• An Old Drovers’ Road

An old drovers’ road passes close to my house.  Its lower and middle reaches, rising up sharply from the Lynher river at Berriowbridge and evening out at Kingbeare, are now metalled but still in places display the variable widths characteristic of such ancient ways.  The road rises up as it passes the track up to Bearah Tor and then splits when it levels out again, the metalled road leading to Henwood.  To the right, by a smallholding, a metal five-bar gate has been loosely slung across a muddy, scrubby and overhung track.  This is the continuation of the old drovers’ road and leads uphill to the shoulder between Langstone Downs and Stowe’s Hill, where it meets another gate and the lane to Wardbrook Farm.  After that, all trace disappears.

Today I scrambled through the scrub and fallen branches in the lower sections of the track, glimpsing Sharp Tor to the right and eventually reaching more open ground.  Here, the grey-green beards of usnea articulata were in plentiful supply on their favourite tree, the hawthorn.  Spring lambs showed curiosity and highland cattle idle disdain where once there were whole flocks and herds cramming the bulging pathway as shepherds and cattlemen drove them back and forth from Liskeard.

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