Ely is renowned for its character and charm, but have you ever taken the time to truly explore its beauty? A day trip can often fly by in this Cambridgeshire city so we’ve come up with some tips for making the most of its heritage and attractions.
There’s no better way to explore a destination that on foot. A stroll around the city is great for admiring architecture and finding hidden gems nestled on side streets, but if you’re looking to dive deeper into the history of Ely, a guided tour is a must.
This summer Ely Tourist Information Centre has launched a summer programme of guided walks around the city. All walks depart from Oliver Cromwell’s House (29 St Mary’s Street, Ely) at 11.30am, priced £4, and can either be pre-booked or booked on arrival depending on availability.
Here’s what’s on the line-up:
Ely through its Architecture: Sunday 7 August
Learn about the wealth of architecture of some of Ely’s period, historical buildings during this walk with our informed guide.
Guided Riverside Walk: 14 August
This expanded tour takes in the city centre as well as the picturesque waterside. Learn about the drainage of the Fens, the life of the Fen Folk and how the river has served visitors and residents across the ages.
Guided Historical City of Ely Walk: 21 August
What better way of discovering the history of this magnificent city than being guided around its splendid array of medieval paths and monastic buildings. Discover the origins of the Cathedral and the importance of trade in this former Isle of Eels.
Ely’s Heritage Eel Trail, 28 August
Learn about the importance of eels to Ely in the past and today as you are guided around our Eel Trail. Marvel at the artworks dotted around this circular route which portrays the lifecycle of an eel.
Guided Monastic Walk: 29 August
Discover and explore the grounds of the largest group of medieval monastic buildings still in private use today. Hear the tales of monks and royalty and learn how they helped shape Ely’s past.
For an intertactive experience in Ely, opt for a tour of Oliver Cromwell’s house at 11.30am on 6, 13, 20 and 27 August. The costumed tour guide will take you around the house detailing the life of the 17th century. Visitors can learn how families would have spent their time, hear about Mrs Cromwell’s love of cooking and find out what life was like as a soldier during the civil war. Adult tickets are priced £6, children £3.50. For more details about all walks visit www.visitely.org.uk
If you’d prefer to explore alone the eel trail is a fantastic way of discovering Ely’s history. This circular walks is self-guided by brass waymakers set in the ground, and takes you past the oldest parts Ely taking in the sights of monastic buildings, architecture and stunning views.
Ely’s biggest attraction is of course the stunning 12th century Cathedral. Gaze in awe at its Octagon and Lantern towers, which are well worth the climb. Guided tours area available but for a truly wonderful experience listen to the sounds of the cathedral with a lunchtime concert or recital, which brings the atmosphere to life. Lunchtime concerts are held weekly.
Alternatively, pop along to the C.A.S.T production of ‘As You Like It’ on 24 August, or listen to Cambridge Voices on 29 August; a festive gala concert in Ely Cathedral’s iconic Lady Chapel. It will celebrate he 90th birthday the Queen, alongside works to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare. A feast of choral and instrumental music spanning over 300 years, with the choir surrounding the whole audience. For full details visit http://www.elycathedral.org/events
Ely is famed for its eels so try your best to seek out this delicacy on your visit – the award-winning famers’ market held on the 2nd and 4th Saturday of every month occasionally serves up an eel stew! Elsewhere you’ll find riverside dining at Ta Bouche and The Cutter Inn, quaint tearooms such as Peacock’s Tearoom and atmospheric eateries such The Old Fire Engine House. You simply mustn’t leave without sampling a tipple from The Ely Gin Company, the store can be found at 2/3 Buttermarket (http://www.elygin.co.uk).