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The Best of Cambridge’s Parklands and Open Green Spaces

8th March 2016

Our Campus Oxford Cambridge summer programs offer a challenging, but fun, academic experience, whatever a student chooses to focus their studies on (and there is a lot to choose from) But the programs are not all about classroom lectures and the ‘nose in a book’ ethic. As a part of the overall experience Campus Oxford students are allowed – and indeed encouraged – to take the time to explore Cambridge and discover all it has to offer for themselves. And in our opinion they should not miss the chance to experience at least some of what Cambridge’s parks and open green spaces have to offer. Here’s a peek at some of our personal favorite must see outdoor spots in Cambridge:

Parker’s Piece

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Parker’s Piece is more than just a wonderful green space to enjoy in the heart of the town; it’s actually a mecca of sorts for diehard football (soccer) fans as it is acknowledged as the birthplace of the rules of Association Football. If you go looking for it there is a plaque commemorating all of this:

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Football (soccer) games are still played there, both formally and informally, as are cricket matches on the beautifully maintained greens. There are also bike and walking trails and lovely picnicking spots, all of which add up to a fabulously relaxing place to enjoy a leisurely Cambridge afternoon.

The Backs

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Anyone who fancies doing a spot of punting – which truly is a Cambridge must-do in the summer – should head to The Backs as it offers the best sights and sounds to drift along to.

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The name “the Backs” refers to the backs of the colleges the waterway runs past. The area, from Magdalene Street bridge in the north to Silver Street bridge in the south, consists of the rear grounds of a number of Cambridge’s best known colleges including Kings, Queens, Trinity, St John’s and the base of the Campus Oxford Cambridge summer program, Magdalene College. The Backs also takes you under two of the area’s most famous bridges; the Mathematical Bridge and the Bridge of Sighs.

Cambridge University Botanic Garden

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The stunning Cambridge University Botanic Garden spans over 40 acres and is home to more than 8,000 different species of plant life. Created in 1831 by Professor John Stevens Henslow – who was Charles Darwin’s mentor – as a research center for his Cambridge University students it continues to serve that purpose today, as well as a place for the thousands of visitors who flock there every year to simply enjoy.

Trinity Great Court

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Acknowledged as the largest enclosed court in Europe – and one of the most expansive in the world – Trinity Great Court is a place of beauty, history and athletic achievement.

The athletic achievement part is why most people at least vaguely recognize the court on sight. A run around the court presents a distance of 341 metres and the challenge of ‘The Great Court Run’ is to cover that distance in the in the 43 seconds that it takes to strike 12 o’clock in the college’s bell tower. Yes, you saw it in ‘Chariots of Fire’ and more recently current President of the IAAF and former Olympic gold medal winning middle-distance runner Sebastian Coe (or Lord Coe as he is formally known these days) completed the feat to raise money for charity in 1988.

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The historical value of the Trinity Great Court is also in evidence everywhere, especially in The Chapel which was commissioned by by Mary I in 1554 as a grand, but rather personal, memorial to her father Henry VIII.

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