Archive for tag: Highland Cattle Drovers in Blair Atholl

Highland Cattle Drovers return to Blair Atholl

Highland Cattle Drovers return for the first time for over 100 years

Highland cattle drovers in period costumeA varied group of travellers recreate the journey of highland cattle drovers, via the ancient droving route through the Minigaig Pass, between Newtonmore and Blair Atholl.  They will be in Blair Atholl this Wednesday 4th July between 11am and 3pm and at Kirkmichael on Saturday 7th July. The droving journey is being organised by the Royal Scottish Geographical Society in partnership with the SpeyGrian Educational Trust, with support from Perth & Kinross Countryside Trust.

A diverse group of artists, writers, crofters, ecologists, historians, geographers and educators will be re-enacting the highland cattle drove, travelling up Glen Feshie to a height of over 900 metres over the Minigaig Pass to Blair Atholl, and finally following the Cateran Trail to Kirkmichael - the site of a famous drovers tryst, or market.

This group of drovers are the first to travel over the Minigaig Pass for over 100 years.  Cattle droving was once a vital part of Highland life, as highland soils are better suited to rearing cattle than crop growing.

Highland Cattle Drovers on You Tube

A short You Tube documentary (3mins 51secs) all about the first drovers for 100 years to walk from Speyside to Blair Atholl, organised by the Royal Scottish Geographical Society and SpeyGrian Educational Trust.


Highland drovers traditional turf housesIn the days before refrigeration the best way to keep meat fresh was to keep it alive! Drovers would drive these cattle long distances on foot, to sell in towns and cities with larger populations e.g. Lowland Scotland, England and Europe. Unlike other Highlanders at that time, the drovers were allowed to wear the plaid and carry weapons to protect themselves from 'Caterans' or cattle thieves.

During the modern day journey, you can 'Meet the Drovers' in Blair Atholl and Kirkmichael.  On Wednesday the 4th of July the modern day drovers will call in at the Atholl Country Life Museum in Blair Atholl between 11am and 3pm, and the journey will come to its end in the Bannerfield in Kirkmichael on Saturday 7th July between 11am and 3pm.

At each of the events you will have the chance to meet the drovers & their ponies; discovering how they planned the route, their equipment and food and comparing this to drovers in the past.  A small but fascinating droving exhibition from the Dingwall Mart will be on display and Veritas Vincent, a historical re-inactment group, will be dressed as 18th century drovers to show weapons and clothing of the time.

 Drovers stories by Claire HewittStoryteller Claire Hewitt from Highland Perthshire will share local folk and fairy stories, human journeys of endurance facing supernatural forces, cow and horse tales - stories the Drovers would have heard and told to pass the evening round the fire.

At the Blair Atholl and Kirkmichael events, basket-maker Jane Wilkinson will also be demonstrating how panniers were made for the ponies and there will be opportunities for the public to try working with willow. Additional activities and demonstrations e.g. milking of cattle. Cattle will be taken on the first two days of the drove to Glenfeshie.

Everyone who takes part in the drove road journey will be invited to record their experiences in poems, writing, music, art, craft, and photography. This will be drawn together to form the Creative Journeys Exhibition which itself will go on a journey. Exhibition venues will include the communities of Newtonmore, Blair Atholl and Kirkmichael, and at the Royal Scottish Geographical Society's Visitor Centre at the Fair Maid's House in Perth.

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