The fell land we are gathering today doesn’t belong to us, it belongs to the National Trust. Other fells belong to other landowners, but we have an ancient legal right to graze a set number of sheep on it. Many of these mountainous areas of land were bought and given to the National Trust by wealthy benefactors like Beatrix Potter, who trusted them to protect the landscape and its unique way of life. The bequests often stressed that the fell flocks had to remain Herdwick sheep.
Of all the writers associated with the Lake District, Beatrix Potter (or Mrs Heelis, as she was known for her farming life here) is the one that I love the most. She had the utmost respect for the shepherds of the Lake District, and would have understood what took place between us in Jean’s kitchen, because she, too, negotiated with shepherds to buy flocks of sheep.Continue Reading