Droving was once the lifeblood of Scotland’s rural economy, and for centuries Scotland’s glens and mountain passes were alive with thousands of cattle making their way to the market trysts of Crieff and Falkirk. With the Industrial Revolution, ships, railways and eventually lorries took over the drovers’ trade, and by the early twentieth century, the age-old droving tradition was all but dead. Except, however, in the Western Isles, where droving on foot continued until the mid-1960s, when MacBrayne’s introduced a new generation of ferries capable of bringing livestock lorries to the islands.
In this book Terry J. Williams follows the route of the drovers and their cattle from the remote Atlantic coast of Uist to the Highland marts. Travelling by campervan and armed with a voice recorder, a collection of archive photographs and a set of maps marked with the old market stances, she seeks out the last surviving drovers. The resulting narrative is an extraordinary insight into a lost world, told through the voices of the few remaining individuals who remember the days of walking with cattle.