Excursions

We will be offering a wide range of activities and excursions during the days, but of course if you just want to relax or wander around Ely that’s fine, too!!

Sign-ups for all the activities will take place in Ely starting after orientation, (see next paragraph).  Sign-up sheets will also be posted on a bulletin board in the dining hall, and in the past we have always accommodated everyone’s wishes, so there will be no stress!!

On the first morning we will have an orientation meeting in the dance hall after breakfast where there will be brief speakers from the local school, local tourist office and organizers.  We will learn a brief history of Ely and of the school, and of the many activities offered by the tourist office.

The activities fall into 3 main categories – local history walks, local hikes and bus trips, and an additional special trip to Cambridge.

3 local history walks will be arranged to cover the school, Ely and the Cathedral.  We anticipate that there will be no charge for these, just tips.

3 local hikes, each of around 3 miles, will be held: one to the West (Cawdle Fen),  one to the South (Cuckoo Bridge) and one to the East (Little Downham).  All offer a taste of local nature and great views of the cathedral sitting on the hill which comprises Ely.   Again, there will be no charge for these.

A special trip to Cambridge, to include punting on the river Cam at the Backs of the colleges!   This is our most popular excursion and has been led in the past

Punting on the River Cam in Cambridge!  Photo from Jim Webb.

Punting on the River Cam in Cambridge! Photo from Jim Webb.

by our local dancers.  We take a train from Ely to Cambridge (15 mins), then a bus to the river.  The tour includes not-to-be-missed views of the exteriors of many of the famous colleges.

For the many attractions that are within an hour’s drive, buses will be arranged.  The cost last year for each trip was $15, plus any admission charges if

Sandringham House - one of the homes of Queen Elizabeth II. Photo by Brian Klock.

Sandringham House – one of the homes of Queen Elizabeth II. Photo by Brian Klock.

applicable.  Bus tours can be arranged more or less on demand, but will be offered to the following:

Sandringham Estate, the Norfolk retreat of Queen Elizabeth II, and our most popular destination.  At Sandringham they offer tours of the palace including rooms used by the queen, and a chance to walk around the wonderful grounds and small private church.

Lavenham, which is a very pretty village noted for its 15th century church, half-timbered medieval cottages and circular walk. In the medieval period it was among the 20 wealthiest settlements in England.

Bletchley Park, once Britain’s best kept secret, today Bletchley Park is a heritage site and vibrant tourist attraction. Open daily, visitors can explore some of the iconic WW2 Codebreaking Huts and Blocks and marvel at the astonishing achievements of the Codebreakers whose work is said to have helped shorten the war by two years.

Bletchley Park - actual site of the story in the "Imitation Game" movie. Photo by Jim Webb.

Bletchley Park – actual site of the story in the “Imitation Game” movie. Photo by Jim Webb.

Wicken Fen, which is one of Britain’s oldest nature reserves, and was the first reserve cared for by the National Trust, starting in 1899. The reserve includes fenland, farmland, marsh and reedbeds.  There is a very nice old village pub there too, called the Maid’s Head.

Castle Acre, which takes its name from the walled castle built in the 12th-century by the Normans. There is much to see in Castle Acre including the castle ruins

and the amazing Cluniac Priory, which is a short walk away.  The local village has very nice restaurants and pubs also.

Holkham Hall is a proposed new trip for us.  It is an 18th-century country house and one of England’s finest examples of the Palladian revival style of architecture.  It looks like a Roman Palace, and is quite opulent inside.

Grimes Graves is the site of a Neolithic flint mining complex that is 3000 years old.  It has had popular appeal in the past, and so we offer it again.

Castle Acre - as it was. Photo by Brian Klock

Castle Acre – as it was. Photo by Brian Klock

We are always open to requests for additional excursions, so please ask.  Sorry, Stonehenge is 4 hours away, and Downton Abbey (Highclere Castle) is over 3 hours away.  These might make great trips if you extend your stay in England!