Saturday 20 June 2020

Meander around Muker

Muker in Upper Swaledale

As we wait patiently for news that we can welcome visitors back to our B&Bs and holiday cottages it is encouraging to see businesses in Muker opening again.

It was lovely to see Gillian,owner of Swaledale Woollens, and stop for a chat.  The shop is spacious enough for sensible social distancing with plenty room to browse the shelves.  The attractive displays hold the most beautiful knitwear.  I am the proud owner of a Swaledale cardigan so I can wholeheartedly recommend that a visit to Swaledale Woollens is on your wish list.  

A visit to Muker in June would not be complete without a walk through the magnificent Muker meadows.  They are spectacular and never fail to impress.  The heady scent that drifts up from a sea of gently waving flowers is intoxicating.
Famous for the sheer variety of meadow flowers, grasses and herbs particularly purple wood crane's-bill, tiny eye bright, yellow rattle and delicate pignut that all flower in abundance in fields sheltered by Kisdon Hill.

In the village the Old School Gallery and Craftshop has re-opened and Muker Store is back in business too.

 Muker school rooms now house the Art Gallery and Craftshop.  There is something for everyone in the Old School Muker.  Feature artists display their work alongside potters and sculptors with the craftshop stocking very nice cards and gifts, the sort of shop that always has something to catch your eye.
Swaledale Woollens with the Farmers Arms tucked in behind.  Everyone is looking forward to hearing news of when the pub can re-open.  In the meantime, during lockdown, they have been serving a take-away menu for residents which has been most welcome.

Wherever you are staying when you come to Swaledale don't forget the Little White Bus.  It provides a great service up and down the dale meaning you don't have to solely rely on your car.  At the moment you can't stay overnight but if you are lucky enough to live within driving distance there is nothing to stop you parking up, walking to Reeth or Keld, Muker or Gunnerside and catching the Little White Bus back to your car.  At present, like all other public transport, masks must be worn on the bus.  For details of the bus timetable click on this link

Tuesday 16 June 2020

On and around the farm in June

On and around the farm in June

The ewes with single lambs are now back on the moors but those with twins stay on the farm until July. Despite the good weather this lambing time the sheep that are rearing twins need supplementary feed and experienced shepherding every day.
 The herdwick lambs are growing fast and so is Heidi's fleece.  She will glad to get rid of it at shearing time!

 This was the last ewe to lamb this year and didn't she give us a surprise?  She is one of our 'crossed sheep', in other words she was put to a Texel tup not a Swaledale so we weren't expecting pure Swaledale lambs however ...... one all black and one all white is quite unusual.
She was very late to lamb so these gorgeous little lambs were born during the recent disturbing times of unrest and injustice.  I look at them as a sign of hope and a reminder of equality in all things.
Unlike the little black Texel cross lamb above, Herdwick lambs are supposed to be born black.  After a few weeks they start to get their distinctive 'mask' which is the start of them losing their black face.  Their black woolly coats lighten to a dark brown colour which they keep till they are clipped for the first time at about 18 months old.
   Messing about by the river is a great way to spend an afternoon.  If you are here when bluebell wood is in full bloom it is an extra treat however Whamp Bridge is the perfect setting at any time.

Wild swimming.
There's nothing like a refreshing dip in the cool water of the infant Swale. 

Upper Swaledale is famous for its miles of dry stone walls and the hundreds of stone buildings that in Swaledale are known cow'uses.  Swaledale is also known for its meadow fields that flower in profusion from the end of May through to the end of June.

These meadows are very special and only flower like this because the upland farmers stick rigidly to traditional farming methods, applying natural feed (muck) instead of heavy, nitrogen based, artificial fertilizer.  They only get one crop but the hay from these flower & herb rich meadows is the sweetest, the most nutritious and the best.