A river and fenland walk to the stunning cathedral city.
Calculated time is computed with the distance, the height difference, and an average speed of 2.2 mph. For an intermediate walker, this time includes small breaks.
(D/A) Walk out to the road and turn left. By arrangement with the local farmer, residents can turn right after a few yards and follow a field edge to meet a public footpath by a drain. Turn left and follow the footpath out to the road.
(1) Turn right; again by arrangement with the local landowner, residents can walk their dogs along the field edges outside the ditches to either side of the road, subject to farming operations. Cross the busy A10 with care and cross a footbridge indicated by a public footpath sign to the left of the road sign. Follow a grassy headland between fields with a ditch on your right, bending slightly right after 250 yards. A similar distance beyond this bend, pass a pumphouse on the right (opposite a similar path heading off to the left, which is our return route). Continue beyond the pumphouse, shortly passing the rear of the first houses of Stretham. The path ends at the drive of Berry Green Farm; turn right. The route as described now visits the centre of Stretham village; for a minor shortcut, you can bypass the village by turning left opposite Berry Green and following a footpath that passes a cemetery and rejoins the described route at step (2), where you turn left.
For the village centre, continue along Wood Lane to a T-junction. Turn left past the school entrance, then turn right into Top Street. Pass Hazel Court on the right. At the end of the road, turn left along High Street and walk down to the church, pub, shop and cross. Follow Chapel Street (to the left of the Red Lion) to its junction with Pump Lane, and turn left (left of the red-brick chapel). Beyond the chapel, a tarmac path leads to Read’s Street. Turn left, then turn right almost immediately, down another surfaced path between house numbers 23a and 23b, which leads shortly to Brook Lane. Turn left, then after 100 yards turn right into Plantation Gate. At the end of the houses on the left, pass the end of the cemetery path on your left and continue along the farm drive ahead, passing the end of Kisby Walk and new housing on your right.
(2) Turn left. The concrete track continues across open fields to Plantation Farm, where you pass two houses on the left to a barrier, then bear half-right across the farmyard. Join a track beyond the hard-standing area that curves to the left (ignoring a grassy track off to the right) and then heads out between fields and passes left of a small copse. Follow the track round a shallow left-hand bend then, within sight of an isolated barn, leave the obvious track onto a lesser track on the right which heads across to a row of trees (the track straight on past the barn is more direct but is not a right-of-way).
(3) On reaching the line of trees, turn left, with the railway away to your right. When the track bends left, follow it away from the railway (now with trees on your right) to rejoin the track you were following earlier. Turn right towards the houses of Little Thetford.
(4) Turn right along the road and cross the railway with care. Follow the track half-right, which leads shortly to the River Great Ouse. Go through a gate and climb the steps to a kissing gate on the top of the embankment; turn left. Shortly, pass a pumping station on the left and continue along the river, then pass the sluice at the bottom of Soham Lode on the opposite bank.
(5) After a further half-mile, cross the footbridge over Braham Dock. Half a mile further on, join a track to a pumping station and cross the railway at a level crossing. The track continues beyond the railway and passes below the Ely Southern Bypass bridge (ignoring the new walkway on the right). After a further half-mile (walking either along the top of the embankment or the adjoining surfaced track) you reach the A142.
(6) Cross and take a few steps to the right before resuming your way along the riverside via a path on your left. Pass a dock on the left then go under the railway and continue to the Cutter Inn.
(7) Beyond the pub, leave the river and walk along the left-hand side of Jubilee Gardens, passing to the left of the covered bandstand. At the end of the park, cross at the lights and turn left through a gateway. Pass a children’s playground on the left and continue up the surfaced path with fine views of Ely Cathedral to your right. Pass the wooded Cherry Hill (a Norman motte) on the left and continue to the Ely Porta, a late medieval gatehouse housing the Bishop’s Courthouse and Prison.
(8) Turn right and walk up the road to the Cathedral, passing to the right of the Prior’s House and Chapel in a walled garden. Pass the end of Firmary Lane and turn right, close to the cathedral walls, and follow the path between the Almonry Gardens (right) and the west end of the cathedral.
For the town centre, go through the Sacrist’s Gate, otherwise keep left around the northern side of the cathedral building. Cross the road by the Conference Centre and pass the bollards to walk across Palace Green with the cathedral behind you. At the end of the Green, pass the Tudor St Mary's Cottage on the corner of Church Lane and a parking area, then bear left to Oliver Cromwell’s House. Pass a bus stop and continue along St Mary’s Street past Parson’s Almshouses on the left.
(9) Turn left into Silver Street and follow it to the end, at the other side of the Porta. Turn right across a green area (Barton Square) past some benches and cross into a one-way street with a footpath sign on the left. At a parking area, turn left onto a tree-lined path past a house and tennis courts. When the main path bends right, walk straight on across the grass. At the end of the grass you meet a path by a hedge, where you turn left to a waymarked post close to the 12th tee. Bear right and follow the path across the course. Follow a ditch and hedge on your right, then go through a gap and cross a footbridge, continuing in the same direction with the hedge now on your left, with overhead power lines as a guide. Pass a footpath sign and waymark and then a bench by the 6th tee.
At the end of the course, near a small hut, turn left along a hedge by a footpath sign, then cross a footbridge and turn immediately right, along the hedge. Beyond a waymark post in the corner, follow a tree-lined path that emerges by the main road. Take a few steps to the right then cross to a signposted footpath (“Cawdle Fen Walk”) opposite. This tree-lined path follows a ditch for half a mile (ignoring paths to left and right) then emerges in the corner of a field. Carry on in the same direction alongside a couple of fields until you reach a farm drive.
(10) Cross into the path opposite to a kissing gate and then continue along the field edge as before. After a footbridge, the path crosses a couple of fields then passes behind a poultry farm (leads advised). More field crossings lead on to a sports ground with a couple of football pitches; on the opposite side, approximately behind the left-hand goal, a narrow path leads between fences and out to the road in Little Thetford.
(11) If you wish to explore the village centre, turn left, otherwise cross the road to Cowslip Drive then take the first left (Watson’s Lane) and follow it round to the right. At the end of the tarmac, continue ahead along a grassy track between trees until you reach a bungalow. Turn left and then right at a junction onto Burying Way.
(12) Beyond the last building, this continues as an unsurfaced drove between hedges, then runs along the left-hand side of two fields with a drain on the left. Beyond a lone tree, the track crosses open fields to a stile and barrier where you cross a drain and continue ahead, ignoring another track off to the right. The track bends left, following the drain on your left until you meet another, where you turn right. This track leads more or less directly to the pumphouse you passed near the beginning of your walk.
(13) Turn right to the A10. Cross the main road carefully and retrace your earlier steps back to White Cross Farm, using the off-road alternatives described earlier if you wish.(D/A)
D/A : km 0 - alt. 5m - White Cross Farm
1 : km 0.26 - alt. 5m - Broad Baulk
2 : km 1.69 - alt. 7m - Plantation Gate
3 : km 3.36 - alt. 2m - Line of trees
4 : km 4.79 - alt. 5m - Holt Fen
5 : km 6.89 - alt. 2m - Braham Dock
6 : km 8.2 - alt. 0m - A142
7 : km 9.67 - alt. 3m - Pub
8 : km 10.17 - alt. 24m - Road
9 : km 11.01 - alt. 23m - Silver Street
10 : km 14.02 - alt. 5m - Path
11 : km 15.36 - alt. 7m - Cowslip Drive
12 : km 15.8 - alt. 5m - Last building
13 : km 17.58 - alt. 8m - A10
D/A : km 18.62 - alt. 5m - White Cross Farm
There are a couple of main roads and railways to cross and the streets of Ely may be crowded. Encounters with livestock are possible but unlikely.
Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.
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The GPS track and description are the property of the author.