20.5 miles – heavy showers, cheeky sunshine in between some
A day spent on the old drove roads – at least in theory. Soon after leaving West linton I foolishly followed the official route, which took me through a mile of long, wet grass, leaving my boots and socks wet all day; I could have stuck to the firm, dry road and saved half a mile – aagh! Otherwise I thought the drove road quite impressive.
I learnt that every autumn until the mid-19th Century, drovers from all over Scotland would take their cattle south, all the way to London, to meet the need for meat for the expanding population there. They would be on the road for weeks at a time, sleeping without shelter with their cattle – and I have the audacity, with my Zpacks tent and Arc’teryx jacket to think I’m doing something special.
Peebles felt heavy and grimy. I pushed on up to the top of Kirkhope Law, until I found a tiny burn for water for the night. The skies had cleared and high up it was freezing.
2 July 2022 at 18:25
I think I’m right in saying that drove-roads tended to be broad for a couple of reasons: firstly, they allowed travellers (and flocks) to pass each other (either way) more easily; secondly, they offered plentiful areas of enclosed forage alongside the otherwise beaten roadway.