“ Address: Egremont Road / Cockermouth / Cumbria / England „
On holiday in The Lake District we saw adverts for the Lakeland Sheep and Wool Visitors Centre. The leaflets were promoting it as 'Cumbria Venue of the Year' and 'the highlight of our holiday' so we thought we'd take a look. We were heading in that general direction on this particular day so this was going to be a real treat for me as I love sheep.
I was expecting a farm like set up so that we could see the animals and maybe stroke them and I was quietly hopeful that I would be allowed to hand feed a lamb - I have always wanted to do that!
Boy, was I in for a BIG disappointment!
Where is it?
The Lakeland Sheep and Wool Centre can be found just south of Cockermouth in Cumbria. It is just off the A66 - A5086 roundabout on the Egremont Road.
What facilities are there?
There is a large free car park and a hotel on the site. The hotel has a large airy bar / restaurant where we had a light lunch. This was very nice and the range of food and drink was good and the food was all well cooked. There were also toilets here which were nice and clean.
And the sheep?
Well, after we had eaten we headed back outside and along to the main entrance to the centre. This took us into a shop selling expensive clothes, ornaments, sweets and lots of general souvenirs with sheep on them, but where were the sheep?
The only other exit from the shop was through a closed door and a 'theatre show' was advertised. I did comment that maybe the sheep were going to do a song and dance act!
I asked at the counter how much the show cost and was told that it was £5 for adults and £4 for children and we thought that was a bit expensive so we were wondering whether to bother as we couldn't understand what sheep would do in a theatre.
As we continued to look round the gift shop, trying to decide what to do, the door to the theatre was opened. We weren't looking in that direction but we knew it was open because the whole gift shop was filled with a very strong smell of animal. I am not one of these people who complain about 'country' smells but this was overpowering - what it smelled like in the actual theatre is anyone's guess! It was at this point that we left the building heading out into the fresh air. As we did we looked back through the open door to see a small theatre with sawdust on the floor.
Apparently what happened in the theatre is that various breeds of sheep are brought onto the stage one at a time and the audience are told a series of facts about each of them. They are then chained up in their set position on stage with food to keep them occupied.
There are also a couple of cows and sheepdogs who show their skills by rounding up geese.
There is an opportunity for the audience to go on stage and pet the animals and also feed a lamb but even this couldn't tempt me. The idea of spending £5 to sit in a room where I could barely breathe for the smell to see sheep chained up on a stage was not my idea of 'the highlight of my holiday'!
Just in case this review has tempted you to visit this 'highlight' the website can be found at: http://www.shepherdshotel.co.uk/sheepWoolCentre/index.htm
The address and contact details are below:
Shepherds Hotel & Restaurant
Telephone : 01900 822673
Fax : 01900 820129
They take advance bookings for coach parties.
My final thoughts
Well I was really looking forward to going to this centre as I was expecting to be able to see lots of sheep and lambs in the open air, where they should be, and I was very disappointed to be expected to sit in a stinking theatre to see sheep chained up on stage!
I can only suggest that, if you do go, take a peg for your nose!
It's always exciting having visitors come to stay and I like to plan an itinerary. Since we've now been up in Cumbria for 3 and a half years it starts to get harder to think of places which friends and family haven't already been to (and even harder to remember who we have taken where!).
Over the bank holiday weekend 4 of my school friends were coming to stay. S who has been up to stay three times before, G who has been twice, K who has been once, and R who has never been. Over the weekend hubby was going to be away on a dirty weekend with his new girlfriend (long story!), so with five of us and only one car I wanted to take them to places which didn't involve long car journeys (especially since G had already driven up from Essex with the rabble).
---Lakeland Sheep and Wool Centre---
I love sheep, I think they're great (not as great as moose, but they are still great). When hubby announced to me that we were going to live in Cumbria (at the time I really didn't want to), the only positive thing I could think of was the sheep. When hubby and friends dragged me up a mountain in Wales, it was only because of the sheep that I managed to get to the top - my reasoning being that if they had managed it then so could I.
The Sheep and Wool centre is somewhere we pass all the time, pretty much whenever we go anywhere (well, except if we're going the other way), and it was high on my priorities of places to visit when we first moved up here.
The first time we went we took my parents, and we saw the sheep show which I thoroughly enjoyed (I'll be talking in more detail about the sheep show later). At the end of it the man asked if any children wanted to come on stage to feed the lambs. Before he'd even finished speaking I'd jumped out of my seat and onto the stage - "Me Me Me" I cried as I grabbed the bottle and began to feed the lambs (who weren't so little) as they jumped up to drink from the bottle. I hope there weren't any children in the audience who wanted to feed them, but tough luck really - I got there first!
---Where is the Sheep and Wool Centre?---
The Sheep and Wool Centre is in Cockermouth (come on children, stop your giggling) which is not far from Workington (where we live), about a 10-15 minute drive - for proper directions visit http://www.shepherdshotel.co.uk/findUs.htm
There is a hotel and restaurant (The Shepherd's Hotel); it's also a conference venue (in fact we walked passed the conference room which looked alright). But today I will be reviewing the Sheep and Wool Centre only.
---So, what's there?---
I seem to remember there being a visitor's centre last time we went there, but yesterday there only seemed to be a shop and the sheep show. There is also a bar (or baaaaaaa depending on how drunk you are) but we didn't visit that as we'd had plenty to drink the night before, and of course G was driving.
But most importantly there is the sheep show which happens between March and October, from Sundays to Thursdays (no shows Friday and Saturday), at 10:30am, 12pm, 2pm and 3:30pm. It does cost £5 for adults and £4 for children, but in my opinion is worth every penny!
---The weird man---
We arrived at about 1:25pm for the sheep show at 2pm.....since I had been planning to potter round the non-existent visitor's centre. Instead we bought our tickets (you get a sticker to wear) and looked around the shop (K bought a wide variety of rubbish including a plastic bracelet for £3.99 -and a chocolate dolphin for G - what was he thinking?) Unfortunately we struck up conversation with the man behind the desk who was asking us where we were from, and stupidly I told him I lived in Workington, but my friends were up from Essex. From which he proceeded to tell us his life story and how he's from Clacton and now lives in Cleator. I mean, there's being friendly and there's being over-friendly - when he said to me "I was looking at your chest when I realised what a lovely T-shirt you're wearing" that was just plain strange. Not sure I want some weird man who keeps sticking his tongue out when he speaks looking at my chest.
To make matters worse I told him my name, and then it was like he'd known me for ages. He started telling G about where my husband goes diving - weirdo. Anyway, it provided some light entertainment before we went into the show. And I'd just like to say to the weird man if he comes across this review "Stop being so f***ing weird you weird weirdo man!"
---The Sheep Show---
You enter the sheep show from the shop and it's kind of in a barn, it smells a bit sheepy, but not overpowering (you can hear the cast of the show warming up behind the stage). I imagine that on a cold day it would be quite cold, so a coat might be in order. There were (I think) four rows of plastic chairs, and we sat in the second row. In addition to us 5 there were probably another 15 people in the audience, but it wasn't full by any means. In fact I'm quite surprised that there weren't more people there.
So, we sat and waited in anticipation...
Bang on 2pm out came the sheep woman who introduced the show. Basically there are 19 different breeds of sheep and they come out one by one and find their positions on the stage where they then get chained up and stick their noses in their food bowls. As the sheep came up the woman told us a bit about each one - from the Ryeland (my favourite) to the Mule, and the Oxford Down to the Merino. Some of the sheep were absolutely huge, and they're all quite different, some with horns, some with dreadlocks, some black (sorry, should that be rainbow coloured?), some white.
The sheep woman introduced us to the sheep dogs - a border collie and 2 others (I don't do dogs) one was called Bob. The most impressive part was when one of the dogs ran across the back of the sheep - K got it all on video.
The funniest part of the show and the part that my friends and I will laugh about for years to come was the geese. The border collie had the task of herding 4 geese and making them walk around in different directions, meanwhile sheep woman was literally screaming sheep dog instructions at the dog. "Lie, come by, Lie...." For the rest of the day whenever things got quiet one of us would scream "Lie Down" - one of those things where you just had to be there I think. As a result though my throat is sore today and my chest aches from my explosive hiccups as a result of laughing about the sheep dog woman afterwards. I mean what is with that sheep dog language, it's so bizarre!
There were also two cows introduced to us, later on K fell in love with one of them. There was also a sheep man (who was also a bit over familiar with us) who handed out wool to us - if you really want you can take a piece of dirty wool home with you! We declined.
At the end of the show there was feeding of the two lambs, but this time I restrained myself, and let the children do it. However, nothing was going to stop me petting the sheep, especially my favourite, the Ryeland. We all enjoyed meeting the sheep (although I don't think R wanted to get her hands dirty), and a cow slobbered on my arm. There was also randomly a chicken and some chicks in a cage on the floor of the stage.
The show itself lasted about 25 minutes, and then we probably spent 15 minutes with the sheep. Following this we headed to wash our hands in the toilets, and left the sheep and wool centre conveniently avoiding the stare of the weird man.
A good time was had by all, the sheep show is a must for people who are out and about in the area - especially for those with children, and those who are 27 year old children like my friends and I. It's fun, reasonably priced (although it doesn't last that long if you want more for your money), and educational. One thing I learnt was that 99% of sheep are bred for their meat. I'm very glad that I enjoy eating lamb and can feel I'm contributing to the cause....after all if everyone was vegetarian there would be no sheep for me to watch on my journey to work. Highly recommended!
If you so desire you can visit the website:
The address and contact details are below:
Shepherds Hotel & Restaurant
Telephone : 01900 822673
Fax : 01900 820129
Following a brief trip to Flimby beach we returned home to commence the afternoon's drinking. By this stage I was already in pain from my hiccups. Later in the evening following our roast chicken (R doesn't like lamb) we watched the New Zealand film "Black Sheep", and spent the rest of the evening screaming "Lay Down" at each other - I dread to think what my neighbours thought. Oh the fun, the frolics, the memories......I think hubby will be glad not to have been here though!
Unfortunately I can't show you pictures on DooYoo, but the review's also posted on Ciao with pictures! I should note that taking pictures in the show is encouraged, so make sure you take a camera!
Take in the entertainment in this theatre of animals and watch a sheep shearing extravaganza or highly trained dogs rally up a flock of geese. If your lucky, there may even be some seasonal guests!