Local food

Apple cake (below), sometimes called apple pudding, and often given a county prefix depending on its place of origin, is usually oblong or square, baked in a tray. Its flavour plays on the sweet-acid balance, which depends on the variety of apple used: cooking apples give a more moist cake with an acid note, dessert apples a sweeter and more aromatic one.

Where to stay

There are all sorts of ways for visitors to experience the hustle and bustle of Cambridge, with its buses, bicycles and punting on the Cam

For river views

Just yards from St Johns, Trinity, Jesus and Magdalane Colleges is the new Varsity Hotel (01223 306030; www.thevarsityhotel.co.uk). Set up by a Cambridge graduate, it’s housed in a converted 18th-century warehouse right on the River Cam

For the student experience

Why not book a room in one of the colleges (www.cambridgerooms.co.uk)? Spend an afternoon wandering through the beautifully kept grounds, then enjoy a drink in the college bar. Prices start at £35 a night

For city-centre chic

Hotel du Vin Cambridge (01223 227330; www.hotelduvin.com/cambridge) is located in a Grade II-
listed former university building on Trumpington Street near the Fitzwilliam Museum. Its spacious bedrooms fuse period charm-exposed brickwork and open fireplaces-with modern comforts such as monsoon showers

For explorers

Those wanting to stay further out should investigate the contemporary Hotel Felix (01223 277977; www.hotelfelix.co.uk), which is just over a mile from the centre of Cambridge, and Springfield House (01223 891383; www.springfieldhouse.org) in Linton, near the River Granta

Nature notes

What to look for

The Cambridge University Botanic Garden-open daily at 10am-which has more than 8,000 different plant species, is a great spot to see jays, thrushes and squirrels. Similarly, at Cherry Hinton Hall, a small house and park owned by Cambridge City Council to the south of the city, there are kingfishers, herons, greater spotted woodpeckers, swans and Canadian geese, plus tawny and barn owls.

Cambridge is also something of a bat hotspot, as at least five species-the common pipistrelle, soprano pipistrelle, Daubenton’s, the brown long-eared and the noctule- call it home. However, they won’t be about in December because they’ll be hibernating.