15 Excellent dog walks in Ely

Dog walks
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Ely is the second smallest city in the UK and famous for the beautiful cathedral in its heart, which seems almost too big for this compact city. It’s a great day trip destination and very easy to explore on foot, as everything is within easy reach due to its small size.

Not only is the city itself an enjoyable place to walk and explore, but it is also surrounded by flat and open fenland countryside. The fens level nature is paw-fect for easy and enjoyable countryside strolls under a broad expanse of the open sky, ideal for people and pooches of all ages and abilities.

Within easy reach of Cambridge and Newmarket, Ely is a great destination for a day out and dog walking. We’ve rounded up 15 of our favourite dog walks in Ely that are sure to excite both you and the pooch and entice you outside for an enjoyable few hours in the great outdoors.

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Country & country park walks

Ely country park

The first destination for a family and dog-friendly walk for anyone in Ely should be Ely Country Park. With recently refurbished play and picnic areas near the car park, it’s the ideal space to take the dog for a walk and give the little ones room to let off steam.

Otherwise, you and the pooch can enjoy a gentle stroll around the park on one of the two circular routes.

The Kingfisher route is the longer of the pair of walks here and you and the pooch can take a leisurely walk around the fen landscape, enjoying the views and paw-sing to look over the calm waters of the lake and test your bird spotting skills as you try to catch sight of the birds that lend the trail their name.

There are no facilities except the picnic area, but there are public toilets in the neighbouring Sainsbury’s, or ten minutes walk away down the riverfront. Otherwise, you can find the dog-friendly The Cutter Inn or Peacocks Tearoom a short walk away. The train station is also close enough to walk to, making this an accessible local walk.

  • Walk Length: 3.2km

  • Difficulty: Easy

  • Starting Point: Fisherman’s car park

  • Terrain: Grassland, flat, even, paths, trails, gravel.

  • Free Parking: Yes

  • Address: 34 Willow Walk, Ely, CB7 4AT

More information: Eastcambs.gov, Eastcambs.gov PDF

Cherry hill park

This pocket of green space in the heart of Ely is a valuable outdoor area for families and dog walkers to frequent and let their furry friends have the op-paw-tunity to run around off the lead and play fetch.

It’s the paw-fect spot for a picnic too, and on a sunny day you’ll see plenty of families flocking here to soak up some sun, savour some sandwiches, and enjoy a ball game on the lawns.

The park itself was once the site of a castle, which can be hard to believe now as there are no visible remains. Meanwhile, the famous cathedral watches over the park and you’ll have a great view of it from all corners of Cherry Hill.

It’s good to know this pocket-sized park is a short walk from the town centre and the river, making it easy to find local facilities or to extend your walk. Even the Caffe Nero is dog friendly, as well as the nearby Royal Standard and The Fountain. The closest options are probably the very dog-friendly Peacocks Tearoom and The Cutter Inn.

  • Walk Length: As short or long as you like

  • Difficulty: Easy

  • Starting Point: Cherry Hill

  • Terrain: Grassland, flat, even.

  • Free Parking: Yes

  • Address: 78 Broad Street, Ely, CB7 4BE

More information: Historic EnglandVisit Ely


The charming little village of Witchford is a stone’s throw from Ely and the rural location is ideal for local dog walks. You and the pup can enjoy long, leisurely strolls under the wide-open sky along the fringes of farmer’s fields.

Walking in this area is especially inviting in Summer as the crops come into bloom. The area is a perfect example of the flat, level landscape that Ely is famous for and makes for easy walking, even when off the beaten path.

There are two mapped routes you could take, or you can combine them both to explore a circuit of the North section of the village. The longer of the two walks is particularly good for dog walking as it is almost entirely out in the fields.

Meaning you won’t need to worry about traffic, and well-behaved dogs can enjoy being off the lead for the majority of the walk. After your walk be sure to visit The Village Inn in the heart of Witchford, which is child and dog-friendly.

  • Walk Length: 8.9km

  • Difficulty: Easy

  • Starting Point: Witchford

  • Terrain: Paths, grassland, flat, even.

  • Free Parking: Yes

  • Address: Main Street, Witchford, Ely, CB6 2HQ

More information: ViewRangerMills Lane

Hereward way

The Hereward Way is a long-distance footpath that travels 110 miles from Oakham to Knettishall Heath, connecting the Viking Way to the Peddars Way. Walking the entire way is a bit beyond the average afternoon’s dog walk, but there are manageable sections of the trail as it passes through Ely that you can enjoy with the pooch.

You could follow the Hereward Way in either direction but the route East towards Thetford Forest Park is especially picturesque. You and your pup will follow the River Great Ouse as it leaves Ely, strolling through traditional English countryside and farmland.

For those with sturdy legs who want to spend most of the day walking, you can follow the way as far as Brandon. In which case, the Great Ouse is not the only river you will walk beside, so you might find you have a damp dog by the time you finish the walk. Then, simply hop on the train back to Ely.

Alternatively, you can get the train to Brandon to start the route in reverse. If you follow that order, you can then visit one of the pubs in Ely at the end of the walk, as there are more options for facilities and eateries here than in Brandon. It will be a long walk but on good paths and fairly flat terrain throughout.

  • Walk Length: 37km

  • Difficulty: Challenging

  • Starting Point: Ely station or Brandon station

  • Terrain: Paths, flat, even, trails.

  • Free Parking: No

  • Address: Station Road, Ely, CB7 4BS

More information: LDWA Hereward Way, Visit Cambridgeshire PDF, British Walks

Eel trail

If you haven’t already guessed, this small city derives its name from the Isle of Eels. The island is where the city originated and was only accessible by boat before the land was reclaimed from the fens. The number of eels in the surrounding waters not only provided ample food for the population but inspired the name of the city.

This short circular route makes a fantastic dog walk in Ely as it allows you to explore many of the landmarks of the city. You will start in the centre of the city and wander out to the riverside, visiting historical landmarks and information points along the way. These include the majestic cathedral, Ely Porta, and Oliver Cromwell’s House.

You’ll also spy a lot of artistic nods to the slippery fish on your walk if you keep your eyes p-eel-ed. Your pup probably won’t pay much attention to houses, monasteries and cannons.

However, this walk will still be a fantastic route for them as you will wander through The Meadow, Ely Park, and Jubilee Gardens, giving them plenty of op-paw-tunities for a run around off the lead in open green spaces, and maybe even a game of fetch.

As the walk starts and ends by the cathedral, The Minster Tavern will make a paw-some spot for a drink where your pooch will be as welcome as you are.

  • Walk Length: 1.8km

  • Difficulty: Easy

  • Starting Point: Cromwell’s House

  • Terrain: Paths, flat, even.

  • Free Parking: Yes

  • Address: Oliver Cromwell’s House, 29 St Mary's Street, Ely, CB7 4HF

More information: Visit England

Bishop's way

As the name implies, this walk follows the trails that the bishops of Ely once used to reach their palace in Downham. Meaning when you take this stroll with the pooch, you’ll be following a route that’s been in use since the Medieval period.

As with many of the walks in and around Ely, you’ll be walking through flat fenland. It’s a beautiful landscape to be surrounded by, and on a sunny day, means you’ll wander under a wide expanse of blue sky. Although these fens were drained many years ago to create rich farmland, you’ll find the hedgerows are often wet and even have bullrushes growing in amongst them. Because of this, the trails and fields can get very muddy after heavy rain or in winter.

This walk will take you from Ely, through Chettisham and Little Downham where you can stop for local facilities, and look out for the remaining sections of the bishop’s palace. Ely has more plentiful options for pit-stops, including the dog-friendly The Minster, The Fountain, and The Cutter Inn. Whereas in Little Downham, you can “pup” into the lovely Little Downham Anchor.

  • Walk Length: 12.7km

  • Difficulty: Easy

  • Starting Point: Cromwell’s House

  • Terrain: Trails, flat, uneven.

  • Free Parking: Yes

  • Address: Oliver Cromwell’s House, 29 St Mary's Street, Ely, CB7 4HF

More information: ViewRangerVisit Ely PDF

Ely pub jaunt

There’s no better way to explore Ely and the many historical and cultural landmarks than a walk around the city with your four-legged friend. And there are fewer walks better than a pub walk! You’ll start and end your walk by the charming Cutter Inn on the riverbank, where your pup is welcome to join you for some refreshments.

This walk is mostly in and around the city but does include a brief stretch on a track through the wooded area at the end of Springhead Lane. Halfway through the walk, you’ll reach the cathedral and the trio of pubs nearby. You can choose to paw-se here to take in the architecture (and paw-haps a drink,) or carry on to Cromwell’s House.

You’ll finish the walk back at the Cutter Inn. The beauty of this walk is that it is not only the ideal opportunity to explore the city, but it’s very easy to reach by public transport. In addition, you can combine it with several more of our favourite dog walks in Ely to create your own paw-some day out adventuring with the pup.

Not to mention, walking within the city means it’s accessible for wheelchairs and pushchairs if you amend this route to avoid the track on Springhead Lane.

  • Walk Length: 5.2km

  • Difficulty: Easy

  • Starting Point: The Cutter Inn

  • Terrain: Paths, flat, even.

  • Free Parking: Yes

  • Address: 42 Annesdale, Ely, CB7 4BN

More information: BBC Cambridgeshire

Woodland walks

Fordham wood

Fordham Wood is a rare wet woodland habitat, which is favoured by the handsome Alder trees and dark-leaved willow. This large nature reserve is home to rare flora as unique as the landscape here. The wood is rather secluded and out the way, making it a wonderful location for some tranquil walks.

You can park on River Lane and then walk into the reserve, where you will follow the boardwalks through this wet woodland. Dogs are welcome to wander with you but must be on a lead because of the precious habitat and wildlife that live here.

Being on the lead will also stop them diving into the marshy mud and water! Perhaps avoid walking here after heavy rain as the boardwalks will be slippery, and there may be flooding. After your walk, you can visit the nearby pub The Crown.

  • Walk Length: 1.5km

  • Difficulty: Easy

  • Starting Point: River Lane

  • Terrain: Boards, flat, even.

  • Free Parking: Yes

  • Address: Fordham, Ely, CB7 5PE

More information: Wildlife Trusts

Somersham nature reserve

Once the site of the railway from Cambridge, the area is now a natural haven and the paw-fect spot for a relaxing Sunday stroll with your canine companion as you follow the route of the old rail line. The white gates that mark the long-gone level crossing remain, now a ghost of the area’s forgotten past.

Now, you’ll find a mixed landscape of woodland, meadows, and a calm lake to sit and admire the water and birds. In Spring and Summer, the woods and grassland come alive with flowers, whilst autumn sees the woodland put on their fiery livery. Some sections of the wood are classed as wet woodland, and so can be very muddy after heavy rain.

As this is a nature reserve, do check before you travel that dogs are allowed to visit in that season, and if there are areas that are strictly on-lead. There are benches by the lake for you to paw-se for a rest or a picnic.

The route also means you will do some walking in the village, where you can park for free on Church Street. Here you can also pay a visit to the dog-friendly Rose and Crown pub after your walk.

  • Walk Length: 4.4km

  • Difficulty: Easy

  • Starting Point: Church Street

  • Terrain: Trails, flat, even.

  • Free Parking: Yes

  • Address: Somersham, Huntingdon, PE28 3EQ

More information: Cambridgeshire.govCambridgeshire Walks

Mildenhall woods

Part of Thetford Forest Park, Mildenhall woods is just under half an hour’s drive from Ely. It is closer than the main body of the forest, which we wrote about as one of our favourite dog walks in Suffolk.

It’s actually part of Bury St Edmunds, but being so close to Ely and such a delightful walking spot, we couldn’t leave it out. After your walk, take your pick of the local pubs to stop by for refreshments. We recommend the dog-friendly Walnut Tree.

There’s a lovely circular walk in Mildenhall Woods that is suitable for all ages as the firm trail is even and easy to walk on. However, this is not an accessible route, as it remains a typical unsurfaced woodland track in areas.

But it is still great for a gentle amble through enchanting woodland with your four-legged friend and the kids. Much of Mildenhall is designated a Special Protection Area due to the presence of Woodlark and Nightjar. These rare birds breed here, and as they are ground-nesting, you will have to check if some areas are off-limits to dogs, or require leads, according to the season.

  • Walk Length: 4.7km

  • Difficulty: Easy

  • Starting Point: Brandon Road

  • Terrain: Trails, woodland, flat, uneven.

  • Free Parking: Yes

  • Address: Bury Saint Edmunds, IP28 6AH

More information: AllTrailsForestry England

Pingle cutting

Pingle Cutting, also called Pingle Wood, is a small nature reserve a few miles west of Ely. This is another section of the disused railway line which has since been reclaimed by nature and now makes a lovely location for dog walks in Ely.

It’s predominantly lush grassland bounded by young woodland, and you can still see the steep banks which once lined the track. Although it may be tempting to let the dog off, they must remain on the lead when visiting the area.

The nature reserve is sometimes closed to the public in late summer while sheep are brought in to graze the land. As such, be sure to check ahead if you can walk around the site before you travel. Otherwise, save it for a winter or springtime walk with the pup.

To access the Cutting, take the trail from Fenside Road. Be aware that there are some steep steps in the cutting, so it is not an accessible route.

  • Walk Length: 1km

  • Difficulty: Moderate

  • Starting Point: Fenside Road

  • Terrain: Trails, grassland, woodland, flat, uneven, steps.

  • Free Parking: Yes

  • Address: Warboys, Huntingdon, PE28 2UA

More information: Wildlife Trusts

Waterside walks

Ely riverside walk

Perhaps the most pup-ular dog walk in Ely you could ever take would be along the banks of the River Great Ouse from the city centre. This route starts at the foot of the beautiful cathedral and takes you to the riverside.

You’ll follow the river as far as Roswell Pits before circling back to town. Alternatively, this route can be started at the train station too, enabling you to make this a day trip without a drive. If you do travel by car, there are plenty of free car parks in Ely you can use.

The riverside walks in Ely are always highly recommended and with good reason. It’s a picturesque walk, with the babble of the river to accompany you on your way. Not to mention, there are various eateries and shops along your walk for you to have a mooch in or a pit-stop with your pooch.

You could paw-se for a drink and cake at Peacocks Tearoom or drop into the Cutter Inn, as they are right on the riverfront. If you would like to extend your walk, you could try this longer route, or combine the riverside walk with a wander around the perimeter of Roswell Pits, which is another great location for dog walks in Ely.

  • Walk Length: 5.3km

  • Difficulty: Easy

  • Starting Point: Ely Cathedral

  • Terrain: Paths, flat, even.

  • Free Parking: Yes

  • Address: Chapter House, The College, Ely CB7 4DL

More information: Visit Ely PDF, AllTrails

Wicken fen

Take a wander along the boardwalk through the reedbeds and explore the wonderful Wicken Fen. Owned by the National Trust, this reserve is well maintained and has a host of good facilities. Best of all, your dog is welcome to join you on a walk provided they’re on a lead.

This site is pup-ular for dog walks in Ely given the unique landscape and five waymarked trails. The boardwalk is probably the best known by walk here, and this circular route is accessible for wheelchairs and pushchairs meaning all ages and abilities can enjoy exploring the unique landscape of the reedbeds.

The other trails around the fen range from 3.4km to 9.6km, so there are plenty of options for you and the pooch to enjoy a few hours of walking around the tranquil waterways and wetland whilst watching the wildlife.

There is a cafe and visitor centre here, and the pup is allowed in the cafe while you order but due to limited space, people with pooches are asked to sit outside or inside the visitor centre. But don’t worry, the staff are more than happy to help you and take your order to you.

  • Walk Length: 1.2km

  • Difficulty: Easy

  • Starting Point: Visitor centre

  • Terrain: Wetland, boards, path, flat, even.

  • Free Parking: No

  • Address: Lode Lane, Wicken, Ely, Cambridgeshire, CB7 5XP

More information: National TrustWicken Fen

Mepal way

A walk around Mepal, a few miles outside of Ely, is the paw-fect way to explore the fenland and farmland landscape characteristic of the area. The name has hazy origins but may be from the Saxon word for mope.

Whether that is true or not, you certainly won’t be moping as you make your way around this divine lowland landscape. This is a fabulous walk for wildlife watching, with all manner of water-loving bugs and birds to look out for, and on the rare occasion, even freshwater seals.

It’s a relaxing walk to enjoy with the pup on a sunny day, passing lush meadows, quiet country lanes and all manner of waterways to admire. There are plenty of ponds and streams along this walk and your pup can enjoy a paddle as well as a long leadless stroll with their best friend. The Three Pickerals is a handsome pub by the river and welcomes walkers to start their wander along the Mepal Way from there.

  • Walk Length: 4.8km

  • Difficulty: Easy

  • Starting Point: The Three Pickerels

  • Terrain: Wetland, meadows, trails, flat, uneven.

  • Free Parking: Yes

  • Address: The Three Pickerels Pub, 19 Bridge Road, Mepal, CB6 2AR

More information: ViewRanger

Stow cum quy fen

It’s not the easiest name to say quickly, but Stow cum Quy is a gorgeous historic village a few miles away from Cambridge and a short drive from Ely. It’s a wonderful area to go walking and has a network of local walking routes that range from two to six miles.

You can enjoy an easy stroll along the edges of the fens with your pup, who will have plenty of time roaming off the lead. Along these walks, you will also pass through the nearby villages of Horningsea and Lode. If you have the time, you and the pooch can visit Lode Mill and Anglesey Abbey for further walks and a glimpse into history.

As there is a web of paths in and around Stow cum Quy, it’s easy to create a route that suits your ability and the length of walk you wish to take. The White Swan in the village welcomes dogs in the bar, so we suggest stopping there if you’d like to take a rest and to wet your whistle before or after your walk.

  • Walk Length: 3.2km to 9.6km

  • Difficulty: Easy

  • Starting Point: Stow cum Quy (Various)

  • Terrain: Paths, flat, even, meadows, trails, uneven.

  • Free Parking: Yes

  • Address: Stow cum Quy, Cambridge, CB25 9AB

More information: National Trust, About Stow-cum-QuyViewRanger

More dog walks: Bedfordshire, BanburyLincoln