Drovers 3: High Ground

We have established that Drovers liked to keep to High Ground with an open aspect. In general, this kept them away from Arable Fields, Villages and Towns, and Wheeled Road Traffic.  It was a considered measure as it also kept them away from Robbers. Knaves Beech, near Loudwater, is so named as it was the Haunt of Highwaymen, at the top of the Long Hill up from Holtspur and Beaconsfield, when the Horses had grown tired.

ChilternDiagram

There is a wonderful High Route between Weedon (a Village based around a couple of Farms) & Aston Abbots (associated with the Bishop of St Albans) via Burston Hill (recorded by Leland).  The view across the Vale is remarkable and unobstructed and any potential problem can be seen from miles away.  This was important as the Head Drover very often went ahead of his Herd to arrange Lodgings & Pasture for the night.  He needed to know his animals & boys were safe.  This Route (part of which is now a Bridleway) went by way of Wing to Leighton Buzzard Market. The Cattle Market here was once a rival to Barnet Fair (and visited prior to reaching Barnet).

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This Route is below the Scarp but in plain view of the Chilterns but there are also examples of this on the Plateau itself – the Route across Studham Common and the High Ground above the Gade Valley is one example, and Gaddesden Row to RedbournHarpenden is another one with fine views.  At Chartridge, to the West of Chesham, there are reputed to be Views along the River Chess Valley all the way into London; although we must remember here that former Common Land has been allowed to become invaded by Trees and Shrubs (such as Holly & Elder) and has not been maintained for grazing.

OS Map Of Oxfordshire 1st Series