What is Land Keepers?

Millions of people visit the Lake District every year, yet few know what really goes on in the lives of the people who are most closely connected to the land.

Land Keepers throws a spotlight on Cumbria's upland farmers. What wisdom do they have about the land? What really matters to them? What challenges do they face? What is the value of the unique culture of Lakeland hill farming?

To ensure a balanced view, we have looked into the inspiration, policies and activities of environmental and conservation organisations, land owners and governing bodies.

This website gives a glimpse of the images we have captured and the stories we've heard during our research between 2012 and 2014. The touring exhibition of work is your chance to get close up to the images, and the stories.

Out and about

Days on farms, gathering sheep on the fells, trips to shows and sales, conversations with farmers, vets, politicians, butchers, walkers, park rangers and conservationists, meetings with policy makers and deliverers ...

We have been privileged to have the chance to experience the land from the shepherds' points of view, and learn about what really goes on behind the scenes, both on farms and at a policy level.

Check the Land Keepers blog for more.

Andrew Seathwaite 1

Walking the Heft

Exhibition

One of the unique features of upland farming in Cumbria is the system of hefting. The majority of farms entail a large area of Common Land.

Here, the boundaries are set not by walls, but by the sheep, who have become 'hefted' to the land. One generation of ewes teaches the next generation of lambs the extent of their heft. It's a knowledge shared by flocks and farmers.

We have been 'walking the heft' on five farms and have representing our journeys through photographs, writing and hand-drawn maps.

We were delighted and honoured to launch our exhibition at The Wordsworth Trust in Grasmere, in February 2014. It has now toured around Cumbria, having shown at Woolfest in Cockermouth, Low Sizergh Barn (Kendal) and the National Trust's Wray Castle.

The Land Keepers exhibition will be at London's Royal Geographical Society in November 2014.

Education & Resources

We have developed an education programme which has been used with primary and secondary schools in Cumbria, in association with the Wordsworth Trust.

As a resource, our writing and photographs will be available to all the farmers and others involved in the creation of this project. Please get in touch if you're interested.

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