Thursday, 16 October 2008

Autumn in the Lakes

Autumn is here in the lakes, and the magnificent colours are being emphasised with bursts of sunshine in-between showers.
It will soon be tupping time (mating season). Here the girls hang out in the romantic setting of the Langdale fells ready for the boys who are gathering their strength in green pastures below.

There are tales that Herdwick sheep originally came from ship wrecked galleons from the Spanish Armada, true or not we do know that the word Herdwick means "sheep pasture" and that this name can be tracked back to the 12th century. Originally they were used for the production of wool which is renowned for being tough and creates a very water repellent, long lasting garment although a little scratchy. Herdwicks remember their own heaf (area of fellside) which is their native home. Most of the fell farms in the lakes are owned by the National trust including those that were left to the trust by Beatrix Potter (Mrs Heelis was her real name). She held a great interest in Herdwicks and was a member of the "Herdwick Speed Breeders Association" which helped to save the breed. In 1923 "Troutbeck Park Farm" below Kirkstone Pass came up for sale and so Beatrix bought the farm as she was keen to keep it running. During this time she ran the farm herself along with the help of a local shepherd and they managed to build a flock of Herdwick sheep between them.
They are incredibly hardy sheep with a high resistance to diseases, can stand up to appalling weather and are in balance with the environment grazing heather and grass evenly whilst keeping bracken and scrub under control.

Personally I think they are fabulous sheep with cute looks and a lot of character. Dare I say it but they also taste delicious....

A watchful sheep dog. If you look closely you will notice that she has one brown patch above her eye. Some sheep dogs have two and this is what is known as "bumble bee eyes". This was originally bred into the dog to give sheep the illusion that the dogs eyes were still open keeping a watchful eye on them even when they were asleep, clever doggies.

Autumn colours in Dungeon Ghyll.

Looking up Mickledone valley Great Langdale, Bowfell to the left and Pike O Stickle on the right.

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