Ely (England)

Ely is a small, historical cathedral city in Cambridgeshire, England.


Ely Cathedral, across the Palace Green in Summer

Built on a chalk hill, the city is thought to be named after the eels in the nearby River Ouse. The hill was once an inaccessible island in the middle of the Fens. It was also the last stronghold of Anglo-Saxon resistance, under Hereward the Wake who hid in the original cathedral until the Normans crossed the Fens in 1071.

Despite the transformation of the surrounding landscape from watery marshland to fertile farmland, and the continuing growth of nearby Cambridge, Ely's character as a tiny, isolated city remains largely untouched, and the "Ship of the Fens" dominates the surrounding landscape in much the same way it has done for most of the past millennium

Get in

By train

Ely is a major junction of a number of lines and so it's possible to enter and exit from a large number of directions.

Ely has direct trains to London Kings Cross, Stansted Airport, Ipswich, Norwich, Kings Lynn, Peterborough, and via Peterborough to Birmingham and Liverpool. You can also connect at Peterborough for fast trains to Scotland.

If you want to get to London, then it is quicker to go to London Kings Cross (70 minutes) with the train running non-stop after Cambridge, although tickets to London Liverpool Street station are a bit cheaper. The latter journey will take about 90 minutes via Hertford North (transferring at Cambridge).

Trains depart Ely to both Liverpool Lime Street and London Liverpool Street Station. Be careful as they are 200 miles apart!

By car

Ely is situated on the A10, some 16 miles north of Cambridge, where it is possible to join the M11 for fast access to/from London (72 miles). Nearby roads may be flooded in the winter (typically the A1123 at Earith, and A1101 at Welney). Many of the smaller roads across the Fens have uneven surfaces and unguarded ditches, which lead to a number of fatalities each year.

By bicycle

For the more adventurous it is possible to cycle into Ely from Cambridge . The 16 mile journey follows the river and for an average person takes around an hour and a half, with the majority of the route being a designated cycle path.

Get around

Ely's small city centre can easily be traversed on foot. Local villages are served by buses running from Market Street, check the boards or tourist information centre for departures.


Ceiling of the nave of Ely Cathedral







Various Bed & Breakfast establishments can be found in the city. A web search should turn up a vacancy. Most are within walking distance from the train station.

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