Ely Circular walk

An easy walk through open Fenland, The River Great Ouse, 'big' skies, tree-lined farm tracks, historic Ely Cathedral and a quayside stroll at the end

Ely Cathedral from River Great Ouse, near Cuckoo Bridge SWC Walk 118 Ely Circular (off-route off the Ely Extension)

Ely Cathedral from River Great Ouse, near Cuckoo Bridge

SWC Walk 118 Ely Circular (off-route off the Ely Extension)

12-Sep-16 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

swcwalks swcwalk118 banner walkicon 29576172111

Boat on River Great Ouse SWC Walk 118 Ely Circular

Boat on River Great Ouse

SWC Walk 118 Ely Circular

08-Sep-16 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

swcwalks swcwalk118 walkicon 29031563404

Big Skies in Fenland, w/o Ely Cathedral SWC Walk 118 Ely Circular

Big Skies in Fenland, w/o Ely Cathedral

SWC Walk 118 Ely Circular

08-Sep-16 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

swcwalks swcwalk118 walkicon 29657866025

Ely Cathedral SWC Walk 118 Ely Circular

Ely Cathedral

SWC Walk 118 Ely Circular

08-Sep-16 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

swcwalks swcwalk118 walkicon 29657703775

Along a catchwater Ely Circular

Along a catchwater

Ely Circular

25-Sep-16 • moontiger on Flickr

swcwalks swcwalk118 ely walkicon 29654153630

The Burying Way Ely Circular

The Burying Way

Ely Circular

25-Sep-16 • moontiger on Flickr

swcwalks swcwalk118 ely walkicon 29913813986

Braham Dock Drain, with swan Ely Circular

Braham Dock Drain, with swan

Ely Circular

08-Jul-17 • moontiger on Flickr

swcwalks swcwalk118 ely walkicon 35425806020

Length

18.0 km (11.2 mi) with negligible ascent. For a longer or a shorter walk see below Walk Options.

Toughness

2 out of 10, with 3 ¾ hours walking time. For the whole outing, including trains, sights and meals, allow at least 7 ½ hours.

Walk Notes

This walk is centred around Ely, the second smallest city in England, and the low-lying land of the Isle of Ely, the site of the supposed ‘Last Stand of the Saxons’, led by Hereward the Wake against the Norman Invaders, a landscape reminiscent of the Low Countries or Northern Germany: open fenland, largely flat, former marshy and boggy ground now drained for intensive agriculture, with long straight tree-lined farm tracks, hedge-lined meadows and big, cloud-filled skies. The River Great Ouse, ditches, dykes, embankments and catchwater drains all help to create the special atmosphere of Fenland.
The walk leads into the prevailing wind direction in the morning, and on a windy day the raised banks beside the river can feel very exposed as the wind sweeps in from the Fens, so you may have to work hard to get to lunch in the ‘hilltop’ village of Stretham.
In the afternoon you see Ely cathedral rising above the Fens like a castle or a ship ahead of you, the towers seeming like masts. It dominates the area for kilometres around and shows from everywhere an outline different from any other English cathedral, largely due its famed central octagonal tower.
Ely’s Old Town, the Cathedral and numerous tea options are passed before a quayside stroll and the finish back to the station. Stile Count: 2.
Traffic noise from the A10 and the Ely Bypass can be heard on significant parts of the walk.

Walk Options

You can walk a slightly longer variation in the morning, further along the Great Ouse (map-led).
You can walk a very short Ely – Little Thetford – Ely route of 11.6 km/7.2 mi (with lunch back in Ely).
You can shorten the route through Ely by going straight to the station from its fringes (cut 2 km).
You can add a westerly loop from Little Thetford to Witchford and its pub, either in addition to the Main Walk (adds 7.5 km/4.7 mi, rated 4/10); or as an alternative to the southerly loop from Little Thetford via Stretham, for a distance of 19.1 km/11.9 mi, rated 2/10.
You can add an extension in Ely for a stroll through the meadows of the River Great Ouse (add 2.4 or 3.6 km).
Buses 2 (Ely – Addenbrooke’s Hospital), 9/X9 (Cambridge to Chatteris) and the Ely Zipper serve Little Thetford and the lunch destination Stretham (more than hourly, but not on Sundays).

Visit

Ely Cathedral is a must.
Cromwell's House is an option.

Maps

OS Explorer: 226 (Ely & Newmarket)
OS Landranger: 143 (Ely & Wisbech)

Transport

Ely station, map reference TL 543 793, is 23 km north east of Cambridge, 102 km north north east of Charing Cross, 5m above sea level, and in East Cambridgeshire. Ely Station is on the Fen Line from Cambridge to King's Lynn, i.e.: it is being served by trains from King’s Cross (quicker) and Liverpool Street. From King’s Cross there are two direct trains per hour Mondays-Saturdays and one on Sundays (journey time from 70 mins).

Saturday Walkers Club: Take a train no later than 10.15.

Lunch

The Red Lion 47 High Street, Stretham, Cambridgeshire, CB6 3LD (01353 648 132). The Red Lion is located 8.2 km (5.1 mi) into the walk.
The Village Inn 80 Main Street, Witchford, Cambridgeshire, CB6 2HQ (01353 663 763). The Village Inn is located 9.4 km (5.8 mi) into the alternative walk, cutting out Stretham, and 15.8 km (9.8 mi) into the extended walk, including Stretham.

Tea

Plenty of options in Ely, the ones passed en route are mentioned in the text; recommended are:
The Refectory Café Ely Cathedral, Ely, Cambridgeshire, CB7 4DL (01353 660 346). The Refectory Café is located 2.1 km from the end of the walk.
The Almonry Restaurant 36 High Street, Ely, Cambridgeshire, CB7 4JU (01353 666 360). The Almonry is located 1.3 km from the end of the walk in a truly unique location nestled amongst the medieval precinct of Ely Cathedral. The main restaurant is located in the 13th century undercroft in a stunning yet informal space for lunches and bistro dining. The Almonry Tea Room overlooks the gardens.
3 At 3 Real Ale & Craft Beer Café Three Cups Walk, Ely, Cambridgeshire, CB7 4AN (01353 659 916). 3 At 3 is located 1.2 km from the end of the walk.
Peacock’s Tearoom 65 Waterside, Ely, Cambridgeshire, CB7 4AU (01353 661 100). Peacock’s is located 800m from the end of the walk.
The Cutter Inn and Riverside Restaurant 42 Annesdale, Ely, Cambridgeshire, CB7 4BN (01353 662 713). The Cutter Inn is located 530m from the end of the walk.

Profile
Help Us!

After the walk, we would love to get your feedback

You can upload photos to the SWC Group on Flickr (upload your photos) and videos to Youtube. This walk's tags are:

swcwalks
swcwalk118
By Train

Out (not a train station)

Back (not a train station)

By Car

Start CB7 4BS Map Directions

Map Walk This walk requires an OS map and a compass or GPS for navigation. You can print out OS maps using the link above.
Amazon
Help

National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline (bus times): 0871 200 22 33 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234

Version

Oct-21 Thomas G

Copyright © Saturday Walkers Club. All Rights Reserved. No commercial use. No copying. No derivatives. Free with attribution for one time non-commercial use only. www.walkingclub.org.uk/site/license.shtml

Walk Directions  

Full directions for this walk are in a PDF file (link above) which you can print, or download on to a Kindle, tablet, or smartphone.

This is just the introduction. This walk's detailed directions are in a PDF available from wwww.walkingclub.org.uk