Thorneythwaite Farm statement
Mike Innerdale, National Trust Assistant Director, North region
In August 2016, we successfully bought just over 300 acres of land at the head of the beautiful Borrowdale Valley in the Lake District. This landscape is internationally important for its oak woodland, with some truly remarkable veteran trees which support a rich mosaic of wildlife, including rare ferns, lichens, mosses and invertebrates. It is also a farmed landscape from rich hay meadows grazed by Herdwick sheep to the communally managed fells.
The purchase caused some controversy in the press because we bought the land and not the farmhouse at auction. Some people thought we might stop farming or indeed remove the sheep from the fells. We were never going to do that. Now, five months on, we have a local shepherd in place managing the flock of Herdwicks that continues to graze the land.
We have 54 upland fell farms in the Lakes and around 20,000 Herdwick sheep. We are committed to retaining the cultural landscape which has evolved over time, improving the area’s biodiversity and working with our local communities to maintain a viable living. However, like other upland areas in the UK we need to face into significant changes that are coming. Brexit means changes in farm subsidies; extreme weather means more risk of flooding. We need to work with partner organisations, local communities and farmers to explore the options that will allow us to maintain this landscape of worldwide significance.