One for the road

Country Life Every Week - - Another Country -

● In their hey­day, drove roads were 90ft wide to make a long acre for the an­i­mals to graze as they moved, with dogs, not fences, keep­ing the herds on the line of march

● For thou­sands of years, drove roads were part of the sea­sonal rhythm of the Bri­tish Isles, as the black cat­tle moved to the sum­mer pas­tures in the High­lands—be they of Wales, Scot­land or the Pen­nines— and back to the low­lands in the win­ter. Scot­land’s Black Isle only be­came black in the win­ter when filled with cat­tle

● Drove roads steadily de­clined over the 19th cen­tury, through com­pe­ti­tion from canals, the ar­rival of trains in the 1840s and the im­port­ing of Ar­gen­tinian beef and Aus­tralian and New Zealand lamb through our ports. These tracks were empty be­fore the First World War, but were re­vived by the na­tional rail­way strike of 1911 and af­ter it, when re­turn­ing war he­roes en­forced their right to walk the land, with the first in­stances of mass tres­pass in the 1920s and 1930s (such as Kin­der Scout) reopen­ing an­cient track­ways

● Sweet Track, dated to 3807BC, was only dis­cov­ered in 1970 by a peat-cut­ter, Ray Sweet. Wooden posts of ash, oak and lime were sunk and tied to­gether to make a cross which sup­ported a 7,000ft-long oak plankway, con­nect­ing a se­ries of vil­lages perched over the lake­land marsh. It would be su­per­seded in age by a sim­i­lar track­way (dated to 4,000BC) dis­cov­ered be­side the high-se­cu­rity prison of

Bel­marsh in south-east London

● The Devil’s High­way was a 25ftwide Ro­man road that took the con­demned from New­gate prison, over the Fleet tidal es­tu­ary and along Ox­ford Street to­wards the triple gal­lows of the Ty­burn tree

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