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Tribute To The Drovers

Celebrating The Drovers of #Robroycountry through Art and Music

Year of History Heritage and Archaeology 2017

Cattle droving has to have been one of the toughest vocations in Scottish history fit only for the hardiest and patient of men.  Drover's would often steer cattle up to 20km a day travelling from as far as Sutherland and Skye.  Up and until 1770, Crieff was the popular Tryst in Scotland when cattle would travel there via Lochearnhead and St Fillans, following the best routes available, for example along the banks of  Loch Earn. The Tryst shifted to Falkirk after 1770 and herdsmen were known to stop in Strathyre for hospitality on route. 

Strathyre village was re-built  by the Victorians along what is the A84 today.  Prior to this, old Strathyre consisted of  cottars houses ( farm labourers and tenants occupied a cottage in return for labour) on the west side of the Balvaig Bridge at a time when the village was said to have nine inns and the nick name Nineveh.

During 2017 tourism Year of History Heritage and Archaeology, LETi decided to create a permanent mark of respect to the drover's  for future generations to consider and enjoy.

Art: Drover's Bho on the BLiSS trail
We commissioned a steel sculpture of a small cow and named it Drover's Bho. In the time of the drovers, visiting Highlanders and the community of Strathyre would have spoken Gaelic and the name "Bho" translates as cow. The sculpture is by metal artist Kev Paxton and his ArtFe blacksmith team. 
The work was funded by Sustrans Scotland - our national cycling network charity - who awarded its first ever ArtRoots grant to LETi.  Drover's Bho is now part of LETi's regional Scottish Thistle Award winning BLiSS art trail.  
The permanent art installation can be visited near the Balvaig Bridge entrance to NCR7 in Strathyre where cyclists, walkers, villagers and nearby Strathyre primary school children can enjoy her.   
The accompanying BLiSS trail sign for Drover's Bho is one of 25 trail signs that were funded by a grant from Friends of The Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. Further information can be found on LETi's BLiSS trail of art mappress and media page and BLiSS trail art installation slide show..
Song - "The Drover's Bho" music and lyrics by Kenny Higgins

Our second indelible ode to the Drover's is via a song. The music and lyrics were written by LETi vice chairman Kenny Higgins. Kenny has been an active member of our four village community and was involved throughout the Drover's Bho sculpture project and grant application process. 
He regularly plays the guitar and sings with Strathyre folk band Balvaig and was instrumental in setting up the Strathyre Music Festival  - now a popular annual event in May. 
Kenny has written a number of songs and is also an accomplished artist depicting local scenes in his spare time. 
Inspired by LETi's drover project, Kenny recalled a chance meeting with a visitor to Strathyre. "An old chap well into his 80s stopped by one day - about 4 years ago.  He was retracing the route his Great Grandfather followed with his cattle from Aberfoyle, past Laggan farm and crossing the river near the campsite.  He had learned this from his dad who had showed him the route in his later years.  He reckoned it was used for centuries up to late 1800-1900's.  He said cattle herdsmen stopped at the Strathyre Inn and Star Inn (no longer there. It would have been at the foot of my lane )- joined to the Railway Hotel (now the Ben Shean).  He said - "do you know they used to pan for gold just past the Tennis Court"   Much of what he told me in passing influenced my song."  said Kenny.
 Drover's Bho  by Kenny Higgins © Kenny Higgins 2017
G                          C             G                                                 D      G
Walking down the mountain side     Loch Lubnaig’s still      at even-tide   
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The girdle round Ben Shean lights      the twilight trail   before the night
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Strathyre lies on the road ahead         The village is still -  are they  all in bed?
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The Inn is open,  fine  ale is served   ~     tales of today  and   driving ma  herd
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The Drovers Trail  is long and hard      from Aberfoyle    by   Loch Ard
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By Lenny falls and Laggan  brae      We’ve climbed a few,   on our path today
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The Drovers song is  oft  times  sung    in Balquidder Braes  and in Tyn-drum
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The trail’s been long not far to go    ~     for This herdsman and  his   Drover’s  Bho
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The Drovers tale is oft times told       to fairming folks both young and old
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About the Eagles and the Deer   the   swooping Osprey that flies here
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The Otter in the glistening streams     Of water falls found in your dreams
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By dry stane dykers young and old     and those that sit and pan for gold
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The Drover’s on the trail again       Along the Balvaig to Loch Earn
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Between the Bens the cattle sway   No Horse and Cairts on the trail today
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The drover starts his  mellow  song     and bairns in the fields sing along
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His  heart is happy   as he  goes      ~    Heading North with his Drover’s Bho’
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Strathyre’s a place you come by chance      Where Rob Roy walks   and  faeries dance
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A gracious winding valley floor           to  Balquidder’s Braes   and Glen-Ogle’s door
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We’ve been good mates were’er we go    In the heat of summer or the winter snow
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We’ve been good mates where’er we go     ~    This herdsman and     his Drover’s Bho’
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Aye We’ve been good mates where’er we go   ~   This herdsman and     his Drover’s Bho’
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