18.0 km (11.2 mi)
OS Landranger 143 (Ely & Wisbech); Explorer 226 (Ely & Newmarket)
2 out of 10.
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 there may be some traffic noise from the nearby A10 initially, while 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 miles 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.
You can walk a very short Ely – Little Thetford – Ely walk 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 km).
Buses 9/X9 (Cambridge (via Ely) to Chatteris) serve Little Thetford and the lunch destinations Stretham and Witchford (hourly, but not on Sundays).
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.
|Saturday Walkers Club||Take a train no later than 10.15 hours from London Kings Cross station.|
|Lunch and Tea||
The Red Lion High Street, Stretham, Cambridgeshire, CB6 3LD (01353 648 132). The Red Lion is located 8.2 km (5.1 mi) into the walk. Open Mon-Thu 11.00-23.00, Fri-Sat 11.00-24.00 and Sun 12.00-20.30. Food served Mon-Sat 12.00-14.30 and 18.00-21.00 and Sun 12.00-21.00.
There are many tea places in Ely close to the cathedral, recommended are:
For all other tea options please consult page 2 of the pdf.
Help us! After the walk, we would love to get your feedback
Out: (not a train station)
Back: (not a train station)
|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.|
National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline SE (bus times): 0871 200 2233 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234
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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