Cambridge
Sat, 30-Jun-07 ? Shelford to Cambridge
Book 1, Walk 26 - Shelford to Cambridge

Length: 23.5 km (14.6 miles) Under 12 miles without college tour
Toughness: 5 out of 10 But no steep hills today
London Kings Cross: 09-12 hrs Great Northern service to Ely
Arrive Cambridge: 10-03 hrs Change trains
Leave Cambridge: 10-20 hrs Greater Anglia service to Audley End
Arrive Shelford: 10-26 hrs
Cambridge to Kings Cross: Great Northern fast service at 13 mins and 44 mins past the hour
Cambridge to St Pancras: Thameslink stopping service at 24 mins and 54 mins past the hour
Rail ticket: today you will need a day return to Cambridge plus an off peak single from Cambridge to Shelford
Like its fellow Book 1 Varsity walk (Oxford Circular), today's walk does not get many postings, and it is probably a while since Saturday walkers gave it a go. So opportunity knocks !
The morning is flat, along field edges, and possibly a little muddy, until we reach the village of Haslingfield, where the village pub - the Little Rose - might be open - although in previous years I have always found it closed / gone bust / awaiting a new tenant. There is a convenience store nearby for picnic provisions or K rations if required.
After Haslingfield, the terrain improves as we pass the Travelling Telescope and make our way to Grantchester. A later lunch could be taken here in one of its pubs, but if you had lunched or picnicked in Haslingfield, the recommendation is to take tea at The Orchard (actually it is de rigueur to take tea here when passing through Grantchester). The statue of Rupert Brooke in military uniform is nearby in the front garden of the Old Vicarage.
After tea, you have a choice of routes. The main route is to take the well trodden way beside the River Cam all the way into Cambridge, where if you wish you can take the walking tour of the Cambridge University Colleges, or head straight for the railway station. The alternative route, via Trumpington, is for those who wish to visit Byron's Pool and or the Botanic Gardens then head direct to the railway station, bypassing the College walking tour.
Walk Directions are here: L=1.26
  • 15-Jan-22

    Just 8 of us today, including one first-timer (a Cambridge resident) but that is a good turnout for a Varsity walk (usually 2 to 5). When we set off It was foggy to start with then overcast with glimpse of late afternoon sunshine . After visiting the lovely church in Great Shelford to admire its mural we took the permissive route along field edges from Little Shelford to Hauxton, which was a little muddy but not too bad. On then to Hauxton Mill then over vast fields to Haslingfield. One in our group had booked a table at the Red Lion, Grantchester, so we bypassed the Little Rose in Haslingfield and instead headed for Grantchester via the Travelling Telescope. The Red Lion was fully booked so well done - and thank you - to our companion for his foresight in booking ahead. Four of us had the venison ragu which was superb, and those that had the pub's version of a club sandwich could have shared their meals with three others, and still be full, so enormous were the portions. An excellent luncheon experience, with good draught beer and wine. Our one sandwicher left early as he wanted to take in the college tour at walk-end, so that left the rest of us to take the leisurely walk on surfaced ways from Grantchester to the outskirts of Cambridge, now in late afternoon sunshine and glorious light. For once we omitted the tea experience at the Orchard in Grantchester, but no-one seemed too bothered. On reaching Cambridge five set off for a local pub, one set off to meet a relative, and I headed for the railway station. A fast service took me back to London.

    Another excellent day out in very good company. But it is a shame few SWC walkers ever give the Varsity walks a go.

Book 1, Walk 26 - Shelford to Cambridge

Length: 20.5 km (12.7 miles)
Toughness: 5 out of 10

London Kings Cross: 10-12 hrs Ely service
Arrive Cambridge: 11-02 hrs Change trains
Leave Cambridge: 11-21 hrs Stopping service back to London Liverpool Street
Arrive Shelford: 11-26 hrs

London Liverpool Street: 09-58 hrs Cambridge service Tottenham Hale 10-10 hrs
Arrive Cambridge: 11-09 hrs Change trains
Leave Cambridge: 11-21 hrs Stopping service back to Liverpool Street
Arrive Shelford: 11-26 hrs


Cambridge to Kings Cross: (F=fast) (S=stopping service). 15-57 (S); 16-14 (F); 16-24 (S); 16-27 (S); 16-44 (F); 16-54 (F); 16-57 (S); 17-08 (F); 17-25 (S); 17-29 (S); 17-43 (F); 17-57 (S); 17-54 (S)

Cambridge to Liverpool Street: 16-21, 16-36, 16-51,17-21 and 17-51 hrs

Rail ticket

Buy a day return to Cambridge PLUS a single from Cambridge to Shelford

Neither this walk nor the other Book 1 University walk - Oxford Circular walk - are posted very often. Perhaps both are more sightseeing outings than country walks but accepting this, both have their merits, and are well worth doing at least once - so do give today's adventure in Cambridge a go !

Leaving Shelford you now take the permissive path through farmland to Hauxton Mill. Then it's through more farmland to the village of Haslingfield. The chances of finding the Little Rose pub (the notional lunch stop) open are slim: even more unlikely it is serving food mid-week. If you need sustenance before you reach Grantchester, you should find the convenience store in the village open for snacks and drinks. Onwards then, soon on a track through vast Cambridgeshire fields, passing on the way the Travelling Telescope, then on onto the village of Grantchester. You could stop for a late lunch in one of the three pubs in the village, but it is almost de rigueur to take tea at The Orchard, under the apple trees. After tea you take a short detour to Lord Archer's house - The Old Vicarage - to see the statue of Rupert Brooke in the garden.

Fom Grantchester you follow the River Cam on a well trodden and popular route to the outskirts of Cambridge.

You now have a choice of onward route: if you have had enough of walking you can duck out of the tour of the colleges and head for the railway station. But if you still have some energy, the City tour of Cambridge's Colleges is well worth doing (at least the once). The tour is detailed and well explained in the Directions. Likewise, your post tour route back to Cambridge railway station.
Your walk directions are here: L=1.26

  • Anonymous

    5 of us on this stroll across the Cambridgeshire landscape - big skies and wonderful cloudscapes. There were rumours of a 6th person, but no sightings. sunny with a strong breeze at times. The group heroically coped with the ( predicted) drama of a CLOSED lunchtime pub in Haslingfield. Most had come prepared, one stoically munched chocolate. Four stopped at The Orchard tea room in Grantchester, where it was just warm enough to sit outside. On the way back to Cambridge beside the Cam we passed a group of women who had just been for a swim! A good day out.


  • Anonymous

    Yes one more was on this walk but had to modify it in order to arrive back in Cambridge before dark. Managed to have qa lovely evening encounter with Cambridge and Kings College jfk

Book 1, Walk 26 - Shelford to Cambridge

Length: 20.5 km (12.7 miles)
Toughness: 5 out of 10

London Kings Cross: 10-14 hrs Ely service
Arrive Cambridge: 11-02 hrs
Leave Cambridge: 11-21 hrs London Liverpool Street service
Arrive Shelford: 11-26 hrs


London Liverpool Street: 09-58 hrs Cambridge service Tottenham Hale 10-10 hrs
Arrive Cambridge: 11-08 hrs
Leave Cambridge: 11-21 hrs London Liverpool Street service (as above)
Arrive Shelford: 11-26 hrs


Cambridge to Kings Cross: 15 and 47 mins past hour fast; 24 and 56 mins past hour stopping service

Rail ticket: buy a day return to Cambridge. You will also need a single from Cambridge to Shelford.

Footwear: sections of the walk are on hard standings and are quite hard on the feet, particularly if you indulge in the tour of the colleges at walk-end. Suggest comfortable, well cushioned trainers instead of walking boots today.

Our additional mid-week programme of alternate Tuesday and Thursday walks starts up again today after a two month break, and we commence our programme with this "unpopular" walk ! As walks go, both our Book 1 university walks are duds - as country walks go - but both score highly in historic and architectural interest when you tour the colleges at walk-end. That said, many a SWC walker treats these walks as "trophy walks" - to get the tick in the book - never to do them again. That's fair enough, but it so happens I don't dislike the Cambridge walk, and if you haven't yet got that "tick in the book" here is your chance to do so, by joining me on today's outing,

The morning leg starts along a permissive path to Hauxton then its across vast Cambridgeshire fields to the village of Haslingfield, where you could stop for lunch or refreshments at its pub (which has a history of closing down and reopening). But better to keep going until you reach Grantchester where taking tea in the famous Orchard Tea Garden is almost de regueur. After tea you say hello to the statue of Rupert Brooke (in the garden of Lord Jeffrey Archer's house - the Old Vicarage), then you walk beside the River Cam into the city centre. The tour of the colleges is worth doing - the once - or for repeat visitors like myself, a visit to one of the colleges is always enjoyable.

There are lots of tea options at walk-end (or before you embark on the college tour). It's a trudge to the railway station from the city centre - but you have my permission to rest your tired feet and have a good snooze on the train back to London.
Walk directions here: L=1.26

Next week: Thursday 13 July: Book 1, Walk 3 (R) Botley to Netley
  • 05-Jul-17

    Just 2 of us (presumably everyone else already had the "tick in the book"). warm overcast and humid in the morning sunny and hot in the afternoon . We had an enjoyable day's walking - and my companion very gamely put up with me all day. Picnic in the garden of the closed Little Rose pub in Haslingfield, with provisions and beers purchased at the excellent village shop nearby, and a lovely tea in The Orchard, Grantchester. Indeed, we could easily have nodded off in the comfy deckchairs in the shade of the apple trees and getting out of them took some effort. Hello then to Rupert in Lord Archer's garden before we took the Trumpington route to Cambridge, via the Botanic Gardens. As it was quite late now, we skipped the tour of the colleges and headed direct to the railway station, for the 18-15 hrs fast train back to London.

  • Anonymous

    Would have loved to do the Grantchester walk but was looking for a Wednesday walk not too far afield and missed this one jfk

4 pubs to choose from, a lovely tea room, the River Cam and the Cambridge Colleges
Length: 23.5 km (14.6 mi)
Ascent/Descent: 90m; Net Walking Time: 5 hours
Toughness: 3/10
Take the 09.28 Cambridge train from Liverpool Street, arrives Shelford 10.44.
Return trains are up to 6 per hour, journey time from 48 mins to KGX, and from 70 mins to LST.
Buy a Cambridge Return (any route permitted, to retain the flexibility to return on a fast train).
A much neglected Book 1 walk (last posted June 13, apparently). As always with Book 1 walks: use the directions from the website, not the book.
This walk is long and flat and gets better as the day progresses after a somewhat dull morning: the route into Cambridge is lovely, particularly after Grantchester.
Near the start, to lessen the amount of road walking, you may take what is now a “Permissive Path” along a farm track besides the River Cam, from Little Shelford to Hauxton Church: you no longer need the farmer’s written permission in advance to walk along this path, as in bygone times. The route then passes through the village of Hauxton, with its interesting church, then on to Haslingfield for lunch. From there you head to Grantchester and tea in the Orchard tearooms before walking besides the River Cam into Cambridge. The walk finishes with a tour through Cambridge colleges. Your tarmac count will be high, you may prefer to wear well cushioned trainers instead of walking boots.
The early lunch stop is The Little Rose in Haslingfield (8.3 km/5.2 mi), as of 07/14 under new management and a Freehouse.
A late lunch is possible in Grantchester (14.3 km/9.0 mi) at either The Rupert Brooke (food to 14.30) or The Red Lion (food all day) or The Green Man (food to 15.00).
The highly recommended tea stop in Grantchester is The Orchard Tea Gardens (14.9 km/9.3 mi).
Lots of choice in Cambridge City Centre, plus some kiosks on Cambridge Station selling coffee and tea.
For summary, map, height profile, photos, walk directions and gpx/kml files click here.
  • 12-Jul-16

    The Orchard Tea Rooms are an absolute must, if you can get into them. They are set in a lovely orchard, with deck chairs under the trees and there is a lot of literary history attached (Rupert Brooks and all that WW1 lot). In the distant past, when there were only book one walks, we used to reckon this was the best tea stop (or joint first with the tea room in Exceat, anyway).

  • Pia

    Great walk. There is another travel option for Notherners/Northern Liners: take the fast 9.14 at Kings Cross to Cambridge, arr 10.02 , have a coffee and then the 10.21 to Shelford arr. 10.26 and wait or have a head start. At least you can only walk one way!

  • Kelda

    Or 09:40 from Tottenham Hale...

  • Anonymous

    Anyone do this walk?

  • 19-Jul-16

    8 , warm and humid . A fine walk with good company and much discussion of Britex. Good beer at the Little Rose Inn but so-so food: edible but not somewhere you would want to go out of your way to experience. Apart from two men sat at the bar, who disappeared soon after we arrived, we were the only customers. On the plus side we did get the garden to ourselves. Having stayed together more or less up to lunchtime the group fragmented somewhat in the afternoon. Most of us came together again at the Orchard Café, but it was very busy and one look at the queue persuaded us to give it a miss, which is a shame. After a short, unplanned detour in Cambridge (we went astray) those of us leading the pack headed straight for the station for an early-ish train back to the big city.