Crowds flock to Castle Hill at Filleigh for first day of three day national trials plus Devon Country Fayre — running until Sunday.

DOGS, spectators and sheep turned out in force today (Friday) for the first day of the English National Sheepdog Trials and Devon Country Fayre at Castle Hill, Filleigh.

Despite the blistering heat, there was a good turn out and crowds gathered at the estate of Lord and Lady Arran to watch the competitors and their dogs compete.

The dual event has returned to castle Hill for a second time, after being held there in 2009 and once again the fayre will be raising money for North Devon Hospice and is sponsored by Mole Valley Farmers.

It all continues tomorrow (Saturday) and Sunday, with tickets still available at the main gate.

* Click on our videos here to watch some of today’s trialling action and a sneak Sheep Show preview!

The refreshment tents and caterers did a roaring trade today in ice creams and drinks, as people strolled the food and craft marquees, together with the many charity and trade stands.

Duck herding show Meirion Owen and the Quack Pack proved popular.Duck herding show Meirion Owen and the Quack Pack proved popular.

Also drawing a crowd were the arena displays including Meirion Owen’s highly entertaining sheep dog and duck displays, the antics of terrier racing with ‘Cyril the Squirrel’ plus falconry, Dartmoor ponies, gun dog and agility demonstration.

The hilarious Sheep Show with New Zealander Richard Savory also drew plenty of onlookers.

Mortehoe shepherd David Kennard, one of the main organisers for the International Sheep Dog Society, said Castle Hill had looked resplendent on the first day.

“We have had a fantastic day, it’s been glorious and the trialling has been brilliant too,” he said.

Heather Cox with fresh North Devon strawberries from Lower Twitchen Farm at Hunshaw.Heather Cox with fresh North Devon strawberries from Lower Twitchen Farm at Hunshaw.

“Some of the northern visitors have done well, but some of our West Country competitors have put in very good runs too. We had a beautiful cold wind blowing across the course today and it’s set to continue.”

A total of 50 competitors will be running their dogs on the trials course each day, but the collies are able to take a cool dip before and after competition, with water for them to drink whenever needed. A close eye will be kept on the welfare of the sheep and other animals too.

Market Vets from South Molton, which is also sponsoring the trials, will be on hand too.

For more information about the event visit

* SEE more pictures by clicking on the gallery links to the top right of this story.