• Farming with nature

    Farming with nature #4 – Dalefoot Farm

    Snaking across a gorse-studded common where skylarks play chicken with the sparse traffic, a lane leads towards Dalefoot Farm. On the face of it, Dalefoot looks much like the other farms that are dotted along this side of the Lowther Valley. Machinery is scattered haphazardly around a group of fell ponies munching on last summer’s hay. House martin nests decorate…

  • Farming with nature

    Farming with Nature #3 – Wild Ennerdale

    There is an incredible diversity of approaches to farming in Cumbria. Ennerdale, in the far western fells, is perhaps where its definition is stretched almost to its limit, but livestock and farming play a more important role in the valley than perhaps many people realise. Home to one of England’s largest and longest running rewilding projects, Ennerdale is looked after…

  • Love & Soil

    Beautiful, broken or both?

    The British uplands are an enigma. They cover 40% of the UK land surface, and with their dramatic scenery and sparse population, to many they are the closest thing we have to wilderness. Huge chunks of them are designated as National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, beloved and visited by millions every year seeking refuge from the clamour…

  • Farming with nature

    Farming with Nature #2 – Gowbarrow Hall

    There’s a revolution happening on the tranquil shores of Ullswater. Across the lake from Hallin Fell, a broad, tree-fringed valley reaches back towards the Mell Fells. Closest to the water, the fields are neat and green, squared by hedges and dotted with proud veteran oaks. Higher up, the land is rougher and wetter, with alder trees tracing a network of…

  • Farming with nature

    Farming with Nature #1 – RSPB Haweswater

    It perhaps won’t come as a surprise that I’m going to kick this series off at Haweswater. As senior site manager, I’ve been overseeing the RSPB’s work here for the past eight years. Haweswater isn’t a typical farm, and it’s not a typical nature reserve either. It is, however, a case study that highlights some of the many challenges, controversies…

  • Farming with nature

    Farming with Nature – Series Introduction

    Farming in the dramatic landscape of the Lake District goes back a long way. Neolithic people were the pioneers, making space to rear crops and fatten their primitive livestock in clearings they’d hacked out of wild woods that clothed the fells. Celts, Romans, Vikings and Normans arrived, each bringing new ideas, incrementally increasing the productivity of the countryside they relied…