Staycationing in Cambridge: A Bovine Guide to the City
This summer, the Cows about Cambridge sculpture trail is helping staycationers discover the joy and wonder of this world-renowned city.
Some 90 bovine sculptures make up Cows about Cambridge, each one showcasing amazing or amoosing artwork designed to create a feel-good factor across the city. Hand-decorated by regional and national artists, school pupils and community groups, the 44 full-size Cow sculptures and 46 mini moos can be located by downloading the Cows about Cambridge app or collecting a trail map from shopping centres and other host venues. Running until 4 September, the art trail has been created by event producers Wild in Art in collaboration with principal partner Cambridge BID, official travel partner Thameslink and Break – a charity working with children and young people in care.
A number of these 3D canvases bring an exciting new perspective to well-known scenes, featuring the city at dawn and dusk, and in different seasons and eras. Connecting Tails for example, sponsored by McAleer & Rushe, sets tiny vignettes of Cambridge life within patterns that reflect the importance of architectural design within the city. Etheridge, by local artist Lucy Gough, takes inspiration from the geometry of the Mathematical Bridge at Queen’s College, designed by William Etheridge, while Cowbridges, by Glynn Thomas RE, depicts multiple bridges crossing the River Cam – from The Backs to the Mill Pools and Grantchester on one side, with Jesus Lock, the Boathouses, Strawberry Fayre, the ‘Bumps’ and Baits Bite Lock on the other.
While the entire trail can be walked for free, local residents and visitors who would like to get to know Cambridge better are invited to book a walking tour with a ‘hoofing guide’ who will delight in sharing some of the more quirky stories and facts that link these Cow sculptures to the city.
“The River Cam features on several of the Cows, unsurprisingly, because it’s such an iconic symbol of Cambridge,” commented Ruth Meyer, Secretary of the Society of Cambridge Tourist Guides, “but can you explain why the punt pole ‘clunks’ when it hits the bed of the river? And do you know why the student rowing races are called ‘the Bumps’?
“In the city centre, on Senate House Hill, the cow might be jumping over the moon in the Hey Diddle Diddle design, but did you know that a student prank back in June 1958 led to an Austin 7 van ‘jumping’ on to the roof of the Senate House itself?
“Our hoofing guides are qualified Cambridge Blue or Green Badge guides who are full of fun facts about the city and its history. Not only do our walking tours add an extra dimension to the art trail, but they also help to fundraise for Break, to which we are giving a donation for every tour booked.”
Cambridge is beginning to open up for visitors from further afield, as Covid restrictions are lifted, and the Cows about Cambridge art trail offers a Covid-friendly way for families and groups of friends to explore the city – with many sculptures located outside, near hospitality venues or picnic spots.
At Cambridge Railway Station, two bovine beauties celebrate the surrounding countryside. Around The City, an aptly-named sculpture sponsored by Thameslink, is inspired by Cambridge and its green belt. Featuring local homes as well as iconic landmarks, the design recognizes that the local people make the city what it is. The Bovine Line, created by internationally-acclaimed artist Phil Daniels, is inspired by the countryside and views seen from the trains that travel the railway line between Norwich and Cambridge.
“This year, more than ever, is a moovellous opportunity to visit Cambridge and use the Cows about Cambridge trail to explore our beautiful city,” commented Ian Sandison, CEO of Cambridge BID. “We have hotels to suit all budgets, great bars and restaurants, over 250 independent businesses, udderly lovely parks and green spaces, and of course close to 1,000 years of historic buildings, colleges and churches to see whilst you walk the Cows About Cambridge trail.
“If you unlock Cows using the app there are many generous offers to be had, including dinner and drinks in various venues to refresh you and your family as you explore. Come for a week, I say, there really is so much to see in our beautiful city.”
From The Botanicow, which features plant collections found in Cambridge University Botanic Garden, to Now for Something Udderly Different, which pays tribute to Monty Python and the famous Footlights Club, the art trail includes Cambridge references that will appeal to all tastes.
All 90 Cows will come together for a farewell weekend on 18-19 September, when the trail is over, before the large sculptures are auctioned off (on 23 September) to raise vital funds for Break – a charity working with children and young people on the edge of care, in care and leaving care.
To find out more about the trail and/or the walking tours, visit cowsaboutcambridge.co.uk or search for the trail on social channels
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