Scafell Pike – England’s tallest mountain and home to a flock of native Herdwick sheep. Every summer their shepherd must ‘gather’ these notoriously hardy sheep and bring them down to the farm for shearing.
The Great Mountain Sheep Gather charts this journey across the fells with epic bird’s-eye view photography descending into the valley below. This timeless event has taken place in the Lake District for over a thousand years. Opening at dawn with the shepherd blindly navigating the foggy peaks and crags, this film reveals the skill, knowledge and bravery needed to care for his flock in this rugged land.
As the fog lifts to expose the breath-taking landscape and the small pockets of sheep merge into one big group, the voice of Lakeland shepherd, Andrew Harrison, allows us to see this unique world through his eyes – the knowledge of the dogs, farmers and sheep passed down from generation to generation for centuries; the challenges of life in the fells; and the conflict posed by visitors and the 21stCentury.
Specially commissioned poetry written by Mark Pajak, and read by Maxine Peake, provides a counterpoint to the shepherd’s insights throughout this 100-minute film. The programme’s unique visual perspective includes riding along on a dog, a sheep and the shepherd himself. The bleats, barks and birdsong echoing down the valley create an evocative natural soundtrack.
Once the flock has assembled as one, this immersive chronicle follows the group as they descend and are greeted by sunshine and a sense of relief as they arrive at the farm. Five hundred sheep must now be sheared - the tale of a shepherd’s life.