Top tups

Back in mid August I had a plan to have a wander over in Swaledale to take in the landscape of the dales when the heather was in bloom and maybe do a bit of plein air sketching. The intention was to spend the late afternoon on Kisdon, a hill that sits close to the hamlet of Keld at the top end of the dale. Fortunately it’s not far from home for me and it is nice to revisit locations that are close to hand. It was a trip that proved to be very worthwhile.

It wasn’t the best afternoon weatherwise but as I set of from near Keld the weather was warm and good for walking.

Kisdon house
House on the hill

I ascended on a good track that serves a couple of very remote farmsteads on the hillside, a break in the clouds looked promising. My intention was to try and capture some good light on the impressive cairn that I know sits near the summit.

Kisdon cairn
Kisdon cairn

This subject has great potential for a future painting so I spent a short time producing a small watercolour sketch.

Kisdon cairn sketch

These sketches don’t take long, usually about 30 minutes or so. They are not meant as completed works, more as notes for colour and design.

The biggest bonus for me today was a bunch of very inquisitive Swaledale tups. There were about 8 in total and they were cerainty very curious, it’s as if they thought that I was coming up to feed them. They had recently been clipped and they looked in fine condition. I took full advantage of their boldness and took loads of images.

Tup on Kisdon
Swaledale tups 2
Swaledale tups
Swaledale tups on Kisdon

Of all the images though the one below is perhaps the best and this is reflected in the interest that I have had in customers ordering copies.

Kisdon Tups

It was a pure fluke of a shot, the tups stood in a nice grouping with the dale below and the sun bursting through a gap in the clouds for a brief moment. And this is the reason that I have both a photography and artwork section to my portfolio. If I had painted this scene it would look too contrived, as if I added in the sky fo effect and placed th sheep there as design. But no, this is how it was, a chance encounter.

Tups on Kisdon

In less than a minute the tups had lost interest and were moving off. The moment had been and gone and I was just so thrilled to have caught the moment.

Keld barn

Thereafter it was a case of heading back down to the car. The light was fading and fine rain was starting to fall. The barn inspired me for another painting but my thoughts were with those tups. A short walk rewarded by a chance encounter.

Job done.

If you are interested in having a copy of the Kisdon Tups print for yourself then why not take a look on this link.

Thanks for looking.


  1. Great photos and interesting background to the tups shot. Swaledale is really quite special and is quite different to the other Dales.
    The barns are amazing structures.

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