Things to do | Itineraries | East of England history and heritage

East England history and heritage itinerary

4 Days

Cambridge - Ely - Bedford - Huntingdon - Buckden - Peterborough - King's Lynn

156 miles (250 km)
London Stansted/London Heathrow/ London Gatwick/Birmingham International Airport

Plan your route: VisitBritain Journey Planner

For a lesson in English history, this glorious 4-day tour starts in the historic university city of Cambridge then heading out to explore much of the East of England. The tour takes in museums, cathedrals and churches - enjoy the route at your own pace or keep to the 4-day itinerary.

Day 1: Cambridge

All sites for day one are within walking distance of each other.

Anglesey Abbey Gardens

The name Cambridge instantly summons breathtaking images – the Backs carpeted with spring flowers, punting on the River Cam and of course the calm of the historic college buildings. Start off at the exquisite 13th century Anglesey Abbey Gardens with its famous Fairhaven collection of paintings and furniture.


Must see & do:

Fitzwilliam Museum | Anglesey Abbey Gardens and Lode Mill

Cambridge and Country Folk Museum

From the Anglesey Abbey head to the Cambridge and Country Folk Museum, a part timber-framed 17th century inn, retaining many original fittings. Established as a museum of Cambridgeshire life in 1936, it has wonderful displays depicting Victorian homes, waterway and town planning, clothing, crafts and trade memorabilia.

Must see & do:

Wimpole Hall

King's College Chapel

After the Country Folk Museum head to the King's College Chapel. The chapel, founded by Henry VI in 1441, has a breathtaking fan-vault ceiling, magnificent ornate stained-glass windows, a carved-oak screen presented to the college by Henry VIII and Rubens' masterpiece, the Adoration of the Magi.


Must see & do:

The Kings College Chapel

Farmland Museum and Denny Abbey

This has been an agricultural estate since medieval times and features an abbey and an interactive museum. The Farmland Museum and Denny Abbey provide an interesting look at the farming industry of Cambridge. Explore the remains of the 12th century Benedictine Abbey, which provides an excellent example of Normandy architecture.

Must see & do:

Farmland Museum and Denny Abbey

Cambridge All Saints' Church

The spire of this fine church, opposite the gates of Jesus College, is a prominent Cambridge landmark, while the interior represents a milestone of the Gothic Revival. The Cambridge All Saints' Church contains richly painted stencil wall decoration and stained glass by William Morris and other Pre-Raphaelites.


Day 2: Ely - Bedford

Cambridge - Ely: 16½ miles (26.6 km)
Ely - Bedford: 45½ miles (73.2 km)
Totals for the day: 62 miles (99.8 km)

Ely Cathedral

From Cambridge enjoy the country roads on your travels to Ely Cathedral, where you will witness one of the most amazing engineering feats of the Middle Ages – the Octagon Tower. Take time out for a guided tour of both the Octagon and West Towers.

Must see & do:

Ely Cathedral | Stained Glass Museum | Isleham Priory Church | Wicken Fen | Sulgrave Manor

Bromham Mill (Bedford)

Your next stop is the Bromham Mill and Gallery in Bedford, a 17th century restored watermill on the banks of the River Great Ouse. Fascinating guided tours take you back to the days when the mill was responsible for supplying flour to the region.


Bedford Museum

At the Bedford Museum embark on a fascinating journey through the human and natural history of North Bedfordshire, pausing briefly to glimpse at wonders from more distant lands. Go back in time and visit the delightful rural room sets, explore the Old School Museum and numerous other treasures to be found.

Must see & do:

Bedford Museum | Wild Britain | Bodyflight Bedford

Bedford Castle

Founded by Ralf de Tallebosc, Bedford Castle is an 11th century earthwork fortress and moat located in the Bedford town centre. A major facelift of Bedford Castle Mound was completed in May 2004, gaining the castle recognition by the judges of 2005’s Heritage in Britain Award.


Must see & do:

Bedford Castle | Cecil Higgins Art Gallery

Day 3: Bedford - Huntingdon - Buckden - Peterborough

Bedford - Huntingdon: 25 miles (39.7 km)
Huntingdon - Buckden: 8 miles (12.5 km)
Buckden - Peterborough: 21½ miles (34.4 km)
Totals for the day: 54½ miles (86.6 km)

Houghton House (Bedford)

This three-story building was built between 1621 and 1651 as a family home featuring magnificent classic architecture with central stone on three sides. The ruin of Houghton House is local landmark and an interesting feature of this tour.

Must see & do:

Houghton House

Huntingdon centre

From Bedford travel on to Huntingdon, situated on the banks of the River Ouse. The centre of Huntingdon is now mainly traffic-free, making it a pleasant environment for pedestrians to wander through, admiring some of the 150 properties listed as being of special architectural or historical interest.


Must see & do:

Grafham Water | Houghton Mill

Blacked-Out Britain War Museum (Huntingdon)

Although probably Britain's smallest war museum, the Blacked-Out Britain War Museum is packed with artefacts portaying life between 1939 and 1945. From evacuation and rationing to bus tickets and bombs, it's all here. Capture the feel of what life was like for those who kept the home fires burning.

Must see & do:

Cromwell Museum

Buckden Towers

Formerly known as Buckden Palace, Buckden Towers was built in the 1200s and served as home and resting place for the Bishops of Lincoln. Many of the original buildings are still in tact, including the Great Tower, Inner Gatehouse, part of the battlement wall and the Outer Gate.


Peterborough Cathedral

The last stop for day 3 is Peterborough Cathedral. The remarkeable Norman cathedral, with an early English west front, features a perpendicular retrochoir, a 13th century painted nave ceiling and the tomb of Catherine of Aragon. It was also the former burial place of Mary Queen of Scots.

Must see & do:

Peterborough Cathedral | Peterborough Museum and Art Gallery | Activity World | Romans Return to Flag Fen | Nene Valley Railway

Day 4: Peterborough - King's Lynn

Peterborough - King's Lynn: 39½ miles (63.6 km)
Totals for day: 39½ miles (63.6 km)

Castle Rising Castle (King's Lynn)

From Peterborough, the final part of your tour takes you to King's Lynn and the magnificent Castle Rising Castle. Building began on this fine Norman structure around 1140. The rectangular keep, one of the largest, was built by William D'Albini to celebrate his marriage and it stretches over 12 acres of land.


Must see & do:

Castle Rising Castle | Sandringham | Tales of the Old Gaol House | Caithness Crystal Visitor Centre | Guildhall of St George | Eau Brink Cacti




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