As far as easy Achievable Adventures from London go, this one is right up there. A stone’s throw from the capital, Cambridgeshire is the perfect, easy to access location for an escape. So when we got the opportunity to spend a couple of days there as part of our 52 UK adventures in 52 weeks challenge, we jumped at the chance.
We were lucky enough to be staying at Kip’s gorgeously positioned lakeside hideaway, Waterlily Cabin. Located 15 minute drive from Cambridge City center, the cabin is nestled away in the small village of Dry Drayton and boasts its own private, door-step lake. Waterlily is one of those places where the guest experience is so well thought out, that they seem to have thought of everything right down to the tiniest of details, making staying here feel not only adventurous but comfortable too.
The whole experience of the stay is set up to encourage you to spend as much time outdoors as possible and that fix of outdoor living creates a brilliant sense of adventure without ever being physically taxing. Good combo if you ask us!
We spent 48 hours there. Below is an itinerary of what we got up to: Day one:
We arrived just after lunch and checked in to Waterlily. The first thing that hit us was the proximity to the water, lying down on the bed looking out of the large glass window, there it was, our own large private lake. This immediately set the tone for our stay, a calmness washed over us, city life was forgotten and we clicked into relaxed mode.
Despite the fact that it was early February and Jess was 32 weeks pregnant she announced she was getting in the lake straight away. I politely declined the invitation to join her on account of the fact that I’m not mad, and set about holding her towel from the safety of the wooden jetty as she got into the water and braved a short swim.
She jumped out sporting a big smile and hopped in the shower to warm up. The great thing about the cabin is that the distance from the jetty to the shower is probably a grand total of about 8 meters, meaning warmth is never far away – crucial for the winter dips!
We spent the rest of the afternoon lazing on the deck outside the cabin, playing draughts and drinking tea. After a hectic week of work it was just what we needed.
Then as the sun began to drop we built a fire in our firepit, sat back and chatted as the fire crackled. We were officially in the outdoor swing of things.
One of the main challenges we encountered at Waterlily was getting out of bed. As I mentioned earlier, the attention to detail is amazing and that most certainly extends to the mattress and bed linen choices, they had us glued! But luckily once the curtain is opened and the view revealed, you kind of feel like you’re outside, even from bed. Much better than any plasma screen tv in our opinion!
Then it was time for the day’s first activity, cooking up an outdoor feast. Just outside the porch of the cabin is a fire pit, where we built a fire and set about prepping the food. Much to our greedy delight we had been given a hamper of locally sourced ingredients for a slap up English breakfast; sausages, bacon, mushrooms, bread and eggs. We sipped tea and prodded the fire until it was good to cook on, then whipped up our feast on a cast iron pan. There is something completely different about the experience of cooking outside on an open fire like this, we find it infinitely more satisfying and a lot more fun. We stuffed ourselves and took the time to slip back onto the bed to make sure it was as comfortable as we’d remembered. It was.
Once digested it was time for activity two of the morning, an outdoor bath. Next to the Waterlily Cabin is an old GWR railway carriage, called the Bluebell Wagon, that has been beautifully transformed into a cosy little hideaway, just behind this cabin is an outdoor bath.
As with the fire, half the fun of the bath is the setup process. It was a beautifully designed piece of kit, with a simple but very cool wood fired system, the lighting of which leads to a deliciously toasty bath, complete with smoking chimney! We soaked for half an hour in amongst the trees and sipped more tea, who knew adventure could be this relaxing!
The afternoon called for some exploration and so we headed to the nearby Drayton Lakes, a small network of lakes and wetlands that are perfect if you’re looking to stretch your legs and get your fix of Cambridgeshire vistas.
Legs stretched, it was back to the cabin for a dip followed by marshmallows on the fire.
That evening we decided to eat out and so went to The 3 Horseshoes, a village pub only 10 minute drive from the cabin. This was one of the most surprising little pubs we’ve been to for a while, we went in not knowing what to expect and came out full and very happy. Highly recommend it if you fancy some delicious grub!
Back to the cabin for a look at the stars and sleep.
Our final morning was a beautiful one and so we started the day with a sunrise stroll up a nearby field to watch the early morning light creep over the fields. We took flasks of tea and sat up there until we were too cold and hurried back to the warmth of the cabin for breakfast.
After the fun of cooking up our full english on first day, there was no doubt in our minds that a repeat was in order and so we set about our new ritual of building up the fire. Once we’d eaten (and digested of course) it was time for a quick farewell dip to set us for the road.
We managed to drag ourselves away from what now seemed a second home, and hit the road, however there was still time for one more adventure…
Due to the weather being so glorious and our proximity to Grantchester Meadows, Jess decided she wanted another wild swim. The Meadows are situated 20 minutes or so from the cabin, just outside of Cambridge city center and are a renowned cold water swimming spot.. more usually in the warmer months for normal people, but as discussed, Jess is not normal. We parked up nearby, trudged through the thick mud and set up next to one of the first meanders of the river Cam. Before I’d had a chance to get my bearings, Jess had stripped off and was in! Another glorious freshwater winter swim, the perfect way to round off a few days of outdoor indulgence.
This adventure was so achievable, with only a short journey in the car especially if like us, your based on the east side of the capital and such a great set up on arrival. It is rare that a location gets the balance of adventurous outdoor living and relaxation so spot on, but Waterlily Cabin did just that.