To get to Ely you have to change at Cambridge but there is a reasonable service. Trains to Cambridge leave either from Liverpool Street or Kings Cross and as the times are pretty much the same you can take your choice. I would suggest the 09:48 from Kings Cross or the 10:02 from Liverpool Street; both trains will connect with the 11:22 to Ely.
For those who have never been there the city grew up around the Cathedral which does rather dominate the scene. The city is also on the banks of the Greater Ouse is much used by yacht persons. It is a small but picturesque and the pubs are not bad at all.
On leaving the station proceed up to the main road and turn left to find:
Certainly the nearest to the station. Very much a locals pub and quite small. Dominoes and Cribbage tables abound. One bar with friendly bar staff and the beer was good. Has an open fire but not necessarily lit. Closes at 3pm.
Cross over the road and look for the sign marked "To River". Proceed down there to find:
Pub overlooks river and yachting marina. Two bar pub which is obviously one of the Norwich Brewery Pubs. Rather specialises in food although people are welcome to come in and just drink. Old pictures of Ely on walls. Public bar full of machines, Juke box and pool table. Closes at 3pm.
We now need to get onto the main road by proceeding up through a walled alley past the car park and proceed up a minor road until you arrive at Fore Hill. Turn right and follow the road as it bends left towards the Cathedral. On your left you then find:
An excellent two bar pub with the lounge on two levels. Does a good range of food from main meals to snacks. [The meals looked enormous] Beer was in excellent nick and the staff were friendly. A really nice pub in a nice location. Closes at 2:30pm
Continue along the road past the Cathedral and also past the city square and into the High Street. At the end of the road with the Cathedral entrance to your left turn right to find:
Be a little careful here; do not go into the hotel but past it to a courtyard where you will find on your left The Fenmans Bar. [This is the only bar in the hotel that does real ale]. Not one of the nicest bars I have been in but it does have the bonus of being open all day so it may be one to return to. There will be no food available in the bar by this time but the hotel does afternoon teas. Beer was excellent. CD Juke box.
By this time the pubs opposite will probably have closed but they will not be missed. Go back to the crossroads and cross over leaving the Cathedral immediately behind you, proceed down past the tourist information office (Oliver Cromwells house) to find Silver Street. Turn left down this road and about halfway down you will find on your left the last of the pubs.
The last and by far the best pub in Ely, well worth its entry in the 1992 Good Beer Guide. A really typical Greene King pub with a small back room and very friendly staff and clientele. Closing times seem very flexible but it is pretty certain it will stay open at least until 3:30pm and possibly later if there are enough people around. Beer is obviously well looked after and the mild was excellent.
Whatever the time of closing is we now need to proceed towards the station by continuing down Silver Street and once again past the Angel. The train to Cambridge is at 4:35pm and it should be marked to Stansted Airport. It arrives at Cambridge at 4:52pm. We can now commence part II.
Well known to some Hassrale members as visits have been made in the past. Because of the time factor I have plumped for pubs reasonably near to the statiion although the initial walk is a bit long.
On leaving the station proceed straight ahead down station Road until Tenison Road and turn right down there to the end [passing the Salisbury Arms which will be closed]. When arriving at Mill Road turn left to find on your left:
A large open plan pub which spreads right back to a pool table. Not one of the nicest pubs I have been into but does have the bonus of being open all day on Saturday. Because of this it can be quite crowded although there should be plenty of seats.
We now wend our way back to the station having either left the Locomotive at 5:30pm or earlier if it can be confirmed that the next pub is also open early [This can be checked by myself on the way to the pub]. Anyway proceed back the way you came crossing the road to find the road, Covent Garden and turn down on your right. A little way down you find:
A small but excellent pub which, at the time of the trial, was being done up. When completed it was planned to do food in the evening and was to specialise in Italian pasta dishes. Close to Fenners cricket ground. Can get busy in the evenings. Beer was excellent. Could quite possibly be open all day.
We are still proceeding back towards the station. On leaving the pub turn left and take the first turning on the left. Proceed down and turn right into Manson Road to find:
Another excellent pub tucked away down a back street. Food should be available until 9pm and the range was varied and prices reasonable. The interior was almost totally wood giving the atmosphere pf a log cabin. Coal fire. Beer again was excellent. Very much my type of pub.
The last pub on this mini-trip should be well known to all visitors to Cambridge and is still on the way back to the station. On leaving the last pub turn left again and the left at the next turning. Continue down until you get back to Tenison road to return to:
This former CAMRA investment pub is now a Charles Wells tied house but with an excellent attitude to guest beers. The main bar is a big dutch barn of a place but there is a smaller area which is quieter. My only complaint about the place is that the juke box can be noisy but, that apart, an extremely friendly pub with an excellent attitude to real ale. A really nice pub to finish up and the beer seemed really palatable. Ring the Bull game. No indication of food but may have some rolls.
I have deliberately left off the times of this part of the trip as I am not fully sure what pubs will be open when we arrive. Suffice to say that the trains back to London do run until reasonably late and again we have a choice of destination. The journey back to the station is the reverse of the journey when we arrived and it is not a very long walk. There are trains to Kings Cross at 8:10pm, 9:22pm and 10:22pm and trains to Liverpool Street at 8:47pm and 9:47pm. There are later trains but this could make travelling at the other end a bit difficult.
This trip was trialled by Chris Smart, Martin Williams and Dave Saffery who refuse to accept any collective responsibility. Bon Voyage.
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