Flocking back to the Great Orme

Farmer standing with new ram on Great Orme headland

There are some new visitors flocking to the beautiful, breezy Great Orme near Llandudno – a tough team of nature-conservationist sheep.

Our new tenant farmer Dan Jones, who looks after Parc Farm on the famous limestone headland for National Trust Wales, is releasing sheep to help him manage the unique wildlife on this visitor landmark.

Sheep haven’t been seen on the headland for more than a decade, since Foot and Mouth disease. Stewarded by Dan and his team of five dogs the new flock - of 290 local Llyn sheep and 70 Lake District Herdwicks - will resume grazing on the rugged grassland to encourage rare plants and animals. And among them is Gavin, a one-horned ram, who’ll have a special part to play in ensuring their conservation work continues for generations to come.

The flock has been provided by charity Plantlife, which rates the Great Orme as an Important Plant Area of global significance and one of Britain’s top five botanical sites.

Dan took over the management of Parc Farm last autumn after we held a nationwide search. This limestone headland is home to rare species some of which are found nowhere else on earth and their future requires a more traditional way of farming, so we offered the farm tenancy for £1 - to attract an equally special farmer.

A new flock of sheep grazing on the Great Orme headland
A flock of sheep grazing on the Great Orme headland

Native to the Lake District, the Herdwick sheep, like their Snowdonian grazing companions, are known for being especially hardy, which makes them well suited to life on the exposed Great Orme. The breed was hit hard by foot-and-mouth disease in 2001 and nationwide efforts are now being made to boost their numbers.

Dan says: “It’s said you used to be able to walk over the hillside here in a morning without getting your feet drenched with dew, because the grass was grazed short - that’s not the case now! It’s hoped the return of sheep will return the landscape to its old character.”

And to the visitors who flock to the Great Orme beauty spot, we hope Gavin the ram might even become a celebrity in his own right. Judge for yourselves - check out our video here: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/news/gavin-the-one-horned-ram-makes-a-big-impression-on-great-orme-farm-

" This is a really exciting moment for the Great Orme. I can’t wait to see the sheep get to their work of grazing and make space for more wildflowers to thrive."
- Dr Trevor Dines, Botanical Specialist for Plantlife