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Countrystride #111: THE HERDWICK with Will Rawling which we head to misty Ennerdale in search of the Lake District's iconic sheep breed: the Herdwick. In the company of Will Rawling, Chairman of the Herdwick Sheep Breeders Association – whose family have farmed the far-western fells for 500 years – we take a whistle-stop tour through the breed's long history, from its likely Norse roots through the days of the great wool wealth of Abbeys to its integral place on the family farm. Pausing a moment to chat dialogue – 'herd-wyke', Grike and Sampson's Bratfull – Will describes the perfect Herdwick and offers a theory about its remarkable tone-changing fleece. Descending to Matty Benn's Bridge, we consider the three-way relationship between farm, common and sheep and ask what happens when it breaks down. Taking a wander down memory lane – recalling April evenings in lambing fields; grazed knees on cobbled yards; farm-talk in the pub – we ask what future there is for the breed, and for those who care for it, in a fast-changing world.

  • The Herdwick Sheep Breeders Association can be found at

  • Will is featured in Amy Bateman's Forty Farms, edited and published by Dave's Inspired by Lakeland imprint.

Matty Benn's Bridge, or Monk's Bridge - one-time packhorse bridge giving access to Kinniside Common.

Our guest for the day: Will Rawling, Chairman of the Herdwick Sheep Breeders Association.

Will's gimmer hoggs.

Calder Beck valley and Latterbarrow. Tree planting has taken place along the river-bottom.

Proving that we don't do interviews in the kitchen!

The old sheepwash fold.


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