Look out for the Good Journey Mark – where car-free visitors are welcome and enjoy a discount
Car-free adventures inElyCambridgeshire
Peaceful water meadows, an 11th-century cathedral and an interesting town that’s easy to walk round: Ely is a great car-free destination. Plenty of people living here don’t have cars – you can get around town on foot or by bike, there are good bus routes, and the riverside railway station is a bit of a hub for longer distance train journeys. Also: two people can visit the cathedral and museums for the price of one when you arrive by train.
1. Walk through town to the cathedral
Arriving at Ely’s train station, there are lots of lovely ways to reach the cathedral, which is visible at the top of the city. This majestic, octagonal-towered architectural marvel seems to float above the flat misty fenland nearby. Benedictine monks built the cathedral in the 11th-century when Ely was just a tiny hamlet. Today’s town grew up round about.
- One really scenic route – less than a mile – up to the cathedral is to turn left onto Station Road and right onto Annesdale, leading to the pretty riverside with its choice of pubs and cafés.
- Turning left along the River Great Ouse, with the water on your right, turn left again through Jubilee Gardens and follow the winding path ahead.
- Cross over Broad Street and keep straight on through a gate and up a tarmac path through parkland, with the old castle mound on your left and fabulous views on your right. A lane at the top leads right to the cathedral and neighbouring Museum of Stained Glass.
- Unless you’re going to a service, it costs £9 to visit the cathedral (or £13 for a joint ticket with the Stained Glass Museum), but you can get 2 for 1 entry when you show your train ticket and a voucher (get the voucher online or pick up a leaflet in the station).
- At the Almonry café next door, you can have coffee and “fenland sticky cake”, a gingery slab topped with almonds and glacé cherries.
2. Cromwell’s House
Ely’s Tourist info is nearby in a house that once belonged to Oliver Cromwell. Walk straight ahead from the cathedral’s entrance, passing a canon on the grass and turn left at the church to find half-timbered Cromwell’s House.
- It costs £5 to look round and there’s also a 2 for 1 deal with a train ticket and voucher.
- It’s a must for Civil War buffs, of course, but there are also lively reconstructions of everyday life in the 17th century.
- Round the corner is the shop-lined High Street. Cross over and stroll along Lynn Road to the junction with Market Street to find Ely Museum in the old Bishop’s gaol.
- Find out about the Island of Ely and its place in fenland history. Check out the multi-pronged eel spears, punt guns, peat spades and the stilts and skates that people used to cross the marshes.
- The museum is also offering 2 for 1 discounts for people who arrive by train.