SHEEP farmers had to forgo their traditional right to herd flocks through the centre of Madrid last weekend.
This year their route had to be modified owing to Covid-19 regulations but 1,300 sheep and goats, led by Jesus Garzon, recently arrived in Guadarrama after leaving the Picos de Europa mountains in Asturias in the north of Spain.
Guadarrama mayor Diosdado Soto, accompanied by the Madrid Community’s Director General for Agriculture and Livestock, was there to welcome Garzon after his 500-kilometre journey before shepherd and flock set out again on their journey to the winter pastures.
Sheep farmers belonging to the Asociacion Trashumancia y Naturaleza began herding their flocks through Madrid 27 years ago, although the custom of taking them to milder quarters before winter sets in is centuries’ old.
The Association carries out the yearly ritual to draw attention to the need to “preserve and conserve” Spain’s Vias Pecuarias, the ancient drovers’ trails that still cross Spain and, very often, its cities.
The Vias Pecuarias were declared officially-protected public rights of way in 1995 but, the Association lamented, they are all too often “damaged, usurped and abandoned.”
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