The Drovers of Cattle
The Military Roads
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The Walkers Roads
The Road Today
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An 18th Century Military Walkers Road - Scotland
An 18th Century Military Walkers Road
in the scottish highlands and 3 of its bridges

An 18th Century Military Walkers Road

Touch The Earth

line of the roadToday, the hills and glens of Corgarff and Strathdon are very thinly populated and, in many areas, deserted. The old life of the clans is gone. So too is their language of Scottish Gaelic and most of its associated culture, though it survives still in other parts of the Highlands. In some parts of the Highlands, forcible clearance of people from their lands by landowners was partly the cause of the disappearance, but underlying this was the basic problem of how an often unsparing land could support many people except at a level of harsh poverty. Throughout much of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, poverty drove people from the Highlands, and indeed other parts of Scotland, to create the great Scottish Diaspora to the Americas, Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere. Lowland Scotland was however a driving force in the enlightenment and later, under the influence of writers like Sir Walter Scott and RL Stevenson, in the Romantic Movement. It was also a powerhouse of the industrial revolution. The Romantic Movement helped change the attitude of many to the Highlands, from regarding them as wild and barbarous, to seeing their beauty and challenge.

a lonely croft Many of those who left the Highlands and lowland rural Scotland did not go abroad but went to work in the new industries created in lowland Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom by the industrial revolution. Scotland was one of the earliest countries in the world where the majority of the population became urbanised and still has one of the most urbanised populations in the world.

corgarff hills click to enlargeFrom the late 19th century onwards, these people began to rediscover the beauty, the challenge and often the peace of the Highlands. Perhaps as a necessary balance to the grim industrial surroundings or sprawling suburbs many of them lived in, they seemed to feel a need to rediscover a more “natural” world, to “touch the earth” as some have put it. They returned to walk the old, now deserted paths and ways, the hills and mountains. During the 20th century, their numbers grew greatly, especially in its later decades. They included people from all walks of life; from the comfortably well off middle classes, and from the poor and unemployed. The advent of the private car gave many more an easier access to the Highlands and now they include many people from England and other parts of the United Kingdom as well as from overseas.

The watcher at the bridge would see a new peaceable kind of passer by, the successor to the drovers, the Hanoverian soldiers, the whisky smugglers and others. In a sense, the people have returned to the glens.

Jenny Smith's house at Delachuper the bothy at Delachuper is hired to walkers


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Walking General Wade's 18th Century Military Road - Highlands, Scotland