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Herdwick Sheep and the English Lake District


'A remarkable breed history'

Short-listed for the 2010 Lakeland Book of the Year award.

About this book:

  • ISBN: 9781904524663 (hardback)

  • Published 2009

  • Price £18.00 + postage

  • 180 pages

  • Illustrated with 46 colour and black and white photographs.

  • 9781904524656 – Paperback version now out of print.




Geoff Brown's intimate knowledge and long experience of the Lake District, combined with his compelling narrative style, has resulted in a work that is much more than a breed monograph, and will set a benchmark for future breed historians. He is immersed in the history and heritage of both the Lake District and its iconic local sheep, the Herdwick. His knowledge of moorland sheep in their geographical, economic and political context, has enabled him to weave a remarkable breed history into the tapestry of a distinctive cultural landscape, and to define the people who have maintained a vibrant working community in the Herdwick's country.
Lawrence Alderson, founder of Rare Breeds International and Rare Breeds Survival Trust

How could anyone write a whole book about one type of sheep? Geoff Brown, ex Secretary of the Herdwick Sheep Breeders' Association has written what must be the most comprehensive and well referenced guide to Herdwick sheep ever written. The book covers the origins and development of Herdwicks and their management, a breed possibly introduced by the Vikings, and probably the hardiest type of fell sheep in the country. About much more than just a sheep, the book explains how the Herdwick has been central to the creation of the Lake District National Park, its role in the cultural heritage of the area, and its contribution to the Lakeland landscape all love and know today. It also examines the recent challenges and what the future may hold for Herdwicks. Not just for farmers, this is for anyone with an interest in the Lake District and its development over time. Its only omission is a glossary to help non-farmers understand such delightful words as wethers, hoggs, shearlings and twinters.Review by Jan Darrall, Friends of the Lake District magazine, 2010.

About this Book:
Herdwicks are the native sheep of the Lake District, England's only mountain area. Herdwick sheep are central to the outstanding cultural landscape and heritage of the area with about one hundred farms in the western and central Lake District still keeping Herdwick sheep on the fells.
This book traces the origin and development of the breed and reveals the fell farming year through numerous historical and current examples. It describes the arrangements for managing sheep on the fells, (many of which are common land) and the famous heafing behaviour of Herdwick sheep is examined in detail as are the roles of sheep dogs, sheepfolds, sheep identification marks, Shepherd's Guides and shepherds' meets.
The work of the many Herdwick families is documented as is the role of Mrs Heelis (as Beatrix Potter was known locally) putting both her contribution to the Herdwick sheep breeding community and also her legacy to the Lake District into perspective.
This book also looks at more recent challenges to Herdwick sheep keeping such as the Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak in Cumbria in 2001; reductions to stocking levels as a result of environmental schemes; and the reform of hill farming policy. It concludes by suggesting some ways forward to sustain a key part of the Lake District's cultural landscape.

The Author:
Geoff Brown has been interested in Herdwick sheep-keeping and fell farming in the Lake District since the 1960s. He was Secretary of the Herdwick Sheep Breeders' Association between 1990 and 2008 and from the early 1980s until recently, kept a flock of Herdwick sheep in the English Lake District. He was joint compiler of the Lakeland Shepherd's Guide of 1985.
An historian by training he worked for the WEA in Lancashire and for the University of Nottingham in adult education. He has also worked for Voluntary Action Cumbria, Groundwork in West Cumbria and the Cumbria Training and Enterprise Council.
He managed the Cumbria Fells and Dales LEADER II and LEADER + rural development programmes from 1996 to 2008. He is now Rural Programme Manager with the Carnegie UK Trust where he specialises in farming and land management issues.






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