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Countrystride #53: THE LOST HISTORY OF HILL FARMING

...in which we head to Borrowdale in Westmorland with author and dry-stone waller Terry McCormick to uncover the lost history of hill farming. As we explore one of Lakeland's quietest valleys, we take the long view of a turbulent history, starting with the David vs Goliath battle of the Kendal Tenant Rights Dispute 1619–1626 that established the pattern of resilient farmsteads still operating today; we consider why writers – from Wordsworth to Wainwright – have frequently misunderstood or ignored the lives of upland farmers; we ponder how a new golden age of farming literature – championed by James Rebanks – can co-exist with the closure of Newton Rigg; and we discover why Terry's new vocation as a waller ('Aim for beauty; settle for strength') at the age of 55 felt like coming home.




Borrowdale Head Farm.

Terry McCormick, his walling climbing the fell.
Terry and Dave at the start of our walk.
Borrowdale Farm.
Swaledales and lambs.
Looking east to the Howgills.
Packhorse Bridge.
Valley farmer Richard Mason catches up with Terry.
Brian's new section of walling.
Dave recording Swaledales.