Minimalist Entertainment: Watching Sheep

Lately, I’ve been spending a lot of time watching sheep. I know that sounds strange, so let me explain…

I’ve always been a city girl at heart. I love the people, the buildings, the culture, the vibe; going to bars, cafes, and restaurants; and attending the opera, the orchestra, and the ballet.

Recently, however, my husband and I have discovered a wonderful new pastime: walking the public footpaths of the English countryside. As an American accustomed to fences, private property, and “no trespassing” signs, I was completely taken aback by the concept of the public footpath—in essence, it’s a right-of-way that lets you stroll through the fields, pastures, and meadows that belong to someone else (how amazing is that?).

The paths are so numerous (and extensive) that books and websites feature scores of walking routes on them, in virtually every part of the country. I imagine one could traverse most of England via footpaths, bridleways, and country lanes.

Anyway, back to the sheep…These footpaths often take you through the very pastures where sheep or cows are grazing. Until a few weeks ago, I’d never been on the same side of the fence as a farm animal, so it’s been quite a novelty to “hang out” with them. In fact, until a few weeks ago, I’d never had the opportunity to ramble through farmland, skip through meadows, or lounge in wide, grassy fields enjoying picturesque views over rivers and valleys.

I’m still a city girl, but one who’s falling in love with the peace, quiet, and idyllic atmosphere of the country…

This past weekend, my husband and I drove out to Cornwall in Southwest Britain. We hiked along dramatic seaside cliffs, picnicked in gorgeous spots overlooking the Atlantic, discovered secluded beaches, explored ancient ruins, encountered wild ponies, and yes, spent a good amount of time watching sheep. It’s my new favorite minimalist activity.


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31 comments to Minimalist Entertainment: Watching Sheep

  • Joless

    I’m so glad you’re getting the chance to experience some of the things which make England special while you’re here :-) We spend a lot of time down in Cornwall and adore walking on the cliffs and beaches. Try the Gower Penninsula in Wales too – more of the same and fewer people :-)

    • miss minimalist

      Hi Joless! Thanks so much for the Gower Peninsula recommendation; my husband and I spent this past weekend there, and it was absolutely gorgeous. We hiked the Cefn Bryn, walked the beach from Rhossili to Llangennith, and explored Oxwich to Three Cliffs Bay. Loved it!

  • Beautiful! Here in France the trail system is similar. When you’re not actually in a national park (and even within one) you can find yourself winding through someone’s property or through grazing sheep, cows etc. It’s a lot of fun.

    • miss minimalist

      Simple in France, I’m thrilled to hear there’s a similar system in France. I’d love to explore some of the French countryside this summer…

  • Wow, this is amazing and beautiful. What a wonderful system they have. Cornwall looks idyllic. Thank you for sharing this, the pictures are magnificent.


    ps ~ yesterday I threw down the gauntlet and gave up shopping for one full year!

    • miss minimalist

      janet, how wonderful to give up shopping for a full year! You go, girl! I look forward to following your progress on your blog. :-)

  • Aurora

    As a country girl myself, I miss the space now that I’m in a city. I may be moving out to the burbs soon- one selling point is how close the place is to local nature parks.

  • Julia

    I’m a city girl now and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else but the British countryside is amazing and I love going out of the city regularly, especially to the sea. Cornwall is lovely – and make sure you get to the Lake District and some of the wilder parts of Scotland. I’m a big fan of sheep, and my most wonderful annual experience is going to a farm in Cheshire where you can ACTUALLY CUDDLE NEWBORN LAMBS!!! How good is that – the lambs really enjoy it, but not as much as I do.

    • miss minimalist

      Julia, I would *love* to hold a newborn lamb! That’s definitely on the agenda for next year’s lambing season. :-) We hope to get to the Lake District soon, and Scotland is in our plans for this summer.

  • I guess it’s something to do with having grown up in the English countryside, but I find it exceedingly ugly. I look at sheep and fields and the like every day and I detest it to the point that I’ve come to have quite an affection for multi-storey car parks. There’s nothing about the countryside I like or enjoy.

    I didn’t realise that our right-of-way system was something you didn’t have in America, though (not that I make much use of it). Walk magazine by the Ramblers will tell you some good walks around the country or in whatever area you’re in.

    • miss minimalist

      Fern, I think the right-of-way system is one of England’s national treasures — I *wish* America had something like that. Thanks for the recommendation for Walk magazine!

  • nicole 86

    Well, I enjoyed walking in the countryside when I was married, but now I would be afraid to be on my own if something happened (I should buy a phone!). On the contrary I still walk quite a lot to discover cities, architecture, shops, gardens, people …
    the English countryside is awesome, Enjoy !

    • miss minimalist

      Hi nicole 86! Do you have walking clubs in France? They seem to be quite popular here. It may be a good alternative to venturing out on your own. :-)

  • I like sheep, but am very wary of cows having almost been trampled by them while walking my dog in the idyllic English countryside.
    If you scroll down on my tumblr you’ll see a photo of a sheep pig – very cute!

    • miss minimalist

      Wow, Muji, I’ll be careful around the cows. They seem so docile, and have barely ever noticed or acknowledged our presence. Are they frightened of dogs?

      • CJ

        It’s mainly dog walkers that get attacked (I believe there are actually a few deaths every year from this). It’s very dangerous to have a dog off a lead near cattle, particularly those with young. However my husband and I had a very scary and narrow escape from a herd of bullocks (young male cattle) near Hay on Wye a few years ago. The footpath went through their field and I got the impression that they hadn’t been away from their mothers and in that field together for long and so were rather frisky and aggressive and stressed. Natural, maybe, but it struck me as very irresponsible to have them in a field with a footpath through. They charged towards us and we literally had to scramble for our lives over a barbed wire fence. Only a few weeks ago we had to take a long detour from a mapped walk as the main footpath went through a field occupied by the most enormous bull with huge horns. We are now incredible reluctant to walk through a field containing any cattle, which saddens me as I grew up doing this happily all my life. Over cautious, maybe, but I don’t want a repeat scare- or worse!

  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by miss minimalist. miss minimalist said: My new favorite minimalist activities: walking England and watching sheep […]

  • I’m a former city girl now living in the country-and I want to stay here. I see the sheep and lambs (ours!!!) out my back windows.

  • Sigh–reminds me of my five weeks’ of rambling through England back in 1980, with no baggage other than a small backpack. It remains vivid in my memory, the footpaths, the sheep and cows, the meadows, the woods, the little pubs with ploughman’s lunches and pints of bitter, the bed-and-breakfasts. Can’t wait to get to Cornwall & Devon someday–my husband was born in Ilfracombe.

    • miss minimalist

      Mara, that sounds like a fabulous trip! I think it’d be great to spend a few weeks (or months!) walking and camping in the countryside. Hope you get to Cornwall & Devon soon — you’ll love it. Our trip took us near (but not quite to) Ilfracombe; we headed west through Barnstaple.

  • So glad you’re enjoying the UK, and our ‘chocolate box’ countryside! If you’re here long enough, try to visit the west coast of Scotland – it’s totally different from most of England, and on a quite different scale (though still pretty miniaturised, compared with wild places in the US!)

    Welcome, I hope you stay ages and come back lots ;)

  • Kim

    We have a small piece of property that is patrolled and “mowed” by 6 Shetland ewes. I love to look out and see them peacefully eating, lounging, or snoozing. It just says, “contentment.”

    • miss minimalist

      Hi Kim! If we ever have some land, I’m going to use the “lawnmower” argument to convince my husband to get sheep! :-)

  • lovely passtime. theres just something about sheep…

  • […] in New York City or San Francisco, and we’ve even been to cool places like Hawaii and Mexico and England. But we don’t feel obligated to travel. And that is perhaps the […]

  • Meg

    I just discovered this blog, and am quite enjoying exploring the archives!

    I have to tell you that I LOVED this post! There is a great joy in simplying watching animals going about their days. I remember years ago at a zoo with a (now ex) boyfriend, spending nearly half an hour watching tortises.

    That was before I really got into yoga or minimalism, but there was just something about the joyful simplicity that really stuck with me. We had a great relationship, including a number of vacations, but to this day the memory of holding hands and watching the tortises in comfortable silence is still one of my favorites when I look back on that part of my life.

  • WOW!! I have to agree with Meg above me (although it’s been nearly a year after she posted her comment) that I am very very much enjoying this blog. I am somewhat new to the minimalist lifestyle. I use to be quite the hoarder of clothes, jewelry, shoes, handbags, and other materialistic things (I am such a girly-girl). But over the past year I have cleaned out probably 3/4 of my closet and am about to redo my bedroom to a minimalist style tomorrow!!! I plan to paint my walls white and get rid of most all the knick-knacks and overbearing furniture. I cannot tell you how excited I am to venture into this intriguing new way of life. I am a Buddhist and one of our main values is to detach oneself from cluttering and inhibiting objects and to live in simplicity. I 100% agree that tons of “stuff” can only do harm to the psyche. It will take me a while to become as minimalistic as you as I have a LOT of stuff and tend to hold waaaay too much sentimental value to completely unnecessary and often quality-less items. But I will come back to your blog frequently for inspiration and motivation. Just browsing through your posts is rejuvenating and therapeutic. I am extremely thankful to have found your marvelous site :)

    P.S. This post in particular about watching sheep is incredibly beautiful. I am ridiculously jealous of your nomadic life and especially of the fact that you lived in England. That is my all-time biggest dream. I yearn to get out of the states (I live in California, home to the most commercialized, fast-paced, materialistic people in the world) and to jet off to the English rolling hills and never come back. And reading about your endeavors on wondering the fenceless countryside and seeing your breathtaking photos of the seaside has multiplied my need to live in the UK by a million. How I wish to live in such an area that sheep and cows roam freely and the grass is actually a bright emerald green and there are places to take long walks that aren’t surrounded by industrialization!! That would absolutely complete my life. Thank you again for having such a phenomenal blog :)

  • Tina

    I live in the close-in suburbs of Chicago. There are a lot of deer around here because there is a lot of land set aside as forest preserves. You can also do some bird watching, watch ducklings on parade and watch frogs and turtles sun themselves. Almost every small town has a history museum to visit, too.

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