Riverside Tours & Local History
Ely Riverside offers an ideal opportunity to explore Ely’s past and present as a gateway to the Fens and the Broads. Right up until the 18th century, barges used the riverside wharves to load and unload their goods when Ely was an important trading town. Medieval warehouses and breweries, the picturesque Quayside and tales of eel catchers and local heroes are awaiting you. Find out about the drainage of the Fens and Ely’s ever-changing waterscape
Dates of our regular public Guided Tours are posted on the What’s On pages of this website. Tours are very popular and need to be pre booked. Contact Ely Tourist Information Centre on 01353 662062 to book your tickets.
Guided Walking Riverside Tour
This expanded tour takes in the city centre as well as the picturesque waterside with some stunning views. Learn about the drainage of the fens, the life of the fen folk and how the river serves visitors and residents today.
Eel Heritage Guided Walk
The prosperous town of Ely (EEL-ee) was an island until steam power drained the surrounding fenlands in the early 1800s, creating a flat, reed-covered region of rich farmland. Legend has it that the city got its name when St. Dunstan transformed local monks into eels for their lack of piety. A more likely story is that “Elig” (Isle of Eels) was named for the bountiful slitherers that infested the surrounding waters—they were once so numerous that taxes were payable in eels. Today, Ely remains proud of its eel-inspired heritage. The local market sells them fresh from the Great River Ouse, Eel Day celebrates the city’s history, and the Eel Heritage Walk snakes through all of the city’s major sights.
Ely River walk Self Guided Tour : Roswell Pits
The Roswell Pits form part of a large wetland complex running deep into the heart of Ely. Visitors can marvel at the reflection of the cathedral in the lake on a calm day, when the only waves are generated by passing wildfowl. Or explore along the footpath and find the reedbeds, with an excellent chance of seeing the azure blur of kingfishers darting beneath Cuckoo Bridge.
The site also has hidden interest for the fossil enthusiast. Thorough searches of the site have yielded skeletal remains of turtles, crocodiles and dinosaurs. There are scattered flowers such as bee orchid, but the site is most important to the birds and for its unique place in the landscape.
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