Prospective visitors can check out the view at Highside Farm,
where Deborah and Martyn Mawson have capitalised on the beautiful
situation of their beef and sheep farm overlooking Bassenthwaite
Lake and established a successful bed and breakfast business.
They have installed a webcam on their chimney on
the farmhouse at the foot of Skiddaw which can be accessed
through their website.
|Cows and calves
grazing at the foot of Skiddaw.
Highside Farm has been farmed by the Mawsons since 1963 with
Standish and Alison now being joined by son Martyn and Deborah
who have sons James, six, and Edward, two.
The farmhouse dates back to 1668 and may in the past have
been used as accommodation for drovers.
Martyn and Deborah have capitalised on the building’s
traditional features and through tasteful modernisation created
three letting bedrooms with guest sitting and dining rooms
in a self-contained annex.
They opened for business three years ago and their English
Tourist Board four diamond silver award has already attracted
visitors from across the UK - and the world.
Deborah is no newcomer to looking after guests, having initially
run bed and breakfast in the cottage up the road for eight
years before she and Martyn swapped homes with his parents
and moved into the farm.
The emphasis at Highside is on luxury accommodation and its
country house style and magnificent views across the lake
and the valley - as well as the Mawsons’ warm
welcome - have attracted visitors who want to enjoy the outdoors.
And with an eye on the future and generating extra income,
the Mawsons have obtained planning permission to convert a
stone barn on the farm to two holiday cottages.
“The people who come to stay enjoy sight-seeing - including
spotting the valley’s ospreys - as well as cycling
and walking. Ullock Pike and Skiddaw are just at the back
door and we have quite a number of families. We have a room
with separate access for those who are less mobile. People
also like to stay on a farm,” said Deborah.
Highside has 350 acres of inside land with a further 60 acres
rented and freehold rights on the 1,750-acre Bassenthwaite
The suckler herd which generally averages 70 cows has a high
proportion of Limousin blood with many females being three
The predominantly winter calving herd runs with two pedigree
Limousin bulls, bred by David Hill, of Great Asby, Appleby,
and Ian Armstrong, of Lorton.
Winter housing is from the end of October to the first week
in May with cows being fed silage and minerals and calves
receive a concentrate blend.
All herd replacements are home bred to minimise disease risks
and to be more self sufficient. Calves are sold at 10 to 12
months old at Carlisle and Wigton marts.
“We sell most calves from January to March in the hope
of picking up on the better trade earlier in the year,” said
“We sell at the special March sale in Wigton and in
2005 we picked up a first and second prize in the heifer section
and a first in the bullocks and the heifer by Raysonhall Spartacus
sold for £950.”
Martyn Mawson sets out to breed the best calves he can and
those with show potential are a bonus, however the Spartacus
heifer in the hands of showman William Timms, of Goole, was
fifth in its class of 35 at this year’s Great Yorkshire
The farm’s inside land runs from near the lake side
up to 900ft at the fell wall and the sheep graze at up to
3,052ft at the top of Skiddaw.
Sheep numbers have been reduced in recent years as part of
the Lake District ESA scheme and more recently English Nature’s
Sheep Enhancement Scheme on the common.
Of the 550 ewe Swaledale flock, 200 are bred pure and the
remainder are crossed with home-bred Bluefaced Leicesters
from the farm’s 20 ewes. Semen is taken from the pure
bred Leicester flock’s stock ram as an insurance.
To help the farm’s cash-flow, a proportion of the North
of England Mule ewes are now retained. A flock of 200 Mules
and Texel crosses plus 180 hoggs produce an earlier prime
lamb crop from July through to January with the Texel cross
hoggs being put to the Charollais.
“It was a long time from April when we finished selling
the cattle to September when we sold our Mule gimmer lambs
and Bluefaced Leicester rams so not only do the commercial
ewes help to improve the cash-flow but we are again being
self-sufficient,” said Martyn.
A former chairman of the West Cumbria Branch of the North
of England Mule Sheep Association, Martyn sells gimmer lambs
at Carlisle, Wigton and Cockermouth, where he has won the
championship for NEMSA members.
Last year’s Cockermouth champion pen sold for £112
with the Wigton champions at £100. While not champion
at Carlisle, this pen sold for £98.
A member of the Bluefaced Leicester Sheep Breeders’ Association,
Martyn took lamb rams to the Hawes sale for the first time
in 2005 and averaged £850 for four, despite being drawn
late in the ballot and selling at 7.30pm!
The champion pen at Cockermouth averaged £500 for five
while at Carlisle three ram lambs averaged £600, marking
a successful season for crossing type rams.
Vice-chairman of Keswick Show, Martyn supports his local
events with sheep entries. He is also a Bassenthwaite parish
To check out the view and the accommodation at Highside Farm
log on to www.highside.co.uk
© Copyright 2005 Jennifer
MacKenzie All Rights