The Drover's Song

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 I was tired of home by fourteen

Two fields and the same four walls

My mind set on roving I went for the droving

And never went back home at all

And I’ve lived on this road for thirty years now

From the Marches to the Irish Sea

From Aber through Knighton, the Berwyn and Ruyton

To the banks of the Severn and Dee


Over the hills you seek the path you once made

Over the hills one day your track will fade


I’ve seen a million sheep safely to market

And a million cattle over the hills

Beef sides for Chester, Ludlow and Gloucester

Wool for the Newtown mills

I’ve carried letters to the Parson in Tywyn

News of Napoleon at Waterloo

I’ve drunk all the ale in Rheidol vale

And sang all the way to Beriew


I’ve fought robbers in the Hafren forest

Dodged lightning on the high Kerry Ridge

Washed from Abermule clean down to Welshpool

When floods took the old Severn Bridge

I’ve a wife on the shore at Aberaeron

Weeps and waves as I leave on a drive

And another who waits at old Chester gates

So glad to see me arrive


And I thought this would last me for ever

But now I’m beginning to doubt

My travelling life, my journeys end wives

May soon find their time running out

I see navvies at work in the valleys

Laying tracks from Dyffryn to Dover

You can move cattle fine on a railway line

No need to be paying a drover


My sons on the quay at Aberaeron

Will grow up to sail the tide

And take Welsh ploughboys to be Yankee cowboys

On the American plains so wide

And my children in Deeside and Shropshire

Will cast iron for engine and track

And the days of the drover will soon be long over

And never once they’ll look back


Over the hills you seek the path you once made

Over the hills one day your track will fade



This song owes its inspiration partly to a book - 'The Drovers' Roads of Wales' by Faye Godwin and Shirley Toulson, but mostly it is based on a poem 'The Drover's Farewell' by Harri Webb. The song was written in the summer of 2001 after a stay at the Devils Bridge Hotel in mid Wales.

One of my forbears was apparently a drover, though he worked between Norwich and London. These men were hugely important to the rural economy in the 18th and 19th centuries - some drovers continued to work until the 1930s - and farmers and others who used their services as carriers had to entrust them with their stock, their profits and their livelihoods during their tough and sometimes dangerous journeys. Family gossip has it however that they were not always so trustworthy with their wives……..