I had such a ball on my first day sheep spotting in Lake District that it wasn’t long before I returned for round 2. By the end of both days, I’d found all the ewes on the trail bar those located on Windermere ferries: MV Teal and MV Swan and a couple that were hiding in shops that were closed for the day.
Read more about my first day here and about the project in general, or read on for more tales on the trails.
For those of you who are not familiar with Go Herdwick, welcome to the biggest public art event the Lakes has ever seen – some 60 life-size painted Herdwick ewe sculptures dotted around the tourist honeypots of Windermere, Bowness, Ambleside, Grasmere and Keswick, all paying homage to the Herdwick’s iconic status in the landscape and history of Cumbria. Most of the sheep can be visited on trails around the town centres, with a few positioned at more far flung places of interest, tourist attractions, hotels and schools. There are also 48 little lambs located in shops and businesses in Keswick and Windermere. There isn’t long left to see the sheep in situ as the project wraps up on the 4th September.
This time I switched my husband for my mum who played chauffeur for day 2! Having studied the trail map extensively before leaving, I decided to hit the sheep located on the outskirts of Keswick before heading into the town. Approaching from the east, our first stop was at the Rheged Centre just off junction 40 of the M6 where you can find “Yan Tan Tasty” in the middle of the delicatessen shop there. In all the years I’ve been visiting the Lakes, I’d never been to the Rheged Centre, so I used this opportunity to have a brief look around. I did not realise there were so many shopping outlets there as well as an impressive theatre programme. I’m looking forward to returning and spending a bit more time there when all the sheep sculptures will be on display in one place for a week later on in September prior to going to auction.
The next stops were to see “Charlotte” at Castlerigg Hall Caravan and Camping Site and “Sheep Shank” at the Keswick Climbing Wall; both businesses I did not know existed. There’s what seemed like a really good community and atmosphere at Castlerigg Hall, a far bigger site than I imagined with plenty of amenities. On the day we visited, the outdoor seating area where drinks can obviously be bought and consumed was buzzing and there were people milling around everywhere, walkers preparing for a day on the fells, or some that had stopped for a bite to eat en route – those guys looked like they’d had an early start and had lost the bright eyes and bushy tails. From here there is a fantastic view over Derwent Water and Bassenthwaite and the fells looked so inviting, though I was glad I wasn’t walking them today on one of the hottest days of the year!
After an argument with the sat-nav to find the Keswick Climbing Wall and “Sheep Shank”, I just had to stop at one of my all time favourite places in the Lakes – Castlerigg Stone Circle. With superb panoramic views, it is a hard place to beat on any day, but particularly in good weather when the views come into their own. The masses of Blencathra and Skiddaw are some of my favourite fells in the Lakes, though I might not have said that on the days I actually hiked them!
After finding the ewes to the east of Kewsick, it was time to head north on the road up the eastern side of Bassenthwaite Lake to Mirehouse, where we located “Amazing Grace” by The Old Saw Mill Tea Room just off the car park at Dodd Wood where you park for Mirehouse. I think this was one of the best locations chosen by Go Herdwick as she is set against the woodlands and looks at home in one of the more natural environments that you’d find the real Herdwick’s in.
Once we’d ventured out to the village of Braithwaite next, located to the north west of Keswick, it was finally time to head into the town and after trailing rather nervously around the grounds of Keswick School trying to find “Baafell Pike” in case I got challenged about my being there (during school time as it was the last Tuesday before the summer holidays) we eventually parked up in the centre of Keswick and set off to find lunch before embarking on the next set around the town centre.
There we found “Mrs Heelis” in the window at Booths, “Woolplan” in the Moot Hall, “Drawn Ewe” at the Cumberland Pencil Pop Up Shop, “100 Years and Counting” at Treeby and Bolton Cafe, “Yoko ‘Ewe’No” at King Kong Climbing Centre, “Fell Top Georgy the 59th” at George Fisher, “Baarbaara” at Cotswold Outdoor, “Ruskin” at the Keswick Museum and “Rocky” who was actually inside Gallery 26 at 27 on Station Street. He was my favourite of those located in Keswick town centre, but could easily have been missed as the sign for the shop was obscured by vegetation so we nearly didn’t find him.
Now this was the one part the day I hadn’t planned out, so we ended up zig-zagging backwards and forwards around Keswick to find all the sheep. By the time we’d finished, we decided it was too hot to go walking down to the lake side too and resorted to the car with its welcomed air-con to get down to Keswick’s Theatre by the Lake to locate “Harrison.” Harrison is decorated with a pack of hunting hounds to illustrate a well known image of Cumbria as a setting for hound trailing and hunting across fields and fells dotted with sheep.
Lastly before leaving Keswick we called at the Highfield Hotel on The Heads to spot “Think for Food” – Her black and white design camouflaged her perfectly against the exterior of the hotel; (also black and white) and then to St Herbert’s Primary School to see aptly named Herbert, one of the most colourful ewes on the trail.
On our way down through the lakes to Grasmere, we stopped at what is probably one of the most ‘noticed’ of the Go Herdwick Sheep – “Flo” who stands on the grass verge of the A591 busy main road outside the King’s Head Inn at Thirlspot near Thirlmere.
She stands out more than her compatriot a few miles south: “Mathilde” who takes up a similar position on the A591 outside the MacDonald Swan Hotel, opposite the turn into Grasmere, the difference being “Flo” is shades of bright blue and “Mathilde” grass green so she blends in to the verges.
Of course, once we arrived in Grasmere, we experienced the same problem I had had 2 days earlier in Ambleside. The shops were now shut so access to some of the ewes was impossible. I was gutted we couldn’t see “The Golden Fleece” at the Heaton Cooper Studio as she was the one with a globe balanced on her head that I’d seen in promotional material situated up at Wast Water. We could just spot her in the back room as we glanced through the front window of the studio, so I’m looking forward to seeing her in a few weeks time at the Rheged Centre.
The artist David Penn who designed the sheep at Dove cottage “Herdy Mercury” certainly had a sense of humour and gave the ewe a Freddie Mercury moustache and a set of headphones which doubled as traditional Austrian head dress, and let her dance in the gardens of Dove Cottage to the lyrics of ‘Radio Baa Baa’ and ‘We Will Rock Ewe’ painted on her body while ‘the hills came alive with the sound of m-ewe-sic’. Amusing definitely, but how well it fitted with its surroundings of the poet Wordsworth’s home gardens I wasn’t too sure of.
“Star Grazer” certainly looked at home at Rydal Mount, a ladybird on her nose; as did “Hetherington” at Allan Bank; the latter you could have mistaken for a real Herdwick sheep as the setting was just perfect.
I certainly felt like many of the locations around Keswick, Grasmere and Rydal were more suited to the Go Herdwick sheep than those seen in Windermere and Ambleside. In a lot of the locations you could just imagine a real Herdwick sheep standing there instead. “Herdy Mercury” at Dove Cottage looked like he’d escaped his field and had been caught eating the lettuces and radishes in the neighbours kitchen garden like Peter Rabbit.
What do you think to the Go Herdwick Sheep? Which is your favourite?
You only have one weekend left to spot the Herdys ahead of their move to Rheged for one last show of them all together from Thursday 22nd to Thursday 29th September. You can buy your trail maps at a number of locations around the Lakes. All funds raised go to the Lake District Calvert Trust to help them deliver challenging outdoor activities for those with disabilities, through the development of a new rehabilitation centre in Keswick.
Happy sheep spotting! Let me know how many you manage to find!