Nibthwaite Grange Farm is an upland hill farm in the Lake District National Park.
The farm is run by John Atkinson and Maria Benjamin with help from John’s family. The Atkinson’s have farmed Nibthwaite Grange for six generations.
Their herd comprises of approximately 30 Suckler Cows, including the breeds Luings, Galloways, Highland and Blue Greys with calves kept as replacements or sold through various outlets including a small number direct to the public.
The main hill flock are 350 purebred Cheviots with an additional draft ewe flock crossed with the bluefaced Leicester to produce mules. The is a small flock of rare breed Castlemilk Moorits and a few other ‘fibre’ sheep for producing bespoke wool products.
The farm and the moorland are in the Higher Level Stewardship Scheme and the cattle are also used for conservation work in the surrounding woodlands for Natural England, The National Trust and RSPB. The cattle are also used for conservation grazing on Hay Bridge Nature Reserve and for the Friends of the Lake District.
The farm is a mixture of small meadows and pastures near the River Crake and Coniston Water with native woodland on the lower valley slopes and upland heath on the intake and fell.
There are a rich flora and fauna and core value of John and Maria is to increase this diversity further.
The context for the farm includes building resilience through unstable economic periods and allowing the farm to accommodate the families needs.
We are working with John and Maria to create a gazing plan to accommodate the incredible complexity of all the herds and flocks and their requirements and management tools on conservation sites at specific times of the year.
We are working on reducing inputs such as fertiliser and medicines by managing for soil health and increased herbal diversity. We are building flood and drought resistance as well as hoping to increase the organic matter content of the inbye significantly,
We are using holistic financial planning and the testing questions to manage business decisions relating to the farm and associated tourism businesses and hope to improve the social, economic and environmental footprint of all activities.