Groups & Tours

Making the Most of your Visit

Ghost Tours

Ely’s Haunted Tales

On the surface Ely looks a very peaceful and tranquil place with quaint teashops, a thriving market and delightful architecture so it would seem the last place to send chills down your spine.  But behind doorways and passages throughout the city there are stories of murder, intrigue and mystery, which told, cannot be explained as a mere trick of the light making Ely the most haunted small city in Europe.

To experience more of Ely’s haunted past (if you dare) then join us for one of our immensely popular ghost tours or walks around the city. The tours begin at Oliver Cromwell’s House where children’s voices to can be heard laughing and there is a blue lady who wanders down the corridors late at night and then of course there is the Lord Protector himself in his bedroom.

As the tours takes you through the dimly lit streets of Ely where you will encounter ghostly characters as the body snatcher in the grave yard, the Sergeant Major, the pale nurse from the old militia hospital, ghosts from two famous murders, a medieval lady, a faceless monk and maybe Black Shuck – a large one eyed black dog dating from Saxon times. 

Ghost tours/walks are available from late October to February for pre-booked groups (15 or more).

Dates of our regular public Ghost 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.

For more information or to book a group tour, then please contact our Tours Advisor on 01353 616397.  Coach Parking is Ely is free and is less than a 5-minute walk away. Coach drivers and tour organisers are offered free places on the tours. A selection of our available tours can be found below.

Ghost Tour

Join us for one of our immensely popular Ghost Tours around one of the most haunted cities in Europe. Hear the stories that have traveled down through the ages as well as more recent tales. Ghostly sightings guaranteed!

Ghost Walk

For those not so brave (i.e. there are no guaranteed ghosts on this walk!) but interested in learning about this haunted city, this is the ideal tour for you. Our guide will take you to the most haunted areas of Ely where ghostly happenings have been reported.

Haunted Happenings at the House– discover the ghostly secrets of Oliver Cromwell’s House

There appear to be several ghosts who haunt Cromwell’s House, one is said to be Oliver Cromwell himself. There have been many claims of doors slamming and voices being heard. Are you brave enough to visit the House?

What the Night watch man saw  The night watchman will take the group through the dark streets of the medieval town. He shares stories and teaches the group with the perfect blend of history and entertainment. My advice? Be sure to come with questions! The Night Watchman has been doing the tour for many years and can answer nearly any question about the history of Ely. Take advantage of his knowledge and come prepared!

For more information on Ghost Tours please contact the Tourist Information Centre or complete our online enquiry form.

Group Tours and Corporate Activities

Group Tours & Corporate Activities

Within easy travelling distance of London, Counties of East Anglia and Lincolnshire, Ely has a treasure trove of heritage, art, shopping facilities and bustling markets on offer for our group explorers. With free coach car parking, strategic drop off points within the city and a wide range of facilities, Ely is the ideal destination for a day visit.

We are very proud to have a bank of trained guides who can offer a range of guided tours to explore our heritage and history. Each tour can usually be tailored to your special interest, whether that is architecture, royalty, costumes, craftsmanship, food, country life or general history. Tours can be arranged for any number of visitors, can be done in combination with a visit to any of the local attractions and can also be offered in French or German if requested in advance. You can find a selection of our tours below. Coach drivers and tour organisers are offered free places on the tours.

If you are interested in arranging a guided tour or would like some assistance in planning your day, please contact our Tours Administrator and let us know which tour/tours you are interested in. If you wish to tailor or combine one or more of the tours to suit your specific requirements, please give us full details of what you would like. You can use our online enquiry form to send us the information, or alternatively you can telephone us on 01353 662062.

Sample menus of local restaurants, tearooms and cafés available.

Oliver Cromwell’s House Tour (with costumed guide)

We invite you to experience what domestic life would have been like in the 17th century in a variety of re-created period rooms including exhibitions of the civil war. Our guide will talk you through the early years of Cromwell, show you what family life would have been like and explain how the House was used after Cromwell left.

Guided Walking Tour of the Historical City of Ely

What better way of discovering the history of this magnificent city than being guided around its splendid array of medieval paths and monastic buildings. Discover the origins of the Cathedral and the importance of trade in this former Isle of Eels.

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.

Ely – through its Architecture Guided Tour

You will find out about the diverse architectural history of the city and the typical features of each style. Was Ely’s court house built by the same man who designed the famous Cambridge Fitzwilliam Museum? The tour is suitable for those who particularly admire architecture and those interested in its history.

Monastic Ely Guided Tour

Visitors to Ely Cathedral often wonder how such a small town in the countryside came to have such a large and magnificent work of architecture. The answer is St. Etheldreda, who founded an abbey in Ely in 673 AD. Her monastery flourished throughout the Middle Ages and her shrine attracted many pilgrims.Discover and explore the ground of the largest groups of medieval monastic buildings still in use within Western Europe and listen to tales of monks and royalty.

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.

Ghost Tour

Join us for one of our immensely popular Ghost Tours around one of the most haunted cities in Europe. Hear the stories that have traveled down through the ages as well as more recent tales. Ghostly sightings guaranteed!

Ghost Walk

For those not so brave (i.e. there are no guaranteed ghosts on this walk!) but interested in learning about this haunted city, this is the ideal tour for you. Our guide will take you to the most haunted areas of Ely where ghostly happenings have been reported.

Haunted Happenings at the House– discover the ghostly secrets of Oliver Cromwell’s House

There appear to be several ghosts who haunt Cromwell’s House, one is said to be Oliver Cromwell himself. There have been many claims of doors slamming and voices being heard. Are you brave enough to visit the House?

What the Night watch man saw  The night watchman will take the group through the dark streets of the medieval town. He shares stories and teaches the group with the perfect blend of history and entertainment. My advice? Be sure to come with questions! The Night Watchman has been doing the tour for many years and can answer nearly any question about the history of Ely. Take advantage of his knowledge and come prepared!

Suggested Itinerary for a group day visit to Ely

Arrival and coffee- choose from either traditional tearooms with beautiful architecture and stunning gardens, or perhaps a contemporary setting is more to your liking.

Ely Cathedral- Ely's top tourist attraction and it is easy to see why. Look in awe and wonder at this 12th century building in your own time, or take advantage of having a more informative experience by having a guided tour. Tours also include optional visits to the Octagon and/or Lantern Towers, where the spectacular view makes it well worth the climb!

Stained Glass Museum- housed in the South Triforium of Ely Cathedral, with its stunning collection of stained glass. It is the only museum dedicated to stained glass in the country. A guided tour is highly recommended as it unveils the story of stained glass.

Lunch - whatever your taste and budget, Ely has a host of different eateries on offer whether you choose to eat as a group or as individuals. The midday break also gives you an opportunity to visit the many gift shops, craft shops, antique shops, art galleries or market (depending on the day of your visit).

Oliver Cromwell's House - home to the Lord Protector, Cromwell lived in this house with his family for ten years, his only remaining home apart from Hampton Court Palace, London. For an atmospheric experience, tours using costumed guides are recommended.

Ely Museum- discover the story of Ely from prehistoric times to the 20th century set in a former Gaol. Tours will bring the rooms and artifacts to life.

Time for a stroll- following the eel trail is an excellent way of seeing historic Ely at its best. This circular walk self-guided by brass waymarkers set in the ground, takes you past the oldest parts of Ely with its beautiful monastic buildings with stunning architecture and spectacular views.

Time for a Meal before you leave- many of the attractions host evening tours and/or drinks receptions. So, before you leave, take advantage of the truly atmospheric experience that is created in some of Ely's oldest buildings before partaking some of Ely's finest cuisine delights.

For more information on Guided Tours and Corporate Activities please contact the Tourist Information Centre or complete our online enquiry form.

Guest Speakers for Schools and Private Groups

Book a Guest Speaker

Our experienced guest lecturers and after dinner speakers are able to provide a fresh and creative approach to diverse topics such as local history, geography, architecture, tourism or even ghostly tales of the City of Ely.

The speakers offer a wide range of resources and can visit you for your convenience at your school, event venue or any other convenient location. Their talks can be tailored to your needs and requirements. We work closely together with schools to support the National Curriculum and will adapt any talk depending on the participating key stages. All speakers are CRB checked and cleared.

Subjects such as history of Ely, Oliver Cromwell, craft and trades in the Fens, drainage of the Fens and developments within tourism are popular subjects. We also offer a more hands on approach with workshops on willow weaving, 17th century costumes, Mrs Cromwell’s recipes or recreating the atmosphere of the Civil War!

We will make sure that the speaker both understands and agrees to all the terms and conditions of the brief. You will have the peace of mind knowing that the speaker fully understands what is required and is fully prepared and ready to deliver a memorable presentation that will surpass your expectations.

We strive to provide our customers with truly diverse and topical speakers combined with the most personalised and professional customer service in the business.

For more detailed information and to discuss your requirements, contact our coordinator on 01353 662062.

For more information on Guest Speakers please contact the Tourist Information Centre or complete our online enquiry form.

Heritage and Architecture Tours

Heritage & Architecture Tours

Experience a journey back through the ages in the company of a City of Ely Tourist Guide or Blue Badge Guide as they guide you around Ely’s medieval streets and Monastic buildings. 

Hear the secrets, stories and scandals of Ely’s past or learn about the fascinating array of architecture through Ely’s historical buildings. Let’s not forget about Eels, why not discover of the importance of Eels to Ely on our guided Eel trail.

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 Tour of the Historical City of Ely

What better way of discovering the history of this magnificent city than being guided around its splendid array of medieval paths and monastic buildings. Discover the origins of the Cathedral and the importance of trade in this former Isle of Eels.

Ely – through its Architecture Guided Tour

You will find out about the diverse architectural history of the city and the typical features of each style. Was Ely’s court house built by the same man who designed the famous Cambridge Fitzwilliam Museum? The tour is suitable for those who particularly admire architecture and those interested in its history.

Monastic Ely Guided Tour

Visitors to Ely Cathedral often wonder how such a small town in the countryside came to have such a large and magnificent work of architecture. The answer is St. Etheldreda, who founded an abbey in Ely in 673 AD. Her monastery flourished throughout the Middle Ages and her shrine attracted many pilgrims.Discover and explore the ground of the largest groups of medieval monastic buildings still in use within Western Europe and listen to tales of monks and royalty.

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.

For more information on Heritage & Architecture Tours please contact the Tourist Information Centre or complete our online enquiry form.

Riverside Tours and Local History

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.

For more information on Riverside Tours and Local History please contact the Tourist Information Centre or complete our online enquiry form.

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Ely River Walk Guide1.84 MB

Self-Guided Tours

Self-Guided Tours

Within easy travelling distance of London, Counties of East Anglia and Lincolnshire, Ely has a treasure trove of heritage, art, shopping facilities and bustling markets on offer for our independent explorers. Visitors can either use the MP3 downloads or print a version of the Eel Trail to explore the wealth of the City at their leisure. The tours offer full accessibility for all mobility levels and recommended time for both tours is 1 ½ hour. Copies of the Eel trail are also available at Ely Tourist Information Centre.

Nature lovers and bird watchers will marvel at the variety of wildlife and flora during a self guided trail around the riverside area and Roswell Pits. Strong shoeware is recommended for this trail. Not suitable for mobility scooters and pushchairs.

More details on these tours can be found below:

Tourist Tracks

Looking for a guided walking tour of Ely and the cathedral? Don't want to join a group or wrestle with a guide book? Then download an official MP3 walking tour from Tourist Tracks, and let your iPod or MP3 player be your guide. Two tours cost just £5.00.

Ely Eel Trail

In addition to Ely's rich history, charm and beauty it is also a place that prides itself in hosting a vast range of events aimed at residents and visitors alike. Ely is very proud of its connection with eels and it is thought that the name Ely is derived from the Isle of Eels when Ely was surrounded by water and marshland.

What makes this trail special is that the story of a life of an eel has been very cleverly portrayed in five pieces of public art by Elizabeth Jane Grosse. The trail starts at Oliver Cromwell's House, which also houses the City's Tourist Information Centre. This is a very fitting start as not only can the trail map be picked up from here but Mrs Cromwell regularly used eels in her cooking and copies of her eel recipes are available from the Kitchen in the House. The trail then takes you into the heart of the city centre passed many points of interest which the trail map clearly points out. The continues down towards the beautiful Riverside.

The final part of the walk takes you across to Ely's Cherry Hill Park where an impressive eel hive made from willow has been planted. Eels were commonly caught using hives made of willow which was an original industry on the River Ouse as far back as pre-Norman times. As you walk around the trail to admire these wonderful pieces that link the heritage of Ely so well you need not fear that you will lose your way. The trail is marked by 70 way markers set in the ground with pictures of eels engraved into brass.

For further information about the Eel trail and other events in Ely and the district call Ely's Tourist Information Centre on 01353 662062.

The Ely Tales

Alternatively you can follow the Ely Tales route. The Ely Tales provide a new and different way to learn about the historical city of Ely. The Ely Tales Trail follows the same route as the Eel Trail but tells the story of Ely through the eyes of the people who would have lived and worked in the times. Explore the stories of the stone mason, the eel catcher, the pilgrim, the Anglo Saxon and many other characters.

The Eel Trail and Ely Tales leaflet are available from Ely Tourist Information Centre (£0.50 per copy).

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 reed beds, 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.

For more information on Self-Guided Tours please contact the Tourist Information Centre or complete our online enquiry form.

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Ely River Walk Guide1.84 MB