Orford Ness: Remote shingle spit sheepdog 'finds sea legs'

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SweepImage source, PA Media
Image caption,
Sweep is the only dog allowed on Orford Ness, which is a vegetated shingle spit about 10 miles (16km) long

A sheepdog whose commute requires a boat has "found his sea legs", a shepherd has said.

Since February, one-year-old border collie Sweep has been rounding up rare-breed sheep at the National Trust's Orford Ness nature reserve, on a remote shingle spit off the Suffolk coast.

Sweep, who is still in training, has taken over from his predecessor, Kite.

Shepherd Andrew Capell said Sweep was used to sheep "but the ferry crossing has taken a bit of getting used to".

"Thankfully, he seems to have found his sea legs," he said.

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
Shepherd Andrew Capell said Sweep had to get used to the ferry crossing
Image source, Mike Page Aerial Photography
Image caption,
A ferry takes people from Orford village (background) on a short trip across the River Ore to Orford Ness, where the lighthouse was dismantled last year

The National Trust maintains the reserve, which is on the longest shingle spit in Europe, and runs a public ferry service to get to it when Covid restrictions allow.

Orford Ness was used as a military testing site during World War One, World War Two and the Cold War. It was sold by the Ministry of Defence to the National Trust in 1993.

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Sweep is the only dog allowed on the spit because of the fragility of the habitat and he will work with sheep, including the Whitefaced Woodland, Manx Loaghtan and Herdwick breeds.

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
Sweep will work with rare-breed sheep on the reserve

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