Cambridge Orbital

A circular walk round the perimeter of Cambridge

Length: Approximately 12.57 miles

This walk may be done in either direction from any point. For the sake of clarity, it has been split into segments starting at the Backs and heading clockwise. This should by no means be taken as a definitive starting point, nor is the ordering set in stone.

The Backs

Parking is available along the backs but not abundant

Heading North along Queen's Road, you will see the colleges on your right and the dominating tower of the University Library on your left. At the end of the road, there is a roundabout, where you should turn right down Northampton Street. At the crossroads with Bridge Street, cross over to Chesterton Lane.

The River

To start here, you may wish to park at the Park Street multi-storey. In this case, head for Bridge Street and head North towards the Chesterton Road junction.

Head East along Chesterton Road until you reach a footbridge on your right. cross over the rive, noting the weir and lock beneath you. The path splits in five here; take the furthest left branch to continue along the river. Pass under the road bridge to reach Midsummer Common.

Midsummer Common

Head east along the riverbank. You can pass to the left or right of the Fort St George pub (or stop there for refreshments). Keep heading along the river bank, noting the grafton centre on your right. Pass under the massive road bridge to reach Riverside.


Head east along Riverside, noting that the pavement switches sides along the course of the road. As you reach the cycle bridge on your left, note the Cambridge Museum of Technology with its omnipresent chimney. Further along, pass through the gate to Stourbridge Common.

Stourbridge Common

Turn right after entering Stourbridge Common and head past the play area. As you converge with the main path, head through the gate to Garlic Row. At the end of the road, turn left onto Newmarket Road.

Coldham's Common (part 1)

If starting here, you might wish to park at the retail park or B&Q. However, you do so at your own risk; they may not take kindly to non-customers using their car parks.

Head East over the Newmarket Road railway bridge, noting the leper chapel on your left. You may also be able to make out the junction where the Mildenhall Line used to branch off. At the traffic lights before the Football Stadium, turn right into Coldham's Common.

Head South, keeping the stadium on your left and the field on your right. Before reaching the footbridge, turn left to follow the stream. This will bring you out by the Abbey Pool.

Coldham's Common (Part 2)

The pool has a car park, which might be handy if starting the walk here.

From the Abbey Pool, go through the gate into the large field, passing the BMX park on your left. Continue along the northern edge of the field until you pass a fence on your right. Follow the fence, keeping it to your right. As you reach a gate on your right, head left across the field towards the woods. Cross over the footbridge and turn right immediately afterwards. Follow the path, keeping the stream to your right. Eventually, the path bears left before emerging onto Barnwell Road. Turn right and head under the railway bridge towards Sainsbury's.


The supermarket has an extensive car park but they may object to long-term parking here.

From the car park, there is a path leading from the southern-most corner. This will take you parallel to a stream before emerging onto Brookfields. The footbridge on your left was subject to ridicule after the one originally made for this crossing was too large to fit! Follow the stream along Burnside; at the end of the road, continue straight along Snakey Path.

Snakey Path

Follow the path from Burnside, keeping the allotments to your right and the lake to your left. You will also pass a school and some houses on your right before reaching another set of allotments. Cross the footbridge and pass the entrance to the allotments. After the stream passes under the path again, turn left through the gate into the grounds of Cherry Hinton hall.

Cherry Hinton Park

There is car parking at the south western corner of the park. To pick up the walk from here, head east past the hall (or simply head East along Cherry Hinton Road to pick up the next stage of the walk).

Pass the mill pond on your left and the hall on your right. Head south towards the exit onto Cherry Hinton road and turn left. Keep going until you reach the crossroads with the Robin Hood pub, where you may wish to stop for refreshments.

Limekiln Hill

From the Robin Hood, head south along Queen Edith's Way and then take the first right down Limekiln Road. Take a right turn into the caravan site then turn left into the woods (the signs indicate a nature reserve). Take the path to the summit and prepare for some breathtaking views over Cambridge. On a clear day, you can see Ely Cathedral in the distance!

From the summit, head back to Lime Kiln Road and turn right. Note that there is no pavement for this section of the journey, so you are wdvised to stick to the verge. Head down the hill towards Wort's Causeway.


Head West along Wort's Causeway, noting the gate in the road. After passing through the residential area, turn left onto Babraham Road; you will want to be on the right hand side so using the crossing is recommended here.

After the houses, turn right into a field. Follow the footpath West along the edge of the field until you reach a footbridge on your right. Cross the footbridge towards Addenbrooke's. Before you reach the end of the path, turn left onto another path and follow this round the corner. At the end, turn left and cross over at the traffic lights.


From Addenbrooke's, take the path along the guided busway over the bridge. At the junction, cross over and take the path to your left. This will bring you out by the entrance to a school. Turn left onto Foster Road and immediately right onto Paget Road. Follow the curve of the road round to the left.

When you reach the grassy area on your left, turn right opposite the pavilion down Anstey Way and emerge onto the High Street. Turn left and then take the first right down Maris Lane. At the T-junction, turn left onto Grantchester Road.


Head west along Grantchester Road from Trumpington. Cross the bridge over the Cam and turn right immediately after the second bridge over the mill pond. Bear left to rejoin the main road, passing the Orchard on your right (or possibly stopping there for a cream tea).

Follow the road as it curves right then left. Just before the church on your left, take the path on your right. Follow the path towards the meadow, with the option of stopping off at the Red Lion on your left.

Grantchester Meadows

From the Red Lion, head north along the path, keeping the meadow to your right. You are now travelling parallel to the Cam. Eventually, the path will emerge onto a road, which has the confusing name of "Grantchester Meadows".

Continue along the road and take a right fork at the garage. As the road bears left, turn right down the smaller driveway and take a right fork into the Owlstone nature reserve. Pass through the woods, keeping the river to your right. You will come out by the Lammas Land car park.

Sheep's Green

The car park makes this a relatively easy starting point

From Lammas Land, head East over the bridge by the South end of the pool. Turn left and follow the path, keeping the stream on your left. As you emerge onto Fen Causeway, cross over at the traffic lights. Follow the path, again keeping the stream on your left.

When you reach the pool, turn left past the restaurants and right onto Newnham Road. Pass (or visit) the Granta on your right and continue North. At the crossroads with Silver Street, head straight over onto Queen's Road to reach the Backs.