Britain’s loneliest sheep has a new home at a ‘five-star’ animal sanctuary, despite attempts by animal rights activists to prevent her arrival.
The ewe, named Fiona, was sneaked into the Dalscone Family Farm in Dumfries past placard-carrying protesters by owner Ben Best overnight.
This morning, Mr Best proudly broadcast footage of the sheep who is believed to be three-year-old happily eating hay in her own pen inside a barn and surrounded by curious stable-mates.
Speaking in a Facebook Live at about 9am this morning Farmer Ben said: ‘Fiona is here. We had to sneak her into the farm yesterday to get past the protesters.
‘But as you can see, she is quite happy. She is in her own pen. She is safe and dry and completely chilled out.’
Fiona was happily eating hay in her own pen inside a barn and surrounded by curious stable-mates today
Fiona, Britain’s loneliest sheep, has a new home at a ‘five-star’ animal sanctuary, despite attempts by animal rights activists to prevent her arrival
Fiona was sneaked into the Dalscone Family Farm in Dumfries past placard-carrying protesters by owner ‘Farmer Ben Best’ over-night
Fiona is seen eating hay at the Dalscone Family Farm in Dumfries today
Farmer Ben Best maintains that Fiona will have five months to ‘settle in’ and ‘make friends’ before Dalscone Family Farm opens up again to the public in the summer. Pictured are sheep at the farm
Speaking in a Facebook Live at about 9am this morning Farmer Ben said: ‘Fiona is here. We had to sneak her into the farm yesterday to get past the protesters. ‘But as you can see, she is quite happy. She is in her own pen. She is safe and dry and completely chilled out’
Yesterday Mr Ben had announced that plans to house Fiona at the attraction had been put on hold following threats from protesters who did not want the ewe to be an exhibit at a ‘petting farm’.
Drones were flown over the farm in south-west Scotland and protesters turned up at his family home waving placards, he claimed.
But the farmer maintains that Fiona will have five months to ‘settle in’ and ‘make friends’ before Dalscone Family Farm opens up again to the public in the summer.
The sheep was rescued from an isolated island in the Cromarty Firth, north of Inverness, where she is believed to have been stranded for two years, after falling down a steep cliff.
She had sheltered from the North Sea storms in a cave and her fleece had grown out of control.
But she was rescued over the weekend by a bunch of young Scottish farmers who clambered down the cliff and used 200m of rope and a feed bad to fashion a makeshift sling to carry the sheep to safety.
Farmer Ben added: ‘Fiona has arrived at her new forever home. And I’m pleased to announce she is doing absolutely phenomenal.
‘She has been eating well, she’s been drinking well, she’s been doing amazing.’
Britain’s loneliest sheep (pictured at the farm after the rescue) rescued by a group of five volunteers after she spending two years trapped on a rocky beach
Fiona (pictured after being sheared), was sheared by the group of farmers that saved her
The group of five farmers, led by sheep shearer Cammy Wilson (pictured far left) who rescued Fiona from the rocky beach
Fiona was first spotted by kayaker Jillian Turner back in 2021, who returned to the same place this year to find the ewe still there.
She said she was astonished that Fiona had ‘made it through all weathers’ and seemed ‘desperate to make contact with us’ when she passed. Her fleece had grown so long that it could hardly stand up.
Fiona’s rescue was led by Ayrshire farmer Cammy Wilson who was moved by pictures of the sheep standing forlornly beside the sea.
Ms Turner, of Brora, Sutherland, said last week that she assumed the sheep would manage to make its way up the rocky cliff.
But when she returned to the remote area last month she was horrified to see Fiona was still trapped and, after taking pictures to highlight its plight, she appealed for help.
Mr Wilson and his team – Graeme Parker, James Parker, Als Couzens and Ally Williamson – responded and despite the perilous terrain they were determined to free the sheep.
Fiona spent the last two years stuck off the north east coast of Scotland
Two of the rescuers Cammy Wilson (left) and Als Couzens are pictured with Fiona
The group used a winch mounted on a truck parked at the top of the cliff, 200m of rope and a feed bag fashioned into a makeshift sling to carry the sheep to safety
During the operation, two of the men stayed at the top to operate the winch while three others were lowered 250m down the steep descent where they found Fiona in a cave.
They then secured Fiona into a large feed sack that had been fashioned into an improvised sling and guided her up the cliff in a highly dangerous ascent.
Once they reached the top, Fiona was placed into a farm pick-up truck and driven to safety, apparently with her health none the worse.
The rescue party decided to name the sheep after a character from the animated film Shrek who marries a princess called Fiona.
Mr Wilson explained: ‘There was a sheep called Shrek in Australia that was living in caves for years so this is the Scottish version.’
How Fiona came to be on the beach is a mystery, as local farmers do not own any sheep of the same breed.
One farmer was able to provide vital drone footage of the cliffs to allow the men to plot their rescue.
Fiona also played her part in the rescue. Mr Wilson explained: ‘She was so chill, it was unbelievable.
‘I was amazed by how relaxed this sheep was; no panting or panic. It was almost as though she thought “Get me out of here.” It’s rare a sheep acts like that.’
He described the most nerve-wracking part as a 15m near-vertical section where they worried the bag carrying Fiona would tear.
Fiona was first discovered in 2021 by kayaker Jillian Turner, who returned to the spot near Balinore this year to find the animal still there, with her fleece overgrown
The rescue party decided to name the sheep after a character from the animated film Shrek who marries a princess called Fiona
Mr Wilson said: ‘If we lost the bag we were in a spot. We’d have been there most of the day trying to get another one or another plan. Thankfully it held and we got her past the worst bit. Then it was a steady climb while being careful.
‘In hindsight, luck was the key factor of the day. It was great to come out with no mistakes and the sheep being happy and healthy… because the stress could have killed her. Thankfully she was totally relaxed.’
The team had contacted the Scottish SPCA to monitor the rescue and check the sheep’s condition.
Fiona has now been transported to her new home some 270 miles south at Dalscone Farm animal park in Dumfries.