Walking 250 miles from West Wales on old drove roads for FARMS FOR CITY CHILDREN because the chance to live on a working farm is so special

Broadcaster Clare Balding is to feature Museum Friend Nick Gammage’s 250 mile solo walk last Summer retracing long-forgotten tracks followed by Welsh cattle drovers all the way from a West Wales farm to his home in Chesham Bois. Click on this link to listen to the Broadcast.

The Golden Road across the Preseli Hills – before the mist descended. The woman in the red anorak between Clare and myself Is the Ramblings producer Karen Gregor who was holding the microphone

Nick realised after detailed research that he could follow ancient tracks the drovers followed with their herds of Welsh Black cattle all the way from Wales’ most westerly farm on the Pembrokeshire coast to his home on an old drove road – Hollow Way Lane.

The view is that the Golden Road was so named because it was an important pilgrim route from East Anglia to the shrine of St David at St David’s Cathedral. It was certainly that, but had been a trading route for at least two thousand years before that. Having walked it in two seasons I think “Golden” because even in July the grass along the track was yellow.

For the final section through Buckinghamshire, Nick retraced the drovers steps through Towersey, Forty Green, through the gap in the Chilterns at Bledlow and Princes Risborough then over Whiteleaf Hill to Prestwood, Great Missenden, Hyde Heath and finally Chesham Bois. 

When Clare Balding found out about Nick’s walk, which took 17 days, she was fascinated by the stories of the long distance drovers and their dogs and decided to feature it in her next Radio 4 Ramblings series which will focus on Wales.

In December Nick returned to Pembrokeshire to walk again with Clare a section along the ancient “Golden Road” along the spine of the Preseli Hills, walking past neolithic stone circles and the quarries which supplied the bluestones for Stonehenge.

Nick has just heard that his walk with be the first episode in the new series, to be broadcast on Radio 4 on Thursday 3rd February and then available on BBC Sounds.

After returning from Pembrokeshire Nick said:

“The weather on top of the Preselis was appalling with the mist and rain meaning for much of the time we could only see only ten feet in front of us. But that just added to the atmosphere as ancient standing stones loomed up in front of us. Clare said afterwards she had really enjoyed it. 

“Drovers from across Britain – not just Wales – headed for cattle markets around London and the Home Counties to get the best price for their livestock, which helps explain why there are so many old drove roads criss-crossing Buckinghamshire creating an intricate web. It is fascinating to explore them.”

Through his walk Nick has so far raised more than £6,000 for the children’s farming charity Farms For City Children founded by War Horse author Michael Morpurgo. There are more details of Nick’s walk and the work of Farms For City Children here:

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