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Filming For ZDF Television

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Skylark Aerial Photography recently provided aerial filming for ZDF Television Channel, deep in the fells of the Lake District.

Simon Handley, from Skylark Aerial Photography, had received a request for the project after being recommended to ZDF Television.

The brief was: "Hi Simon,

great talking to you and thanks for helping us.

Short explanation about the show: We are doing a food show for ZDF / ARTE, (that is a cultural broadcaster like BBC4). It's actually a very well-known long runner (18 year now) and people love to watch it. The way this show works is to pick one family from the countryside in one region (…Lake District, this time). We show what the family produce and what they cook with it. We show the recipes, the regional food, but also the family life and their work. For Cumbria we picked a shepherd's family from the western part of the region (Eskdale). The shooting will take part next week for 6 days.

What do we need?

A drone for one day (Inspire) to shoot the gathering of the local shepherds. 1 or 2 people team.

Location: Near Eskdale.

Footage: approx. 20-30 seconds best of drone shots of the Lake District."

Kristian Kähler, CEO, Berlin Producers Media GmbH

The shoot took place in the heart of the Lake District, deep in Eskdale, filming the Herdwick sheep that had been gathered from high up in the fells and brought back down to local pasture near the farm. This event is called the gathering. Five shepherds and 10 sheep dogs took over seven hours to bring the sheep down from the steep sided mountain side and then the four-mile walk back through very rough and boggy ground.

Meeting at Taw House Farm for 6:30am involved driving across Wrynose and Hardknott passes to reach the track to the farm, and a further one mile of rough track to the farm. After a brief from the farmer, we began the hike at 7am to the fells.

It took two hours to reach the bowl where the sheep and centrally gathered. It took a further hour to climb to the high bowl in the fells where the sheep in twos or threes were brought together. We relied on walkie talkies to communicate and listen into the updates from the shepherds as they gathered the sheep.

Over 16kg of drone gear (two drones) was taken in two backpacks; one strapped on my back and the other on the front. I have found this is an ideal way to transport drone gear during external shoots deep within the Lake District National Park.

This type of event takes place all over the Lake District and is very traditional and very old way of getting the sheep down from the fells. There is no other way to do it, than by shepherd and sheep dog. Each farm helps their neighbours out and they may be gathering sheep five times a week during the gathering season.

I was very lucky to be involved in this shoot and felt very privileged, having seen drone film of a similar event on BBC Television taken in 2016, I could not believe my luck when asked for filming for ZDF Television.

All permissions for filming for ZDF Television were granted by the National Trust as the farm and land belonged to the trust.

Herdwick Sheep
Herdwicks are sturdy, coarse-woolled sheep found mainly on the Lake District fells in Cumbria. The true origin of the breed is not known. It is thought that sheep may have come into Cumbria from a Spanish Armada ship which was wrecked off the Cumbrian coast, but this cannot be substantiated. They may well have been introduced by Norse-Irish settlers in the 10th and 11th Centuries, or they may be derived from animals introduced by Neolithic or Bronze Age herdsmen.

The word 'Herdwick'
The word 'Herdwick' actually means the pasture where the sheep are kept, seemingly derived from the old Norse 'Herd-vic' (a sheep farm). Their fleeces keep out the worst of weathers, they survive off little herbage and are the only pure breed of sheep able to live on the high Lake District fells throughout the year. They are also suited to life on the open fells because they have a "heafing" instinct. This means they become 'heafed' to their own piece of fell, and individual sheep almost always return to that part of the fell.

Article by Simon Handley.

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