Today has been is a welcome day of rest in Ely, and a chance for me to visit the top of the cathedral's octagon tower. From there, one can see the quiet sunlit countryside all the way back to Cambridge from where I walked yesterday. It looks peaceful, well-ordered and charming.
The mornings these days are often foggy; yesterday I set off alongside the A14 in a grey mist in search of the river Cam. The amount of debris by the main roads, presumably thrown from passing cars, is astonishing; in the space of half an hour I saw a boxing glove (blue, left hand), an almost brand new hand saw, a pair of leather high-heeled boots (black, female) and, believe it or not, a kitchen sink. By time I found the tow path by river at the village of Milton, the sun was up, and it was a warm day's walking along the Fen Rivers Way for lunch at the curiously named "Five Miles from Anywhere" pub. From there, a footpath cuts inland, and parallels the Great Ouse river as far as Ely. When the cathedral finally comes into view as one follows the winding flood bank there is a sense of relief; it seems one is at last approaching one's destination. But it proves to be an optical illusion, and an hour later, still plodding along, it doesn't seem to be much closer. Eighteen miles in one day is, I have discovered, quite tiring. Still, the clamber to the top of the octagon tower, built of massive oak beams nearly 800 years ago, helps put everything into clearer perspective.