Herdwicks & Swaledale
of the Lake District

Pick a

Sheep selection

To become what it is, the U.K. Lake District (LD) had to undergo a number of modifications, beginning with glaciation. Considering the relatively small area of the LD, it is almost as if God wanted to practice on something before dropping the Ice Age on the world. And in the LD, you'll find all the classic marks of glaciation in miniature: hanging valleys, U-shaped valleys, moraines, erratics, etc., which ultimately means that even if you don't know a damn thing about geology, the LD is a visual feast.

But that wasn't enough to make the LD, because relatively low mountains in a damp climate are covered by forest. Fortunately, however, that damp and friendly climate encouraged invaders from envious neighbors in Scandinavia (which is why the LD has fell for mountain, tarn for lake, etc.).

Farmers needed pasturage for their sheep and removed most of the timber (in previous centuries, that is), which is a blessing for walkers. No one needs to ascend 2000 feet and have the entire view blocked by 50-foot-high trees. The farmers also constructed an amazing sequence of stone fences up and down, left and right, all over the fells to encourage the sheep to stay put.

The LD switched to grassland, heather, and bracken, and the sheep developed the trails, for in the LD are sensible mountain sheep who prefer an easy stroll to senselessly plunging down the mountainside. All fell-walkers owe an enormous debt of gratitude to these sheep, as well as to A. Wainwright who between 1955 and 1966 plotted most trails in a series of seven handwritten books: A Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells.

Sheep charge

Sheep charge: Herdwicks and Swaledale along the upper slopes of Far Easedale.


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