Westmorland Dales Landscape Partnership

The Westmorland Dales Landscape Partnership Scheme aims to unlock and reveal the hidden heritage of the Westmorland Dales, enabling more people to connect with, enjoy and benefit from this inspirational landscape. Thanks to National Lottery players it has been supported by a grant from the Heritage Fund


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Common land characterises much of the upland landscape of the Westmorland Dales, providing grazing for both cattle and sheep and also delivering multiple public benefits. Indeed, common land is hugely significant to Cumbria as a whole which boasts a third of England’s designated common land. 

These unenclosed areas of common land have been farmed for centuries by ‘commoners’, tending their livestock through traditional husbandry practices, helping to preserve the beautiful, wild appearance of the land.

Today, the number of active commoners is in decline. Many are elderly and have no successors and there is less manpower to effectively manage the commons in terms of gathering and grazing. 

‘Our Farming and Commons Heritage’ is a new project launched this month which aims to record farming and commoning stories, collate and digistise old oral history recordings, interesting documents and memorabilia.  

It has been created as part of the Westmorland Dales Landscape Partnership Scheme and is being led by Friends of the Lake District. It launches with a public event being held at Orton Market Hall on Friday 15th and Saturday 16th October where it is bringing together farming heritage displays and memorabilia of the Westmorland Dales farming past. 

Organisers are also inviting farming families and workers who have lived in and around the Westmorland Dales; Tebay, Crosby Ravensworth, Ravenstonedale and other areas to drop in, tell their stories and share their family histories. 

Nicola Estill, community engagement officer said, 

“Many people outside the farming community don’t really understand what’s involved in upland farming and the unique heritage of our commons. We want to capture their history and cultural heritage whilst we can. We’d love people to come along and see us with their photographs, stories and any interesting historical documents that we could copy on the day”. 

This event takes place over two days at Orton Market Hall on Friday 15th and Saturday 16th October from 9:30am to 5pm and everybody is welcome to attend. 

For further information about the event or the ‘Our Farming and Commons Heritage’ project, email Nicola Estill at [email protected] or telephone 07814 305748 

The ‘Our Farming and Commons Heritage’ project is being delivered by The Westmorland Dales Landscape Partnership Scheme which is grant funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.