A flock of sheep are making themselves at home on the Lancashire skyline.
The roof of The Flower Bowl Entertainment Centre off the A6 at Brock, north of Preston, is now home to six Dutch Spotted Sheep from Myerscough College that have been introduced to the centre's specially-created grass roof.
The complex, situated next to Barton Grange Garden Centre, was one of the key visions of owners The Barton Grange Group - owned and run by the Topping family since 1950 - when the project was in development.
The grass roof was created with 700 tonnes of top soil and grass and the sheep even have their very own staircase to come up and down as they please.
Managing Director of the Flower Bowl Entertainment Centre and The Barton Grange Group, Guy Topping, said: "We included this rolling grass roof feature in the original build so that the complex would be in keeping with the local countryside surroundings – and this wouldn’t be complete without sheep.
"This has been part of our plan right from the start, so the roof itself is fully secure.
"However, the logistics of making the roof ‘sheep-safe’ was a very complex engineering task, and in the end, very expensive.
"Putting a five-foot high fence around the perimeter of a roof sounds quite simple.
"But of course you can’t just bang some fence posts into the soil.
"The steel posts had to be attached to the main structural steel and this had to be brought through the entire roof build-up. This coupled with the undulations on our roof made for quite an operation."
He added: “We’ve fitted fire escape-style stairs for the sheep. Of course, they’re used to roaming along cliff-tops and up steep mountains, so this was not a challenge for them.”
The entertainment centre has also teamed up with Myerscough College this summer with the college hosting the English National Sheepdog Trails from August 8 to 11.
Guy said: "We’ve been waiting for the grass to mature before setting the sheep to graze, so it seemed fitting to collaborate with Myerscough College by placing the sheep on the roof now, and helping them to advertise the trials in the run up to this event."
He added: "As a family-run business, it is essential to us that we support other local businesses and education. This is one close to our hearts, as quite a few of our garden centre staff members have studied horticulture at Myerscough college."
Peter Mitchell, Myerscough College’s Head Shepherd, said: "The roof of the centre will accommodate the animals without any problems. The shape of the roof is perfect to offer protection from the wind, and there is water and shade up there too.
"They’re perfectly safe up there, and there is adequate fencing to hold them.
"It’s a pretty unique environment, and Dutch Spotted Sheep look a bit different too. Actually, sheep are well-suited to roofs.
"It’s just like being on a mountain or hillside, and there’ll be outside where they prefer to be so they should love it. They’ll also keep the grass short, and we’ll go and see them every day to make sure they are alright."
Lecturer Nicola Eminson-Smith said: "You can see the sheep on the roof from all directions. Students have been learning about everything to do with the preparation of the sheep, and looking after them while they’re up on the roof."