Why did I wake at 4am??
Subconciously - it's the last Monday in June!
An eyelid raised ...its a clear sky.
Get up & go - it's the Ingleborough Sheep Gathering!
All the farmers with sheep on the fell, gather sheep down to sorting pens around its base, thence to their own farms, for shearing, on the last Monday in June. As a neighbour to Bleak Bank Farm, I go along & help. As does Jack, on his 50ft lead, with great enthusiasm - the one day in the year he's allowed to chase sheep!
We pile into a trailer, six of us plus dogs, on the back of a Land Rover & lurch & jolt up the fell, which takes us halfway, then march on up to the top where we meet with others from Cold Cotes. 6am on the top, as arranged. "Clapham farmers left at 5.20" - so they'll be below us to the east, gathering that area. We can see tiny figures below, the size of midges, working out of Chapel-le-Dale to the west & north-west, searching the limestone pavement at the base of the escarpment.
We spread out across the top & eastern side & steadily move south, like a huge net. Those with dogs stay high, letting the dogs do the work, whistling instructions from their vantage points. Then across the rough ground to the next viewpoint.
We gather down to Bleak Bank's top field. By 8am we're down, enjoying a cuppa & I'm off to help Di with tidying up after B&B guests.
It's now 1.30pm. Jobs done. Back to Bleak Bank; they've already sheared several sheep. Team up with Ruth, farmer John's sister, who with sheep of her own always helps with the shearing here. I get them into the clipping pen, a few at a time, then feed them to her, one at a time. She wrestles them until sat on their tails, checks their feet, clips & treats if necessary (pedicure as well!), then shears. I hold, Liz (another sister) marks them with a red "D" & tail spot & then it's on to the next one. John & William (John's son) join in & continue through the afternoon. It's exhausting, but they don't seem to show it. Judith (John's wife) comes in as Liz leaves & in no time it's 7pm. There's still more to do, but it's supper time & we all pack up. Home to a bath & bed!