Team members paddle back to shore with the sheep in tow. Photo: Penrirth MRT

Team members paddle back to shore with the sheep in tow. Photo: Penrith MRT

A woolly friend who decided to go for a swim in Lake District reservoir provided a challenge for mountain rescuers.

The Penrith team was called in to help retrieve a sheep that had managed to make its way to an island on Haweswater.

The rescue proved to be a test of the team’s paddling and shepherding skills as the ovine wanderer decided to take a sheep dip.

A Penrith Mountain Rescue Team spokesperson said: “A sheep had panicked and swum to the island whilst being gathered in a couple of weeks ago and concerns were raised about the dwindling vegetation and its health.

“Both the farmer and United Utilities were keen for its safe recovery and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds wardens were able to report that it was still on the island just prior to the rescue.

The water-rescue squad that went to the animal's aid. Photo: Penrirth MRT

The water-rescue squad that went to the animal's aid. Photo: Penrith MRT

“The water incident manager was asked to work out a plan which was to paddle our raft across to the island with five team members, four paddling, and one steering, with the plan to get to the island and gently encourage the sheep to a position where we could secure it in the boat.”

The spokesperson said team members hoped the animal would be compliant and exhausted after its fortnight’s stay on the Wood Howe island.

The spokesperson said: “However on arrival it was clearly very ‘lively’ and evaded all efforts to capture it, eventually deciding to leap into the water and swim back to shore.

“It was pretty evident that it was getting very tired and waterlogged very quickly so we paddled alongside and a team member used his advanced paddling techniques to hook a paddle under its horns and grab hold until we returned to shore. As soon as the sheep was being towed it went completely compliant and seemed to be enjoying the ride.

The sheep wades to shore. Photo: Penrirth MRT

The sheep wades to shore. Photo: Penrith MRT

“On arriving back it immediately went to the nearest bushes and began eating and very quickly was happily making its way down to Mardale Head.

“It would appear, however, that the sheep has an affinity for the water. After we left, the farmer went to try and pick up the sheep to take it back to the farm but it promptly jumped back in the water – thankfully at a narrow point – and swam across to the other side.”

Deputy team leader Karen Frith said: “While this wasn’t the normal run-of-the-mill sheep rescue, it gave us a good opportunity to practise with the raft, and we achieved a positive outcome.”

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