Saturday, August 03, 2013

The Countryside - Perhaps It Isn't For You

A swaledale ewe on the rolling fells of the La...
A swaledale ewe on the rolling fells of the Lake District near Keswick, in Cumbria, England. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I do like to encourage people to visit the countryside and get out and about in the more remote parts of beautiful Yorkshire, so long as you pick your litter up as you go. An incident on the way to work this week though reminded me that the countryside is a wild and dangerous place, full of unexpected hazards and strange terrors and that on that basis, perhaps it just isn't for everyone.

I was driving to work over the moor road when the car ahead of me braked for no apparent reason, and came to a halt. Then the cars' indicators started flashing.

Thinking that the driver had broken down I got out and went to see if there was any help I could offer. I am least mechanically minded person around so this was more a gesture of human solidarity that an actual offer of anything more practical.

Are you alright ? I asked the driver.

"There's a sheep" replied the young lady, and pointed. She was right, and not only was there a single ewe half concealed in the bracken, but the ewe had this year's twins close by. I must admit to being a bit confused at the lady's reaction.

"But why have you stopped ?"

"Because it might run out and get hurt."

What I wanted to say at this point was something along the lines of "Oh get a grip woman." What I actually did was to laugh a little, and then I pointed out that perhaps she could drive quite slowly past the sheep, and that in that way the beasts wouldn't get hurt and nor would angry road users (of which a fair queue was already building up) cause any sort of unpleasant confrontation.

In some trepidation the young lady put the car in gear and proceeded to pass the sheep so widely that she almost ran her own car into a ditch. I made the international hand symbol for 'that person is a nutter' to the driver behind me and we all proceeded on our way, just very slowly in case of unexpected ruminants.

Never before have I considered sheep to be a terror of the wilds. But before setting out for a drive along the moor and fell roads in Yorkshire perhaps you should consider whether the countryside is really for you, or whether you'd just be better off with a nice cup of tea and some re-runs of Eastenders.
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  1. I once nudged a sheep with the front bumper when it decided standing in the middle of the road, just round the corner from the cow and calf, was a good idea. If my brakes hadn't been as good nudged would have turned into heavy collision.

  2. That's a real gem.

    I can add to that the panic phone calls of another who moved to our area. "There are sheep in the garden, a rabbit on the lawn, a wee small animal, do rats have bushy tails" (squirrel),and a host of others.

  3. HAvindg lived in cities my entire life I have a rule of thumb for visiting the country:

    On Tarmac - Safe
    Tarmac somewhere in view - You are in the countryside but you will be able to escape when required.
    No tarmac in sight - You are horribly lost and will never return, you will be eaten by 300 different varieties of wildlife. Mummy!!!!!

    1. Oh Dave that is brilliant and so very, very, true. Yet it works the other way round for many country folk when we find ourselves in the concrete jungle. In my case, born within sound of Leeds Town Hall bells, doubley so. Having spent the best part of my life in the countryside.

      You highlight something the Gov., & Ramblers could never foresee when granting freedom to roam. PANIC!
      When folk get out of their depth, are wrongly dressed, haven't a clue etc.