9th November 2020

We have spent some considerable time working with another charity, the Countryside Restoration Trust, and with representatives of the local community, in trying to secure the purchase of Dowthwaite Head, one of a handful of dale head Lake District farms still remaining. Sadly today, we have learned that our bid has been unsuccessful and that the farm has been sold to another bidder.

The farm has ecological, farming and cultural significance within the World Heritage Site, with ghylls running down from open common above, traditional hay meadows to restore and opportunities to create grazed wood pasture and woodland.

We had hoped to be involved in projects that would have recognized and built on traditional skills and management. We would have helped to restore the farm, recreating or creating new high value habitats, find a tenant farmer to manage its tradition and future, and diversify the business model using the buildings and the land in traditional and innovative ways. The farm could have been given a vibrant new future demonstrating that the best of traditional upland farming can go hand in hand with nature conservation.

We saw this as a chance to show our vision of a working, healthy, sustainable uplands, not just producing food and managing the environment but also demonstrating public goods provision together with educational and engagement opportunities, and we are deeply disappointed that we will not have the opportunity to realise this ambition at Dowthwaite Head.


23rd October 2020

An opportunity to deliver our vision for a working Lake District uplands, in partnership with the community and another charity, appears to have been taken from us by an unknown bidder.

Dowthwaite Head is a 292 acre traditional Lakeland dale head farm. Set in its own valley in the Lake District National Park, it would once have been a small community of several families.

The farm has farming and cultural importance within the World Heritage Site, with several ghylls running down from the open common above, traditional hay meadows to restore and opportunities to create grazed wood pasture and woodland.

We have been supporting a local community group, including James Rebanks, and another charity, the Countryside Restoration Trust, in exciting plans to create a community- and public-benefiting asset, and to improve the valley for Nature.

Once purchased, the farm would have been managed by the community group, and we would have worked closely with them. We are sad that the community group has now decided that the price of the property has been bid up to what they feel is an unsustainable figure, and they accept that someone else will now purchase it. I have spoken to them about further options.

From our point of view, this would not have been a “preservation project”, but an opportunity to show our vision of a working, healthy, sustainable uplands, not just producing food and managing the environment but also demonstrating public goods provision together with educational opportunities. Safeguarding traditional farming and land management skills, and adopting the best of new techniques in ecology, hydrology, grazing and soil management, while working in partnership.