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Learning programmes for schools
and youth groups.

"I am so glad to see that the hostel continues to grow and cater for its visitors. I've been bringing students to this beautiful house since 2002. It provides an excellent base for carrying out river studies within the Borrowdale Valley. Over the years hundreds of Essex students have been knee-deep in water collecting data, but however cold or wet we have got, a warm welcome has always been provided by the hostel. Students always remember this place: it’s often the first thing they mention to me after years have gone by and they are all grown up. A big thank you from a teacher and all the Thurstable as well as Moulsham students that have been here."

Paul Mason (teacher at Moulsham High School and previously at Thurstable School), 20th October 2014.


There is a long history of hill farming in Borrowdale, from the introduction of Herdwick sheep (unique to this part of the Lake District) by the Norse settlers of the 10th century, to diversification and the influence of the EU Common Agricultural Policy today. 

Borrowdale can be compared to other environments, looking at their suitability for different types of farming. We can also compare local, national, and global influences on farming, with plenty of topics to research, discuss, and debate.

Borrowdale contains some of the highest, steepest, and roughest terrain in England, as well as receiving high monthly rainfall. The hardy Herdwick sheep are particularly well-suited to these conditions, and they graze the high fells - mostly unenclosed land shared by farmers from adjoining valleys.

Some farmers also keep cattle, and there are two fish farms profiting from the wet climate.

Farming is very important in the history of Borrowdale. In 1829 there were 21 farmers in Borrowdale, but by 2006 there were only 12 (all sheep farmers). What are the continuities and changes of farming in Borrowdale?

A visit to Ashness Farm, or Low Bridge End Farm (in the adjoining valley of St John’s in the Vale), will demonstrate the importance of farming to this rural area, providing students with hands-on, personal, and memorable experiences. 

Sample activities

  • Visit Low Bridge End Farm, a family-run mixed hill farm in St John's in the Vale. As a High Level Stewardship Farm, Low Bridge End offers free educational visits to groups of six or more people, with a minimum visit duration of 2 hours. 
  • Visit the National Trust-owned Ashness Farm, a twenty minute walk from the hostel. We can arrange this through the National Trust.


Derwentwater Independent Hostel
Barrow House
CA12 5UR
Telephone: 017687 77246

Thank you to Geoff Williams, Rebecca Laff, Fiona McCarthy, John and Sam Snyder, and KTA for generously providing inspiring photographs.
Thank you to Lisa Bamford at Stoats and Weasels for designing our website, and to Sam Snyder for building it.
© 2013 Derwentwater Independent Hostel. All rights reserved. Registered charity: 1145368