Our first treat was watching a spitfire flight whilst eating our delicious lunch.
It was our first time there, having previously frequented it's sisters in London and would thoroughly recommend it, for all ages and all levels of interest in aviation. We went in early June, just before the D-Day landing's 70th anniversary and spent all day wandering around the brilliant site.
We started our day in the AirSpace hanger which is the largest on site and literally full of planes. It tells the story of aviation history in Britain and the Commonwealth through film, activities, boards and the largest collection of planes, trucks and cars we have ever seen.
Some of the trucks that we fell in love with.
Inside the AirSpace, where you can get your fill of planes
The AirSpace also has a great exhibition about the Wright brothers flight, an interesting museum about the Parachute Regiment and Airborne Forces, the chance to go in Concorde and much more. Be warned you can lose hours in here, the only thing that got us out was the allure of food.
Next up, after our scrummy lunch (a vegatable flan which was devine in their Mess Resturant) and spitfire entertainment, we strolled up to the furthest point of the site, the Land Warfare, so we could work our way back down. The walk is about 10 minutes and gives you a chance to take in some of the outside exhibits.
On the left is the view from the furthest point of the site and on the left the view on the way there.
From the trenches of World War 1 to the jungles of Malaysia, the Land Warfare building is all about the ground level fighting. This is where, once you've made it through the trenches, you find yourself at the D-Day exhibition and on a landing craft that's hit the shore.
The exhibition that follows is a really interesting insight to the whole operation through the pages of one mans diary, equipment and vehicles of the time.
Your call to the shore from the D-Day landing craft.
It was really interesting to see the amount of machines used and also the huge scale of the operation which is marked out on large maps dotted around.
This is also the place where you can feel the weight of a soilders kit bag (heavy we might like to add) and look at the clothes the soldiers wore, cue a silly picture of our boss, Hatty, in a tin hat on the right and a British Army boot on the left.
After the Land Warfare exhibit, we started to make our way back down the site, with our next port of call being the American Air Museum. This was our favourite building at Duxford with it's huge glass front that can come away when the air craft inside are maneuvered about.
Stock picture from here
In here, as you might have guessed, is full of american bits and bobs. It houses the largest collection of US historic military air craft in Europe and also has interesting pieces of american military history dotted around and array of vehicles too. There are also some interesting videos about the different campaigns that the american planes all around you have been involved in.
As you come out of the American Air Museum and turn right, you find, as we did, a little prefab house which is set up inside as one would be from the 1940's/50's.
The picture of the outside comes from here and the picture of the right is from the kitchen.
Each room is set up with furniture and items from the era, many of which we noticed we have matching stored away at HQ.
Behind the house was an Anderson shelter and a victory garden, which being home front geeks we are, we loved seeing the set up. The victory garden gave us loads of ideas for our little spaces at home and answered some of our questions about how easy it would have been to get seeds in the war (It wasn't, many came from last years crop and friendly neighbors and it wasn't till later on in the war were seeds imported from the common wealth countries). We also all agreed the shelter didn't look the most comfortable way to spend a night time raid and we probably would have opted for the Morrison.
The Anderson shelter behind the prefab and a little sneak inside.
The Victory garden which looked mightly scrummy
The next stop on our route back down was to the recently opened, reconstruction of a 1940's Operations room, which would have directed the fighter planes into combat during the Battle of Britain. Although the original fixtures and fittings have long been removed, they have reconstructed the rooms back to how they would have looked...
...using photographs, recollections and documents, down to the smallest details like the tape on the walls to stop the glass going everywhere during a raid.
During the numerous air raids that the building came under, the staff regularly chose to stay at their stations as their job was so important, which are in awe of, we aren't sure how well we would have fared in the same situation. The actual operations room at Duxford was only hit once during a raid and no one was injured.
We kept the Home Front in mind as we moved on and entered the Battle of Britain hanger, which documents our "Finest Hour"
There are several machines on show including a replica of a German plane that crashed into a field, reconstructed even to include the Home Guard who watched it and its exact bend in its wing. You can also look at the planes which protected the skies, the ambulances and movable canteens that worked tirelessly during the air raids and also a shelter with a model family inside, confirming our suspicions about crampness during the raids. You can just see the german plane on the right
The picture to the right is of ambulances and canteens used during world war 2 and an Anderson shelter complete with cramped family inside
There was also a lot of information about the war time campaigns and their accompanying posters, games to test your home front knowledge (9/10 just in case you wanted to know) and films and pictures all about the sacrifice "so few" made for "so many". Probably our favourite building of the day (apart the gift shop, of course)
Just outside the Home Front hanger is a new little room all about the history of the airfield which is very cool. There are videos about all the guys and gals who used to work there, loads of artifacts from Duxford's history and even a place to try on some of the RAF uniforms which of course we did. It's really interesting to learn a little more about the place.
And that was where we finished, tired, purses empty (blame the shop) but having thoroughly enjoyed our day, we most definitely recommend it :)
1. Wear comfy shoes, you will be doing a lot of walking so make sure you have something on your feet that's kind to them
2. Bring enough money to by the whole gift shop, we have never walked in somewhere where we have wanted to much.
3. Give it the whole day. We had plans to pop in to Cambridge after we had finished but we spent all day at Duxford and still didn't fit it all in.
4. Take an umbrella. Although nearly all of the exhibits are inside, if it looks like rain take a brolly as you do have to walk a far way in between the hangers.
This blog falls into our On Your Bike series which is all about adventures whether it's out on your bike, a vintage train day or even a themed day. It also has bike maintenance, hair styles for your adventures and more. Find out more about this series and our others at on our Overview blog or find more in the same series by pressing the "On Your Bike" tab at the top of the page.