Thursday, 14 July 2011

Show Time!

A couple of days' biking at the weekend, one day on the road and one off-road. The road ride was just a quick blast with Cath to Colne and back so nothing major. Sunday we headed up to Langstrothdale for a ride over to Bainbridge and back, however someone forgot their helmet so we had to borrow one before setting off which meant driving through a couple of very heavy showers and about 90mins delay.

Once away it was a long pull up to Fleet Moss with the tarmac feeling very grippy on our MTB tyres, not the sort of thing you need on a climb. At the summit we were watching the paragliders when a stoat scurried across the track in front of us in their usual hyperactive manner. What followed was the longest (and probably straightest) descent in the Dales down the old Roman road to Bainbridge. A bit loose in places so some care needed. Then it was another steep climb to Carpley Green before heading off-road again. There was one section of the track that needed a push as it was both steep and loose, a few more steeper sections and then you are on the summit ridge with wide ranging views. Finally we descended to the road above Cray though a couple of sections needed to be walked as they are washed out and a bit technical. After a pint in The White Lion at Cray it was back to the car with the mewing of a buzzard overhead.

We went to the Great Yorkshire Show on Wednesday, Cath having got two free tickets through her work, so spent some time in queues getting to the ground. Mostly it's like a super large open air market and has little to do with its agricultural roots and a lot of the visitors seemed to be using it for retail therapy.

More interesting were the animals on show. Some of the breeds were new to me, "Lonk" for example (a sheep if you don't know), I thought they were Dalesbred from their facial markings until I caught sight of the breed sign. The rarer Scottish breeds like Boreray, Soay and Hebridean are close to the original wild sheep and compared to the modern commercial breeds are tiny, little larger than a sheepdog. On a walk around the Rare Breeds Trust tent I came across perhaps the rarest breed of all, the Vaynol Cow. Just 45 animals exist which I think can certainly be classed as rare. 

A Soay Sheep

A Blue Faced Leicester - they always look rather haughty.

A very docile Hereford bull.

With increasing commercialisation is there any place for these breeds? They take longer to grow and so get to market with all the associated costs of feed and care; they are generally smaller and so less profitable overall; their meat is less suited to the bland, homogenised palate that the modern consumer exhibits and is promoted by the supermarkets. However many of these breeds exhibit characteristics that have the potential to help modern agriculture: disease and drought resistance and the like, so allowing them to die out would be short-sighted in the extreme. Perhaps they are suited to the small-holder who has less reason to submit to commercial pressures with their choice of stock.

Our own retail therapy from the show amounted to a few specialist cheeses and very nice the first one we opened is too.


  1. Half of Embsay school was on an "unauthorised absence" (technical term, as they appear to do bog all in Y6 summer term) at the Yorkshire Show on Wednesday - surprised you didn't see Mazza or the Herblet.

  2. Fraid not, other than someone on the BA works stand that Cath obviously knew we saw no-one we recognised all day, not even Harry and Christa trying to get the word "Yorkshire" in to every sentence.