This photo shows a small group of sheep in the foreground, eating something off the ground. It's getting dark and they are mostly silhouetted, though we get an impression of their soft white fleece in the fading light. Behind the sheep in the distance is a row of tall mature trees that have lost most of their leaves and are silhouetted against the sky behind. The sky is a yellow-cream colour near the horizon, fading into blue and streaked with wispy grey clouds. The scene is misty, and the hills in the far distance merge into the grey clouds.

Feeding the rams at dusk

The musk of Rams
Damp air
Evening mist

The cows often stand in this position, the wind in their hair.

Animals get spiritual replenishment from being in the hills just as much as you or I do.

This photo shows four cows on top of a hill. Two of them are in the foreground facing towards the camera. The one on the left is chestnut brown and white, with a fringe of luscious light brown hair over her forehead. The cow on the right is a pale brown-blonde colour, and is looking more directly towards the camera. Both have slightly shaggy hair, and appear relaxed. In the background, far below the cows, we can see a large lake. On the other side of the lake in the distance is a bay containing boats, a small village, and green fields and woodland leading up into rugged mountains. The tops of the mountains are obscured by grey clouds.
The photo shows a grassy, heathery hillside with a line of four white sheep walking away from the camera and to the right. There is an exposed rock with some moss in the foreground. In the background, we see a large lake with a small village in the far distance on the other side, and mountains rising up into foreboding grey clouds.

Yesterday I gathered most of the sheep, these are a few which I had missed. With the help of my dog we slowly walk them back to the fields.

A hundred years ago my grandfather would have been gathering the sheep, a different breed, a smaller man, same month, same place, same task.

A thousand years ago a monk would have been gathering the sheep, he may have been an ancestor, a life of substance, same month, same place, same task.

On my first shepherds job I was given a bag, it had the tools of my trade in it for lambing a hill flock. String, lambing oil, a bottle of milk, and a flask of tea and some sandwiches. It would also hold a sickly or cold lamb that need to come home and a few biscuits for the dog.

So when we decided to make some tweed out of Herdwick wool I thought let’s make some shepherds bags, they now hold a lap top or the ingredients for the evening meal but they have sold all over the world.

This photo shows three bags hung on a grey wall. On the left is a canvas bag with a blue motif that reads "Lake District Tweed, sustainably hefted cloth". In the centre is a grey-brown tweed bag, and on the right is the same style of bag in a reddish brown tweed. The bags are a similar size to the canvas bag, with a long shoulder strap. They each have a small white badge that features a small sheep motif and some text.
This photo shows a portrait of a sheep dog. He is on the right of the frame, facing the camera directly, lying down. He has a black and white face with light brown eyebrows. His mouth is slightly open, tongue protruding. He has dark brown eyes and is looking directly at the person behind the camera with a relaxed demeanour. He is lying on a mossy bit of ground with some fallen leaves visible. Behind him we can see more mossy ground and some trees in the background, out of focus.

Sheep dogs like Tag are an integral part of upland sheep farming, the bond between the shepherds and their dogs has been there for at least a thousand years.

He is my work colleague, right hand man, friend and counsellor, we occasionally disagree on the way forward but I could not run the farm without him.

All photos on this page are © John Atkinson

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