All text and images © Friends of the Ullswater Way 2019
A series of three Herdwick Stones on the section of the Ullswater Way between Watermillock and Gowbarrow celebrate the role that shepherding plays in the cultural heritage of the Ullswater valley and the Lake District in general.
GRID REFS -
The Herdwick sheep is the native breed of the Lake District, championed by Beatrix Potter. It is thought to have been brought to this country by Norse settlers over 1000 years ago. The name comes from the Old Norse word herdvyck meaning pasture land (as opposed to arable land). It is a minority breed with 95% of the 50,000 sheep living within a 14 mile radius of Coniston.
Herdwicks are very hardy, living their entire lives on the fells. They also have a very strong homing instinct, never wandering far from where they were born. The Cumbrian word for this is “hefted”. For this reason, when a farm is sold, the sheep are sold with the farm.
Herdwick wool is very course. It belongs to the lowest price band of the Wool Marketing Board and is used mainly for carpets and insulation. However, recently, the better quality Herdwick wool has begun to be made into Herdwick tweed.
The innovative local company Dalefoot Composts is using poorer quality wool, mixed with bracken harvested from the fells, to create a range of peat-
Herdwick lamb and mutton has a very distinct taste. It was eaten at Queen Elizabeth II's 1953 coronation banquet. In 2013, Lakeland Herdwick meat received a Protected Designation of Origin from the European Union (like Champagne and Burgundy).
Herdwick lambs are born in late April or May when the weather in the Lake District is warmer. They are born black. When they are a year old (a “hogg”), they are dark brown.
As they mature, their coats become lighter, ranging from dark grey to almost white.
Herdwick ewes are “polled” (have no horns) but rams (or “tups”) usually have horns.
Sixty per cent of farmland in Cumbria is common land. To prevent overgrazing, access to this common grazing land is tightly regulated. Accurate head counts have been necessary since medieval times and are still required for access to upland subsidies. The sheep are gathered from the fells four times a year providing an opportunity for farmers to count them, return strays and assess their health.
There are sheep-
1 yan 2 tyan 3 tethera 4 methera 5 pimp
6 sethera 7 lethera 8 hovera 9 dovera 10 dick
By Jane Firth, resident of Watermillock
With Thanks to our funders and supporters
The Eden Tourism Team
The Lake District Communities Fund
The Ullswater Preservation Society
Donations from the general public and supporters
Richard and Anne Lloyd
Creating the Herdwick Stones
The Herdwick Stones were created by letter carver Charlotte Ruse. Charlotte lives and works in London but frequently visits Ullswater where her mother lives.
Installing the Herdwick Stones
Charlotte worked closely with landowners Richard and Anne Lloyd to select where the Herdwick Stones would be mounted.
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|Wainwright Plaque at Patterdale Post Office|
|St Patrick's Church Patterdale|
|Patterdale Parish War Memorial|
|Somnambulist at Aira Force|
|Pooley Bridge Fish Monument|