Historic Cambridge walk for Boxing Day that passes two pubs with exceeding…

A Boxing Day walk is an activity that many of us take to after a day of lounging around in our pyjamas, opening presents and eating to our heart’s content.

If you’re looking to meet up with friends or family after the Christmas Day feast and are want somewhere you can stay outside as we see Covid situations rise, this walk is the perfect option.

This historical walk in Cambridge offers the chance for a festive mulled wine and the potential of two pub gardens.

Read more: Christmas in Cambridge news

The Cambridge walk that combines these great British pastimes with style, and an additional measure of history, is the ‘Kite Walk’.

Hedged in between Midsummer shared, Christ’s Pieces and Parker’s Piece, the Kite area is named because of its road-lined shape which resembles a kite…especially if you’re one too many mulled wines down.

At 3.2 miles long, the walk is surprisingly long if you follow it to the letter – as laid out in Andrew Kershman’s bright book Walking Cambridge.

That’s because of the way it folds in on itself, finding endless details to discover in this patch of central Cambridge.

Here’s our whistle-stop tour of the walk, paying particular attention to the pubs along the way. They are local favourites The Free Press and The Snug.

A detour down to The Cambridge Blue, off Mill Road, is also highly recommended for its expansive pub garden.

The Kite Walk

The Temperance Hall originally opened in 1884 for those seeking salvation from ‘the demon drink’

The Kite Walk starts on Parker Street, where the buildings show a clear contrast between “the more modern town and the ancient gown”.

Turning onto Emmanuel Street, you’ll find a few tucked-away streets to wander down – starting with Victoria Street which has a surprising claim to TV fame.

Satirical puppet show Spitting Image started out in the old Temperance Hall, which creators (and Cambridge School of Art graduates) Roger Law and Peter Fluck bought in 1981.

The grotesque rubber effigies of Margaret Thatcher and co were produced in this thin building.

Kershman also directs our attention down to the boot scrapers outside many of the houses – a throwback to when the roads were simply muddy tracks.

Two streets along are the gorgeous Orchard Street cottages – a curving row of little abodes all under one roof, with picturesque chimney stacks and leafy fronts.

The Grafton Centre may be busy with Boxing Day sale shoppers, but the surrounding streets provide some fascinating glimpses into retail past and present.

May Ball revellers queueing for breakfast at Waffles Cafe in June 1974

Waffles Cafe used to sit on the corner of Fitzroy Street, famed for serving sweet treats to party-goers on a Sunday morning.

If you’re looking to quench your thirst at this point, the star of our walk The Free Press is just off City Road and has a splendid back garden well worth booking.

The pub has a high history too: it’s named after a Cambridge temperance paper that warned of the dangers of alcohol.

“The paper only published one issue in the early 19th century before folding and this public house took its name as an ironic tribute to the endeavour,” Kershman says.

“For some time the pub was run by rowing enthusiasts and in 1984, when the Cambridge men’s boat crashed into a trade on the way to the start of the Boat Race, the pub was able to inherit the damaged boat and it now hangs from the ceiling.

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“Look out for the message written on the boat by the embarrassed cox, ‘All my own work.’”

After a cold or hot drink in the garden, head back up towards Midsummer shared and the Four Lamps roundabout, named after a pub that once stood nearby.

There’s lots to take in along Maids Causeway, including the Quantum gate at number 14, and number 66 where film star Robert Donat once lived.

Further down Newmarket Road, you can pause at the lovely Midsummer Community Orchard, and already look upon the former headquarters of the Cambridge Evening News.

The Snug Bar Grafton was originally called the Waggon and Horses

Round the back of the Grafton Centre is another old watering hole. The Snug bar serves delicious cocktails and vegan food.

You can admire its Victorian exterior in the meantime. Built in 1827, this pub has weathered many name changes, hosting the likes of Oasis, Blur, Stereophonics, Pulp and Babyshambles as a music venue in the 90s.

To continue the real and historic pub crawl, you could extend your walk down Norfolk Street, by Mill Road Cemetery to The Cambridge Blue on Gwydir Street, a “real ale paradise” with a really amazing beer garden that you don’t need to book.

And if you fancy following the Kite Walk in all its twists and turns, Walking Cambridge by Andrew Kershman is obtainable to buy from Metro Publications.

Be sure to wrap up warm if you’re thinking of doing this walk with the family and get ready for some festive drinks along the way.

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