Patterdale Dog Day

Banner Image: © Anne Clarke

Patterdale Dog Day takes place each year on the Saturday of the August Bank Holiday weekend. It is a small, traditional show held in the truly beautiful setting of King George V Field, with its stunning backdrop of the Lakeland fells. There are sheep dog trials throughout the day, whilst judging takes place in the Shows for Foxhounds, Terriers, Sheep, as well as Crooks and Sticks. Fell races include the Arnison Crag Horseshoe, one of the English and British Championship fell races.

Sheep Dog Trials, Hound Trails, Terrier Show

These extracts from Chronicles of Patterdale (1957), by Miss Elizabeth A. Little, tell the history of Patterdale Dog Day.

The first Sheep Dog trials were held in 1901. Joe Bowman, Huntsman, Joseph Wilkinson, Glencoin, and J R Allen, Deepdale Hall, met on Grisedale Bridge and discussed the matter. They decided they would hold a Sheepdog Trial, a Hound Trail, and a Terrier Show. Mr Allen was made Chairman. J.V. Allen was made a sort of ‘errand boy’ to the Committee for that first ‘Dog’ day and remembers that when ‘Gate money’ reached £20 ‘Hunty’ Bowman was so delighted that he sent him to the White Lion Hotel with 3 shillings and 6 pence to get them a bottle of whisky to celebrate.

The foxhounds walked by members of the Hunt (the Ullswater Foxhounds kennelled at Grassthwaite How) were judged at this show and cups and prizes allotted to the best hounds. There was a show for the terriers, formerly called Patterdale Terriers, now Lakeland Terriers, good, hard, brave little dogs used for tackling a fox in its earth and bolting it.

A Hound Trail was laid of aniseed and oil and trail hounds specially bred for this hunted the drag across the mountains and valleys and returned along the scent to rousing calls and holloos from their trainers to welcome them in. Prize money and betting is very high.

The Ullswster Sheep Dog Trials in the days before the 1939-45 war were not complete without the attendance of Lord Lonsdale, the 5th Earl, know to the Committee and dalesmen as ‘Lordy’. He would bring his house party along and the arrival on the field of the fleet of yellow cars in the later years (at first they were in carriages) with his luncheon tent, footmen etc was another item in the days’ enjoyment.

Lord Lonsdale at Patterdale Sheepdog Trials, from Chronicles of Patterdale, with thanks to Patterdale WI

‘Lordy’ was starter and judge for the Hound trails and, at one time, fell races; the final race was for boys attending Patterdale School. A good story is told of one of these races, in which the boys ran in vests and shorts, and quite often their ordinary clothes, just throwing off their jackets. ‘Lordy’ took just as great an interest in the lads’ race and when at the end ‘Lordy’ turned to one boy who came in late and said: ‘Well my little fellow, you’re a long way behind’ the boy, with his hands in his pockets said: ‘Ah wadn’t ev bin, but me bluidy gallaces brok as Ah as gitten ower yon fence’.

With thanks to James Sowerby
With thanks to James Sowerby

The Ullswater Sheepdog trials have become one of the most popular Lake District gatherings. The field is packed with cars which are parked round an arc of the field and form a most comfortable grandstand, people have lunch on the field, or a picnic lunch in their cars, the sheep dogs are competing all day, a loud speaker gives everyone a knowledge of the course, and the work they are doing, or trying to do.

The Terrier Show, Hound Show, Shepherds’ Sticks, Sheep Dog Parade, the meeting of old friends, make a most enjoyable day, especially if the sun shines! The glories of ‘Lord Lonsdale’s arrival have gone, but the sheep dog, the shepherd and sheep remain the same, and the whistles of the shepherd and the obedience of the dog to his master’s directions fascinate the visitors who hold their breath waiting for the sheep to be penned.

The attendance of an average meeting is about 1500, one of the best days was in 1953 when no fewer than 7 Bishops were on the field."

Extracts from Chronicles of Patterdale, by Miss Elizabeth A. Little, 1957. With thanks to Patterdale WI

Developments since 1957

The Sheep Dog Parade now takes place on the evening before the Show.

Lord Lonsdale was president of Patterdale Dog Day for 45 years and handed over to his son Charles Lowther in 2003. Charles is a keen fell-runner and takes part in the Arnison Crag race.

The Arnison Crag Horseshoe race was reinstated in 2004 by the late Peter Bradfield and Christine Kenyon, who continues to run it today.

Peter Bradfield was also responsible for saving the show financially by increasing the number of sponsors in 2004 and having the inspired idea to set up the Friends of Patterdale Dog Day in 2011. Because of this continued support, the organisers can donate any profits they make to local charities.

© Patterdale Dog Day, with thanks

In 1999 Patterdale Dog Day was joined by the Matterdale and St. John's Sheep Show and this has grown over the years. It has also resulted in the Men's Cookery Competition - with very mixed results!

Since 2011, competitive Hound Trailing has no longer been a part of Patterdale Dog Day. When the Grasmere show moved to the Sunday following Patterdale Dog Day, owners, reluctant to run their hounds on two consecutive days, opted for the higher prize money offered in Grasmere. However, a demonstration Hound Trail takes place.

In the history of Patterdale Dog Day, the show has been cancelled only 4 times. In 2001 and 2007 this was due to foot and mouth disease, in 2008 because the field was too wet and in 2020 due to COVID restrictions.

© Patterdale Dog Day, with thanks
© Patterdale Dog Day, with thanks
© Patterdale Dog Day, with thanks

For more information about Patterdale Dog Day see

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