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TITLE
Memories of a Highland Drover (10)
EXTERNAL ID
PC_HIGHLANDLIVESTOCK_AUDIO_10
PLACENAME
Benbecula; North Uist
DISTRICT
South Uist; North Uist
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
INVERNESS
DATE OF RECORDING
2006
PERIOD
2000s
CREATOR
Ian Munro
SOURCE
Highland Livestock Heritage Society
ASSET ID
2671
KEYWORDS
drovers
droving
markets
cattle drovers
cattle droving
marts
cattle sales
audios

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In this audio extract, recorded in 2006, former drover Ian Munro remembers walking the cattle across the North Ford, between Benbecula and North Uist The image shows cattle being driven across the North Ford.

Before my time out there, the cattle were all walked. They worked the sales a different way and they arrived at Benbecula with a big drove of cattle and they walked the cattle across that area [the North Ford between Benbecula and North Uist] and the cattle had to be led by a person that knew the tides; it wasn't just walking them across. And the drove would be led by maybe somebody, or there would be one or two folk with a cow on a rope, and they followed the track of the sands because the sands can be very dangerous and the tides are dangerous. And they drove the cattle, walked the cattle across. My late father was involved in that. And Donnie Croncan who appears in most of your Uist photos, eh, he was involved in that. And a great friend of your dad's, Duncan Fraser, he was involved in walking the cattle across. That was all stopped before we got out there. And at that time - when Donnie Croncan and, in eh, that was in the 20's and 30's, there was all Highland cattle - there was no other breeds on the island but Highland cattle - and then of course they brought in the shorthorn and then there was the cross shorthorns and -

Interviewer: There's a series of six photos that I found in the mart of them taking them across.

Walking the Ford?

Interviewer: Yes. It's an awful lot of cows, isn't it?

A lot of cattle. Yes, if you think on every croft, every croft had eh, there was so many crofts. Probably now, one man has about ten of those crofts, if not he couldn't be, he, he, he couldn't make a living at it. Interviewer: But there's a c-, what, there's a couple of hundred there, is there? Mmmm, no, there's not, I wouldn't say there's two hundred, but there'd be one hundred, there 'd be over a hundred.

Interveiwer: Are these guys on - ?

Well, that was the way. If people, if you didn't want to get your feet wet, you got somebody else to give you a piggy back across the water. There used to be quite a lot of ponies sold at the sales too.

Ian Munro was born at Blackhill Farm, Evanton, Ross-shire in 1933. His father and grandfather were sheep and cattle dealers, and it was through his father's links with the livestock auctioneers, Reith and Anderson, that Ian, aged only 11 or 12, began assisting at livestock sales in Dingwall. At the age of 18, Ian started going out to the Uists with Reith and Anderson as a drover to help at the seasonal sales. At that time, there were no facilities for landing lorries on the islands so cattle had to be driven on foot from the sales to the boat, until the advent of roll on roll off ferries in 1965.

Ian took over the family farm near Evanton in 1964 and farmed there until 1984. He continued to help out at auction sales in Dingwall when required. Since giving up the farm, Ian has remained in farming related work, driving lorries, selling grass seed and helping neighbours and family with livestock.

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Memories of a Highland Drover (10)

INVERNESS

2000s

drovers; droving; markets; cattle drovers; cattle droving; marts; cattle sales; audios

Highland Livestock Heritage Society

Highland Livestock Heritage Society audios

In this audio extract, recorded in 2006, former drover Ian Munro remembers walking the cattle across the North Ford, between Benbecula and North Uist The image shows cattle being driven across the North Ford.<br /> <br /> Before my time out there, the cattle were all walked. They worked the sales a different way and they arrived at Benbecula with a big drove of cattle and they walked the cattle across that area [the North Ford between Benbecula and North Uist] and the cattle had to be led by a person that knew the tides; it wasn't just walking them across. And the drove would be led by maybe somebody, or there would be one or two folk with a cow on a rope, and they followed the track of the sands because the sands can be very dangerous and the tides are dangerous. And they drove the cattle, walked the cattle across. My late father was involved in that. And Donnie Croncan who appears in most of your Uist photos, eh, he was involved in that. And a great friend of your dad's, Duncan Fraser, he was involved in walking the cattle across. That was all stopped before we got out there. And at that time - when Donnie Croncan and, in eh, that was in the 20's and 30's, there was all Highland cattle - there was no other breeds on the island but Highland cattle - and then of course they brought in the shorthorn and then there was the cross shorthorns and -<br /> <br /> Interviewer: There's a series of six photos that I found in the mart of them taking them across.<br /> <br /> Walking the Ford?<br /> <br /> Interviewer: Yes. It's an awful lot of cows, isn't it?<br /> <br /> A lot of cattle. Yes, if you think on every croft, every croft had eh, there was so many crofts. Probably now, one man has about ten of those crofts, if not he couldn't be, he, he, he couldn't make a living at it. Interviewer: But there's a c-, what, there's a couple of hundred there, is there? Mmmm, no, there's not, I wouldn't say there's two hundred, but there'd be one hundred, there 'd be over a hundred.<br /> <br /> Interveiwer: Are these guys on - ?<br /> <br /> Well, that was the way. If people, if you didn't want to get your feet wet, you got somebody else to give you a piggy back across the water. There used to be quite a lot of ponies sold at the sales too.<br /> <br /> Ian Munro was born at Blackhill Farm, Evanton, Ross-shire in 1933. His father and grandfather were sheep and cattle dealers, and it was through his father's links with the livestock auctioneers, Reith and Anderson, that Ian, aged only 11 or 12, began assisting at livestock sales in Dingwall. At the age of 18, Ian started going out to the Uists with Reith and Anderson as a drover to help at the seasonal sales. At that time, there were no facilities for landing lorries on the islands so cattle had to be driven on foot from the sales to the boat, until the advent of roll on roll off ferries in 1965. <br /> <br /> Ian took over the family farm near Evanton in 1964 and farmed there until 1984. He continued to help out at auction sales in Dingwall when required. Since giving up the farm, Ian has remained in farming related work, driving lorries, selling grass seed and helping neighbours and family with livestock.