An adventurous Herdwick sheep goes for a dip in the reservoir at the farm on the M62

Is there a better time of year than this?!

It's sheep moving time at the farm on the M62

I think we can confidently say we’ve seen the last of the frosts, no more hail and driving wind and rain. The warmth is finally here. Our drive is filled with the heady scents of early summer.

Our Hawthorn is in full bloom, the scent intoxicating. Brightly coloured gorse, cow parsley, red shank and clover fill the verges and everything feels positive and uplifting. Blessed are those that are lucky enough to work outdoors, amongst nature at its finest.

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With Paul still struggling following his knee injury, we recruited some friends to help us gather the sheep in from Deanhead valley. It’s a large area with steep-sided cloughs, a stream to cross and virtually impossible for someone hobbling around on a stick.

We set off late in the afternoon to avoid the mid-day heat. I dropped the others off with their dogs and then drove Paul round to the dam wall where a handful of sheep were grazing the fresh grass on the banking.

Getting ewes and lambs through a kissing gate takes some doing, but with a patient dog and some manhandling, it was done. One particularly awkward ewe decided it would be far easier to squeeze through some fencing and leap down into the overflow.

The drop was one that could potentially have broken her legs but thankfully she was completely unscathed. I clambered down the ladder wondering how I was going to lift her up the steps into the reservoir. For once, things went well and she saved me the bother.

She bounded up the steps and scrambled out of the water onto the banking to rejoin her friends. I was about to climb back out myself when I noticed Paul’s puzzled gaze. I turned just in time to see a Herdwick ewe diving gracefully into the water.

Leaving her lamb behind, she came hurtling down the slopes, bounced twice off all fours before gliding through the air and hitting the water with a loud splash. As far as sheep diving goes, it was of Olympic quality, one I’m sure Tom Daley would have been proud of.

Head up, ears pricked, she swam with purpose and determination, heading out into the middle of the glisteningly calm waters. Paul watched on, shaking his head in disbelief, as did her lamb, now abandoned on the grassy slopes. “Where does she think she’s going” he muttered.

We both watched, I willing her to get to the other side, Paul less concerned! She altered course mid-way and headed for the dam wall where sloping cobbled stones allowed her to get out of the water. I followed her along, but I needn’t have bothered.

She’d no intention of trudging the long way around the reservoir and crossing the small stream at the top with lamb in tow, especially not on such a hot day.

Much easier to take the short cut and have a refreshing dip in the process. Whilst I applaud her aquatic skills, her mothering ones leave a lot to be desired!