We live in the wide expanse of lower Wensleydale. Only 10 minutes from the A1 but surrounded by fields on all sides, we run flocks of sheep including the rare Wensleydale longwool sheep. Our sheep are gentle by nature and having always been interested in fleece and wool products, we have been inspired to share the joy that our animals bring, the lovely products that can be produced from wool and our beautiful surroundings. We are a family-run business and three generations are involved in every stage of production from lambing to finished garments!
In addition to the sheep in our little corner of North Yorkshire, we have hens, several acres of woodland and a lake. We also run an award-winning bed and breakfast and self-catering cottage Elmfield House on the same site.
We are happy to take orders over the phone or through our secure website, but if you would prefer to visit us then our tea room is open Sunday-Tuesday 11-3. We display everything in our large conservatory overlooking the sheep as they graze in the fields and why not indulge in some drinks and cake as you enjoy your visit.
Having previously farmed Northern mules in the North York Moors, we were keen to expand into rare breeds and started with Ryelands. With fleece from the tip of their nose to the tips of their feet, they are a beautiful looking sheep with a gentle temperament. Ryelands originally had fleeces which rivalled the Spanish Merinos in its quality, and whilst meat breeding has changed the fleece over the years they have not lost any of their charm! Ryelands are thought to be one of the oldest British breed of sheep and Queen Elizabeth I is said to have only ever worn stockings made from Ryeland fleece. We have both white and coloured Ryelands in our flock and people often comment on their soft fleece and teddy-bear good looks.
We also run a flock of Wensleydales. The Rare Breed Survival Trust considers the breed to be at risk. We are delighted that these beautiful big sheep are thriving in our small-holding situated in the very dale that gives them their name. The first recorded Wensleydales were all bred from a single Dishley Leicester tup named Bluecap in the small hamlet of East Appleton only four miles away from where we all live today. Their distinctive long ringlets and top knots (which act like fringes or dreadlocks) make their fleece very desirable as it is full of lustre and shine. The fleece is often used in its ringlet form or spun and either used in its natural chocolate and cream tones or dyed using vibrant colours which are complemented by its high sheen. Amongst our flock, we have prize-winners from local agricultural shows including the Great Yorkshire Show. Interestingly, Wensleydale sheep’s milk was originally used in the now-famous Wensleydale cheese!
We have both white Wensledyales and the even rarer coloured Black Wensleydales in our flock. The Black Wensleydales have their own register with the Wensleydale Sheep Society. The colour of the fleece can vary from blacks, through chocolates and browns into silvery grey colours. The tips of their fleece gets bleached by the sun, producing beige, ginger, grey and sometimes cream tips.
We are members of the Wensleydale Longwool Sheep Breeders Association and their website contains a lot of interesting information about this amazing breed.