We were first drawn to Ely a few years ago after my wife, then the rest of my family, fell in love with Ken Follet’s historical novel Pillars of the Earth. Apparently (I’ve not read the books, French schooling having made me lethally allergic to anything historical) approaching Ely cathedral through the narrow streets of this charming town brings back many memories from the books. All I can tell you is that it – and the surrounding area – make for a glorious photography escapade and is largely free of the mass tourism of other similar sites in Westminster, Winchester or Canterbury!
Ely sits about 30 minutes North of Cambridge, meaning you can squeeze the two into a busy photographic twofer day if you can’t spare more time on the area.
Really, though, you shouldn’t.
Cambridge alone could keep you photographically satiated for the best part of a week, particularly if you are willing to enrich the colleges by paying the entry fees (many in Oxford are free, just sayin’) to photograph the chapels, stairs, halls and gardens to your heart’s content, and to walk along the river.
And, although it would be a stretch to call Cambridge an undestination, it’s really not that busy if you don’t visit at the peak of the tourist season.
Still, this is about tiny neighbour Ely.
No colleges, no prestigious academia, but one heck of a big church, a canal port for longboats and ducks to parade in, a lovely park and (yes, this is DS) some great nosh to be had.
Inside, the cathedral provides spectacular views and sooo many opportunities for interesting photography. A fundraising banquet was being held on the evening of my visit, so the interior was an absolute mess in many places. But, even so, I had to be pried out after shooting 150 frames by a family whose empty-stomach rumblings were proving a challenge for the poor guys setting up the audio.
To be honest, the cathedral is the main attraction. This is a small town. But the park surrounding the cathedral is gorgeous too, and the little roads in the center are well worth a photographic stroll as they provide lovely houses, galleries, a very nice canal marina, and interesting shops to fill up your memory cards if you’ve managed to leave the cathedral with room on them.
You can now find Ely on our UK maps of undestinations, and I hope you visit someday 🙂
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