We have been having our very own Winterwatch this week at Littonfields Barn. On the daily walk through the fields we have been on the lookout for one of our favourite animals – the wonderful Derbyshire Brown Hare.

They have a very distinctive appearance with their lean athletic physique, tall black tipped ears and narrow solemn face. Their long powerful back legs give them a fantastic turn of speed, reputedly up to 45 mph. They need all these attributes along with their acute senses to evade predators and survive their harsh life in the Derbyshire Peak District.

Brown hares live a very exposed existence, as unlike rabbits, they don’t have the luxury accommodation of a safe cosy burrow, but instead make their home out in the elements in a small depression in the ground amongst the grass – which is known as a form. They spend most of the day on the form “hunkered down” very close to the ground with their ears flat along their backs. I have often walked right past one without seeing it camouflaged in the grass, until at the very last minute when they break cover and take flight across the field, usually with Barney the terrier in hot pursuit.

If you take a walk through Cressbook Dale during the breeding season, you may well see the hares behaving ‘Mad as a March Hare’ with males fighting over the female, and ‘boxing hares’ as the females trying to keep the over-amorous males in check!

At this time of year when there is frost or even snow on the ground, I often think of the hares, with little shelter from the elements, much of their food covered by snow and hungry foxes on the prowl. I am sure the hares, like us, are looking forward to the warmer weather when spring breaks through and summer is just around the corner.

Silent Witness from Helen Clark Artist – helenclarkart.com – a lovely collaboration between a photographer and an artist who share the same passion for wildlife, animals and the natural world. They’ve combined their talents, ‘Muddy Wellies and the Artist’ to create affordable artworks and gifts with a Derbyshire, and further afield, feel.

Come and enjoy the delights of a wander in Cressbrook Dale and the Derbyshire Brown hare with a stay in the holiday barn, view our Availability.

The Derbyshire Hare