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

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Boat on River Great Ouse

SWC Walk 118 Ely Circular

08-Sep-16 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Big Skies in Fenland, w/o Ely Cathedral

SWC Walk 118 Ely Circular

08-Sep-16 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Ely Cathedral

SWC Walk 118 Ely Circular

08-Sep-16 • thomasgrabow on Flickr

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Along a catchwater

Ely Circular

25-Sep-16 • moontiger on Flickr

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The Burying Way

Ely Circular

25-Sep-16 • moontiger on Flickr

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Braham Dock Drain, with swan

Ely Circular

08-Jul-17 • moontiger on Flickr

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Ely Circular walk


This is a list of previous times this walk has been done by the club (since Jan 2010). For more recent events (since April 2015), full details are shown.

Updated: Mon, 06-Jul-20

Date # Post
Wed, 10-Apr-19 7

Wednesday Walk Ely Circular - Open Fenland, River Great Ouse and Ely Cathedral

SWC 118 - Ely Circular

Length: 18 km (11.2 miles)
Toughness: 2 out of 10

London Kings Cross: 10-12 hrs Ely service Cambridge 11-04 hrs
Arrive Ely: 11-22 hrs

Return (direct to Kings Cross unless [C] change at Cambridge): 15-45, 15-53[C], 16-17, 16-47, 16-53[C], 17-17, 17-47, 17-50. 18-17, 18-57, 19-17 and 19-47 hrs

Evensong in Ely Cathedral is at 17-30 hrs

This Fenland walk is new to me, and I look forward to giving it go today. I'm not sure if the walk has had a previous SWC mid-week outing, so if not others might, like me, be venturing forth on it for the first time. The Directions are comprehensive and full of interesting information and historical facts. I refer you all to them - to spare me bumbling on here.
Whilst I haven't tried out this walk before, last year in September I did visit Ely Cathedral - and a most enjoyable visit, too. I recommend one of their tours. If you are not in a hurry to return home after today's walk, you might like to attend Evensong in the Cathedral. The choir today is a girl's choir.
Your lunch stop some 5 miles into the walk is the Red Lion in Stretham. I recall last year on Good Friday our SWC walkers found this pub less than welcoming: let's hope today we find the staff in good humour. For tea, the Cathedral's own caff should do the trick. From the Cathedral you have a 2.1 km walk back to the railway station - with its frequent train service back to London.
Your Walk Directions are here: L=swc.118
Something of a contrast to last Wednesday's walk: instead of the challenge of ascending Chinnor Hill and climbing steeply up onto Bledlow Ridge, today mile upon mile of sweet flat nothing ! Actually, all my walking companions we mustered 7 today enjoyed the vast open spaces and our relaxing perambulation through the Fens devoid of people. Apart from an artist we met mid morning who was packing up his easel, we didn't see anyone on the walk all day: a lone walker today would have felt....well, alone.
As per last week, we were very lucky with the weather. It was sunny and breezy, and pleasantly warm out of the breeze cue remove anorak chilly in the breeze cue put it back on again. It was one of those days but it didn't matter, as we were grateful it was sunny and not raining and there was no mud on the paths.
Lunch in the village of Stretham was fine we received an unexpected welcome on entering the Red Lion pub, and the three of us whom dined were happy with our respective meals. Our four sandwichers joined us for a drink, so were departed as a small group intact a nice change.
I found the afternoon leg of the walk more interesting, with a bit more variety in the flat terrain , as we made our way back to Ely. Two headed direct to the railway station, another went sight seeing in Ely, leaving four of us to enter the magnificent Cathedral. After a brief visit we retired to the small Cathedral cafe for tea and in my case, an indulgent slice of walnut and date cake, which was quite magnificent and highly recommended for future SWC visitors ! Four of us ended up on the 16 47 hrs service from Ely (two of us via the 16 53 don't ask) for a fast and uneventful journey back to King's Cross.
A "flat" day out, but a thoroughly enjoyable one and different to the norm. Not bad company either !

Sat, 09-Feb-19

Ely Circular

Length: 18 km (11.2 miles). Toughness: 2/10

Catch the 9:42 from London Kings Cross arrives Ely 10:54. Fast return xx:17 until 22:17.

An easy walk that has been fully revised and expanded from the days when it was a basic map walk.
Now I might do the Walk on Saturday. But I can't Guarantee I will. Now not only you can go from London Kings Cross. Also you can go from London Liverpool Street or Tottenham Hale. But you do need to change at Cambridge to so.
Fri, 30-Mar-18 15

Good Friday - Ely Circular: Ely, River Great Ouse, Fens, and Ely Cathedral for Evensong

SWC 118: Ely Circular

Length: 18 km (11.2 miles): shorter and longer options available
Toughness: 2 out of 10. Most of the walk is flat

London Kings Cross: 10-14 hrs Great Northern, Cambridge service
Arrive Ely: 11-21 hrs

Return: Direct services back to Kings Cross: where you have to change at Cambridge [C]: 16-25, 16-58, 17-25, 17-54, 17-59[C], 18-29, 18-59, 19-06, 19-52[C], 20-06, 20-52[C],21-06, 21-50[C], 22-06

Ely Cathedral: Sung Evensong at 17-30 hrs

In previous years on Good Friday I have sent you off on the Chilham to Canterbury walk for your Easter pilgrimage. However, with the mid-point lunch pub closure, and Walker's posting of a Canterbury Circular walk in mid April, I thought Ely would be a good alternative this year. That said, I have never done this walk, so I will leave you to read the walk notes for background information.

Your lunch stop is the Red Lion in Stretham, some 5.1 miles into the walk. Best 'phone ahead with numbers -01353-648132.

There are lots of tea options back in Ely, including the Cathedral's cafe. For those wishing to attend Evensong in the Cathedral, you should have time for tea before attending the service.

Enjoy !
Walk Directions here L=swc.118

probably a big late to mention this now (11pm Thursday) but one of the maps shows a new bypass in construction linking the A10 and A142, just south of Ely, partly where we are intending to walk. Any ideas if it is going to hinder us?
15 on walk, 2 of whom got an earlier train. A very good, companionable day out, dry to start with and rain coming in later in afternoon proving a bit heavy by the time we reached beautiful Ely. The cathedral is magnificent, worth the trip in itself. The walk is undemanding but good for big skies and fen type things. The Red Lion at Stretham let down the pub lunchers by saying there'd be long delays so everyone but two early starters gave up and made do with sandwiches from the very well stocked village shop, free apples in church porch, or held out for a meal in Ely. Five of us enjoyed good tea and cake at Kemptons in Ely, very reasonable prices and the savoury dishes looked a bargain. We'd got to the town so early that all but one decided not to wait for 5.30pm Evensong, the weather being a bit miserable by then, and nearly all managed to get the 16.58 train home. Just as a bit of warning to train travellers generally, one of our group on the way out unfortunately was fined for not having a ticket on the train by an over zealous inspector. She'd got on at the last minute and expected to be able to buy it on board, so do be careful.
dry in morning wet later on
Sat, 08-Jul-17 10

Saturday Walk – The Cathedral of the Fens

Extra Walk 118 – Ely Circular
Length: 18 km (11.2 miles). Toughness: 2/10

10:14 Ely train from Kings Cross, arriving Ely at 11:21.

Trains back are at around 25 & 55 minutes past the hour to 7pm, then hourly (times vary slightly).

This walk had a makeover a year or two ago and this revised version was well received on a Sunday last September, so it's about time it had a Saturday outing. Rather surprisingly for a Fenland walk the word 'hilltop' appears a few times in the walk notes, but anyone looking to prepare themselves for August's Peak District weekend should probably stick to the gym: the landscape is of course predominantly flat with the great cathedral visible for miles around.

The walk is essentially an out-and-back route to the Red Lion in the village of Stretham, with stretches alongside the River Great Ouse in the morning and some contrasting woodland groves in the afternoon. Ely is a fine place to end a walk and the route takes you into the centre of the city and right past the door of Ely Cathedral, which of course is well worth visiting. You can see something of the magnificent interior from its Refectory Café (free to enter) but there's an admission charge to visit the Cathedral itself before 5pm; this includes a guided tour. The walk notes list many possible refreshment places and if it's a fine evening there's a short optional extension through the water meadows which looks well worth trying.

You'll need to download and print the directions from the Ely Circular Walk page. T=swc.118
10 on a day that started cool and cloudy but got warmer muggier and sunnier It’s the second time Ive done this re jigged walk and I have to say that apart from the big open skies and the occasional drain, the fens seemed a tad featureless today. It may have been the heat, but I found myself hankering for the old Witchford loop. The church in Stretham has interesting windows and The pub there is probably slightly more amenable than the one in Witchford but I wouldn’t make a special trip to find it. Don’t go there looking for beer, there was only one on offer. Ditto cider. People seemed to like the food they got, though. Salmon and mashed potatoes but it probably had a posher name. And back along the Burying Way. From Little Thetford, the walk picked up a bit, a bit more variety, past a village fete, through a endless succession of gates, an interminable golf course and finally the highlight of this walk, Ely itself. Just a shame we had to walk 11 miles to get there! Despite having led for some sections of the walk, the others raced ahead on the approach. I finally tracked them down, stuffing cream and scones into their fat little faces in the Almonry. I, however, had another destination in mind – to fulfil a longstanding ambition to visit The Drayman's Son, a micropub on Forehill. It was a bit stuffy, being crammed with Morris dancers thanks to Ely Folk Festival being on somewhere They offer about a zillion types of real ale and cider – vanilla porter, anyone? Anyway, I picked a pint of Pickled Parrot perry. Very nice, 6%. Truly one of the wonders of Ely. I must have looked festive when I left because someone with a flowery hat and bells on asked me where to pick up the shuttle to the festival. Then a quick visit to the cathedral, Ely’s other wonder. Some stayed there to listen to singing but I was off, downhill through the park, back to the station. A better walk might be to do the shorter loop, have lunch in Ely then visit the water meadows (fitting in at least two visits to the Draymans Son on the way round).

Sun, 25-Sep-16 11

Sunday Walk 2: New! Different! Ely Circular....With added words!

Ely Circular
SWC walk 118
18 km, 11.2 miles (with longer and shorter options)
Difficulty 2 out of 10
Once just maps but now with words as well, this walk has gone through some changes and this is the first outing in its new form. It has been rewritten, rerouted, re-vamped, re-everythinged! It explores the reclaimed land of the former “Isle" of Ely, then takes you through Ely itself, the second smallest city in England. The Great Ouse, ditches, dykes, embankments and catchwaters all help to create the special atmosphere of Fenland, where Hereward the Wake once led an insurgency against the Normans. The walk returns past Ely landmarks, including the Cathedral and Oliver Cromwell's House.
Directions available here We're doing the new main walk via Stretham.
Options: As well as the main walk,
  • there is a very short Ely – Little Thetford – Ely walk of 11.6 km/7.2 miles (with lunch back in Ely),
  • or you can pick up the old route to Witchford and its pub, either as an add-on to the main walk (an extra 7.5 km/4.7 miles) or instead of the Stretham loop (total distance: 19.1 km/11.9 miles).
  • Near the end, you can add an extension through the meadows of the River Great Ouse (add 2.4 km. 1.5 miles).
Trains: Get the 10:15 King's Lynn train to Ely from Kings Cross (arriving 11:22).
Trains return from Ely at xx:58 (fastest, direct) and xx:04 (change at Cambridge).
Lunch : For the main walk The Red Lion, High Street, Stretham, 01353 648 132.
Or, if doing the Witchford loop, The Village Inn, Witchford 01353 663763. (Carvery only on Sundays, vegetarians beware.)
Tea: There are many tea places in Ely - see the notes for an extensive list. I've picked out four.
The Almonry, off Forehill, is open till 5. Sedate and genteel, just like us. Recommended.
Also on Forehill, an award-winning micropub, the Drayman’s Son sells specialist locally brewed beer and a wide selection of ciders (with names like "Nun Behaving Badly" and "Monk and Disorderly").
3 At 3 Real Ale & Craft Beer Café, Three Cups Walk, Ely, (01353 659 916) Bottle-conditioned ales, cider, wine - and tea and coffee.
The Cutter Inn, 42 Annesdale, (01353 662 713). Historic.
Dating from the 11th Century, Ely Cathedral is open till 5:30 and, according to their website, is free to visit on a Sunday – though I’m sure they would appreciate a donation.
Oliver Cromwell's House has been done out to show how his family would have lived in the mid 17th Century, assisted by an introductory film, audio tour and lifesize animated dummies. Open 11 till 5 (last entry 4), admission £4.90
Feedback on this new version of the walk would be appreciated.

Anyone is up for an earlier start, an hour earlier?
11 on this walk enjoying "last of the summer wine" weather of fine with some sun and a light breeze conditions. If you are a fan of big skies and flat open "countryside" then this is a fine outing but for some there would be too much "agribusiness" and not enough fen or unploughed fields. Still it was an excellent day out with the lunch pub providing good quality meals.
The after lunch return stretch works a lot better with a nice amble through a woodland grove. Ely is a fine place to end a walk with a number of refreshment options. Most of us went to the Almonry which seemed to be suffering a tea bag shortage one in the pot between four of us! and my home made chocolate cake was a bit too dry. I would be tempted by none of the riverside pubs the next time.

Oh dear fat arthritic finger syndrome; one of the riverside pubs not none!
to add, for those exploring the picturesque riverside extension in the late afternoon sun, one of the riverside pubs did prove an idyllic refreshment stop before the trip back.
Sun, 14-Feb-16 10

Sunday Walk 1: Luv u Dearly, Off to Ely

Ely Circular
SWC walk 118
17.7 km, 11 miles (with options to shorten)
Difficulty 1 out of 10
The walk starts off along the River Ouse then goes through the reclaimed land south of the former ‘Isle‘ (on raised embankments so no wet tootsies). Later, after crossing a WW2 airfield, you return though the historic cathedral city itself, passing two Ely landmarks, the Cathedral and Oliver Cromwell's House. It's Valentines Day, so look out for this heart shaped puddle. Maybe it will reappear. And maybe you'll see the face of your one true love in it. Maybe.
Trains: Get the 10:15 Ely train from Kings Cross (arriving 11:22)
Trains return from Ely at xx:58 (fastest, direct) and xx:04 (requires change at Cambridge)
Lunch : The Village Inn, Witchford 01353 663763. Carvery only on Sundays so, presumably, no veggie options.
Tea: There are many tea places in Ely. The sedate, genteel Almonry, off Forehill, is recommended, it is open till 5. Also on Forehill, a micropub, the Drayman’s Son (formerly the Liberty Belle) sells specialist locally brewed beer.
Ely Cathedral is open till 5:30 and is free to visit on a Sunday – though I'm sure they would appreciate a donation. It's worth a look.
Oliver Cromwell's House is more or less as he left it, apart from the introductory film, audio tour and lifesize animated dummies. They do a bit of a 'Dear Leader' on him (not so bad, liked a knees-up, didn't ban Xmas, etc. etc) Open 11 till 4 (last entry 3) , admission £4.90
Directions and Maps available here
This is a map-based walk with limited instructions so some degree of proficiency with a map and compass is advised. The full walk is suggested. The shorter options miss out Witchford and the lunch pub. Though I dare say you could find lunch in Ely......
What fun! Hope to attend.jfk
Given the day that's in it, let me misquote a famous line from a rom com: You had me at 'lifesize animated dummies'.
Perhaps someone can translate that from the American? Is anyone intending walking this walk?
Two friends and I intend doing this walk. I will definitely be going because I have just invested in the OS map so need to get my money's worth.
How fabulous to have an airport named after you. I am just a poor boy though my story's seldom told.

I am looking forward to join this walk too and I'll bring my trusted GPS with plenty of batteries. Ely Cathedral is a magnificent cathedral with far reaching views from its roof, in good weather, and indeed plenty to see in and outside. Did you know it has a 'pied a terre' in London? In Ely Place, where else, there is still a chapel formerly part of the Bishop of Ely's Palace, called St Etheldreda's
for more info: http://www.stetheldreda.com/index.php/history of st etheldredas/. well worth a visit and if you like choral singing, go on a Sunday during Latin mass.

Sadly Cromwell is hibernating and you will need to reach his house by 3pm in order to get inside; you would have to take an earlier train and skip lunch; better go another day and spend a day in Ely.

10 sunny and cold

10 walkers off the train at Ely. Cold, but sunny mostly, a little bit overcast for a while before lunch. Not much mud. Most of the walking in the morning on raised banks and in the afternoon, quite a bit on paved surface. A non strenuous walk, flat, walked at a leisurely pace today. Not much of topographical interest, I'd say, but pleasant nonetheless.

Lunch stop at The Village Inn, Witchford. A quick glance at the plates of those already dining and I thought, 'I'll have what she's having'. First area they tried to seat us in wasn't great (nobody puts SWC in the corner), but then they quickly found us a couple of tables that could accommodate everyone. Friendly staff, good value carvery, with self service vegetables and trimmings, but probably not great for non meat eaters or anyone with a small appetite. 7 had full lunch, one picnicked, others had drinks.

Ely is a really lovely town and the cathedral is magnificent. Evensong had just begun when we arrived and some of us lingered to hear the beautiful singing. Some left for the train, five had tea and cake at the Almonry right next to the cathedral. A quick walk around town confirmed that there are a number of other tea and drinks options. Then on to the station where we bumped into one walker who had enjoyed the whole evensong service. The 17:58 train back to London.

Thanks to our Dear Leader and Pia and her magic machine for keeping us on track.
Sat, 04-Apr-15 2 Ely Circular
Sun, 16-Feb-14 4 Ely Circular
Sun, 01-Dec-13 6 Ely Circular
Sat, 30-Jul-11 Ely Circular