Ely is a cathedral city in Cambridgeshire, England, about 14 miles (23 km) north-northeast of Cambridge and about 80 miles (129 km) by road from London.

Ely is built on a 23-square-mile (60 km2) Kimmeridge Clay island which, at 85 feet (26 m), is the highest land in the Fens. It was due to this topography that Ely was not waterlogged like the surrounding Fenland, and was an island separated from the mainland. Major rivers including the Witham, Welland, Nene and Great Ouse feed into the Fens and, until draining commenced in the eighteenth century, formed freshwater marshes and meres within which peat was laid down. Once the Fens were drained, this peat created a rich and fertile soil ideal for farming.

The River Great Ouse was a significant means of transport until the Fens were drained and Ely ceased to be an island in the seventeenth century. The river is now a popular boating spot, and has a large marina. Although now surrounded by land, the city is still known as “The Isle of Ely”.

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Days out in and around Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire

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