Familiar with the name ‘Lynn Union’ river cruises? A fiendishly simple concept. You hop on a boat, enjoy the scenic waterways south of Ely, especially the continually shrinking silhouette of the cathedral, and hop off in time for tea. Although the ‘hop off’ stop off is the Lazy Otter, and as delightful as tea is we can (and will) not be blamed for chomping on something a bit more substantial.
The cruises are actually operated by the local and exceedingly friendly Liberty Bell cruises and the Otter, although fairly distant from anywhere, is far from lazy. In fact it rustles up some pretty good nosh. Bright, breezy, wood and leatherette, the interior is as one would expect of a modern gastro pub; it is most certainly the location that gives the Otter a sparkle. Oh, and the food, of course!
Camembert with sticky plum sauce stirs the soul on a late summer’s day. Especially when there is a good range of real ales to wash it down with.
We reckon that, when the weather is right and the table is set, there is no finer single tourist/boat-to-pub trip! The route is very familiar to us, having taken a hired boat south and out of Ely not so long ago – not having to pilot (or captain... river boat etiquette is not our strong suit) frees up the whole party to bask in the sun on deck, count the cows, poke at the damselflies, spot idle fish flopping after bugs, and marvel in the simple beauty of such things.
The best part may well be the price. Further south (in that tributary they call the Cam!) a punt tour out to Grantchester for tea and scones can set you back a pretty penny. These cruises from Ely, by contrast, take in the prettier waters, uncluttered by Dutch barges and long boats, and cost Ely prices – the ride comes to less than the first round of drinks! The food is competitively priced, given the sophisticated complexity of the latest menu.
All in all, a somewhat incredible bargain – we suggest you take advantage of the opportunity while the season permits.