Day out: Wandlebury Country Park and the Gog Magog Hills, Cambridgeshire
Steeped in human history, local legend and incredible summer wildlife, Wandlebury and the surrounding hills offer an exciting and accessible day out for the entire family
Situated just five miles south of Cambridge city centre on the flowered slopes of the Gog Magog Hills is Wandlebury Country Park. With more than 60 hectares of woodlands and meadows to explore, the park leaves you spoilt for choice when it comes to walking paths.
Enjoy eight miles of waymarked trails within the country park, or venture further afield and discover more adventurous routes through the surrounding hills. According to local folklore, the Gog Magog Hills are the final resting place of Cambridge’s last giant, Gogmagog. Imagine the enormous beast roaming this land as you climb through forest to the hills’ highest peak (75m), where you’ll be rewarded with a 17-mile view towards the city of Ely.
History of Wandlebury and the Dog Magog Hills
More than 2,000 years of human history can be traced at Wandlebury. Follow the footpaths through the outer ditches of the circular Iron Age hill fort; discover a 15th-century timber structure, once a granary, and the remains of an 18th-century walled garden and enjoy a picnic with views of the iconic clock tower. Benches are scattered throughout the country park and BBQs are available to hire, too.
Keep an eye out for the local land managers: the park’s Highland cows help to maintain the meadows year-round.
Things to do at Wandlebury Country Park
Dedicated den-building areas within the deciduous woods means you can create your own enchanted forest hideout as a family. Afterwards, stroll between the trees and let the 400-metre beech avenue lead you north to the historic Roman Road.
Slightly secluded on the northern edge of Varley’s Field, just off the main perimeter path, is the Banyard Wildlife Viewing Hide. The shelter offers little nature-lovers the chance to peacefully listen to birdsong and observe the variety of animals that visit the country park. The pond at the park entrance has a viewing platform, too, where you can spot grass snakes, water scorpions and other freshwater marvels.
Words: Bushra Abu-Helil
Bushra Abu-Helil is a passionate zoologist and environmentalist from Cambridgeshire.