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Cumbrian Pastures

Richard Bell’s nature diary, Cumbria, Wednesday, 8th October 2008


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Pasture at New Park Farm cottages, Ireby, Cumbria.
Friesian cattle
Friesian bullocks grazing
Skiddaw from the Lakeland Pedlar, Keswick.
Pen sketches of Friesians

I COULD SIT on this comfortable sofa, enjoying the view until the cows come home. We’re staying at Ellen Cottage, New Park Farm, at the top left-hand corner of the Lake District, a few miles north of Bassenthwaite. The bedrooms and bathrooms are downstairs, so we can sit here looking north-east towards the village of Ireby or stand at the kitchen sink with a view to the north-west over the Solway Firth to the misty hills of Scotland beyond.

We never saw the cows come home but the small herd of Friesian (or should that be Holstein?) bullocks were entertaining to watch and to draw.


Early one morning we saw two bullocks, both almost entirely black, galloping, in the lolloping way that bullocks do, across the field, slowing down to negotiate the gully. They were heading for the wire fence at the far side of the field. The herd of bullocks in the adjacent field wasn’t too far away and the black duo had run all that way, apparently just to greet their pals over the fence.

They spent most of the time simply grazing. You might think that as they had their heads down in more-or-less one pose, they’d be easy to draw but in fact they were moving all the time and you had to make a conscious effort to get back and front legs in their relative positions.

Today was our best for walking. Starting at Castlerigg stone circle we walked via Springs Wood to Keswick, where we had sweet potato and fennel soup at the Lakeland Pedlar, returning via the railway walk in a deep wooded gorge beside the River Greta, and on the last lap, we were tempted at the Mill Pottery, Goosewell Farm, to buy a couple of chrome and cobalt glazed stoneware bowls, as speckly as lichen-encrusted slate walls and as softly grey-green as the surrounding fells.

“We’ve walked all this way and it’s not even Stonehenge!”

Boys in school party arriving at Castlerigg stone circle