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Summer Lane to Y.K.


The drovers’ road from Wales, via Aust, enters Wiltshire just North of The Gibb  at ST 838792.  The strange name is supposed to be a contraction of "Gibraltar" because of the Gibraltar Turnpike1 on the Fosse Way but I don't believe that: far more likely to have been a contraction of "gibbet" because the 'Hanging Tree' was across the road from the pub (and because they knew how to spell in those days).  Apparently the HT was cut down in the 1960s.  Pity...


(The pub is named The Salutation, "The Sally" to locals.  Last drink to the condemned man or an ironical greeting from the turnpike-man?)


The track that takes us south-east from there to Yatton Keynell, part tarmac & part stone-chips, is called Summer Lane because, according to someone we met, you’ll get your feet wet if you walk it in winter!  We couldn’t see a single puddle, wet or dry, and the lane is nearly 200m above sea level so we wondered…


It’s a delightful route (#1,2,3) but with little evidence of droving.  We thought Kent’s Bottom (864769) could have had a pond for itinerant cattle, even an inn for itinerant cattlemen, but someone who had lived there long ago said she couldn’t remember either pond or pub.


Our luck changed when we reached YK: first, the milestone one dreams of finding, set into the wall (#4).  Funny how the distance to Hyde Park Corner via the M4 is now nearly 100 miles, but that’s progress…


Better was to come: at 872758 there is a row of terraced cottages, on the left as you go S-E towards Chippenham.  The map says “Coldharbour”, but the area is known as “Tiddlywink”, rhyming slang for “a quick drink” because the cottage in the middle of #5 used to be an alehouse for drovers.  The couple next door, whose house was built on to the alehouse 70 years later, told us the wall in their downstairs bathroom adjoining Tiddlywink has a deep concavity at almost head-height: the beer-hatch, they reckon.  Who wants a smelly drover inside the house when you can take his money and hand him his beer through the wall?


(Another story we heard: Tiddlywink was named after a landlady with one eye, so the customer got the wink as he got tiddly – but that sounded too contrived for words!)

1 Gibraltar was captured in 1704.  Connection there?

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Summer Lane...
Summer Lane to Y.K. image 2
And Again...
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One More Time
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Ultimate Milestone
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Beer Here...