Catching a wayward lamb is a soggy victory at farm on the M62

It’s been another challenging week at Stott Hall, the usual highs and lows.

Rounding up the sheep at Stott Hall Farm
Rounding up the sheep at Stott Hall Farm

I love gathering at this time of the year. Being out on the hill with just your dog and miles of open moorland is therapeutic and grounding.

You have a few hours where you can breathe and take it all in. But this gather didn’t fill me with any inner peace, it filled me with anger.

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From the minute we set off, I could see the extent of the damage caused by dirt bikes. The gates were tied open and scores of huge tracks stretched across the moor as far as the eye could see leaving dirty big scars, gouged into the peat.

I headed down to my usual crossing place of the beck that worked its way down Linsgreave clough. The banks were completely destroyed, just a huge mass of churned earth.

Things only got worse as we continued driving the sheep towards home. The main fence running the length of the moor was cut to ribbons, sections of the mesh completely removed. The gather took us most of the morning, as we struggled to keep them heading for home.

A section of the moor that has recently undergone a huge restoration project was torn to pieces, tyre tracks damaging months of work. We finally got the sheep home, frustrated beyond belief.

The following morning we headed to the beautiful Deanhead valley to gather the Herdwicks.

The day broke bitterly cold and wet but we soon got the sheep moving.

I stood on the opposite side of the valley to Paul and Casey, scanning the hills to ensure they hadn’t missed any.

Just when I thought they’d got them out of the valley bottom, I saw Paul do a sudden about turn and head at speed up a steep-sided clough. After several minutes of struggling, he rang me. “Can you see it?” He hissed, gasping for breath.

I scanned the hillsides but couldn’t see a thing and after several more minutes of searching he headed up to where the others were all gathered up.

We returned several days later to accost the elusive Herdwick tup lamb. We’d about given up when all of a sudden it appeared right in Paul’s path and before it could beat a hasty retreat, he had it.

A victorious shriek filled the surrounding hillsides and he hoisted the lamb onto his shoulders and started to make his way up the steep banking.

Whistling a tune and giddy with delight at catching the lamb unawares, the sudden loss of footing and rapid descent back into the valley bottom must have come as quite a shock to both of them. I watched with despair as the pair of them slipped, rolled and bounced their way into the stream at the bottom, neither able to avoid their unfortunate soaking.

I grimaced as I watched Paul haul himself out, coughing and spluttering, gasping for air. After what seemed like an eternity he slowly got to his feet and with a herculean effort thrust the dripping lamb aloft. “Still got it,” he bellowed!

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