Ely Canal Boat Hire


Begin your relaxing narrowboat holiday from our narrowboat boat hire base in Ely, in the picturesque heart of the Fenland waterways, perfect for exploring Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Suffolk and Norfolk. Our fleet narrowboats offer boating rental holidays for parties of 2 to 5 people and a selection of routes that offer picturesque short breaks or a relaxing longer cruises. You’ll be cruising your narrowboat on rivers in this area, including the River Cam and Great Ouse.

Ely canal map Cambridgeshire

Popular river cruising

Enjoy cruising the rivers Cam and Ouse in this scenic area that’s hugely popular for wildlife spotters. Cruise to the lakes at Earith and Wicken Fenn and explore the peaceful countryside routes where you’ll spot birds of all kinds local to the area, as well as grazing horses and cows!

Plus there are historic villages, towns and cities to stop off and explore, including Cambridge, Brandon, Downham Market, St Ives and Bedford. Finally, and by no means least, there is a brilliant selection of friendly and welcoming pubs that line the river cruising routes – perfect for a sunny lunch in a pub garden or a cosy dinner.


 short breaks

Cambridge & Wicken Fenn Short Break

This scenic route offers a relaxing three-day canal boat holiday from Ely to Wicken Fen and Cambridge, a lovely boat hire route for those keen on both wildlife spotting and visiting the sights of Cambridge, the historic university town. You’ll start on the river in Ely on the River Great Ouse and then the River Cam.

The lock at Waterbeach on the outskirts of Cambridge is currently out of action, meaning that you cannot currently cruise into the centre of this city.  However, the three hour cruise to Waterbeach through picturesque Cambridgeshire countryside is stunning. When you reach Waterbeach, you can moor up at the Bridge Pub which is excellently located on the bank of the River Cam and walk 5 minutes to the train station which has regular trains into the centre of Cambridge. For a £3.40 return ticket, it’s a quick and easy way to reach the centre of this impressive city.

On your return to Ely, moor up at Upware and it’s an easy walk to access the Wicken Fen nature reserve. This popular National Trust site offers a beautiful area where you can walk or cycle the boardwalks across the fenlands, which is teeming with birds and wildlife.

Wicken Fen

Denver & Downham Market  Short Break

North of Ely you can head up the River Ouse and then on the Ouse Relief Channel to the historic villages of Denver and Downham Market.

Denver in Norfolk is a village that dates back before the 11th century and is mentioned in the Doomsday Book. It’s worth taking time out to visit the Norman church of Saint Mary (Grade 11 listed) and also to see the Denver Windmill in action. If you want to know more about how the fens are managed then head to the visitor centre at Denver Sluise, a fascinating and important complex for water management across large parts of the surrounding fens and take a tour.

A little further north of Denver is Downham Market. This bustling market town is located on the banks of the River Great Ouse and dates back to Saxon time – officially one of Norfolks oldest markets. Markets are every Friday and Saturday on the Town Hall carpark, next to the imposing Town Hall. Visit the town squire, the church of St Edmunds and enjoy a bite to eat in one of the many cafes and restaurants here.

On your return from Denver you can explore the three tributaries which lead into the River Great Ouse – the River Lark, River Little Ouse and River Wissey.  You can easily while a way a couple of hours exploring each tributary and the picturesque countryside, great for bird watching and nature spotting.

Wicken fenn cruise

Brandon & the Great Ouse Tributaries Short Break

The picturesque countryside route into Brandon is quiet and relaxed, cruising through Cambridgeshire countryside into the county of Suffolk.

You can moor before Brandon lock and it’s an easy walk into this small market town. Brandon is on edge of Thetford Forest – great for mountain biking, walking, hiking plus you can visit Brandon Country Park.

This small town dates back to the Doomsday Book of the 11th century, so there is plenty of history to see including St Peter’s Church, dating back to 13th century.  There are pubs, restaurants, shopping and a bustling market every Thursday and Saturday morning.

On your return from Denver you can explore the three tributaries which lead into the River Great Ouse – the River Lark, River Little Ouse and River Wissey. You can easily while a way a couple of hours exploring each tributary and taking in the picturesque countryside, great for bird watching and wildlife spotting.

wicken fen cambridge

St Ives  Short Break

Leaving Ely on the Old West River which forms part of the old course of the Great  Ouse, you can cruise to Earth village, where you can enjoy some wonderful bird watching. Earith is also popular with anglers, with trout and coarse fishing available on the Earith lakes which stretch over 36 acres.

Whilst in Earith you can also see the remains of an English Civil War fort known as Earith Bulwark, which dates back to the mid-seventeenth century. Earith Bulwark remained an important strategic area three hundred years on from the Civil War, when a machine gun turret was built upon it during the Second World War. The whole site can be viewed from the Old Bedford bank (both sides). The village has a pub, The Crown, an Indian takeaway and a post office for meals and essential supplies.

Then continue to the bustling medieval market town of St Ives. This pretty little town blends historical charm and natural beauty, centred around the picturesque River Great Ouse. Visitors can explore the town’s history at the Norris Museum and the iconic St Ives Bridge, featuring a rare 15th-century chapel.  The bustling weekly markets in the town center provide a taste of local culture, while riverside cafés and pubs offer a relaxing spot to unwind and enjoy the view.

St Ives Chapel on the Bridge


Longer cruises

Huntingdon and Bedford via St Ives

Bedford and Return 
This seven night trip to Bedford involves gentle cruising of around five hours per day to the bustling town of Bedford. You’ll enjoy the picturesque views along the River Ouse, passing through the pretty small towns of St Ives and Huntingdon and Bedford has plenty of options for shopping and eating out.

Huntingdon and Return
This seven night narrow boat holiday from Ely to Huntingdon along the River Ouse takes around four hours per day of easy cruising. Huntington is a bustling market town near Cambridge, and well worth visiting for the historic market square and medieval church.

Cambridge and Bedford Return
This 14 night cruise allows you plenty of time to take in the beautiful sights of the River Ouse to both Cambridge and Bedford, taking in St Neots and St Ives.

St Ives Chapel on the Bridge


Below are the boat types that are available to hire from this base. When you start your Fenland waterways holiday search all the boat options and dates that closely match your desired departure date and party number will be presented to you.



Princess 2 Signature | Duchess 4 | Princess 4


Princess 4


Bridge Boatyard, Bridge Road,
Ely, Cambs. CB7 4DY



The Lamb Hotel. 2 Lynn Road, Ely, Cambs. CB7 4EJ
Double Room from £115 Single Room £70 per night including breakfast
The Lamb Hotel  Tel: 01353 663574

The Riverside Inn. 8 Annesdale, Ely, Cambs. CB7 4BN
£90-£140 per room per night inc. breakfast
www.riversideinn-ely.co.uk Tel: 01353 661677

The Nyton. 7 Barton Road, Ely, Cambs. CB7 4HZ
www.thenyton.com Tel: 01353 662459

Travelodge. A10/A142 Roundabout,Witchford Road, Ely, Cambs. CB6 3NN
From £19 per night
travelodge.co.uk/hotels/26/Ely-hotel Tel: 0871 9846028

Ely Tourist Information Centre, Oliver Cromwell House, 29 St Marys
Street, Ely, Cambs. CB7 4HF
www.visitely.org.uk/visitor-information/tourist-information-centre/ Tel: 01353 662062

National Rail Enquiries:

www.nationalrail.co.uk Tel: 08457 484950
www.thetrainline.com Tel: 0871 244 1545
Nearest Airport: Stanstead
www.stansteadairport.com Tel. 0844 335 1803

Nearest Railway Station: Ely

A10 Taxis Tel: 01353 661010
Fencabs Tel: 01353 669966
Alans Taxis Tel: 01353 665050

Approximate prices: (Prices courtesy of A10 Taxis – subject to change)
Stanstead Airport to Bridge Boatyard £95

There are a number of good shops in Ely (inc. Sainsbury’s and Waitrose) and a Tesco supermarket close to the boatyard

From Heathrow airport, get the London underground tube to London Kings Cross station.

From Gatwick airport, get the Gatwick Express to London Victoria station, then get a London underground tube to London Kings Cross station.

From Stansted airport, get the London underground tube to London Kings Cross station.

From London Kings Cross station, get a First Capital Connect train to Ely

From Birmingham International airport, get train to Birmingham New Street station and then train to Ely.

Visit www.tfl.gov.uk to plan your route on the London Underground.

From the South: M11 Exit at junction 14 then merge ontoA14. Exit at Junction 33 take first exit at roundabout marked A10. Followsigns to Ely for 12 miles. On outskirts of Ely take 3rd exit at roundabout marked Ely Rail Station. Follow sighns to Ely Rail Station (onA142 to Newmarket). Bridge Boatyard is situated on the sliproad for level crossing for high sided vehicles adjacent to Ely Rail Station.

From the North: M6 at Corley Service Area branch left and take A14 signposted Felixstowe. Exit at Junction 33 and follow directions as above.



Keith FiddyKeith Fiddy
18:54 26 Sep 22
Carol EverettCarol Everett
20:01 16 Jun 22
Great holiday very relaxing.
John GilbertJohn Gilbert
07:11 03 Jul 21
Great service and great boats. A lovely time was had by all.