A day out in Ely: What to visit and do

A day out in Ely: What to visit and do
Ely Cathedral

Today was another beautiful day, sunny and warm, ideal for spending outdoors exploring new things. My friends stayed the night and after a generous breakfast in the garden we got ready and headed to Ely.

Ely is about 30 minutes from where we live, and the drive is quite straight-forward. I am always amazed by the imposing silhouette of Ely Cathedral, which can be seen from the road a couple of miles before reaching the city.

We visit Ely regularly, and every time we have friends around, we take them there as it is a very nice city to visit. Today our dog “Bambino” also joined us for the trip. We parked at the Barton Road Car Park which is quite close to the town centre. Unusually, parking is free!

Ely, also know as “Isle of Ely” or by its old name “Isle of Eels” is one of the smallest cities in England, but one of the largest of the Fen Islands. The biggest attraction is the cathedral which took 300 years to build and dates from 673 when Queen Etheldreda founded a monastery in that place.

After parking the car, we walked in the direction of the Cathedral, but stooped at Oliver Cromwell’s House on St Mary’s Street for a visit. Oliver Cromwell inherited this house from his uncle and lived there from 1636 to 1646 with his family. The house was built in the 13th century and was extended and refurbished throughout the years. Nowadays it houses the Oliver Cromwell exhibition and the Tourist Information Centre. This visit is very informative and interesting and should not be missed when in Ely.

Oliver Cromwell’s House

There is also a Cromwell Museum in Huntingdon for anyone who wants to know more detailed information about Cromwell and his contribution to British history.

Oliver Cromwell’s Museum in Huntingdon

After the visit we went to the cathedral which is very close. The Cathedral is magnificent and one of the most beautiful in the country. After the monastery was destroyed in 870 by the Danes, the reconstruction was started by Benedictine monks, and has developed throughout the centuries to what it is today. Dogs are accepted in the Cathedral, but Bambino stayed outside with my husband. There is a charge to get into the Cathedral of about £8 and you can buy a combined ticket to see the Cathedral and the Stained-Glass Museum that is within the Cathedral’s premises. We didn’t go to the Stained-Glass Museum on this occasion, but it is a very interesting place to visit as it shows stained glass from the medieval times to modern times and tells the history of stained glass through the ages.

The Cathedral

We spent quite a good time admiring the beautiful Cathedral. They run various tours for the more curious ones that want to know everything about the cathedral’s history. The tour will take you to the octagonal lantern tower and if you have the stamina, you can climb the 288 steps to get to the West Tower where you can see views of the entire Ely and countryside beyond.

When we finished the visit, we walked down Back Hill and entered the Cherry Hill Park via “The Porta”. We crossed the park where you have a different view of the Cathedral and followed down to the “Jubilee Gardens” in the direction of the riverbank. Once there we followed the river until we crossed the railway bridge and turned back. Following to the other side we stopped at the Riverside Bar & Kitchen for something to eat. We sat on a table outside as the day was really nice, and we could admire the boats going up and down the river. You can take a boat tour on the river with the Liberty Belle Cruises if you fancy a relaxing time on a boat.

When we finished lunch, we walked further down the riverbank and turned on the Waterside where there is a 3-storey building with an antiques centre. This is paradise for anyone who loves antiques. You can easily spend hours inside there looking for treasures and bargains. One of my friends was very excited as she loves anything antique. We spent a good hour there and she parted with some of her money.

After that, we walked on the direction of the High Street and had a look at the Ely Market, where my friend spent a little more money…

Once the shopping had finished, we turned left, and we were in front of the Cathedral again. Ely is not a very big city, and you can easily do everything on foot. A perfect place for a day out with family or friends. If you have more time there are other things to visit in Ely and around that will entertain you for a few days. For us, that was the end of our visit.

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