10,527 STEPS

20180128_152729The first 100 or so Steps

In the quiet hush that can only signify a Sunday morning, my husband and I enjoyed the rare luxury of a breakfast together, exchanging small gifts and cards, before heading to the car for our day’s outing.

Twenty years ago we met for the first time and this was an occasion to be marked. We’d pondered how a few days earlier. Should we replicate the evening itself? That involved a flurry of pubs visits, one so empty and dull the security guards outnumbered the guests, the other so packed we sat like sardines on sunken sofas, embedded within the aged fabric. Even through rose-tinted vision of time passed we shook our heads in an empathic no!

Our interests took us elsewhere and with the promise of a few rain-free hours, we set off to a place we yearned to see again. Two years ago we’d paid a flying visit to Ely and it’s stunning cathedral set amongst the beautiful landscape of the Fens. We looked forward to seeing it again, enjoying the time and space to revel in its gifts.

1,000 or so steps

The car park in Ely by the Maltings, the Victorian brewery, kindly offered us free parking and requested we mention their generosity to our friends…duly done!


Nearby an eel sculpture stood prominently in a park to commemorate Ely, known at one time for its eels and named after the Saxon word for the fish -eilig!


The walk to the river opened up to reveal a bustling holiday atmosphere as canal boats and small pleasure cruises teemed on the water, the golden willows whispering their greeting to the river, children, and dogs competing for attention.


Fishermen sat far apart along the river bank, nearly absorbed into the dark green of the grass, they seemed to blend seamlessly together in the picture.


2,000 or so steps

Astonishingly, the busy lively riverside promenade was left behind as we ducked below a railway bridge to the path along the swollen river. Here only the serious walkers set out. The raised path stood just above the water level of the flooded field to our left, the yellow decaying weeds a fluttering reminder of the winter still upon us.


3,000 or so steps 

To the right, the mighty river (by British standards) flowed with majestic elegance.


Ahead arrow-sharp rowing boats raced past at dazzling speed, the long oars barely seemed to dip into the water, effortlessly carrying it along. The University of Cambridge has a boathouse here and often practice on the river; not surprising considering the extremely busy River Cam, clogged with punts and the numerous tourists!


4,000 or so steps

We continued to traverse through the Fens flat landscape, the marshland of 1,500 square miles (3,900 square kilometres) stretching ahead, gently curving at bends. Here the sky opened up to lofty heights, the soft clouds of whites, pinks, greys dotted upon the lightest of baby blue hues. A gentle peace cascaded, rolled over us as we ambled on, my camera to hand.

5,000 or so steps 

To the left, a sudden rush and hoot stopped me in my tracks – I hadn’t noticed the railway track before, set up just above the water level, the mechanical surprisingly not at odds with the calm of nature.


The menagerie of birds seemed quite unperturbed, the dogs continued to walk calmly on as did we.

6,000 or so steps

I’ve never walked across a railway track before and approached this one with discernible excitement, heightened as the lights started to flash and the alarm sounded. Here is the video I took of the Train as it passed closely past us. (Since WP suddenly will not allow me to post videos I set up a YouTube channel to allow me to share this!)

7,000 or so steps

Yet again the wonderful Cathedral dominated the horizon as it sits on the hill in this ‘Isle of Ely’. Visible from miles around the towers reach up to the heavens and there is no danger of becoming lost with this constant reminder of the town centre.


8,000 or so steps

We near the cathedral. Originally a church was built on this site in AD 672 before the Normans started work and it was deemed a cathedral in 1109 and thereafter the town formed around it.


9,000 or so steps

We approached the awe-inspiring cathedral which is fittingly known as the ‘Ship of the Fens’  after its famous and unique Octagon tower which replaced the former Norman tower.


This collapsed in 1322 and was replaced with a structure made from eight great oaks which served as the frame for the famous lantern inside.

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The interior of the cathedral filled me with wonder and overwhelming gratitude. It is unusually light for a cathedral, and I wandered down the nave, before glancing up to its ceiling. The amazing painted wood panels were installed in the mid-1800s by the Victorians in an attempt make the cathedral appear even more medieval.

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Walking around I admired the architecture, the stained glass windows and at one stage noticed the playful rainbow of colours on a pillar from one of the windows.


Along the walls, plaques and statues of people buried or interned are placed along the walls and floor. One was a Robert Steward, a knight who died in 1571 and looked peaceful in his repose.


10,000 or so steps

These last steps were used to visit the UK’s largest stained glass museum housed within the cathedral; more about these treasures in my next post. Tired but full of joy we ambled back to the car, letting the glorious sky sweep over us.


On the drive home we were treated to a sumptuous sunset; a glory and riot of colours which made driving difficult but a wonder to behold for me, the passenger.


Thank you for joining me on this 10,527 steps day out. Have you recently had a special day out? Celebrated an anniversary? As always it is a delight to read your comments and thoughts.

116 thoughts on “10,527 STEPS

    1. Roy, thanks for the tip of a good pub in town…I’ll look out for it the next time we go! 😀 We were most pleasantly surprised by the natural landscape just outside the town and it is obviously popular as it was busy with walkers and families.

  1. Anonymous

    It seems like you had decent weather for a late January day Annika. I can feel the chill in the air from your photographs. The are an integral part of your post which in turn gives an interesting description of Ely as a place in itself rather than just “where the Cathedral is” – although that’s obviously important too. I particularly like the scenes on the river and the brave souls out on their boats, but the one that really stands is the rainbow colours on one of the Cathedral pillars. It just sounds like an very pleasant day out (and as a train fan I love the video of the EMU).



    1. Mike thank you so much for your lovely comment! How true that we often just think of Ely as the cathedral and it was a delight to see so much of its nature and town. The rowers were going so fast, I doubt they had time to feel the cold!! I’m so glad you like the pillar photo, that is one of my favourites and such sheer delight when I saw it…I squealed with joy! It was fun to video the train … a bit scary as I didn’t realise I was so close to the line! Xxxx

  2. such a beautiful, ancient place to holiday, Annika!
    and the steps, oh all those steps
    is a gift of encouragement
    to be grateful to have legs
    that can still walk,
    anywhere 🙂

    1. David, thank you so much for your lovely poetic comment! There is never a day that I’m not grateful and happy for the ability to walk and to do so without pain. A few years ago I suffered very badly from two slipped discs and was in constant agony and could barely move around the house. How I missed my walks, my freedom even as I was dependent on my family to drive me anywhere. The ancient cathedral was wonderfully vibrant with energy and so inspiring! Happy Weekend to you! 😀😀

  3. Magnificent pictures and a beautiful story about your day out. I had to smile at the picture emerging about the first day you met. I have very similar, now bittersweet, memories.

    1. Dear Helen, I didn’t mean to awaken bittersweet memories…

      The funny thing is that all the pubs are still open but we’ve never been back to them! This was a perfect day out and so much better!! Culture, nature, art, sunshine and a lovely lunch together. Wish you a relaxing weeknd. Hugs xxxx

  4. Happy Anniversary to you both! 🙂 Ely Cathedral is really great and Ely itself is a lovely place. We enjoyed this outing with you very much, Annika. Beautiful photos and very interesting information too. Parking is rare and the brewery sounds fine. 🙂 Dina and I have spent much time with friends in Haddenham only a few minutes away. A shame that the tickets to the cathedral are so expensive though. We love going away to celebrate a special occasion. For my birthday we went to the Cotswolds and for Dina’s birthday last month we went to Cornwall and Dorset. All the places that are crowded during the holiday season and blissfully empty at this time of the year.
    Have a wonderful weekend,
    The Fab Four of Cley

    1. A very Happy Birthday (albeit belated) to you both!! 😀 What a wonderful idea to travel away to celebrate the special occasions and how true about avoiding the school holidays. When my son was little we often went to Cornwall and Dorset and loved both places (almost ended up buying a holiday caravan in Portland Bill I – just didn’t want to leave it!) We had a special time in Ely and like the town so much. Luckily the cathedral waived the entry cost when we arrived – not quite sure why but we weren’t about to argue! The stained glass museum entry isn’t much and well worth the visit – I am posting about it tomorrow with lots of photos!
      Wishing you all a lovely weekend too! Annika

    1. Robbie, I squealed with such delight when I spotted the pillar lit up by the stained glass window the people around jolted in shock! It is wonderful I felt and so pleased that my camera was to hand! It was funny with the sunset, as I gazed in awe at nature’s vast glorious canvas my Hubby was muttering under his breath about being unable to see! Happy Weekend! 😀😀

    1. I hadn’t really thought about the size of the marshland until now! That is a huge area. Whilst the majority of the town is built higher up many new houses are being built on the lower ground, near the river! Seems crazy and at risk of flooding any time! Imposing is a perfect word for the cathedral. It’s not as big as some I’ve been to but so magnificent! Happy Weekend! 😀

    1. Thank you so much, Christy! 😀 The step format only came to me once I thought of the title…a quick(ish) rewrite of the post followed…I do like the idea of everyone following along through each next 1,000 steps! Happy Weekend, my friend! ❤️

    1. Julie, you presume right!! 😀 It was a very special day, one of those when everything is perfect! The atmosphere was peaceful and calm in the park, town, cathedral and everyone was so convivial. It’s been a joy to share here – thank you so much for reading and your lovely comment. Xxx❤️

  5. So lovely to read this and join you on your special day Annika, congratulations! ❤ Thanks for sharing the beautiful photos and post…. such an interesting write. Best wishes to you and your husband, Happy Anniversary! 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, Iris! 😀❤️ I’m so happy you enjoyed the post; it was fun to relive the day and to look over all the photos…there were so many it was hard to make a decision over which ones to use here! Wishing you a very special weekend! 🌺

  6. This is a lovely and wonderful way to commemorate meeting your husband. I love the way you marked your journey. It must parallel the hundreds of thousands of steps you have taken as a couple over the course of your marriage. The photos are amazing, especially of the cathedral. Happy Anniversary to both of you on the meeting that started this loving relationship.

    1. Shari, bless you for your special comment. ❤️ It brings into focus our day of celebration, that this was the start of something wondrous and yes, mirrors the ‘hundreds of thousands steps’ we’ve taken as a couple since first meeting 20 years ago. I sense such peace and care in your words which mean a lot to me. Hugs xxxxxxxxx

  7. Stunning photos Annika. That cathedral ceiling was gorgeous! Happy belated anniversary! And I have to ask, were you wearing a Fitbit? Lol, you certainly didn’t count all those steps? 🙂 x

    1. Haha! 😀 Debby, no I definitely didn’t count all the steps. I used to have a wii fit step metre but now just an app on my phone! My son received a Fitbit from my brother for Christmas and he loves using that – and of course it does so much more. Even useful for meditation!

      I loved the ceiling too – one website was rather derogatory about it but I thought it was beautiful and threw light into the cathedral.

    1. Very strong superglue??!!😀😀 It is a stunning cathedral which still retains its harmonious peace and quiet. Unlike Canterbury which whilst a spectacular building was like an amusement park the day I saw it. Have you ever visited Ely?

    1. It was a magical day, Jennie and lovely to share here for everyone to enjoy! Virtual travel is a boon! 😀 So glad you liked the post and photos; I love an excuse to take the camera on an outing – and it barely left my hand the whole day! 😀

  8. Annika, your post is a sheer delight and so beautiful. It puts any travel writer in the shade.
    To start with you have chosen such a great way to traverse in steps! Imagination at play.
    The photographs are all wonderful and conveys with strength this beautiful Cathedral and equally wonderful surroundings.
    The marble pillars lit through stained glass windows, the atmospheric film of the passing train, the river, the lights….

    And your commentary ; what do I say? I feel as I visited. As it is one of my dreams and I now will.
    It isn’t too far from where I live. What do you think about a spring visit.:) 😊🦋
    Thank you ❤️

    1. Miriam, I think a Spring visit would be perfect for you!! 😀 If you feel as if you were there whilst reading this post, imagine what it would be like in real life! I’m so happy you enjoyed all the various elements of the visit, even the train video. I hadn’t realised how close I was standing by the line until it swished past! The cathedral is awe-inspiring and calms the thoughts wonderfully. Thank you so much for your lovely kind comment…it helps to have such a special place to write about. Enjoy your time in Ely … maybe you can write your own step poem about your visit?? xx

  9. That cathedral left me in awe. And, what a lovely way to end the day with that golden sky. Thanks for taking us along on your date. Good thing we weren’t really there to intrude. 😉

    1. Lori, the stunning sunset was the icing on the cake … the most glorious I’ve seen in months and yes, the perfect end to a wonderful day. It’s been lovely to have so many of you along virtually (and would always be welcome)! 😀

  10. I’m so glad you had a happy day at Ely. I was there in March, 1981. It was my turn for John-duty, tending our son who was a year and a half. Husband and two daughters enjoyed evensong in the cathedral, sitting next to the choir. I pushed young John on the walk under trees and wondered why everyone else was walking on the opposite side. I found out as bird pooh hit the top of my head. It was a LONG ride to Reigate where we lived. We laugh as we tell this story, because it really was funny. We lived in England only two years, but they were two of the best years of our lives. I enjoyed your photos and wondered if the tree is still there that harbored my assailant.

    1. Anne, I can’t help but smile at your story and I wouldn’t be surprised if the tree is still there! 😀We did walk along under some trees … not many birds though as the trees are so bare at the moment! How lovely to sit next to the choir during a service – we were lucky enough to hear them practice and they sounded glorious, and the organ was wonderful to hear. Wow! I hear the love of your two years here in the UK – they must have been very special indeed…thank you so much for sharing a little of them here.

      1. We met the most wonderful people in England and enjoyed seeing many tourist sites at a leisurely pace. Those two years were simply marvelous. Our younger daughter came back to the US with an English accent. How we wish she could have kept it! It disappeared within a couple of weeks of her going back to school.

  11. Happy Anniversary, Annika! I think Ely was a lovely choice – I enjoyed your post very much and your photos are stunning! I have only been to the cathedral once before. Richard and I visited many years ago before we were married and went to a Sunday morning service there. I often pass through the city on the train – probably on the line that you filmed! – on my way to Sheffield to visit my elder daughter. I love the way you broke the post up into sections of 1,000 steps!

    1. Clare, thank you so much for your lovely comment and it’s interesting to learn about your experiences of Ely! So that is where the train line runs…we were wondering. It is a picturesque railway line with beautiful views. It must have been special to attend a service at the cathedral and quite different from just being a ‘tourist’. I still felt the peace and spirituality of the building and by luck could listen to the organ and choir practice whilst viewing in the stained glass museum. So glad you enjoyed the step format of this post – of course, it came to me during the night after I’d drafted my initial post so had to rewrite it!

  12. What a perfect day! I love the cathedral and especially the relaxed knight. Much better than doing the pub thing. Last year we celebrated 40 years of marriage and returned to York where we got married. It was a fabulous few days with some lovely walks.

    1. Haha!!😀 The pub thing wasn’t even that great then – we were a group of various friends meeting up and later ended up sharing a meal at one of our houses instead! Much better. Wow!! Congratulations on 40 years of marriage – that is wonderful and I’m so happy for you, Darlene!! 😀 It must have been amazing to get married in York. I love the town and used to go there all the time when living up North. The moors are life-changing somehow! I’m glad you liked the knight, his pose got my attention and although there were lots of famous, ‘worthy’ individuals with statues there, this one stayed with me.

  13. So wonderful, Annika. You know I travel more with you than anyone else. I love our trips. That train–frightening even in the video. I might have said I’d never make 10,000 steps but I know I exceeded 15,000 on my last visit to my daughter in DC. Oh did we walk!

    I’m so glad your special day was so delightful.

    1. Jacqui, thank you so much for your lovely comment which has me smiling!! 😀 It’s wonderful to have you along on all the trips – and there’s me thinking I never go anywhere!! 😃 Oh, I would love to have joined you on your DC exploration, and I’m impressed – that’s a LOT of steps. I hope you had a great meal in the evening with cocktails or such.

  14. PeterR

    Congratulations, Annika. What a special way to celebrate. The whole story shows your talents, both as a wordsmith and a photographer. Perhaps you should send it to the Tourist Board.

    1. Many thanks, Peter! 😀 I love taking photos and the camera was in my hand the whole day, so by the end, my hand actually hurt from clutching it so hard! It was a very special day of celebrations…and I didn’t even have room to mention the riverside restaurant for lunch.

  15. Congratulations to you in many ways Annika. AND thank you for taking us on this very special walk with you. I am sure this is a day to remember just as that first date was. What a great way to ‘relive’ it by not getting in the same river. A lovely post. I have only changed trains at Ely alas. It looks lovely. BUT I do cross the railway every time I go down to the shops. x

    1. Shey, going shopping for you sounds scary!! 😀 Even this one time, after the train had passed, the barriers were up, I still stood and checked up and down the line for a train. Such a pity you didn’t get a chance to look around Ely or its cathedral but at least you had a taster through this virtual trip! Lovely to have you along for the walk and yes, it was a precious day and one I will always remember. Be safe, now! xxxx

  16. Such a clever way to share your special day with the steps you took. It all looks beautiful, although I admit to getting a bit freaked walking on train tracks (or even driving across them). That cathedral is stunning! America is such a young country, I’m always amazed by the buildings that have stood for centuries across the pond.

    1. Mae, you’re just like me then!! 😃 I am super-careful driving across train tracks and will double, triple check even if it annoys drivers behind me! As for walking, well, a quick dash would be more accurate this time. I’m so glad you liked the step format for the post – of course, it only came to me once I’d already completed my initial (more sedate) version the day before! Even though I’ve visited several cathedrals, numerous old castles, stately homes etc I never fail to be awed by these centuries, even thousand-year-old buildings! They are amazing and hold the past within them!

      1. I love history and when I do get to visit places that are antiquated, it is the past that draws me. Oh, and so good I’m not the only one who gets freaked about train tracks, LOL!

  17. What a beautiful walk and I love the way you divided it into steps, Annika, a journey. An anniversary? Also a journey. The cathedral is stunning. What a beautiful building. Thanks for taking me along. ❤

    1. Diana, I’d written a straightforward narrative post during the day but without a title – I always strive for a striking and memorable one. During the night, I thought of the title and the step format for the actual writing. Early morning re-wrote the whole post – but well worth it as it worked so much better! So glad you liked it! 😀 It was the 20th anniversary of the day we met – not an event we usually mark, but two decades is quite something, also it fell on a Sunday so lovely to just leave everything and enjoy spending time together. Lovely to have you along for all the steps!! ❤️

    1. Thank you so much, Norma! 😀 I do enjoy taking photos, but it helps with such a magnificent building and beautiful rolling landscape. Precious memories indeed, ones to treasure forever.

    1. Thank you very much, Janice…it does help to have such beautiful landscape and wondrous cathedral to write about and photograph! 😀😃 I’m so glad you liked the division by steps format – one that came to me at night and meant I had to rewrite my prepared post – so glad I did though!

  18. What a beautifuleay to celebrate such a special anniversary Annika. I never knew that eels were associated with Ely. Not my favourite form of fish but I do love the sculpture. I am looking forward to your stained glass post. 🌼

    1. Brigid, I’m with you on the eels and the sculpture. This one is striking and beautifully formed. 😀 It was a very special day and one I’ll treasure. Oh, I think you’re going to love the stained glass museum post – one of my favourite museums I’ve decided and over a 1,000 in the collection. I’ve had to be harsh with my photo selection! Wishing you a lovely day. xxx

  19. Happy 20th Anniversary, Annika, and thank you for sharing your gorgeous and stunning pictures. What a wonderful way to celebrate your special day. I hope you both grow old together while also embracing days like this one to commemorate your love and commitment to each other. Sending love and hugs! 💗🎉🥂

    1. Lauren, thank you so much for your beautiful and tender message…it brings happy tears to my eyes. ❤️ You write with such love and warmth; good relationships are a gift and ones to be treasured and a day like this gives the opportunity to take time out from the everyday and concentrate on the us! It was a wonderful and perfect day. I’m so happy you enjoyed the pictures – I love taking photos and it helps of course with such a fantastic location. Love & hugs xxx

  20. Congratulations for completing twenty years of togetherness and love. Wishing you many more. May you both grow old together, holding each other’s hand across the paths that are as breathtaking as this one, as loving as exploring new places, basking in the glory of sunshine and sunsets as beautiful as the one you have captured while driving back. It is such a blessing to be a passenger while driving through the splendid surroundings and look around at the sky changing hues…what a delight with your soulmate by your side!
    Thank you for sharing your day with us and those pictures speak volumes about the place you visited. Wishing you many more such journeys Annika. Love and hugs.

    1. Balroop, my heart sings with joy at your wonderful message full of love and warmth, the joy life, love, and togetherness! 😀❤️Thank you! 💐 The sunset on the way back was reminiscent of the picturesque ones from movies … stunning and even the cars on the road seemed transformed in its light. I did fee a bit sorry for my husband though, blinded by it, squinting from the blinding sun rays. Oh yes, I hope for many more such journeys in our lives…magical peaceful unhurried days. Love & hugs, my friend. xxxx

  21. What a wonderful way to celebrate your special day. Thank you for sharing your journey. The photos are outstanding. I could feel the vibe in the Cathedral. I haven’t been anywhere to celebrate anything in a while, but am heading up to the New Mexico mountains this coming weekend with friends for a few days. I will be disconnected from everything electronic as the cabin we rented has NO internet. I truly look forward to the break.

    1. Jan, it’s a joy to share the day here – a wonderful opportunity to relive it a little! 😀 The cathedral is outstanding and one of my favourites (York wins though!) It was incredibly atmospheric, particularly since it was organ and choir practice time – a private musical concert almost.

      i wish you the BEST time in New Mexico this weekend!! 😀😃 Days disconnected from this electronic world are so rejuvenating and how special to have time to connect with your friends. Any chance you will post some photos of the area, tell us a bit about it? I’d be an eager and keen reader! hugs xxx

    1. Andrew, it was a most special day and the cathedral never fails to hold me quiet awe and reverence! 😀 I’m having a lovely day (the sun shining again!) and hope you are too. Also, I want to wish you all well after your eye operation and hope that it went okay in the long-term.

  22. Happy Anniversary, Annika! What a wonderful day you two spent together and how lovely that you take us all with you to share this beautiful landscape and the stunning cathedral! Your pictures are beautiful and I would so much love to see the Cathedral for myself one day! Loved the shot with the skiff on the river – did you know, I used to row when I was at school too, and it´s a wonderful sport! So close to nature! Have a lovely week! Hugs! xxx
    P.S. Still working on the translations and will hopefully send you the next 4 or 5 stories soon!

    1. Sarah, I am beginning to realise you are a woman of many secret talents! 😀I’m very impressed you used to row competitively – the only time I’ve tried rowing in a boat was on a river like this – we barely made it back in the two-hour boat hire! Oh, you would absolutely love the cathedral and find so much inspiration there. It’s a wonderfully uplifting place and we were so lucky that not only was there first organ practice, but then choir practice – heavenly! Ps. I was about to contact you and see how you were getting on…very impressed. Look forward to seeing these when you’re ready! Hope you’re having fun and your mother is enjoying the stories. hugs xxxx

  23. You made this armchair traveler so happy! Thanks for sharing your lovely day. I like how you used your steps to share the sights with us. I hope you use this format again and show some more of England- (and Italy) all the best on your anniversary

    1. Jena, thank you so much for your lovely comment…it has me beaming away! 😀 I’m so happy you enjoyed this armchair tour – it was a delight to share. The idea for to use the steps through the post only came to me in the middle of the night, but I’m so glad you liked the format. Following your kind encouragement, I will definitely use this again. Oh, I love Italy and although I’ve only been to Florence I would love to return and travel around…I am wondering why you mention Italy?? Is that one of your favourite places?

    1. Blimey, Bernadette…that’s astute! 😀 Just walking I find let’s the mind wander, the conversation flows back and forth with ease…in between me stopping to take photos! So happy you enjoyed the beauty of the post. ❤️

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