THE weather forecast looks propitious so Pendle Hill should be swarming this morning with children either rolling eggs or looking for them.
For centuries there has been an Easter tradition of pace egging, in which decorated hard-boiled eggs are propelled down steep hillsides in what is thought to symbolise the rolling away of the rock from Christ’s tomb before the Resurrection.
There are several versions around Britain and indeed the world on different days over Easter. One is a contest in which the egg which travels furthest is the winner. Another involves repeated rolling and contact between the eggs until only one remains uncracked. Then there are competitions for the best egg design.
In our local event, for a £5 entry fee children can join in an Easter Egg hunt centred on the Cauldron, a snack van parked at the foot of Pendle Steps near the village of Barley. Proceeds go to Mountain Rescue, who hopefully won’t need to be involved.
Lancashire is renowned for its egg rolling with events held not only on Pendle but also at Holcombe Hill, overlooking Ramsbottom, and Avenham Park in Preston. This is the 2019 event:
Other sites include Bunkers Hill in Derby, the castle moat at Penrith, Penshaw Hill near Sunderland and Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh.
Further afield, there has been a Monday Easter Egg Roll on the White House lawn hosted by the President and First Lady every year since 1878, although it is not certain whether Sleepy Joe will attend the 2022 version and even if he does, whether he can focus on proceedings.
Germany, Denmark, Egypt and Lithuania have their own versions.
Another Easter sport is egg tossing, where participants hurl one at each other and try to catch it without the shell breaking. In 1978, the Guinness Book of World Records reported that Johnny Dell Foley successfully tossed a fresh hen’s egg 323ft 2in to Keith Thomas in Jewett, Texas. Records are now certified, I kid you not, by the World Egg Throwing Federation based in the village of Swaton, Lincolnshire, which holds its own championship every June.
So will I be rolling eggs down Pendle Hill today? No, but I might have a couple for lunch with our Sunday fry-up.
Sheep of the Week
I love Herdwick sheep. They have sweet faces reminiscent of a teddy bear.
Rams have horns, ewes do not.
They are found mainly in the Lake District which is unsuitable for most sheep breeds because of its mountainous landscape and cold, wet climate. Herdwicks are extremely hardy and can cope outside all year, even without extra feed. They have a territorial instinct which means that each ewe stays in the small area where she was born, known as a ‘heaf’, passing the knowledge on to her own lambs.
The lambs are born black and the fleece lightens with age. It is coarse wool which is not valued for fabric but can be used for carpets. The main use is for the strongly flavoured meat.
Herdwicks are thought to have been introduced to Britain by early Norse settlers and were recorded in the 12th century. The author Beatrix Potter was involved in breeding them and upon her death in 1943, she bequeathed 15 farms, a total of 4,000 acres, to the National Trust and, as per her instruction, all continue to graze Herdwick flocks.
Isn’t this a great picture?
They are rounded up from time to time and if you have trouble getting to sleep, this is just the video for you. I note that some of the back-markers are a bit lame, but I hope this would be attended to when they got back to base.
You can find out more about Herdwick sheep at the Herdwick Sheep Breeders’ Association.
A few weeks ago I wrote about country craftsman Geoff Whitley, who was laying a hedge on the bank of the Ribble. I took a video of him at work but despite wasting hours I could not persuade it to leave my phone. Now my son and his partner have come to my rescue by dint of dividing it into two parts, which you can see here.
I took this picture of the hedge yesterday, looking as healthy as can be.
Finally, don’t forget that reader Kathy Nel (‘linuslimmy’) is collating anecdotal evidence about bird and insect numbers, either increases or decreases (or even static). Send your comments and observations to this address: firstname.lastname@example.org. I am pleased to report from Lancashire that there seem to be more insects this year than last. This week I spotted a brimstone butterfly, I think the first I have ever seen.