Nature

RED SQUIRREL FAMILY

We had been told about the red squirrels of Shap Wells but we weren’t prepared for how exciting it was to finally meet them…
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I sat hardly breathing, my heart banging in my chest as a tiny foot rested against my boot and a little face with enormous eyes flitted between filling its unbelievably gorgeous face with food, and looking quizzically at me their unmoving, unfamiliar (ecstatic) new friend. 

I had been told about the red squirrels of Shap Wells but I wasn’t prepared for how exciting it was to finally meet them. They are, after all, a protected species, ordinarily wary and shy of humans - not to mention grey squirrels. The fascinating thing about the Shap Wells squirrels was how out of character their behaviour was. Inquisitive and playful. Curious, quick and from a novice perspective, with seemingly never ending appetites for such small animals.

The red squirrel is a protected breed in most of Europe and there are fewer than 140,000 in the UK with 85% residing in Scotland. Being able to see them in the Lake District at Shap Wells felt incredibly special.

The General Manager and the hotel’s grounds man tend to their tiny tall tailed guests, although many of the human occupants of the hotel are keen to offer a helping hand once they have seen them in action. They have become a part of the day-to-day life of running the hotel, enjoying their own version of housekeeping and room service.

Sometimes when visiting the Lake District the most surprising things happen when you are not moving. Not chasing another hill or crag or tea shop. Sometimes, incredibly special moments happen when you hold your breath and slowly look at your feet.

Next time you plan on visiting the Lakes, I thoroughly recommend you try it. You’ll talk about it for ever.

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