Holidaymaker climbs over jagged rocks in Woolacombe to save stranded sheep

This is the moment a stranded sheep was carried to safety over jagged rocks in North Devon. Credit: SWNS

A holidaymaker from Worcestershire has described saving a sheep stranded on dangerous rocks in North Devon as a "calculated risk" and says "it was nice to potentially save a life".

Gallery owner Chris Oxlade-Arnott and his artist wife Jilly from Pershore were on a camper van break in Woolacombe on Monday 7 August when they noticed the animal in a perilous position.

Chris said: "My wife was taking photographs of the coastline and the sea when we spotted a white blob on the rocks and went to have a closer look."

The couple spotted what looked like a white blob on their camera screen and took a closer look. Credit: SWNS

There was no one around to help so the pair decided to rescue her themselves. Chris said: "We thought we'd give it a go. Otherwise we would have thought about what happened to the sheep for days afterwards."

Jilly stayed on top of the cliff in case she needed to call for help. Chris said: "What you can’t see from the photographs is actually there’s quite a cliff before you get to the rocks at the bottom so I scrambled down those and my wife directed me to where the sheep was because it was behind quite a lot of rocks."

He had to work out the route back and it was getting more dangerous by the minute. "The sea was coming in, it was lashing quite hard against the rocks."

Chris's wife was able to guide him to the lost sheep from the clifftop. Credit: SWNS

There was always a possibility that the stricken sheep would not be willing to be saved. Chris said: "I approached her and she looked partially happy to see me and partially scared... I hoisted her over my shoulder, which took a little while. A great big soggy sheep who’d pretty much gone into safe mode really. Fortunately she wasn’t kicking around.

"I think she was so exhausted that she had kind of resigned herself to whatever the end result was.

"Then, very gingerly, I chose my route and walked back. It was going between the rocks, jumping over a few gullies - which was quite difficult with the sheep on your back.

"It was quite slippy. I managed to get to the side, to the bottom of the cliff and then had quite a lot of effort trying to climb the cliff with one arm holding onto the sheep. It took about 35, 40 minutes or so.

It is thought the sheep weighed around 50 kg - that is around two large suitcases. Credit: SWNS

"I got to the top and got onto the grass. I put her down on her legs, rubbed her a bit and she got up, went and joined her friends and started eating straight away. She was obviously very hungry.

"Once we’d established that she was fine with her friends, we carried on our walk for the day."

Chris says he did not put himself in danger to rescue the lost sheep.

"It was all a calculated risk," he said. "It was assessing the terrain, assessing my abilities, how I could do it.

"If I thought it would end in catastrophe then I wouldn’t have started.

"I thought I could give this a good go. People have commented that it’s reckless. I guess it’s not particularly reckless because it was a calculated risk.

"Some of the comments coming back have been, 'It was just a sheep. Why were you doing that just for a sheep?' It’s not, it’s a living being and it was nice to potentially save a life."

The sheep appeared no worse for her ordeal - apart from being very hungry. Credit: SWNS

At the time, Chris got a round of applause from a group of walkers who had seen the events evolve. His achievement has since been celebrated in newspapers and on social media across the world but he's very modest about it.

"It’s just a thing that you had to do so we did it. It’s very rare that people have the opportunity to show a bit of courage, I suppose, so it’s nice when you do and I think at the moment people are looking for a nice story - something that cheers them up that’s a bit different from perhaps the daily gloom and doom."