A HERO braved the icy waters of Cumbria to save the life of a stranded sheep.

Vanessa Riley and her partner David Hughes, who own and run the Levens Village Shop, were taking a walk around Buttermere when they spotted the struggling Herdwick sheep from a nearby farm.

With the emergency services proving to be difficult to reach, David took it upon himself to dive - quite literally - into action.

Vanessa said: "We saw something bobbing around fairly close to the middle of the lake - we walked closer and there were a few people hanging around on the path looking out at it.

"It turns out it was a Herdwick that had been driven into the lake by a dog and we realised that the sheep needed rescuing sooner rather than later."

With the animal being swept slightly closer to dry land, the opportunity arose for David to take the plunge.

"He decided to strip off and swim out to it and bring it back to shore," Vanessa added.

"When he got it to shore, it was stunned and shocked and couldn't move and so I stayed with it for nearly an hour whilst Dave went to the farm at the end of the lake to tell them it needed help."

News and Star: David and Vanessa run the Levens Village Shop and had taken some time off to go on the walkDavid and Vanessa run the Levens Village Shop and had taken some time off to go on the walk (Image: Newsquest)

Whilst free from the water, the pressure to keep the sheep alive and comforted was still high.

"All the time I was with it, it was shaking and couldn't move so I put my coat around it and rested its head on my rucksack - it was clearly distressed," said Vanessa.

"We stayed for another 30 minutes whilst it came around a bit and then left in the hope that when ready, it would stabilise its legs, get up and go and find its friends.

"The farmer came as soon as he could. He said from experience it would have calmed down and left the shore and gone back to the fell."