Yorkshire Dales in the Spring

Market Day

Lambs playing outside the cottage.

We are enjoying a few days in the Yorkshire Dales, staying in a 16th century cottage surrounded by fields of sheep. The cottage is simple, but comfortable, and we’re a short walk away from Hawes.

Pretty 16th century cottage

Today we went to see the animal market in action. I’ve never been to an animal auction before, so it was all very interesting. We arrived during the sheep sales—pens of sheep waiting in a barn. We could hear the chant of the auctioneer, and every few minutes a man opened a door, a few sheep ran along an aisle between the pens, stopping when blocked by a gate that another man held open, they then veered into an empty pen, the man closed the door behind them. It was all very organised. I think everyone else was a farmer, either hoping to buy or sell. But no one frowned at us or asked us why we were there, so we decided to venture into the actual auction.

The auction was held in a room with curved seats like an amphitheatre, the auctioneer at a high desk against one wall and an area at the front with a large pen. The animals were herded along walkways into the pen. Men stood there, and they felt the wool of each batch of sheep. (At least, I think that’s what they were doing, I wouldn’t think farmers would stroke sheep for no reason.) The auctioneer chanted in his sing-song voice, banged his hammer, the exit was opened and the sheep ran out. At one point, a sheep had a loop-out and tried to leap over the fence. Instead of giving her lots of space (which is what I would have instinctively have done) the farmers edged closer, so she was trapped in the corner. Which meant that she couldn’t hurt herself by banging against the fence, nor did she have room to jump again. They obviously knew what they were doing.

I was interested to see a couple of young boys, about ten-years-old, in the ring. (Watching, not being sold!) They had tough boots and sensible haircuts and were obviously farmers of the future. One sat eating a sandwich, the other was at the front, feeling the wool as the sheep came through, copying his dad. They had an ease about them, they had been here before, it was part of the job. I suspect they were rather capable kids, would be handy in an emergency.

We managed to leave the market without buying anything (which was bit of a shame, but I’m not sure how we’d have got a sheep home with us). We walked back to the cottage across the fields. There were calves in the fields, and lots more lambs, a river bubbled next to us with geese swimming, bees buzzed in the blossom, the disused railway line ran over low stone bridges, and the dales rose on either side. A peaceful place in the sunshine. I’m not sure that anywhere really compares with the English countryside on a warm spring morning.

Yorkshire Dales

Hope you have a great day. Thanks for reading.
Love, Anne x

Anne E. Thompson
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Mini Break After Easter

After a fantastic Easter Sunday with the family in Cambridge, we kept driving north for a week away. Despite my vow to never again take elderly dog on holiday, the kennels were all full and so she travelled in a well-prepared boot and all our luggage was on the back seat. Husband had booked an Airbnb, so I told Mum we were off to the Lake District and I would see her in a week.

The roads were empty, so even with a few stops for elderly dog, we arrived at the cottage early evening. Beautiful scenery. No lakes though, so I messaged Mum to say we were in the Peak District.

Our cottage is the middle one behind me. This is my tired face. I need a holiday.

The cottage was lovely, plonked right in the middle of a field with lambs skipping around. There was an enclosed back yard, so even if elderly dog had been at all interested in them, she wouldn’t have been able to reach the lambs. However, the lambs were interested in us—or to be precise, the car. They kept licking the wheels. Husband worried they might nibble something important. I told him lambs don’t have teeth. (This may not be factually correct, but it stopped him worrying.)

Lambs attempting to eat tyres.

On the first day we wandered into town. There were some nice shops selling posh food products. Lots of cheese and wine from Wensleydale. I messaged Mum and told her that actually, we are in the Yorkshire Dales. The nearest town is called Hawes. Husband told me you’d need to be careful not to name your house: The Hawes House, and I nearly fell off the pavement laughing. (This shows the sort of conversations we have when our children aren’t around to correct us.)

The first café we saw advertised bacon butties, so we had a cup of tea and a sandwich. I think it’s a biker café, as everyone else looked slightly like Hagrid, wore leathers and carried a helmet. I’m sure we blended right in though. Very nice bacon butties, so I think we’ll go there every morning.

I attempted a short stroll with the dog. She’s unkeen on hills, so had that ‘tolerant look’ when we set off. Lots of lambs skipped away, but their mothers did not. One mother in particular was very angry that we were in her field, and she walked deliberately towards us, her head lowered. She then stood facing us, and stamped on the ground. I don’t speak ‘sheep’ but the message was very clear. Not sure that elderly dog would fare very well in a stand-off with angry ewe, so we went back to the cottage. Dog returned to her bed with an ‘I told you so’ look. I told Husband he would have to come instead.

We went for a lovely walk across the fields. Husband wore wellies because it might be wet—he walks quite slowly in wellies. I wore walking boots, because they’re comfy for long walks. I walk very fast in my walking boots. You can guess how that turned out. Husband has a clever ordinance survey app on his phone, so he could give precise directions as we walked. I mostly ignored him and followed the footpath signs. This is how our household works. But the walk was lovely, with lambs everywhere and stone walls with little stiles and far-reaching views over the… lakes… peaks… dales.

Hope you have something lovely today too. Don’t forget where you are…
Thanks for reading. Take care.
Love, Anne x

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Crazy gang of lambs! Touch to watch the video.