Once that part of the day is behind us and we are cleaned up and fed we like to get out and explore. And that is exactly what we did again today. We headed north and made our first stop in the village of Masham. A lovely little town, not unlike the rest of the lovely little towns except for one important difference. Masham is home of the Black Sheep Brewery. Of course we stopped.
The smells of hops hangs heavily in the air of Masham and we were suddenly finding ourselves rather thirsty. After a short wander around the brewery and a pop into the gift shop we drove on to find a nice little pub for lunch. We found the Wensleydale Heifer, a well known stop in the Dales. We had a super lunch and, surprise, surprise a few pints of Black Sheep Ale. Then it was on to Hawes. This was the goal of the day as Hawes boasts a Thursday afternoon sheepdog trial demo. We arrived at a field with an unlocked gate and a half-dozen cars parked in the pasture beyond. A fast river flowed through the swollen riverbed to the south and the hills rose to the north. We followed the few others that were already on their way and found an older gentleman and his 5 dogs just beyond the stone wall that divided the hill. What happened beyond that stone wall was mind blowing. I don't really know how to explain it but I will try.
English sheepdogs are bred to be trained to round up the sheep from the hills of Yorkshire that seem to go on forever. The shepherd simply gives the commands and then stands and waits for the sheep to be driven back to him from great distances. These dogs work in team, running the outside circle of the flock, slowly and methodically moving the sheep together and down to where the owner stands. We witnessed it this afternoon and I was quite simply baffled and amazed by the experience. These dogs are incredible. I have never seen anything like it. Two dogs were sent out to round up a flock of 90 sheep that were scattered across the hills. They had them in a tight flock and back to the shepherd in mere moments.
They then proceed to divide the flock and pen all but the 6 sheep that had blue markings on their back. SERIOUSLY!
Lastly they gather the final 6 drove them through 3 different gates set up like obstacles and then into another pen on the far side of the field. We were absolutely amazed. All this was controlled by an aged man with a whistle and a cane.
I wish I could get my kids to listened half as well as those dogs do!
Energized by this production we carried on for another pint at the Green Dragon pub that amusingly hangs a sign at the door stating that Hippies are to use the backdoor. (grin)
Once we were well watered again we moved along to Askrigg, the village that is home to the pub and animal surgery from All Creatures Great and Small, a English television program I loved as a child. It was the story of the veterinarian, James Harriott. I stood under the sign I have seen so many time over so many years, and admired the photos posted on the wall of so many wonderful moments from the program. Kind of cool for me, not so much for Noah and Eden.
So with all that under our belts for another day we headed home. We had dinner at the cottage and the kids journaled and fell into bed for another well deserved sleep.
We are amazed by this place and can feel ourselves rapidly falling in love with it. So much to do and see. And tomorrow Matt will be seeing it from a total different perspective, weather permitting. Wait until you hear about this next adventure!
Sweet dreams friends and family.
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