The High Road or the Low Road: Which Way?
Having decided upon their destination(s), they could choose their route(s). The fairs and markets in England during the period 1500-1850, were many and varied. You could say that the Welsh drover was spoiled for choice. Depending upon whether they were from the North, Mid or South Wales area, would determine their route. Drovers from certain areas of the Principality would favour certain parts of England, and it's fairs and markets. South Wales drovers would no doubt choose the southern counties of England, because Northern drovers would find it longer and harder to get there. Nevertheless drovers from Caernarfonshire were to be found in Kent, so presumably drovers from Carmarthenshire could be found in the Midlands and Lincolnshire, or Norfolk. The routes out of Mid and South Wales in the 16th and 17th centuries were dependent upon the crossing of the river Severn. Medieval bridges existed at Upton, Shrewsbury, Stourport, and Gloucester, and the 18th and 19th centuries provided more exits with new bridges being built. Once past the obstacle, they could spread out and aim for their destinations. Traffic from the northern counties could progress east and south without such limitations, and were merely restricted by the road network. Conditions on the main roads before the introduction of the turnpikes were difficult and ruinously slow. Watling Street, which was the main route to Ireland for the militia was particularly so.
Over the centuries with the rise and fall in popularity of certain markets or fairs, regular routes were established. Traffic from Shrewsbury would move into the Midlands. The "Welsh Road" from Priors Hardwick on o/s Explorer SP 474559 in the south Midlands was a main artery for moving livestock into the Home Counties of London.
The Welsh Road in Warwickshire heading south east SP 474559.The Welshman's Road in Berkshire; on the route into London through Aldermarston, crossing Staines or Chertsey bridge into Middlesex.Traffic from Gloucester and Upton moving into the South East had to contend with canal and river crossings. Crossing the Thames was generally limited to Lechlade, Wallingford and Henly when avoiding toll bridges. Cattle were known to use the ferry crossing of the river Severn at Arlingham Passage, SO 695113, and ford the river Thames at Ruddlespool ford, Boveney near Slough, SU 937771. The "Welshman's Road" and "Pond" on o/s Explorer SU620640 in Berkshire was a main artery into Surrey and London. Traffic aiming for Kent would move through Hampshire, passing Andover or Winchester into Sussex.
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