A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Mugged By Sheep

On all my countryside escapades I've never once been mobbed by nesting terns or attacked by arctic skuas like Bill Oddie. Or even bitten by a dog or chased by a bull. But I have been mugged by sheep. It happened yesterday in fact.

I began my 7 mile route on a minor road at Townhead just north of Hope (OS Outdoor Leisure Map 1, Map Reference 168845). This led north to Oaker Farm Cottages where it became a path. After crossing Bagshaw Bridge the way contoured the hillside overlooking Jaggers Clough then forked right just below Crookstone Barn. Another right turn at a stile and the path doubled back on itself at higher altitude. It was now a rutted old Roman road heading south-east above the conifer slopes of the Woodlands Valley. Lose Hill (476m) was constantly in view across the Vale of Edale; but I was making for its companion, Win Hill (462m). A long, easy ascent took me to the rocky cone on top, two paragliders adding interest along the way. It was here the marauding sheep stepped in.

I'd found a nice, sheltered spot for lunch among the rocks and heather. Everything was laid out - tomatoes, dried apricots, wholemeal rolls stuffed with Camembert... Then they hit. An evil-looking ewe, with her smaller but powerfully built offspring, ambushed me from out of a fortification of ferns. Their eyes were fixed and staring. Only one goal was on their mind. My sandwiches. And my camera, mobile phone, and complete rucksack contents if they were lucky. I was so surprised that I half rose and said something like "Shoo!" They were unimpressed by this resistance tactic and still charged on. It then got physical as they knocked me over. I tried to push them away but they were incredibly hard and strong.

I still don't know how I did it, but I managed in an adrenaline-fuelled rush of speed to gather up lunch and pack and camera into my arms - at one point wresting the nose of one sheep out of my open sack - and beat a hasty retreat off the hill. I decided on reflection that it wasn't really a case for the MRT - after all I was alive and in one piece and had lost only a few mouthfuls of French cheese (haven't Derbyshire sheep got upmarket tastes?)

The photo shows my ancient Karrimor daysack next to the trig point at the summit of Win Hill. Thankfully with not a sheep in sight.


John Hee said...

Bloody hard heads sheep (and I speak from personal opinion) And sneaky - a real tendancy to somehow hide behind trig points on summits and pop out when the sandwiches appear

The Solitary Walker said...

At least we ain't got the bears to worry about like in the US..!