Cambridgeshire is a flat county, inland but with tidal rivers deep inland.
The main town is the university city of Cambridge. The University of Cambridge is the oldest in Britain after Oxford, and with Oxford is the foremost. Its beautiful old colleges sit on mediæval streets and their delightful “backs”, look out on the banks of the River Cam. In latter years Cambridge has attracted the computer industry and biotechnology research.
The Gogmagog Hills south-east of Cambridge are the highest features in the county, rising to a highest point near the county’s south-eastern border at Castle Camps. Away from these atypical edgelands, the Cambridgeshire landscape is generally low-lying, much of it drained fens, and still called fenland, which in some areas is at sea level or below.
The northern part of Cambridgeshire, known as the Isle of Ely, is a different world from the village of the south; remarkable for its flatness and its fertile soil drawn out by past generations’ labour from the stagnant flood.
The second town of Cambridgeshire is the City of Ely, which is possibly the smallest city in the land. It stands on a low hill above the fens, dominated by its cathedral. Ely Cathedral is visible for many miles across the level fenland and is known as “the Ship of the Fens”. In the north of the Isle of Ely is Wisbech.
Apart from Cambridge, Ely and Wisbech, Cambridgeshire has no towns to speak of but numerous villages.
Much of Cambridgeshire, and whole of the Isle of Ely, is part of the Great Fen, now criss-crossed by canals and dykes, the fenland drained to create exceptionally fertile agricultural land. The main rivers are the Great Ouse, the Cam (or Granta) and two artificial rivers, the Old and New Bedford Rivers, dug by the Duke of Bedford for the massive drainage scheme that reclaimed the land.
County Town: Cambridge
Main Towns: Burwell, Cambridge, Chatteris, Ely, Gamingley, Melbourne, Sawston, Soham, Wisbech, Whittlesey.
Main Rivers: Cam, Ouse, Nene.
Highlights: Cambridge; Ely Cathedral; Pecover House, Wisbech; Wicken Fen; Wandleybury hill fort.
Highest Point: Near Camps Castle Deserted Village, 420 feet (TL 632 418).
Area: 820 sq miles