Travels With Ted

Best Things to do near Waterclose Meadows Campsite at Houghton Mill

Waterclose Meadows Campsite is a medium-sized site at Houghton Mill, Cambridgeshire. The site is owned and managed by the National Trust alongside the attraction. It is a lovely location for a trip away, but you might be wondering what the things to do near Waterclose Meadows are? It is a rural location, but Cambridgeshire is an often overlooked county with more to offer tourists than it initially appears.

I have divided my list of activities and things to do near Waterclose Meadows into things to do on-site, nearby towns and cities and nearby attractions.

You might also be interested in this article on National Trust Properties in Cambridgeshire or this one on Cambridge with Kids.

Things to do On-Site at Waterclose Meadows Campsite

Houghton Mill

Houghton Mill - National Trust
Houghton Mill

The most obvious place to visit near Waterclose Meadows has to be the National Trust property itself, Houghton Mill. This historical working watermill once spent some time as a youth hostel. The mill is now filled with hands-on activities. The displays reflect its history as a mill and as a stopover for cyclists in the 1960s.

At the time of writing, the inside of the mill had been closed for some time due to covid. Hopefully, by the time of your visit, it will have reopened.

Water Activities at the Water Mill

Houghton Watermill

Even if you can’t get inside, the outside of the Mill can still be explored. It features a working water wheel that sends cascades of tumultuous water into the river below. Signs from the National trust now remind people that swimming near the water wheel is dangerous. They still provide launch points for paddleboards and small boats. It is safe to swim on the river away from the mill, and you will find suitable entry points downriver towards Hemingford Grey.

Row Boat Hire

Rowing a boat to Hemingford Grey

As the name Waterclose Meadows suggests, Houghton Mill sits on a network of waterways that make up this section of the River Great Ouse. Between Houghton Mill and the lock on the navigable part of the river are boats for hire. Available vehicles include canoes, rowboats and traditional punts. Hiring a boat allows you to explore this peaceful stretch of river between Houghton Mill and Hemingford Grey at your own pace with only paddle boarders and the occasional narrowboat for company.

River and Walks

A network of footpaths follow the path of the river and cross the meadows. The villages of Hemingford Abbots and Hemingford Grey can be reached by going through the mill, crossing the lock and taking the footpath across the common on the other side. St Ives is less than an hour by foot and can be reached by taking paths from Houghton village through Houghton Nature Reserve.

Waterclose Meadows Walk on Kamoot

Following the river to the left on the bank closest to Waterclose Meadows is a circular route (see above). This route takes about an hour and follows the River Great Ouse downriver and Houghton Trout Stream upriver.

Upriver on the River Great Ouse, the path eventually takes you to Godmanchester Nature Reserve. This route is accessed by crossing over the river at the mill and lock, then turning immediately to the right.

Towns and Cities Near Waterclose Meadows

St Ives

St Ives, Cambridgeshire is a small town with a big bridge. Many people make their way here simply to enjoy a cup of tea in one of the many tea rooms while admiring the view over the river. Like Houghton, St Ives tourism is centred on the Great Ouse. Pleasant riverside strolls can be easily reached, and river cruises are available.

St Ives is a 10-minute drive or 1-hour walk from Waterclose Meadows Campsite.


Cambridge parks and punting

Compared to the rural riverside locations of Houghton and St Ives, Cambridge is a hub of things to do. The city centre is populated with numerous shops, cafes and restaurants. Traditional tourist activities here include touring the colleges, taking a punt out on the River Cam and coming face to face with a cow within a 5-minute walk of the Market Square. Museums here are plentiful, and I highly recommend the Botanic Gardens.

I could go on, but instead, I suggest these articles on Free Things to do in Cambridge and my A-Z of Cambridge with Kids.

It is a 30-minute drive to the closest Park and Ride for Cambridge at Madingley Road.

Attractions near Waterclose Meadows

Hamerton Zoo

This 20-acre zoo has a range of animals, from big cats and numerous birds to a cacophony of Australian animals.

Hamerton Zoo is less than 30 minutes from Waterclose Meadows Campsite.

Find out more on their website.

Grafham Water

Grafham Water Park is a magnet for water sports lovers, families and wildlife lovers.

The Anglia Water owned reservoir is a 25-minute drive from Waterclose Meadows Campsite.

Find out more on their website.

Johnsons of Old Hurst

Johnsons of Old Hurst is an interesting attraction just 10 minutes from Waterclose Meadows. It is a traditional butchery, farm shop and restaurant. However, what makes it different is that if you step out the back, you can meet their resident crocodiles and other exotics without paying an entrance fee.

Find out more on their website.

Waterclose Meadows Campsite Review

Waterclose Meadows is an excellent mix of large well-serviced pitches and top-notch facilities with a back to nature setting. The site is welcome to all vehicles, with a few pitches set aside for tents. All the pitches are grass.

Houghton Mill may be one of the smallest National Trust properties in Cambridgeshire, but they have made the most of the area they have, and most of it is open to campsite patrons and local dog walkers out of hours. This includes the riverside walk with its natural playground for the children to enjoy and stunning views of the watermill. The field adjacent to the campsite is partly used by visitors for picnics and partly as an overflow car park for the daytrippers. It also makes a good spot for ball games when the mill is closed.

Having a cafe on site is always a bonus for me, and you can always rely on the National Trust for tasty treats. I highly recommend their speciality Houghton Mill Teacake.

Become a Member

If you are interested in becoming a member of the National Trust you can click here for more information.

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