The Delights of Ely

              Ely’s attractive waterfront is a draw for many – for those who come to stroll and eat and watch as well as those who want to be on the water.
             Cleddau and Tentatrice both arrived thirsty on Monday afternoon. Fuel at the Cathedral Marina was expensive (the only tax split the marina allows is 60% propulsion , 40% domestic heating and lighting) but while waiting to refuel life on the river proved entertaining. You can hire water bicycles.

You can watch the King’s School squads go out in their rowing boats;

 

you can see all manner of boats passing by

and even one flying in the boatyard sling
 so its hull could be pressure washed.

             Mooring at Ely is a bit of a pot luck situation. However, at about 2pm,  a cruiser pulled away from the wall opposite the marina,

 Tentatrice bagged the vacant spot – the boats jiggled about to take on fuel and water – and for the rest of the stay in Ely they have remained breasted up in a prime position, feet from the Jubillee Park, yards from the Grand Central restaurant

 (what a New York breakfast on Tuesday) and about a quarter of a mile downhill from the Cathedral.
             The walk uphill to the shops seems far steeper than the gentle stroll through the Cathedral grounds to the massive buildings on top of the hill.

 You’d need to be some distance away to get the whole building in one shot…
             A Total Experience ticket at the Cathedral buys you a tower tour too.

 Perhaps had Boatwif read the cautionary notice first

 she might have declined the opportunity to squeeze through tight spaces and walk on uneven surfaces…
             Since AD 673 there has been a church on the site; there have been demolitions and re-buildings, tower collapses and new additions. But what Ely Cathedral is particularly famous for is its unique to England (14th century) octagonal Lantern Tower which sits above the Crossing. The model shows the wooden structure that supports the tower,

 the wood being Bedfordshire green oak that was transported through the marshes and waterways by medieval barge. To stand at ground level and look up at the painted angel panels way above is thrilling

 

 – to climb up the tight spiral steps and look down from behind those panels is breathtaking and exhiliarating. 
              To get to the upper levels of the Lantern Tower requires some roof-walking…

 and then up further you climb to find yourself right up against the 600 year old tower supports.

Here are the panels, restored by the Victorians in pre-Raphaelite style, John (the tower guide) demonstrating how the monks would sing from this height.

 Far below are the Nave

 and Choir.

 And from higher up still you can walk on the uneven lead roofing of the Tower – and see miles and miles east to Thetford Forest,

 south to the Cambridge skyline and north deep into the fenland flatlands.
            Back at ground level a school visit was in full swing: Year 3 pupils were investigating Light (stained glass, the building’s shape) and Sound (musical tones, the organ, the acoustic qualities of the wonderful Lady Chapel).

            Back at the riverside there is a vast Antiques Emporium to explore – and more boaters to watch. They take rowing seriously here

 – sculls, fours and eights, school pupils and adults have surged past the boats regularly. Not far along is this plaque

 commemorating in 2004 the 60th anniversary of a war-time Varsity Boat Race.
             What else can the visiting boater do in Ely? Find the new Sainsbury’s (quite close to the riverside), seek out the West End launderette (less than a mile away), feast on delicious ice-cream and, if so inclined, browse in bookshops or even ponder whether Oliver Cromwell,

 one-time local resident, was really a hero or a villain…
           Tomorrow, Thursday, westwards towards Earith.

(Stats: No change from the previous post)

 

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