Mystery of smiling sheep solved

The branded sheep at Goathland

The branded sheep at Goathland

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WAS it mis-placed crop circles or just a happy farmer? Passes-by were left baffled when a flock of sheep in Goathland were spotted in the snow sporting some rather fancy art work.

Reader, George Francis sent this snap to the Whitby Gazette after coming across 20 sheep branded in a field.

He said: “I thought it was quite funny. I’ve never seen anything like it before and wondered what was going on. Have we been visited by aliens or is it some joker looking to start a new trend like crop circles?”

But this week, the Alton Towers theme park admitted it was part of a marketing ploy to plug its new £18 million rollercoaster “Smiler” which is set to open in May.

It had recruited a group of farmers from across North Yorkshire and other parts of the country to brand their flock with a stencil of the Smiler logo.

The mysterious images were soon posted all over the internet and also made it into the national newspapers.

Katherine Duckworth from Alton Towers said: “We wanted to create some mystery around the name of our new world first rollercoaster, The Smiler. “We’ve managed to baffle the nation and hopefully made a few people smile. The Smiler will be our biggest and most thrilling attraction the Resort has ever seen and we can’t wait for guests to join us in May and experience it for themselves.”