Farming for nature in Yorkshire

Neil Heseltine with his Belted Galloways

Nature is very important to Neil and Leigh Heseltine. The couple are the fourth generation at Hill Top Farm, on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

There are two Sites of Special Scientific Interest on their land. They’ve embraced sustainable ways of farming to protect and enhance the whole landscape.

For example, in 2003 they re-introduced Belted Galloway cattle as part of a conservation grazing scheme. This helps support the upland ecosystem by keeping down scrub and making space for native species to thrive, including moor grass and wild thyme.

Good for the wildlife, good for the beef

‘This was our way to help the area’s biodiversity,’ says Neil. ‘Plus, it means that the cattle lead a high quality of life. The great taste of the beef is really just a by-product of that.’

Neil and Leigh have also restored a traditional hay meadow. Barn owls have recently returned to the farm.