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.
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.
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.
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.