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Braithwaite Court

Cumbria, England

The Herdwicks of Cumbria

Posted by Luci Ackers on Apr 13, 2015
The Herdwicks of Cumbria
The Herdwicks of Cumbria

The Herdwick is a rare-breed sheep native to Cumbria. The breed is kept for its stocky appearance and robust health more than the quality of its wool. It is thought that the farming of Herdwicks originated back in the 10th century when they were brought across by Norse settlers. And how they have flourished since then!

In the 1930s Beatrix Potter kept and bred these gentle animals and was even president of the breed association for a time, winning awards for her ewes. These hardy sheep are managed in the traditional way and live high on the Lake District fells. They help support the maintenance of Lake District landscape just as, in turn, this unique landscape is ideal for the sheep. It is estimated that of the 50,000 or so Herdwicks, 95% of them live within 14 miles Coniston, where the terrain is perfect for them.

More recently these sheep were brought into the limelight when a BBC news article reported on the exhibition taking place at the Rheged Centre in Penrith which featured the exquisite photography of Ian Lawson in 'Herdwick: A Portrait of Lakeland', which ran from 14th February to 19th April 2015. This was a free exhibition that charted a year in the life of the rare Lake District sheep breed in their incredible native setting, as well as the farmers that care for them. These amazing landscape photographs were captured by Ian Lawson, whose book of the same name also features the stunning pictures.

So popular is this breed becoming that they have also appeared on the BBC's Countryfile. An episode from the 12th April 2015 featured these animals and presenter Matt Baker met Ian Lawson himself to speak more about them and his stunning photographs, each of which captures the pure beauty of Lake District and the native sheep that have inhabited its landscape for centuries.

Discover Cumbria for yourself and find out how you can stay at our beautiful property by following the link below.

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Luci Ackers
Author: Luci Ackers

Luci loves getting out and about for a good cycle ride or easy-going walks in the countryside, and thoroughly enjoyed the time she previously spent working for the National Trust. Her love of writing started from a young age and on rainy days nothing beats curling up in a secret corner with a good book.


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