Merino, Charollais, Cheviot, Hebridean, Manchega – all these are breeds of sheep which you may have heard of, but have you heard of the Herdwick? They’re our native sheep here in the Lake District. They’re a really hardy variety, capable of surviving on the highest hills and mountains of England, eating heather and grass, which is why you’ll see them when you visit the Lake District.
Farmed in traditional ways by generations of local farmers, you can trace Herdwick sheep back to the 12th Century, when they get a mention in the documents of the time, grazing 3000 feet up in the dales.
These days, farmers looking after Herdwicks tend to keep their flocks on the lower levels for easier access, rather than climbing thousands of feet into the hills. They can also keep a better eye on their livestock and what they’re eating if they’re closer to home. The farmers don’t worry too much if they can’t see their flock, as Herdwicks appear to have a keen instinct, knowing exactly which land is theirs to graze upon. Especially important since much of the Lake District isn’t accessible by conventional farm vehicles, and a farmer could end up making quite a journey to collect his lost sheep.
Herdwicks produce delicious lamb, hogget (Sheep 1 – 2 years old) and mutton (2 or more years old), and TV chef Hugh Fernley Whittingstall said that it was among the finest he’d ever tasted. If you’d like to see what impressed Hugh so much, visit us at Borrowdale Gates. We’re delighted to be able to serve this local delicacy to our guests.