Highland Cattle Drovers return for the first time
for over 100 years
A 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.
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.
In 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.
Storyteller 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.