Posted by: mynaturaldiary | June 18, 2015

Swaledale Sheep

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
Psalm 121

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Gunnerside lies nestling in Swaledale, North Yorkshire. It is a steep cut valley, with a gill (or ghyll, a ravine in old Norse), leading to more recent lead mines. As ever, the scenery in the Yorkshire Dales is superlative; with the valley fields ablaze in buttercups, fenced by dry stone walls. The buttercups are best appreciated on the valley floor.

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Buttercup (Ranunculus acris)

In the meadows are other flowers.

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At a high point, the stone wall frames the river Swale and its dale.

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The flowers are grown for a special reason.

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The cows seem happy with the arrangement.

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The path along the valley floor is obvious from the buttercups.

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and soon leads to a field with a stone barn,

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being swept for flies by Swallows

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Swallow (Hirundo rustica)

and House Martins.

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House Martin (Delichon urbica)

The path leads through a woodland area, with some surprising visitors.

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Out into the open, the sheep are all around, even straggly looking ones, in the midst of moulting.

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The path climbs up towards Gunnerside Gill. A quick look back down the valley at the farm

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before we are into the moorland and their Lapwings.

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Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)

Amidst the backdrop of the hills and their stonewalls

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are reminders as to why their are there; for sheep and cattle and give them shelter.

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The patchwork quilt stonewalls are everywhere.

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The irregular shapes must surely be there for the shepherds, to help them corral their flocks.

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Looking up towards the head of the Gill shows Gunnerside Beck meandering through the centre.

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We begin the descent down to the beck and the wooded path to the side. Off the top of the moor, a variety of plants, ferns and mosses grow.

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Bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta)

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Then to a wall which is partly reclaimed by nature.

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before reaching another wall at the bottom of the Gill, by the beck.

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The beck runs fast.

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There are beautifully patterned rocks on the ground, with rich colours.

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This last stone shows rippled indentations in its surface, as though an old fracture event caused an unlikely crack to propagate through the stone.

The stones also form the walls seen from a distance.

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They are the work of generations.

The wooded valley is home to moss covered trees and growing ferns.

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Finally we reach the end of the woods, revealing the head of the Gill into Swaledale.

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High in the sky on the distant horizon, a solitary Buzzard circles in search of prey.

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Buzzard (Buteo buteo)


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