Hobson's Conduit Trust

The location

Hobson’s Conduit – for the curious

Where is the conduit?

Points of Interest

Nine Wells

Parking near Nine Wells is available at Addenbrooke’s Hospital Car Park 2. Proceed to the Rosie Maternity Hospital along Robinson Way and turn right into Dame Mary Archer Way where Citi 7 and 25 bus services stop. As the road bends right, take the footpath straight ahead and follow this to a T-junction. Take the tarmac path on the left and just before a wooden bridge turn left and follow the track to the trees ahead. Part of the brook is on your right. Nine Wells Local Nature Reserve and the source of the water for Hobson’s Brook is across a bridge by an information board.

First view of the Nine Wells Nature Reserve. Attribution - Richard Fraser

The spring heads at Nine Wells (CB22 5JY) are the site of the water source for the chalk stream now known as Hobson’s Conduit. Until 1976, this area was a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). In 2005 Nine Wells was designated a Local Nature Reserve.

Nine Wells is also the site of an obelisk dedicated to founders and benefactors of Hobson’s Conduit. At Nine Wells the recent Bioblitz identified over 160 animal and plant species including Tawny Owls and the poisonous deadly nightshade. It is not possible to walk the whole route from Nine Wells because of the building sites at Trumpington.

Nine Wells can be accessed by walking the Trumpington History Group Trail starting at Anstey Way Trumpington (CB2 9JE).

The obelisk commemorating benefactors. Attribution - Richard Fraser

Conduit Watercourse

The path commences again close to the junction of Barrow Road and Porson Road (CB2 8AS). Parking restrictions operate in this area.

The wooden door at this junction allows access to a path leading to Hobson’s brook where many fish, newts and other amphibians are frequently seen.

The brick bridge looking over Emmanuel College field. Attribution - Richard Fraser

At the brick bridge follow the left hand path along by woodlands with abundant bird, animal and plant life including a rare Black Poplar tree. Proceed over the Trustees wooden bridge under which overspill water still flows towards the Cam. Hobson’s ‘new river’ goes straight on between Clare College Wood and Sports Ground and then on between Empty Common allotments and Accordia developments to Brooklands Avenue. After crossing the road, the path follows the edge of the Botanic Garden.

The Trustees wooden bridge. Attribution - Richard Fraser

The Botanic Garden

Limited Pay and Display parking is available in Trumpington Road opposite the University Botanic Garden. Buses also leave Trumpington Park & Ride – alight at the The Nuffield Hospital.

On the east side of Trumpington Road proceed towards Cambridge, crossing Brooklands Avenue. You pass the cottage, originally built for the gardener at Brooklands House, the original Botanic Garden entrance and its new access point on Bateman Street. Water from Hobson’s Conduit is used to fill the lake in the Botanic Garden.

The gardener's cottage

Upon reaching Brookside, the course passes through a grassed area by Trumpington Road. The above ground water flow terminates at the beginning of the underground sections now marked at the Conduit Head by the old fountain – moved from market square in 1856 (CB2 1PY). There are cafes,wine bars and restaurants in this area.


The Underground Section

From the Conduit Head four channels run underground. One provides water for Trumpington Street where two runnels now take water down either side in summer months. From here the water originally flowed into the Kings Ditch near St Botolph’s Church.

One, now disused, ran under what is now the Lion Yard shopping mall to the Market Square where a fountain supplied continuous water to the public until 1856. The original structure is now located at the Conduit Head: sculptures that were on its Victorian replacement are in the Museum of Cambridge.

The Botanic Garden Lake. By kind permission of the Director of Cambridge Botanic Garden

Hazards along the Hobson's Brook

General advice on safety near water can be found at The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents. Also be aware of:


  • At all times please make sure to exercise great caution particularly when crossing busy roads.
  • Falling into the water is dangerous particularly because the silt layer can be two metres deep.
  • Animals near fresh water can carry Leptospirosis. Infection in humans is rare.
  • The runnels on Trumpington Street present a potential hazard to pedestrians, cyclists and can cause damage to cars if street parking is misjudged!