Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Drove Roads of Scotland

"The Drove Roads of Scotland" by A.R.B. Haldane (publishers: Birlinn)

This was the 'other' book that I didn't buy when I bought the book on cattle raiding.

Researched over a decade from 1942, the author spoke to some old drovers, still alive:

There are still (1952) men living who have seen the cattle boats sailing into Loch Dunvegan with the Uist droves, or the ferry boats from Lagg bringing the Islay cattle across the Sound of Jura. Others tell how they helped in their youth to bring droves from Kintyre and Knapdale by Inveraray and Loch Lomond to Falkirk, or from Don-side across the Dee to the Angus glens on the road to Perth. Their part in the last of the droving days is recalled with pride in an old and honourable trade; with regret too for the passing of the peace of mind and the contemplative outlook of those less hurried days.

The brown sails of the cattle boats have gone from the Minch. On slipways and jetties from Skye to Kintyre thrift grows undisturbed in the crannies of stones once smooth and polished with the tread of hooves. The hills round Loch Ainort look down on lonely saltings where the Uist droves once grazed, while throughout the Highlands, in hill pass, moorland and upland valley, as in the minds of men, the passing years increasingly dim and obscure the mark and memory of the men and the beasts that once travelled the drove roads of Scotland.

I look forward to reading this book. Skimming through it, I read that cattle were driven over the "saddle between Ben Wyvis and Little Wyvis" as a shortcut on the road to Dingwall. And area I may be hiking in on Friday.

4 comments:

Andy Howell said...

Sounds fascinating Duncan - and something that every Challenger will want to read.

AktoMan said...

The book on cattle raiding compliments it well. Though my Dad nabbed it before I could read it over the hols. The Highlands before they became empty.

Armin said...

Once you've read it can you post an update if there's more information about the Islay cattle being brought over the Sound of Jura? ;-)

I've recently learned about some of the old trade routes from Margadale (near Bunnahabhain) on Islay accross Jura to Lagg and the mainland. I'd be interested in further information.

AktoMan said...

Hi Armin, there's descriptions of Islay and the crossings from p91 - 101. He relates Macculloch's description from his Scottish tour of 1824, and a committee finding of 6 years earlier into the supply of whisky to the ferrymen.

If you drop me an email next week, I'll send you some more info. The chap's got a description of the crossing from Lagg to the mainland from the 1800's (where the "greater part of the Islay and Jura cattle crossed").

An interesting and informative book.