click photo to enlarge
The last major outbreak of foot and mouth disease to hit the sheep population of the Yorkshire Dales occurred in 2001. It led to the cull of the vast majority of the sheep in this upland area, most of which were of the Swaledale breed. Farmers had to bring in other breeds from unaffected parts of the country, sometimes varieties that were not as well suited to the rugged terrain as the Swaledales.
I grew up in Settle in the Dales and have visited the area regularly since work took me to live elsewhere in the country. On my returns after the disease was eradicated I found that I was unable to identify most of the breeds of sheep that took the place of the Swaledales, and I wondered if the native breed would ever return in the numbers that I remembered. I'm glad to say that it seems the flocks are being re-established, that many farmers are breeding them and re-introducing them into the limestone dales and high moorland. Some of the varieties that I don't recognise are still very evident, but I have a clear impression that as a proportion of the total Dales flocks they are declining.
Today's photographs show Swaledales on the hills around Attermire and a breed I don't know on a gated valley pasture very close to Upper Settle. The latter photograph was taken early in a walk that also included the second, and the height of the sun makes all the difference between the two shots.
photograph and text © Tony Boughen
Camera: Olympus E-M10
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 31mm (62mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/800 sec
Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On