Witchford Walks - Walk 4
A fenland walk with views to Little Downham and Coveney, with Ely Cathedral in view watching over her fens; approximate distance is 3¾ miles.
The first part of the walk from Main Street is described in walk 2. But here’s a quick reminder; starting from the Village Inn go towards Ely and at the lowest point in Main Street turn left to enter Broadway (opposite Grunty Fen Road). Where the tarmac of Broadway ends Sandpit Drove begins. Continue along Sandpit Drove alongside the Grunty Fen Drain until reaching the village pond on the left. Bearing left follow the byway which leads to the rear of Cathedral View Park.
After passing the back of Cathedral View Park, cross the by-pass onto Long Drove passing through the opening beside the black metal gate marked with a yellow footpath waymarker. Continue along the drove, past the sewage treatment farm, and upon reaching the waymark at the end of Long Drove bear left on a track; there are wonderful views along here. Half way along the track was where a smock mill *, called Common Mill once stood.
The mill was there in 1841, as at that date there was an account of a Mr Hawkes being found with fatal injuries, having been hit by its sails. No trace of the mill remains today. Keep going along this track until reaching the end and turn left onto Poplar Drove. At the end turn left and after a short distance right into Straight Drove.
At the time of the 1813 Inclosure Award the droves were named North Drove & New Drove respectively. The flat ground bounded by these droves is recorded as the "Old Common" in 1839, and gives its name to Common Farm. This low lying area was marshy until the great fen drainage of the mid-seventeenth century. Continue past Common Farm, cross over The Catchwater Drain into Marroway Lane, and so back to Main Street.
Turn left and return to The Village Inn. *Note: A smock mill is a mill which allows its sails to always face the prevailing wind, by means of a weather cocking top or cap, which rotates upon the main building.