Cycling Trip to Ely
Cycling route to Ely is a 38km long hard-surface track which leads along the roads and through farmlands, villages and wetlands. There are many options for having a break in picturesque spots and nature reserves or even for some sightseeing and visiting local pubs. The trip starts at the Midsummer Common in Cambridge and ends in Ely at the train station. You may either decide to come back to Cambridge by train, which takes around 15 minutes, or go to the city to relax – when you reach the Station Rd and Ely Hight Bridge, you can walk around 500m along left river side to get to the marina. You can also extend the trip to more than 70km by simply cycling back to Cambridge.
- Start: Midsummer Common
- Distance: 38km/76km
- Time: 3-5 hours on average ; can be extended to full day
- Return: by train or cycling back
- On your way: visiting nature reserves, local pubs, sightseeing
- When you get there: sightseeing in Ely, lunch in the marina
- Worth to note: This is typical cycling route. For walking and running there is alternative route along the river (described here). However, there is a variation of this trip for long-distance walkers that is described below
The route leads along National Cycling Routes (NCR) No. 11 and 51. It is well signposted. However, there are a few places where you may be confused. Keep also in mind that the track follows NCR11 (Midsummer Common – Stourbridge Common), then NCR51 (Stourbridge Common – Bottisham) and then again switches to NCR11 (Bottisham – Ely) – you need to pay attention when following the signposts!
First 14km of this trip leads mainly along main roads. You can start from the Midsummer Common – follow the NCR11 along the river (down the river) for 1km. You should reach Stourbridge Common and NCR51 signpost – from here you will follow NCR51.
NCR51 will lead you along the river to the Ditton Meadows and next it will turn right and cross the meadows. If you follow it for next 1km, you should reach the Horningsea Rd. This is confusing point – to follow NCR51 you need to cross the road and continue straight ahead along Fison Rd.
The route will turn left in about few hundred meters and will lead you through housing areas, Park&Ride and along Cambridge Airport. Follow NCR51 signposts and you should get road crossing by the St Mary’s Church in Stow cum Quy. Here, you may be confused a bit again – cross the street and take the path along the right wall of the church and the cemetery (i.e. do not turn left into the Church Rd leading to Stow cum Qui).
NCR51 leads along the Newmarket Rd for next 2.5km. Next, it turns left to the Bottisham.
In Bottisham you switch again to NCR11 – there is a clear signpost showing the right direction (NCR11 to Wicken and Ely – please see picture below). Follow the signs along the Lode Rd and you will reach Lode Rd and Swaffham Rd junction. This may be another confusing point – NCR11 goes straight ahead along Lode Rd to Lode.
However, you may want to visit Anglesey Abbey, Gardens and Lode Mill, a Jacobean-style house with gardens and a working watermill. In this case turn left and cycle around 500m – the Abbey will be on the right side of the road.
Between Bottisham and Lode there are a few pubs and grocery stores.
The route leaves Lode behind, enters greener areas and soon turns right (White Fen Droveway – follow the signposts) to reach The Fens (White Fen, Tubney Fen, Burnwell Fen, Backer’s Fen, Wicken Fen). This is most exciting and picturesque part of the trip. Great place for longer break and fens exploration. Including the Wicken Fen, which offers not only foot and cycling options but also boat trips.
Next, after leaving Wicken Fen behind, the route goes through Wicken, a small village. From there, follow NCR11 signposts – you will cycle along narrow roads through farmlands for around 8km. Then, the route joins right bank of the River Ouse and leads along the bank to Ely (3km).
Cycling from Cambridge to Ely via National Cycling Routes is completely different experience from trekking along the river (described here). I think that ‘open space’ would be right term to describe this 38km long track. Comfortable hard-surface cycling route leads along streets and through farmlands, villages and wetlands.Keep reading
Route from Cambridge to Ely is a part of the Fen Rivers Way, an 80km walk from Cambridge to King’s Lynn. The trip distance is 27km, in case you decide to take a train back to Cambridge from Ely. More experienced backpackers, cyclists or trail runners can extend it easily to 54km by taking the…Keep reading
Variation of the trip for long-distance walkers (35km):
Walk first 10km along the River Cam as described in trip to the Bottisham Lock
Next, in 200m you will reach Bottisham Lode Pumping station. At this point turn right to the public pathway along the canal (walk along the left side of the canal).
In 2.5km you will reach NCR11 and White Fen Road
Continue your trip along NCR11 to Ely as described for cyclists.