The Cambridgeshire village of Cottenham is famous for a lot of things – cheese, fires, the Pepys family, community activities, and, of course, being the source of the idiom “Hobson’s choice”. Hobson having stabled the horses for his Cambridge business at the foot of Lamb’s Lane, back in the day.
The village is also quite well known for its Anglo-Saxon or Mediaeval site, Crowlands Moat. The moat lies at the heart of the Broad Lane “birds” housing estate. The site was listed by English Heritage as a “scheduled ancient monument”. The moat originally surrounded the long-gone Crowlands Manor.
The moat is home to a significant breeding population of great crested newts (Triturus cristatus), a rare, and protected species. In the UK and across Europe it is generally illegal to kill, injure or take a northern crested newt, to possess or control any live or dead specimen or anything derived from them, to recklessly damage, destroy or obstruct access to any structure or place used for shelter or protection by the species, or to recklessly disturb its home or breeding grounds. The moat is also home to smooth newts (Lissotriton vulgaris).
On a typically wet and grey Bank Holiday Monday we went looking for newts…and saw at most two, there were presumably many more lurking in the murky waters of the moat. Just the Common Newt though, no Great Cresteds…