Ride no. 59 – Sheep tutoring from farmer William

Welcome to another addition of me riding over to Low Bridge End farm! I promise you that not all of my 100-rides this year will revolve around sheep (even though a large percentage of them are at the moment!).  This time I spent a gloriously sunny and warm day at the farm, acting like a small shadow of William, the resident sheep farmer there, asking many questions about everything to do with sheep.

Unlike my usual self, I didn’t get any photos of actual sheepys, or the rounding up, etc – which is shameful, as there were many lovely opportunities to do so! Instead I listened and learned and (hopefully) helped out. We ended up rounding up the Hebrideans, as some were set to be sold off to be used for sheep-dog training (which should be quite the change from their current situation here)! Once rounded up and the Land Rover + trailer in place, sheep were guided into the trailer and all set to travel to their new (temporary) home down by Ullswater.

The Hebrideans were set to arrive at Dowthwaitehead Farm, run by Mayson Weir. Mayson’s farm is located in a very picturesque setting, hidden away in a remote (well, as remote as England gets) corner of the North Lakes, at the head of a dramatic valley underneath the Dodds. As the crow flies it is very close to Low Bridge End (a few miles?), but as trailer-toting humans in a Land Rover, it is closer to 13 miles. It would be a beautiful walk though – head from St.John’s in the Vale, behind Fornside Farm, up to the heights of Great Dodd – looking across to the Helvellyn range. Then, down Deepdale until you find yourself at Dowthwaitehead.

Dowthwaitehead

(source of the lovely photo above^)

Mayson has a variety of rare-breed sheep on his farm (I love the rare-breeds) – from Herdwicks, to Hebrideans, to Black Welsh Mountain and Shetlands … and breeds I’ve never heard of – like Coburg Fox Sheep. They are beautiful sheep originally from Germany – have a little look:

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The Coburg Fox sheep now adds to my growing list of ‘sheep to research’ if I’m ever lucky enough to keep some of my own! But I digress. We safely dropped off the Hebrideans and headed back to the farm – in time for things like tea and food (essential things, I would say!). Then did some ‘feet work’ with the sheep that were rounded up earlier. which included checking them over, seeing if there was any infection, making sure their hooves weren’t getting unruly (in which case you need to trim them like you would your nails). Sheep apparently can not only die from everything (as I’ve mentioned before), but their feet can also suffer from all sorts of maladies (methinks especially in the soggy conditions that are typical in Cumbria). So you need to check them!

After a lovely dinner, I cycled back home to Keswick. En route a little Swaledale lamb had gotten it’s little stubby horns stuck in a wire fence. The poor thing – there was a deep slice in it’s stuck horn where it had been trying to wrench itself free :(. Once freed, I then busted out the camera and took lots of shots!

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For anyone reading this who isn’t obsessive about sheep, it’s probably seems like quite a mundane way to spend a sunny afternoon … but I loved it. I am not entirely sure where this love of sheep (and specifically sheep in the context of the Cumbrian countryside) has cropped up from…. possibly a lack of sheep growing up in Canada? There are many that I know here that are just as obsessive as myself, so I don’t feel too out of place :).

The mountain view from Castlerigg was just stunning tonight as well – all the fells were turned a shade of blue. I stopped and took some photos and just had a little moment to myself, admiring the view and breathing in the sweet summer air.

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