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A riverside hike through enchanting East Anglia — Fen Rivers Way

Ted and Jen (CC BY 2.0)

A riverside hike through enchanting East Anglia — Fen Rivers Way

Hiking Collection by Dan Hobson

3-6

days

3-6 h

/ day

51.2 mi

525 ft

550 ft

The Fen Rivers Way is a long-distance walk that follows the Cam and Great Ouse rivers through the alluring East Anglian fens. Despite its level nature, you can expect many highs on this historic and wildlife-rich riverside ramble.

Starting in the university city of Cambridge, the 51-mile (82 km) route heads northeast alongside the River Cam to Fish and Duck Marina. Here, the trail joins the River Great Ouse and continues northeast along its banks past Ely, Littleport and Downham Market to finish in the old port city of King’s Lynn.

East Anglia is an oft-overlooked destination for hikers. While there are no dizzy summits to conquer, the expansive landscapes and big skies of eastern England afford a real sense of solitude. The area is home to unique flora and fauna as well as countless historical sites.

Highlights along the Way include: Cambridge, a beautiful city brimming with learning, culture and history; Wicken Fen, the National Trust's oldest nature reserve and England's most famous fen; Kingfishers Bridge Nature Reserve, which provides an essential habitat for many endangered species; Ely Cathedral, a magnificent 11th-century place of worship; Roswell Pits, a nature reserve that developed naturally from old clay pits; Denver Sluice, a mighty structure essential to the area’s water management; St Peter’s, an enchanting ruin on the banks of the River Great Ouse; and King's Lynn, which was medieval England’s most important port.

In this Collection, I have split the route into three stages, between 13.6 miles (21.9 km) and 18.8 miles (30.3 km). All hikes finish near accommodation and places to eat and drink.

Owing to the ambitious nature of this itinerary, I have made a suggestion on how to split the first two lengthier hikes, resulting in a much steadier five-stage itinerary. Of course, you can divide the Collection into as many days as you feel comfortable with or walk single stages.

As this is a riverside hike, waterproof boots are essential. Waterproof clothing is recommended all year round and sunscreen is essential in the warmer months. Some stretches do traverse remote countryside, so ensure you have enough food and water on hikes.

In this Collection, I cover the route from south to north, the standard itinerary. However, there is nothing stopping you hiking the other direction. The walk is suitable for all seasons.

Getting to and from the start and finish of the trail is easy as both Cambridge and King’s Lynn have mainline train stations and good transport links.

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Fen Rivers Way

47.3 mi

325 ft

350 ft

Last updated: November 11, 2021

Plan your own version of this adventure in the multi-day planner based on the stages suggested in this Collection.

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Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

    Stage 1: Cambridge to Ely — Fen Rivers Way

    Difficult
    07:40
    18.8 mi
    2.5 mph
    175 ft
    175 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    The first stage explores the university city of Cambridge before following the Cam and Great Ouse rivers through patchwork countryside to Ely.

    

    With 18.8 miles (30.3 km) to cover, Stage 1 will test your mettle. However, with level walking throughout, the distance is not as challenging as it appears

    by Dan Hobson

    View
  • Difficult
    07:40
    18.8 mi
    2.5 mph
    225 ft
    225 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Stage 2 follows the River Great Ouse over the county border from Cambridgeshire into Norfolk through lovely landscapes and past some fascinating sites.

    

    Coincidentally, this stage also has 18.8 miles (30.3 km) to cover, a challenging distance. However, as with Stage 1, the terrain is spirit-level-flat

    by Dan Hobson

    View
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  • Difficult
    05:33
    13.6 mi
    2.5 mph
    100 ft
    175 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    The final stage meanders through gorgeous Norfolk scenery dotted with historic sites to King’s Lynn, one of England’s most important ports between the 12th and 17th centuries.

    

    After two long hikes, the distance eases-up on the finale, which is 13.3 miles (21.4 km) long. As is characteristic of the route

    by Dan Hobson

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    3
  • Distance
    51.2 mi
  • Duration
    20:52 h
  • Elevation
    525 ft550 ft

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A riverside hike through enchanting East Anglia — Fen Rivers Way

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