Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Woolly Heroes Save Day for Hill-Farming

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Woolly Heroes Save Day for Hill-Farming

Article excerpt

Byline: By Tony Henderson

Grazing livestock are as much part of the countryside scene as hills and fields, rivers and trees.

And the future is looking brighter for traditional breeds of cattle and sheep which many countryside visitors like to see.

Traditional cattle breeds like Aberdeen Angus, Galloways, Shorthorn, Blue Greys and Luing are being encouraged in the North-East through ventures such as Northumberland National Park's Drovers Project.

This builds on the centuries-old practice of cattle drovers who followed well-established tracks from Scotland through Northumberland to markets in England in a tradition which only ended with the coming of the railways.

In the Lake District, Herdwick sheep, with their munching, have been moulding the landscape for at least 800 years. The hardy grey sheep with their stocky legs are ideally suited to living in what is often a harsh fell environment.

But with the wool coming in two shades of grey, prices of fleeces fell to just 2p and farmers burned them in the fields. Then a spinning company, upset at the waste, worked on producing a Herdwick yarn which attracted the attention of Cumbrian-based Goodacre Carpets.

The company got together with the National Trust, which has 56 Lake District tenant farmers with Herdwicks.

The trust was anxious to ensure that Herdwick hill-farming stayed viable, for cultural as well as economic and landscape reasons.

The sheep are thought to have come to Cumbria with the Vikings and Lake District writer Beatrix Potter was an award-winning Herdwick breeder and judge.

She left 14 farms and some Herdwick sheep to the trust, which has licensed Goodacre to use the trust brand and logo on carpets produced in Cumbria with wool from more than 140 Cumbrian Herdwick farmers.

The company has launched its National Trust Herdwick carpet collection in three ranges ( Herdwick Tweed, Simply Herdwick and Naturally Herdwick in 24 different colours. …

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