I had a marvellous opportunity to follow a drovers’ walk from Ginge. Droving peaked during the Industrial Revolution when cities grew exponentially but were not providing their own food so protein had to be brought in from the countryside. Drovers would travel along the Ridgeway to avoid paying tolls all the way from South Wales to the great stock markets of Ilsley. They would walk about 12 miles a day allowing the cattle to graze as they went and a good drover got the balance right so cattle were not skinny or out of condition for market. Drovers would travel down off the Ridgeway to Ginge to water their stock as it was the last reliable source of water before Ilsley. And then there is the tale of Gilbert’s Pond. Gilbert backed his cart and horse into the Spring, slipped and was never seen again… truth or village myth?

What a privilege it was to walk these ancient paths, to hear a lark’s glorious song and to see the dramatic scenery of tall thin trees slicing through the unrelenting oil seed rape.