Keep on truckin’


WE have frequent vehicle rallies round here, taking advantage of the twisty country lanes and the beautiful scenery. Often they involve vintage or classic cars, but last weekend it was the turn of the unsung truck.

The first Clitheroe Truck Run was held last year in memory of 20-year-old Clitheroe lad Joe Robinson, a truck enthusiast who died in 2020. It attracted 68 participants and raised £5,000 for diabetes research.

Sunday’s event, this time in aid of MS research, was attended by no fewer than 98 trucks of all descriptions. They gathered at the town’s auction mart site on a lovely spring afternoon, and it was great to see the pride of the owners and drivers in their beautifully turned-out vehicles, and the camaraderie of the participants and the crowds who came to view.

The trucks set out in convoy for a short run, and the roads were lined with spectators.

Here are some pictures from the meeting point.

This is a skip lorry which carries sawdust – note the number plate.

This wonderful machine dates from 1929.

And here are the proud owners, Mr and Mrs Pete Wyatt.

This is a wartime vehicle complete with machine gun.

Finally, obviously I had to take this picture.


Sheep of the week

This is the Shropshire sheep, the most northerly of the British ‘Downland’ breeds. It is a medium-sized sheep with a distinctive black nose and low ears. The wool grows well down the legs. It does not have horns.

It was developed in the 1840s by farmers in Shropshire and North Staffordshire to produce both good wool and good meat. It rapidly grew in popularity and in 1882 the Shropshire Sheep Breeders’ Association and Flock Book Society was founded, the world’s first such society for sheep.

In the 1990s it was discovered that Shropshires are the only sheep that do not destroy young trees and shrubs, so they are now advertised as a ‘tri-purpose’ breed – meat, wool and tree-friendly. They are widely used to control grass and herbage in plantations and orchards without the need for mowing or herbicides, and of course they supply natural fertiliser.

Here is a great video which gives a lot of information about the sheep as well as other farming matters.

You can find out more about them from Shropshire Sheep.


I have been cured of two misconceptions this week. I thought elm trees had been wiped out in Britain by Dutch elm disease, and I thought there was only one type of elm. It turns out that there are plenty of elms around, one in our village. And far from being only one type, there are at least 62 (regular readers will know that this is the story of this column).

This is the one in our village, on the bank of the stream that runs through it.

It is not fully in leaf but has already flowered and is covered in lovely seed pods or fruits called samaras.

The leaves are distinctive because they are asymmetrical, one side being smaller than the other, as you can see from this one that I picked yesterday (it is not quite mature):

I have been trying to think of other examples of asymmetry in nature but have not come up with anything so far.

I believe this is a field elm (Ulmus minor), but I am not certain. It should be possible to make a firm identification later in the season when the leaves are mature. If I am right, it can grow to 100ft (the ‘minor’ part of the name refers to the size of the leaves relative to other species, not the height). It was devastated by Dutch elm disease which arrived here in around 1967, apparently on shipments of logs from Canada, but the roots were not killed and some new saplings have survived. It also seeds easily. However it is still under severe threat from the disease.


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:


One Reply to “Keep on truckin’”

  1. Dutch Elm disease: the disease is caused by a fungus spread by Elm Bark beetles. The beetles infest trees over approx 15 years old (4-6 in diameter) when the bark has sufficiently developed for the beetles. The tree dies back to its roots, but generally Ulmus minor throws up suckers from roots that survive.
    Hence there are many young elms around, often in clumps, but virtually none grow to mature specimens.

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