The Isle of Ely



I found Ely to be a lovely, human sized, city which was  a pleasure to explore. Lying on the Western bank of the river Ouse, Ely was originally an island surrounded by the waterlogged, low lying Fens until they were drained in the 17th Century.  The city, which was originally called the ‘Isle of Eels’, dates back to 673 A.D. when the Anglo Saxon princess, Saint Ethelreda, founded the first Christian community there.

The Cathedral, which dominates the city, took nearly 300 years to build after the 1066 Norman Invasion led by William the Conqueror and one of it’s purposes was to demonstrate Norman superiority over the local population.


Our base for the weekend was Braham Farm in Little Thetford. A lovely site with little more than a toilet, electric hook up and fantastic views across the fields to Ely and it’s imposing cathedral. Costing £9 a night plus £1 for electric hook up, it’s perfectly situated for a weekend away in Ely. There are two ways to cycle into the city from Braham farm. A 15 minute cycle ride on a separate cycle path alongside the A10, or a much nicer (but longer) ride on tracks across fields and alongside the river.


As you can see, we had the place to ourselves all weekend but the most they would have here at any one time is five caravans or motorhomes.


This is much nicer way to ride into Ely but possibly not when it’s wet and muddy.


We found some fantastic pubs and cafe’s in Ely, so many in fact that we took most of the food we bought with us home again. There is a market each Thursday and Saturday on the large market square and this French market on the High Street which is closed to traffic every Saturday.


We met this chap, Bernard, and his grandson, flying a drone around the cathedral on Sunday morning and the quality of the video the drone took was amazing.


I sent him a couple of shots of them flying his drone and asked for a still from his video to put on this post. I’ve just had an email from him thanking me for the photo’s I sent him and telling me he won’t give me a picture but I can buy one if I like. Oh well.

A nice place for a picnic and also a good spot for views of the cathedral is Abbot’s Field and it’s also a pleasant walk through the park and down to the riverside.


Which is worth a visit for a gentle walk alongside the river and a visit to one of the many pubs.


Back up the hill and into the town centre I started exploring some of the little alleyways and taking notice of some of the details I’d missed first the time.



The Cathedral was too busy to set up a tripod for internal shots so I opted for the tower tour which cost £9 and involved climbing 288 well worn spiral stone steps. The views from the top were well worth the effort though, especially in such good weather.


I’ve marked where we parked Skippy for the day in the 24 hr free carpark which is a 5 minute walk from the town centre.


While the group were all clambering about on the rooftop taking in the views I got chatting to this guy and his girlfriend from Turkey about cameras. I tried his fish eye lens and he had a go with my 24mm Canon L lens just to see how the pictures looked.


The ‘Fish Eye’ look is very pronounced and although it’s an interesting look I think it could get very repetitive very quickly if  it’s used too often. Focusing was easy though, everything from about 6″ to infinity.

Climbing the tower we passed very close to some of the fantastic stained glass and the level of detail the artists obtained was very impressive.


This is a shot of a much more modern installation inside the Cathedral and to my eyes it just looked like a squiggly impressionist cross. To be honest I only got the ‘cross’ aspect because it was in a Cathedral. It turns out it is an 11 meter tall aluminium sculpture called “Way of Life” by artist Jonathan Clarke which was commissioned to mark the new millennium.


Our tower guide explained that not only was it a sculpture of a cross but if we looked carefully we would also be able to see the numbers 1, 2 and 3. which represent the holy trinity.

Finally, as promised, a completely gratuitous selfie of your photographer getting ready for a day out with his camera. This was taken using an app called ‘TimerCam’ which adds a self timer to the rear camera on my iPhone 5.


I’d love to claim credit for the artistic low angle shot but basically it was easier to prop my phone against a rock on the floor than try and find a way to position it higher.






8 thoughts on “The Isle of Ely

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