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DOWTHWAITE HEAD FARM, DOCKRAY, NEAR PENRITH, CUMBRIA, CA11 0LG | TEL: 017684 82744
SHEEP SALES AND FARM TOURS IN THE ENGLISH LAKE DISTRICT | UK & EUROPE
The Trip to the Continent by Mayson Weir
The first stage of the trip was to the Netherlands to visit Monique, Rob and their two boys. Reuter also came to meet us at Rob's.
As well as looking at Rob's sheep, we also had an enjoyable time learning about his business which included birds and other animals. We looked at Monique's dogs and horses. The dog trainer is obviously doing a good job! We also enjoyed wonderful hospitality and it was a real pleasure to see how well everything was maintained.
It was also a pleasure to see Herdwick sheep being so well looked after in a different country.
Reuter also took us to look at the organic dairy farm where he worked. We went for lunch in the estate café and had the most delicious pancakes.
In the evening we went and stayed with Martin and Avrika in Buren. Martin had six Herdwick lambs, which were treated as pets. They all looked very well cared for.
The next morning, after a very enjoyable evening talking and drinking wine, Avrika showed us around their walled village. The architecture of the buildings and their connection with William and Mary was most interesting. The guided tour was very much appreciated.
At noon Reuter came and drove us up to Derk and Christina's farm in Germany for the start of the second stage of our trip. Again we had such marvellous hospitality shown to us. The purpose of the visit was to see the north country cheviot sheep and his different kinds of heather sheep. It was also interesting to see the different way of organic farming from the way it was carried out in England. For instance, rotation grazing on marsh land and the daily walking of the sheep to and from the night pens to the grazing areas. We also spent the next morning with Derk and his vet, checking for mineral deficiencies, followed by a most marvellous picnic lunch with him and his family.
The architecture of the farm was old and of an Elizabethan style and the buildings were so well maintained. The shepherd too had a different way of working dogs than in England, for example the man is in front of the sheep with the dogs behind them. It works!
During our stay we were taken on a tour of the environmental area where he is grazing the sheep. It looked very much like our mountains valleys.
After such an interesting time Derk and his family took us to Bremen where we met Mr. & Mrs Reinhart. We were given a tour of the square which included a visit to the wine cellars underneath the town – the oldest and largest in Germany. We then took time out to study the architecture, the little shops in cobbled back streets and the hustle and bustle of a busy colourful town. It was so different from home. All of us then went for a traditional evening meal in a German restaurant. There were some interesting local recipies which we tried out.
We then had to say a sad goodbye to Derk and his family who had been so kind to us. We hope to meet up again soon.
Mr Reinhart then took us to our B & B which was very spacious and comfortable.
In the morning of the next day, Ralf joined us for breakfast before we then had a most fulfilling day inspecting his sheep, together with Mrs. Reinhart's collection of rescued parrots The care and time devoted to them was unbelievable. Many of them recovered from severe ill treatment, and had to be cared for as long as 20 years in some cases.
In the afternoon we were taken to visit a lady with red (fox) sheep and Oldenburg sheep, which appealed because they were unknown to us. We would like to say a big thank you to her for being so kind.
Late that afternoon Ralf and Mrs. Reinhart took us for a trip on an old peat boat. These boats were used for carrying peat to Bremen and the surrounding areas. This area was also a designated environmental area. Evidence of this was a yellow headed snake swimming across the river! The tour guide was able to answer all our questions and it was a real pleasure to spend time in the company of such a kind and knowledgeable person.
We spent the evening at a restaurant by the river, where we tried the white asparagus dish, which was a new and delicious experience. At dusk we were able to see deer emerging into the meadow – a real treat.
Next morning we all had breakfast together, after which we said our goodbyes to Mr. & Mrs. Reinhart with thanks for a memorable time.
We then set out on a mammoth journey to St. Martins Belgium, getting lost on the way a few times. We found a very interesting B & B in Lille on the way down – a very interesting little town, with the church in the main street which was very pretty and old.
In the morning we carried on down to meet up with Peter, Jack and the Doctor (who had been on flying lessons in the morning). We met up at 11.00 a.m. and then it was all go looking at his sheep. The sheep were in very good condition and the environmental grazing system he uses was most interesting. Jack took a lot of photographs which are now on the website. After a marvellous lunch we then met up with Reuben and family who made us most welcome with an array of puddings – all delicious.
We spent a lot of time looking at Reuben's sheep. Again they were in superb condition. We also saw some of the best Belgian Blue cattle I have ever seen.
Huge thanks are due to all the people we met at Reuben's who made us most welcome. The dedication, care and treatment given to the Herdwick sheep was very evident.
This was a very memorable holiday. Kindness and hospitality were second to none in all the places we stayed. Thank you everybody. Mayson, Faye, Jean and Derek.
If there is any further assistance I can give to you all in connection with Herdwick and Cheviot sheep, please do not hesitate to ask me.