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Herdwick sheep , the Lake District sheep.

Updated on October 30, 2017

Herdwick Sheep- the native sheep of the Lake District.

Herdwick sheep are the sheep of Cumbria, in the Northwest corner of England. The Lake District is the most famous part of Cumbria, loved by visitors for its Lakes, mountains ( known as "fells"), its spectacular scenery and its native Herdwick sheep.

Herdwick sheep are widely considered to be the most hardy of all Britain's breeds of hill sheep.

Herdwick sheep can live and find food on land which seems very barren, and can survive in the most difficult terrain. Many of them live their lives without receiving any supplementary feed.

The hardy Herdwick can be seen all over the Lake District- in the fields, on the fells, wandering onto roads, and into gardens. I know- my garden is often invaded by these hardy little animals. Once they find a way in to a fresh source of grass ( and plants and flowers) it is almost impossible to keep them out!

You might like to visit my blog, where Herdwick sheep often feature.


Here is a lens dedicated to these intrepid, determined creatures- the Herdwick sheep of the Lake District.

Photo thanks to Geograph commercial use

You must buy this superb new book if you're interested in Herdwicks.

The Shepherd's Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape
The Shepherd's Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape
My twitter friend @herdyshepherd1 has become the #1 best seller in the UK with his wonderful book. Now also available in the USA

The History and special characteristics of the Herdwick sheep of the Lake District.

Facts about the Herdwick Sheep of Cumbria and the Lake District.

The Herdwick sheep appears in records for the area of Cumbria and the Lake District as far back as the 12th Century. The name Herdwick comes from the old Norse word- "herdvyck", meaning a sheep pasture

The Herdwick sheep are slow growing. Their fleece is rough and hardy. I have tried knitting with it and can attest to its firm, even tough qualities.

Herdwicks graze the fells of the Lake District-nature's lawnmower. Without them ,this beautiful area would look very different.

Farmers believe they would be almost impossible to replace because of special qualities honed over hundreds of years.

Photo thanks to Ambersky235 and flickr creative commons

Here are some unique charcateristics of the Herdwick sheep-

Herdwicks have been bred for centuries to know their home territory. It's what farmers call being "hefted" to the fell. This means they can be safely left on unfenced terrain and will not wander off their traditional patch. Ewes teach this behaviour to their lambs.

Herdwicks have special resistance to diseases, and parasites like ticks , and can be left to fend for themselves up on the hills away from the farms

Herdwicks are bred to be tough enough to withstand rain, wind and winter weather, at heights up to 3,000 feet.

Herdwick lambs are usually black, becoming grey like their mothers later.

Herdwicks are in balance with the environment, grazing heather and grass , and keeping the bracken and scrub down.

For more information about the Herdwick Sheep, their characteristics,and information about a year in the life of a Herdwick Sheep, visit their official fan club, The Herdwick Sheep Breeders Association

Tourists and visitors to the Lake District love the Herdwick Sheep

Cumbria Tourism has fun using the Herdwicks to promote tourism in the Lake District.

The website of Cumbria Tourism is called Go Lakes

To help promote the Lake District as an attractive venue , the great minds at Cumbria Tourism have produce ring tones for your phone, using the Herdwick sheep!

You can also buy singing sheep! Cumbria Tourism brought The Baarmy Sheep to the attention of the British press.Singing sheep! The public loved it! See and listen for yourself!

Photo thanks to wikimedia commons

If you love rare breed sheep you probably already own this book - If you're curious about sheep you might find this book really interesting.

Planning a new life- with sheep? This might help you.

Living with Sheep: Everything You Need to Know to Raise Your Own Flock
Living with Sheep: Everything You Need to Know to Raise Your Own Flock
Even if you'll never own your own flock, this is a wonderful book.

Herdwick sheep - People love making videos of sheep!

Surprisingly ( to me anyway) there are lots of lovely vidoes of sheep on YouTube!

There are lots of new uses for Herdwick Fleeces - Herdwicks are being prized again after years when their fleeces were unwanted.

A few years ago, the fleeces after sheep shearing had to be burned on the farms, as the farmers could not get a decent price for them. Man made fibers and softer materials had been used to make modern, lightweight fleecy jumpers and jackets, and the rough Herdwick wool was out of favor.

Now however, new uses have been found for these Herdwick fleeces, and the wool is once again being used for-






Many forms of crafts



Information on some of the products now being made from Herdwick wool can be found on The Herdwick Breeders Association website.

Photo thanks to Wikimedia commons

Beatrix Potter and Herdwick sheep

The National Trust owns and manages large ares of land in the Lake District. Many of the farms they own and rent to farmers were given to them by Beatrix Potter.

Beatrix Potter holidayed in the Lake District as a child, and fell in love with the area. She eventually moved to the Lake District, buying property from the proceeds of her books, many of which were based on scenes in the Lake District.

She started to buy farms, which she ran and managed with great care, confounding those locals, ( and her London friends) who thought she might be playing at farming as a hobby. She became a much respected Lake District lady, known simlpy as "Mrs Heelis" rather than by her more famous maiden name, Beatrix Potter.

Beatrix Potter, known around Windermere , Ambleside and the Lake Distrct by her married name, Mrs Heelis.

When she died on 22 December 1943, Beatrix Potter left fourteen farms and 4000 acres of land to the National Trust, together with her flocks of Herdwick sheep. She stipulated in her will that the farms she left to the Trust should be let at a moderate rent, and that the landlord's flocks of sheep on the fell farms should be pure Herdwick in breed. Beatrix was the first woman to be elected president-designate of the Herdwick Sheep Breeders' Association, which continues to flourish.

Herdy the herdwick cute mug
Herdy the herdwick cute mug

You can buy lovely Herdy the Herdwick items from Amazon.

Herdy the Herdwick mugs and other lovely Herdy products can be bought from

Herdy the Herdwick mugs are right here

You can also buy them , and lots more Herdy and the Lake District items from the Herdy Store.

The Herdwick sheep come from my home, the Lake District

Here are some of the many article I've written about the Lake District

If you're interested in the Lake District, why not browse some of my other pages? They're are all written from my own every day first hand experience.

Here are just a few.

William Wordsworth's Daffodils
William Wordsworth's poem, Daffodils, was written just half a mile from my home. Often known by its first line "I wandered lonely as a Cloud" the p...

Lake District Information.
I live at White Moss House , Grasmere, in the Lake District, and have written lots of lenses and articles giving information about things to do in the Lake D...

Top 10 Lakes in the Lake District
The Lake District , in North West England,is one of the most beautiful places in the world. I'm lucky- I live in Grasmere, in the heart of the Lake District....

Wordsworth's Lake District.
I live in a house owned by William Wordsworth, close to Dove Cottage Grasmere where Wordsworth wrote his most famous poems, including "Daffodils" ....


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