Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Lake District

From the Dales it's just a short drive to the Lake District. This is the rugged part of England, mountainous, vast and stunning. There are small villages in the lowlands, with bubbly streams running through them.

The sheep that graze the hillsides of the Cumbrian Lake District are Herdwick sheep, supposedly introduced by the Vikings. They're a greyish/charcoal color, looking like they have burnt wool.

In November tups (male sheep) are mated with the ewes on the in-bye (valley bottom land). Late December the ewes are returned to the fell (hills of the Lake District). In April, the ewes return on the in-bye where the lambs are marked with a bright color.

Come winter, gimmers (young female lambs) are sent away on lowland farms. When they return in the spring they are put to the fell to find the ‘heaf’ where they suckled their mothers and they are now in turn ‘hefted’ to continue the cycle of sheep grazing on a particular fell territory. This tradition keeps them on certain fells so they don't wander off.

Shearing costs can be 80p per sheep and in most areas Herdwick fleece is not worth more than a couple of pence per fleece due to its grey colour and poor quality. However local diversification schemes are currently using Herdwick fleeces to make thermal loft insulation, carpets, army clothing and stylish woolen blankets.

If you're up for a laugh today, ewe just have to go to this site to see the 'flock stars!'


and wild

We took a short hike and scramble up to some peaks.

We stayed in a youth hostel on the outskirts of Windermere, a lovely town where Beatrix Potter lived. We were booked for two nights, but it seems there was a 'hostel takeover' of a group of family of friends numbering at least 20. They were loud at all hours of the night. Our room was so tiny, only one person could stand at a time, so there was nowhere to escape to. The weather turned to being reasonably nice (just a drizzle) to a downpour/wind/cold so we hit the road back to Cambridge a bit early. We did have some nice views from the gardens though, before the rain set in.

A few sights along the way.

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