Tip, the brave little collie, and her 15 week vigil, on bleak Howden Moor

Lockerbrook Farm and the memorial to Tip the loyal collie on Howden Moor

Here is the story of Tip the dog, who stayed for 104 days with the frozen corpse of her master on the hills above the Derwent Dams. Joseph Tagg, the shepherd who got caught out on the moors, used to stay occasionally in a lean-to at the end of the old barn on Lockerbrook Farm. The barn was demolished in the 1970s, but last month one of Lockerbrook’s volunteers rescued a little stone drinking trough and returned it to Lockerbrook to mark the 65th anniversary of the discovery Tip alive and by her masters side. If you bring a group to stay at Lockerbrook Outdoor Centre you can visit Tips grave and sleep in a room named after the loyal collie.

Last month Terry Howard , a volunteer at Lockerbrook Farm Outdoor Centre,  commemorated the loyal Tip, by restoring a little stone drinking trough to its original location at Lockerbrook Farm, where Joseph Tagg and his dog Tip, had occasionally taken shelter.  The old Barn and lean-to have been rebuilt, but the remote location and wild hillsides remain as they were in Joe and Tip’s day, over 60 years ago.

tip the loyal collie on Howden and commemorative trough
Tip the loyal collie and Terry Howard with the commemorative trough at Lockerbrook Farm

Joe Tagg was 85 years old at the time of this story, an active character, well known to the hill farming community as a shepherd and a breeder of sheepdogs. He knew the surrounding moors like the back of his hand.  The story begins when Joe and Tip set off out for a walk from their home near Bamford over the bleak Howden Moorland, perhaps aiming for Joe’s birthplace on Ronksley Hall Farm.  The snow started falling heavily and the following weeks produced some of the worst conditions for decades.  Joe regularly walked miles with Tip at his side and would sometimes stay with sheep farmers over the tops, so the alarm was not raised for a couple of days.  Immediately a full scale search was launched. Locals, police and air rescue found no trace of the two and the foul weather continued.

memorial to Tip the brave Collie

Fifteen weeks later Sam Bingham was tending sheep high on Ronksley Moor when he stumbled across the frozen corpse of Joseph Tagg, lying in a hollow. Beside him was a shaggy bundle,  feebly wagging its tail.  This ‘matted coat’ was old Joe’s border collie, Tip.  Tip, even in her dazed and emaciated state, was reluctant to leave Joe’s side and Sam had to scoop her up and carry her back down to the valley where she was nursed back to health and lauded as a heroine.  She must have scavenged on the carcasses of hares and grouse to keep herself alive whilst loyally staying with Joe’s body.  Tip was  awarded a medal by the National Canine Defence League and a commemorative stone, paid for by public subscription at the 1954 Bamford Sheep Dog Trials was erected by the site of Tip’s epic vigil. The brave little collie was later buried close by.

Lockerbrooks Farm close to the bleak Howden Moor where Tip stayed with her master

If you bring a group to stay at Lockerbrook Outdoor Centre, you will sleep surrounded by the wild hillsides little changed since Joe and Tip’s time.  A day’s activity can be a walk to the grave and memorial. Perhaps you will get to sleep in the room named after Tip.