are the native breed of the central and western Lake District and
live on the highest of England’s mountains. They are
hardy and are managed in the traditional way on the Lake District
fells that have been their home for generations.
“Herdwyck”, meaning sheep pasture, is recorded in
back to the 12th century. Herdwick sheep are the most hardy of all
Britain’s breeds of hill sheep, grazing the central and
dales of the Lake District with fells running to over three thousand
typically less than 100 acres of lower, more productive land and rely
on the common grazings of the high Lake District fells. The lambs
graze with their mothers on the “heaf” belonging to
instilling a life long knowledge of where on the fell they should be
grazing. This is crucial as the central Lake District fells are
inaccessible and a sheep which strays from Borrowdale to Eskdale will
involve a 100 mile round trip by road for the farmer to collect it.
and ability to graze over a wide area of fell is key to the
maintenance of the Lake District landscape as we know it. By
purchasing Herdwick products you are giving the farmers that manage
this candidate World Heritage Site a sustainable future.
Nature Sheep and Wildlife Enhancement Scheme
up the discussion at the Threlkeld meeting of the Hill Sheep
Initiative, members of the
Committee met with the Cumbria Director of English Nature
and one of his senior staff around the middle of August (2008).
People will be aware that the Central Fells (where there are many
heafed Herdwick flocks) are being designated as a Special Area of
Conservation and as such are becoming subject to attempts to further
reduce grazing intensity. In what was a lively meeting, there was a
wide-ranging debate especially about the problems that might be
caused to the balance of the heafing system if sheep flocks were
further weakened in some areas. We put the view that we remained
concerned about the numbers of our breed and hoped that some aspects
of these schemes might be rethought in order to actually stress the
importance of traditional fell sheep flock management as an important
thing in its own right – something which indeed forms an
part of the attempt by the Lake District National Park to become a
World Heritage Site. In the documentation for this “cultural
landscape” status there is a strong emphasis on the heritage
hundreds of years of continuous grazing by Herdwick sheep.
for us, of course, is how we are going to keep it that way.
To learn more about Herdwick