Sheep to keep gorge in the pink

A SHEPHERD and his flock of sheep could soon be roaming Cheddar Gorge to help protect a famous rare flower

A SHEPHERD and his flock of sheep could soon be roaming Cheddar Gorge to help protect a famous rare flower.The National Trust wants to hire a shepherd who would wander the landmark so sheep can eat saplings which are threatening to kill off flowers such as the renowned Cheddar Pink.The pink is famed for growing only in Cheddar and enthusiasts from all over the world visit the village to admire the flower which is also known as the Firewitch.The shepherd would lead the flock around the north side of the gorge, which is owned by the trust, and guide all the sheep back to an enclosure at night so they would not wander into the village or neighbouring farms.Trust leaders hope the shepherd could become a tourist attraction, and be on hand to answer questions from visitors. It is hoped someone can be found to start the job in time for the summer.The trust came up with the idea as part of an effort to keep the natural limestone and wild flowers of the gorge on show and stop the spread of woodland known as 'scrub'.Head warden Mark Courtiour said: "One of the problems we have in tackling the scrub is that we ideally need animals to do it but we cannot let them roam because there is no fencing and they would just wander into farms."A shepherd would be able to wander around the gorge in a kind of Mediterranean style during the day and look where the scrub is and point the sheep in the right direction."It has lots of benefits because we are cutting back the threatening scrub in a friendly way and it could become a tourist attraction in its own right. But the downside is that it will be really hard work for whoever takes it up because there is certainly some steep and difficult terrain up there.

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