IntroductionThe River Great Ouse and its valley threads its way through Cambridgeshire. This ribbon of landscape is an area relatively unknown to the wider world – and even to some of its own County’s inhabitants. But it is an ancient landscape, having been for millennia a highway and trade route from the coast to the centre of England.

The Great Ouse Valley is a place of outstanding beauty mixed with pastoral charm and gentle tranquillity. Here is a profusion of extraordinary treasures in close proximity – great flood plain meadows bordering a quiet, meandering river with its tangle of backwaters and islands.

Picturesque villages and market towns with a wealth of architectural and cultural heritage sit alongside. Vast tracts of man-made lakes and reed beds have become new wildernesses and internationally important wildlife sites. It is an unusual place with a complex multi-faceted character.

The Great Ouse Valley cannot be seen from afar – this is a flat country. The majority of the area is inaccessible by car. But once you enter the Valley on foot, bike, horse or boat, you realise you are in a place apart. There is a clear, compelling sense of somewhere that is unique – a place to explore and then cherish. The Great Ouse Valley is the very best of its kind.

The Quay, St Ives