Llanwrtyd and district
The cattle drovers
  The "drovers' roads" in the hills  

The cross-country tracks used by the drovers followed the shortest route possible, often over very wild upland country. Even with the building of the earliest proper roads long after they first began to cross Wales with their animals, the drovers still kept to their own trackways.
When turnpike roads were built it became an expensive business to move large numbers of animals through tollgates, but the 'roads' over the hills were free. And these tracks caused less wear on the feet of the livestock than the hard roads of the later years.
As the drovers could be on the move for weeks, they needed places to stop along the way for food and rest for the men and shoeing, grazing and watering for the animals.

It's not much of a road,
but at least it's free !
The Drovers' Arms
on the Epynt
north of Brecon.
This old inn
was a staging post
on the journey
to England.

There were many inns at intervals along the regular routes to meet the needs of the droving trade. Some were simply part of a farm which provided rooms, food, and ale or cider. There were also drovers' inns, often in very remote locations, which had special enclosures for the different animals, and a blacksmiths forge. The head drovers would sleep overnight in the inns but the younger helpers would stay out to guard the livestock.
The animals were not allowed to be moved on a Sunday, so there was often a lot of noisy activity just after midnight on that day as the drovers got under way again on their long journeys.
This is the fourth of five pages on the cattle drovers - there is more on the next page...

Boots and shoes for the animals...


There are many 'halfpenny fields' in Wales, named after the charge for grazing the drovers animals when they stopped along the way to England.
Link to sources
Back to top
Go to Llanwrtyd menu