The two main types of sheep to be seen in this area are the Dalesbred and the Swaledale. To those not familiar with these two breeds, they are probably indistinguishable one from another but they are quite different. Whilst the Swaledale is a very old, native breed, the Dalesbred is a relatively recent result of cross-breeding between the Swaledale and the Scotch Black-Face, which can also occasionally be seen in the area. The Dalesbred now breeds true and, with the Swaledale, forms the back-bone of today’s farming economy in our parish. Both breeds are very sure-footed, hardy and are usually good mothers. They produce coarse, hard-wearing wool which is used in carpet-making.
Baa, Baa, Black Sheep...
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Working dogs have always been an essential part of the life of the Dale’s farms. Indeed, so valuable and indispensable are they on the upland fells, that one was valued at over £3000 in a recent auction sale. The Border collie is almost always the preferred breed and it is thought that they were introduced to the Dales by Scottish cattle-drovers passing through the area many years ago. Collies are highly intelligent and they combine this with speed, stamina and an ability to “think” for themselves when out of the farmer’s sight. They work to word and whistle commands, each dog having his or her own version so that two or more dogs can be worked together
Evidence of lead mining can be seen in both Swaledale and Arkengarthdale. As well as the mine entrances and shafts, the remains of tramways, smelting chimneys and dressing areas can still be seen on the hillsides. The mines were usually worked on a part-time basis along with a small farm although the mining rights were held by the lords of the manors. When the industry declined in the late-1800s, some parishes inSwaledale lost over 70% of their population. A present-day reminder of the industry can be seen in the CB Hotel above Reeth. The mines in Arkengarthdale and New Forest -Punchard Gill and Faggergill -were bought by Dr. John Bathurst (physician to Oliver Cromwell) in 1656 and were carried on by his son, Theodore, and grandson, Charles, under the name of the C. B. Company (Charles Bathurst).