Important religious centre, the cathedral recently celebrated its 900th anniversary. The town is built on an island that was originally surrounded by swampland. Eels were caught in the channels round the town, and the name means ‘Isle of Eels’. The centre is dominated by the cathedral and Kings School, founded in the 13th century, and one of the oldest schools in the country. In the 18th century the land was drained, and became the fertile farmland we see today.
Denny Abbey is another great place to take the children. It is a former abbey that was later converted into farmland. It has been home to 3 different monastic orders: Benedictine monks, Knights of Templar and Franciscan Nuns.
I love it because you can see the difference in the styles of masonry. Also there is a cute farmhouse so you get an idea of what life was like in the 1940s and what life was like in this area and how the world has changed it.
It is also an English Heritage property so if you are a member you will have free admission. They also have children friendly activities and events.
Ely Cathedral, also known as 'Ship of the Fens', can be see from miles away. Early in the morning if you catch it just right, it looks like it is sitting on top of clouds. It is such a breathtaking building and it must visit while you are living here. You can take a tour of the Octagon Lantern Tower (a must!). You can get in free on Sundays if you attend a service.
Its construction began in 1082 under William the Conqueror. It is built in cruciform (cross shaped) and has the longest nave in Britain.
It has also been used in a lot of high profile albums and movies. It was on the cover of the Pink Floyd's 1994 album The Division Bell. It was also in the movies, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, The Other Boleyn Girl, The King's Speech andJupiter Ascending.
I love Ely Cathedral because it simply a beautiful building. I love to drive in Ely because you can almost see the Cathedral from anywhere you are. You can see that the people who built this building were very talented especially the way they built the Octagon Tower. I have attended a few events here such as the Girl Guiding celebrating their Centenary and it was an amazing venue.
If you don’t see anything else, you must see Ely Cathedral.
When you go, ask if you can have a year's membership, it is free. You will have to give them your UK address. I am not sure if you might not be able to do this as you are not an UK taxpayer but you can ask!
Also people that live in CB6/7, are able to get a resident's pass that will enable you to get into the cathedral for free. You will need to bring a utility bill as proof.
I really enjoyed the ghost walk in Ely. Its a great thing to do around Halloween or when it starts to get dark in the evenings but there are some all over the area. They went to a lot of effort. I loved it and it is child friendly.
Peacocks is an award winning tearoom is in Ely. It is located on the River Great Ouse.
They serve traditional teas and great snacks.
This is one of my favourite places and one of the first that I recommend to new people.
Welney Wetland Trust
Welney Wetland Trust is about 20 minutes from Littleport and can be a great day out any time of the year.
During the winter (late October to early March), they have feeds for the swans that migrate to the local area. Check the times to confirm but when I went you could go at midday and 3.30 pm everyday and 6.30 pm floodlight feeds Thursday to Saturdays.
It was good because they gave you the history of the site and trust, how people used it, and told you what birds you are looking at. Quite handy for a person like me who knows nothing.
They have so much more to offer than just these feeds.
They have daily walks around the washes to see the wildflowers and the work that they are doing. (June-September).
On weekends and holidays, (April to September) you take part in the British child's pastime activity of pond-dipping.
All year round they have activity stations to help you learn about the wetlands which are available weekends and holidays.
Outside of these things, they have many walks that you can do, bird feeding station, Fenland worlds exhibition, Pond Room, Main observatory, Dragonfly ponds and the Lyle hide.
Great day out with the children in nature.
They also have a cafe to fill your stomach after being one with nature.