We went for this walk near Ely for 3 reasons; 1) we hadn’t done it before, 2) Ely is not far from Cambridge, and 3) a walking guide book marked this as one of their most difficult.
This walk from Ely to Little Downham is mind numbingly dull. I hope never to have to do it again and would not wish its incredible dullness on anyone else. The countryside around Ely can be very bland and this walk managed to find the blandest highlights. For much of it, we seemed to be walking along straight paths, with nothing of interest to pass or even see in the distance.
Over the entire duration we walked through just one village, and our excitement at finding a nice little village pub evaporated when it had a “closed for refurbishment” notice on the door.
Half of the walk was along muddy paths – how the paths were this muddy after a prolonged dry spell was a mystery to us. The other half of the walk was along roads which guided us past some new and characterless housing estates on the outskirts of the town. The route even took us across the busy A10 without the luxury of any sort of crossing point.
Ely itself does have some picturesque spots, notably around the enormous cathedral and down at the river marina and waterfront. We treasured the moments in the walk that took us past these landmarks and gave us something to show interest in.
Why this walk was given the guide book’s most difficult rating is beyond me. The only reason had to be that it was 11 miles long which for some people may make it a little long. However we did the walking part in a few minutes over 3 hours (=avoiding the temptation to jog around in order to get it over with more quickly), so it was not even a full half day’s walk.
For reference, the guide book was “Cambridgeshire and the Fens: Walks (Pathfinder Guide)”. I can only imagine that the author has never walked the route – and made it up entirely by looking at Ordnance Survey maps from the comfort of their sofa in front of a log fire.
It was pointed out that throughout the whole walk we had not met any other walkers. This, we considered, was a bad sign. In the peaks of North Wales I have always been a little disappointed to see other walkers since they can spoil the tranquillity. On this walk, we were desperate to see other walkers to reassure ourselves that we were not the only fools spending 3 or 4 hours of their life walking around such an uninspiring part of England.
Duration 4:09 hours
Distance 11.0 miles
Path (Google Earth)