Sam and Candida Hodgson, farmers, Glencoyne Farm
Sam and Candida Hodgson have been on Glencoyne Farm, which dates back to the seventeenth century, since taking on the National Trust tenancy in 1995. They reintroduced herdwicks nineteen years ago. Glencoyne Farm takes in the low woodland pastures of Glencoyne Park, and Gowbarrow Park beyond Aira Force, and extends to the high fells, with stints on Matterdale and Watermillock commons.
Sam comes from a family of Cumbrian farmers and has had a lifetime to learn. “You’re a master of nothing, on a hill farm, but you need to know masses. There are no text books about what we do. My first lambing, I was coming back from Ambleside Junior school and there was a yow with a big headed lamb. I think I was six. I managed to catch it, behind it a fence, and lamb it.”
It’s different for Candida, who learnt on the job at a later age. “I grew up learning how to look after mule sheep on a lowland farm. And then I came to a hill farm. I learnt a lot, quickly. I’ve learnt it from experience, from watching other people. If there’s any job, you know, it’s just ‘watch and learn’.”
The Hodgsons have their own children, and train apprentices; they’re keen to see continuity.
The landscape changes all the time. We see the best and worst. Yesterday morning, foul weather overnight – snow – and then in the morning, blue sky, sun. Heaven. You feel special looking after a landscape, and you want to pass that on.
“This landscape, you know, is second to none, it’s sublime. But a good sheep is even more sublime! The highlight’s walking into the shed and seeing that our favoured sheep has had probably the best lamb ever.”
We’ll be quite proud if there are lots of trees come up in the Park when we’re gone. It’s the same with a stock of sheep: you’d like to pass on a good stock of sheep. There’s no doubt, they go back to before Beatrix Potter, and if you can keep those bloodlines, well, it’s history.
Sam and Candida Hodgson have been on Glencoyne Farm, which dates back to the 17th century, since taking on the National Trust tenancy in 1995.