Escape the Bubble: Mill Road

Image credit: Martin Addison

I discovered Mill Road by accident. It’s not that I didn’t know it existed, but it’s that I never bothered going there. Being at Corpus meant I never had reason to go anywhere that wasn’t the golden triangle of Sainbury’s – lectures – my room. It was in second year, on the promise of cute animals to cuddle, that I made my first journey to Mill Road to visit a friend of a friend’s rabbits and somehow ended up house/bunny sitting for the weekend. That trip felt so far removed from what my experience of Cambridge had been like up to that point. Over there, I no longer felt simply like a student, but rather like someone who lived in the town and just happened to also go to the University.

I still live smack in the centre of town. The first thing I see when I open my curtains every morning is good old Sam Smileys (RIP) smiling back at me. Sometimes it gets suffocating, and Mill Road is now my go-to sanctuary. It’s a 10 minute cycle pilgrimage on days when Cambridge as I know it feels too much. It’s refreshing to see real people going about their real lives, lives that don’t involve essay deadlines, stressy supervisors, and one too many this-is-my-reward-for-writing-a-whole-sentence cookies.

It’s not that there’s expressly stuff to do there – it’s mostly a regular high street with shops and restaurants, but it’s the way in which they’re different to what King’s Parade and Petty Cury have to offer that makes all the difference. It’s somehow more vibrant, more diverse. The bridge that cuts the road in two is painted in bright colours. It’s not beautiful in the old, architectural way that the centre of the university town is, but it’s beautiful in its lack of polish. Its rawness makes it all the more pulsing.

It’s worth going there in the morning; Black Cat Café is a strong contender for the best brunch spot in town. You could equally head there to work at a coffee shop you’ve never been to before, to trawl the charity shops for clothes, or explore the food shops for fruit Sainsbury’s definitely doesn’t keep. Have an ear out for their events too – Mill Road has fabulous fairs with great food and live music, and every so often a café there will host a funky event.

Make the effort - Mill Road is the cosmopolitan high street haven you didn’t realise you were lacking until you went there. Trust me, once you go, it’ll become the place you think of first when you think about getting out of ivory tower Cambridge for a while.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Related Stories

In this section

Across the site

Best of the Rest