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Littleport to Ely

Walked by Sally and Richard, Saturday 28th February 2009

7 miles, approximately 6 miles on Fen Rivers Way

The River Great Ouse runs pretty much in a straight line between Littleport and Ely, which doesn't make for the most exciting of walking. However the walk was not without interest and it is always a pleasure to visit the City of Ely.
We actually left our car in the Barton Road car park in Ely (where parking is free for as long as you like - provided you don't leave your car before 8.30am) and caught the train to Littleport to start the walk. From the station we reached the Fen Rivers Way on the western bank of the river by crossing the railway line then walking along the south side of a rather tatty marina then, much to our surprise, through a private garden.

After a short walk along the river bank we crossed a minor road (but not the river) by the Black Horse pub, then there was another section of walking along the bottom of private gardens. They were very attractive gardens, with private landing stages, and we had a pleasant chat with two of the residents; we also had the company of several swans in this section. After passing a row of mobile homes we crossed a stile into more open countryside and a slighter rougher section of path, through a patch of teasel (though the walking was still easy). As we approached the point where the River Lark joins the Great Ouse, there were 'riverworks' signs, and we realised that 'Branch Bridge' (the bridge over the Lark on the eastern bank of the Great Ouse) wasn't there - which explained the 'Road closed' signs we'd seen around Littleport for some time. It appears that the bridge has been removed for safety reasons and the road will be closed until June.

We continued to walk on the western bank of the river to Queen Adelaide with good views to Ely Cathedral, 'The Ship of the Fens',
but it was difficult to photograph because the railway's power lines were always in the view. At Queen Adelaide the railway lines to King's Lynn, Peterborough and Norwich converge - there were lots of trains coming and going and a freight train had a long wait at the signal.

We crossed to the eastern side of the river by way of the road bridge at Queen Adelaide,
then we passed underneath the Norwich railway line. Suddenly the sun came out. The reeds on the water-filled pits to our left were most attractive and we again had the company of swans on the river - though walking into the low afternoon sun, with reflections from the water, was tricky. We passed the Potter Group's rail freight distribution centre on the other side of the river, but our way back across the river was not by way of their bridge, but just slightly further on, by way of a distinctly rickety bridge. We then went down a narrow passageway, with a public notice on the fence indicating that the land we were entering had recently been awarded SSSI status. The nature reserve itself (Roswell Pits) is in a former clay pit and apparently wintering bitterns and water rails have been seen here. It was lovely.

After crossing the recently rebuilt Cuckoo Bridge, we left the nature reserve and crossed a factory's car park,
then turned sharp left on an 'easy access' path back towards the river. The meadows here are attractive and popular with both families out for an easy walk from Ely and with wildlife. On this occasion we watched a gaggle of canada geese on the opposite bank of the river. Then we passed underneath another railway bridge to Ely Marina, with its usual large number of visitors - and its usual group of swans, geese and ducks being fed by small children. We left the river and walked towards the Cathedral through the Jubilee Gardens (part of the 'Eel trail') then past King's School and back to the car park.

Following leg of path