BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

24 September 2014

BBC Homepage
»BBC Local
Things to do
People & Places
Religion & Ethics
Arts and Culture
BBC Introducing
TV & Radio

Sites near Cambridgeshire


Related BBC Sites


Contact Us

You are in: Cambridgeshire > Natural History > Cam Valley Walk > Stage 1
Castle Mound on Castle Hill
Castle Mound, Castle Hill
The Cambridge landscape has been forming for millions of years as huge rivers cut into the rocky land and left flat plains of gravel, sand and mud. As the first humans settled in Cambridge, they took advantage of the Cam Valley's flat islands and a high ridge of gravel above the river which became known as Castle Hill.
The river has remained the key factor in the growth and formation of Cambridge and on this walk you'll discover the amazing history of the Cam Valley!
Walk details:
Ordnance Survey: Landranger 154, Grid Ref: TL445593
Distance: approx 2.5 miles
Time: approx 2.5 hours
Extra info:
To see what the symbols mean, please visit the key
Parking facilitiesdisabled accessbaby changing areawildlife interestplant interesthistorical interesttoilet facilities
disabled toiletfood availableviewscircular walk

More info:
The natural landscape of the area now occupied by Cambridge has been evolving for millions of years. The main agents of this change have been the freezing and thawing of soil during the intense cold of the Ice Ages and the action of rivers that have been removing this material and progressively cutting into the landscape.

Rivers carrying gravel, sand and mud at times of flood have built flat 'terraces' or floodplains using some of the material they have transported. In Cambridge, rivers have created a 'staircase' of terraces, each relating to a specific period, which together represent over 400,000 years of landscape change. The river terraces preserve evidence of past climatic conditions that allow the reconstruction of past Cambridge environments.

On this walk we will visit various localities where it is possible to see stages in this process of lowering of the land-surface, where terraces at different levels are relicts of several different ancestors of the River Cam. These ancestors flowed in different directions, with different styles of river behaviour and different plants and animals on their banks, because of the way the landscape and the climate was changing.

Rivers generally vary greatly in their appearance, depending on the amount of water they are carrying, the type of material (gravel, sand and mud) available, and the gradient of the valley down which they are flowing. Under present conditions and without interference by humans, the River Cam would be a quietly flowing stream with a single meandering river channel and muddy banks. At times in the past, under Ice Age conditions, the river has been much more violent when rapidly melting-snow and ice caused floods that covered large areas of the valley floor with gravel and sand, so that many river channels picked their way between gravel islands, giving it a "braided" appearance.

On this walk you will also see a variety of wildlife such as ducks and swans with the potential sighting of moor hens, bats and pike. There is also a a wealth of flora to be found on the route - from a wide variety of trees to the exotic plants in the college gardens!

Getting there:
By foot:
Castle Mound is a 5-10 min walk from the city centre. Head out of town along Sidney Street, over the river at Bridge Street and then walk up Castle Street where you will find Castle Mound on your right just before Shire Hall.
By Park and Ride:
The 77 Park and Ride service can be accessed at either the Madingley Road Park and Ride site or the Newmarket Road Park and Ride site. The 77 service stops at Northampton Street bus stop - a 300 metre walk from the Shire Hall site where Castle Mound is situated.
By bus: There are a number of buses from the city centre that run past Castle Hill. The C6 to Oakington runs Mon-Fri every 30 mins. For the latest timetables visit the County Council website or call Traveline on 0870 608 2 608.
By car: Pay and display parking is available at the Shire Hall site. You can also use Park Street car park or the Lion Yard car park in the centre of the city.

Walk conditions
Most of the walk is along concrete or tarmac paths and pavements although there are opportunities to go off-road and explore on the grass which can become muddy after rain. Castle Hill is the only steep section of the walk.

Health and Safety information

The BBC Cambridgeshire Website would like to thank the following for all their help in producing this Walk Through Time:
Dr Steve Boreham, Dr Peter Friend, Allan Brigham, Iain Webb and Mike Dodds.

You are in: Cambridgeshire > Natural History > Cam Valley Walk > Stage 1
Return to homepage
Email your comments to
Print out this page
Return to the top of the page
Walks Through Time
Explore more Walks
Map of the walk
Enlarge this map Enlarge map
© Crown copyright. All rights reserved. BBC licence number 100019855, 2004.
Print map
Print this page
or ..
Print the entire walk
WATCH/LISTEN TO WALKS Realplayer required
Virtual Tours of Cambridgeshire
Pub Strolls
Autumn Walks
Cambridgeshire E-cards
360° panoramas of Cambridgeshire
Cycle Through Time in Peterborough
Walk Through Time in
St Albans
Walk Through Time around the Ipswich Docks
Walk Through Time in Whitlingham, Norfolk
Rest of the web
Cambridge City Council
University of Cambridge - Quaternary Palaeoenvironments Group
Visit Cambridge
Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences
Fitzwilliam Museum
Cambridge Folk Museum
Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology
Museum of Classical Archaeology
Museum of Zoology
Botanic Garden
Scott Polar Research Institute
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites
On Science & Nature
Fox illustration, on Science & Nature
More walks through time and amazing wildlife.
Find another walk
Explore wildlife habitats
The TV series:
British Isles, a Natural History
Visit's Natural History section
Get more from your walk,
with the Open University.
bullet point Get active - the Great Snail Hunt
bullet point What does that mean? - a natural history glossary
bullet point Get into nature - the science you need to know
bullet point How do they know that? - explore nature's secrets
bullet point Become a Landscape Detective - Free Leaflets!

BBC Cambridgeshire Website, Broadcasting House, Cambridge Business Park, Cowley Road, Cambridge, CB4 0WZ
telephone: (+44) 01223 259696 | e-mail:


About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy