Countrystride

Countrystride #53: The lost history of hill farming

April 26, 2021
...in which we head to Borrowdale in Westmorland with author and dry-stone waller Terry McCormick to uncover the lost history of hill farming. As we explore one of Lakeland's quietest valleys, we take the long view of a turbulent history, starting with the David vs Goliath battle of the Kendal Tenant Rights Dispute 1619–1626 that established the pattern of resilient farmsteads still operating today; we consider why writers – from Wordsworth to Wainwright – have frequently misunderstood or ignored the lives of upland farmers; we ponder how a new golden age of farming literature – championed by James Rebanks – can co-exist with the closure of Newton Rigg; and we discover why Terry's new vocation as a waller ('Aim for beauty; settle for strength') at the age of 55 felt like coming home.

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