Fen Landscape 36 – Long Drove, Cottenham

Long Drove, Cottenham

Long Drove runs north-east straight for two and a half miles from Cottenham into the Fens; add another mile and a half of dog legs and you end up on the bank of the Great Ouse.  Drove: a herd or flock of animals being driven in a body; a drovers’ road for moving livestock on foot from one place to another.  There’s little livestock in Cottenham now; arable fields stretch to the horizon and trucks and tractors trundle along the Drove.

Land on the way to the Ouse carries anachronistic names from a pastoral Fenland history: Mason’s Pastures, Green End Cow Pastures; The Lots, Mitchell Hill Common, The Undertakers, and Chear Fen.  There was a pastoral way of life that produced Double Cottenham, a blue-moulded cheese, creamier in texture and a little flatter and broader in shape than Stilton.  Its unique flavour was supposed to have come from the wild thyme rich grass on which the cows grazed.  No cows, no thyme now.

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