A troop of horses and a herd or two of sheep.

Horses in Middleham
Horses in Middleham

Have you ever had a flutter on who might win the Grand National or The Derby?  If you have, there’s a very good chance that the horse you fancied might have trained at Middleham.

Middleham’s a small town in Wensleydale of 800 or so inhabitants. You’ll notice its fine castle (Richard III stayed here) even before you get there.

Middleham Castle

And when you arrive, you’re as likely to see – no, you’re likelier to see – horses rather than pedestrians.  The principal industry of this little place, since about 1730, is training horses.  There are some 15 training establishments in town, and each of them may have up to 150 horses or more, aiming to be among the next generation of racehorses.

Every day clusters of riders take their charges up onto The Gallops to exercise and train them.  We citizens who come to the area to walk and take in the views have to play second fiddle, at least during morning exercises.

the-gallopsWho cares? On Thursday, we were happy to share the views and skyscapes with such magnificent beasts as we strode across the moorland.

Later on, we walked through Coverdale, past Tupgill, upwards through the tiny hamlet of Caldbergh along wild and little-frequented tracks.  Then it was sheep who were obliged to share their pastureland with us.  They were sure we’d have mangel-wurzels to offer them and hurried towards us. We hadn’t.  They were unimpressed.

sheep-at-the-gate

We left them to it. We had a walk to finish, preferably before lunchtime. And we rather hoped for something more appetising to eat than mangel-wurzels.

sheep-in-a-landscape

 

36 thoughts on “A troop of horses and a herd or two of sheep.”

  1. Loved the sheep. The beautiful ones face to camera look very off-pissed (though not off-piste) at their visitors not having brought them any food offerings. Hope you found a nice lunch though, with no mangel wurzels as sides or even mains.

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  2. I need to see this someday! I’ve read every Dick Francis book about 100 times and they always describe the training Gallops! And i need to go Google mangel-wurzels. . . .

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      1. Turnips?! Who knew! I love Dick Francis but that may say more about me than the quality of the books. They are good, solid, fun mysteries. The literary equivalent of comfort food for me.

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  3. I can endorse Middleham castle as one well worth visiting. We had a picnic which we ate up on the hills outside the town with sheep for company. We then went onto to Jervaulx Abbey. A perfect day out.

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  4. How magnificent to see these special horse on training! Great photos of the green field and sheep. The last one is a remarkable capture. Thank you, Margaret for sharing this beautiful post. 🙂

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  5. You have taken some stunning photos Margaret! Beautiful cloudy skies and wonderful landscapes. We’ve driven past Middleham with my husband telling us how pleasant it is and how often he’s stayed in the area in the past, but I’ve never been there yet! I would love to see the castle and I always like to watch horses on the gallops at Newmarket so Middleham would make a lovely change!

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  6. Wonderful pictures – It’s such a beautiful area. I’m intrigued by the sheep. Do you happen to know what breed they are? I don’t think that I’ve ever seen sheep with black and white faces. The coloring makes me think of Holstein cows.

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    1. They’re our very own Swaledales, a local sheep hardy enough to deal with tough winter conditions. Handsome aren’t they? (Though like most sheep, a little badly equipped in the brains department)

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  7. Loved the walk today despite the wind. The company was lovely. The views were great, and the lunch at the pub afterwards was really yummy too. Thanks for your leadership Margaret and Malcolm.

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