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Appearing as trenches dredged through the earth or tunnels cleared through forests, these ancient pathways called holloways or sunken lanes are found all across the European countryside. They originally began at the ground level, but over the centuries, under the tread of a million feet and hooves encompassing thousands of journeys, the floor of these roads have worn away and eroded down to the bedrock, creating ditches that lay beneath the level of the surrounding landscape. With high banks on either side, many of these ancient thoroughfare then became temporary waterways during rains, which further deepened and widened the paths making them permanent features of the landscape. Some of these paths are twenty to thirty feet deep, and look more like gorges than roads.

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A hollow way (chemin creux) at La Meauffe, Manche, France. Photo credit: Romain Bréget/Wikimedia

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© Amusing Planet, 2017.


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