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Short Breaks from Cambridge

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Ever needed to just get away, but you can't go for too long? Please tell us about your short breaks away (e.g. day trips, road trips or weekend breaks), whether it be for ultimate relaxation, or to be active and practice hobbies you may have (fishing,

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      17.04.2006 20:24
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      An unremarkable, but pleasant village

      Sawston. Not the most exotic location to be visiting I'll grant you, but I wasn't there for pleasure. I was working in the area last year so I spent a few weeks there, on and off, and got to know the place quite well.

      Apparently, Sawston is the largest village in Cambridgeshire with a population of over 7,000. It's about 7 miles south of Cambridge and lies on the River Cam, although I can't say I saw the river at all, but then, I wasn't looking.

      These days, the village is more of a satellite town for Cambridge than a bustling, self-contained entity that I imagine it would have been over the last 500 years or so. One of those sleepy backwater places where nothing ever happens, its only claim to fame (or the only one I could find) is that Mary I stayed at Sawston Hall before she was crowned, which led to the Hall being burned to the ground by her enemies...after she'd left, obviously. The Hall was rebuilt, using some of the stone from Cambridge Castle, and is reputedly haunted...aren't they all?

      But enough of ghosts and blood-sucking ghouls, let's move away from the monarchy and find out what goes on in Sawston these days.
      Um...not a lot. At least not a lot for an itinerant worker type looking for some culture n'stuff. But there are lots of pubs.

      Sawston has a quite attractive High Street with a good selection of traders, including some speciality shopping such as crafts and antiques etc. The High Street has quite a good, individual feel to it with not too many of the 'chains' dominating and squeezing the opposition out.
      A good portion of old, timber-framed buildings have survived, most notably to the south of the High Street where there are a cluster of haphazard buildings leaning precariously over the bottle-necked road. There are other little half-timbered gems dotted around, as well as a good selection of Georgian, Edwardian, and Victorian houses. A couple of modern shopping developments try their hardest to ruin the prospect, but the whole survives as a pleasant, if not outstanding village High St in Middle England.
      Away from the High St the rest of the village is a bit of a post-war sprawl I'm afraid.

      Sawston's not really a tourist attraction, although it's close to Cambridge and the Duxford Imperial War Museum (aviation) is nearby too. This is reflected in the accommodation facilities in the area. These are few and far between. Actually, they're not all that far between - it's not a huge place, but they are few.
      There's B&B available at a couple of pubs - The White Horse at Pampisford (an adjoining village) which my colleague had previously stayed at and pronounced it 'pure deid mingin' so we avoided it. The Kings Head on the High St has rooms, but none were available so I can't vouch for the quality although the pub was a beauty. Low ceilings, exposed beams and fantastic beer.
      Over the course of the period spent there, we stayed in various places but due to the lack of beds, we only actually spent a few scattered nights in the village itself and that was at a lovely little B&B called Churchfield just behind the High Street. £30 per night for a real home-from-home. DVD player and sounds in the single room (double bed), there was even one of those micro fridges to keep your beer in. Lovely.

      There's also a Travel Lodge at the junction of the A11/A505 which is fairly close by. We stayed there as well...when we had too. Most of the time we had to commute from Cambridge.

      Eating and drinking in Sawston is not a problem. Unless you want to sample traditional pub grub, that is. Of the six pubs lining the High St, only two did food, and one of those was given over to an Indian restaurant. However, The Greyhound did some excellent meals with different themed nights (Italian, Steak specials, seafood etc), not to mention a superb Sunday lunch.
      Apart from that, there are various restaurants and cafes lining the High Street - Indian, Italian, English and a cracking Chinese where we spent a belly-bulging Saturday evening. The chippy was pretty good too!


      I didn't really venture into the other pubs, save to check them out. What I saw convinced me the the Kings Head and The Greyhound were the pick of the bunch. In fact, The Greyhound became our 'local' and we were made very welcome by the friendly staff and regulars.


      I liked Sawston. It had that 'country' feel to it without being chocolate-box pretty. It's the sort of place where you could live quite comfortably, I'd imagine. Laid back but not completely dead, Saturday night in Sawston was surprisingly active! The infrastructure is such that you could satisfy most of your needs but Cambridge is only a 10-15 minute drive away. It's also quite close to the M11 if you need to go further, and Stansted airport if you really want to get away!
      So, not somewhere you'd be looking to spend your summer hols, but if you've got to work away from home for a while, I can think of worse places to be.


      ©proxam2006

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