Arguably, the M11 has been the making of modern Cambridgeshire. Before its construction in the 1980s, the countryside seemed depressed and backward; the city of Cambridge had no indigenous industry and was overshadowed by its famous university.
The motorway made the county much more accessible from London, and helped to establish a growing caucus of high-tech industries in Cambridge itself. The county has never historically been prosperous, but is now thriving.
Cambridgeshire now includes the old county of Huntingdonshire, and stretches from Duxford in the south to Peterborough in the north.
The southern landscapes of the Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire borders, with their rolling hills, are more immediately appealing than the flat fenland of the north, yet this characteristic Cambridgeshire scenery has won many admirers. The tiny city of Ely, on an island in the Fens, is also a regional centre.
Liverpool Street and King’s Cross are within an hour of Cambridge: this, combined with the town’s desirability, ensures that prices are similar to Essex and Hertfordshire. Most in demand are houses in the south of the county, within easy reach of road and rail links to the capital.
Building materials range from timber and red brick to the Cambridge white brick; there is little local building stone.
Cambridge, Peterborough, Ely, Huntingdon, St Ives, March, St Neots, Chatteris, Whittlesey.
Train: King’s Cross to Cambridge 49min; King’s Cross to Peterborough 40min.
Car: Cambridge is 54 miles from London, via the M11; Peterborough is 82 miles, via the A1 and A1(M).
Kimbolton School, Huntingdon (01480 860505). Co-educational, age range 4-18, day and boarding. www.kimbolton.cambs.sch.uk
King’s College School, Cambridge (01223 365814). Co-educational, age range 4-13, day and boarding. www.kcs.cambs.sch.uk
Oundle School,Peterborough (01832 273569). Co-educational, age range 11-19, boarding. www.oundleschool.org.uk
St John’s College School, Cambridge (01223 353532). Co-educational, age range 4-13, day and boarding. www.school-portal.co.uk
The King’sSchool, Ely (01353 660702). Co-educational, age range 2-18, day and boarding. www.kings-ely.cambs.sch.uk
The Leys School, Cambridge (01223 508900). Co-educational, age range 11-18, day and boarding. www.theleys.cambs.sch.uk
The Perse School for Boys, Cambridge (01223 568300). Boys only (co-educational sixth form), age range 7-18, day. www.perse.co.uk
The Perse School for Girls, Cambridge (01223 359589). Girls only, age range 7-18, day. www.perse.cambs.sch.uk
Golf courses: Ely City (01353 662751); The Gog Magog, Cambridge (01223 247626); March (01354 652364); Thorpe Wood, Peterborough (01733 267701).
Hunts: the Fitzwilliam and the Cambridgeshire.
Yachting club: Peterborough Yacht Club.
Fishing: rivers Nene, the Great Ouse and Grafham Water.