05 Aug 20

The Yorkshire Shepherdess: Amanda Owen

Stuart Holland United Kingdom

Amanda Owen is not a household name in Australia, however, ‘The Yorkshire Shepherdess’ is a recognisable celebrity in the UK and rightly so, if for nothing else than the fact she manages with her husband and nine children, the remote 2,000-acre hilltop farm of Ravenseat in the Yorkshire Dales. She and her family featured, then became regular characters on the BBC TV series The Dales, where audiences were charmed by Amanda’s intelligence and humour and with family life on their Swaledale farm. Their TV success was quickly followed by the publication of Amanda’s first book in 2014 with The Yorkshire Shepherdess reaching the UK bestseller top 10 list.

Amanda came to her unconventional life via a conventional upbringing in Huddersfield, a large West Yorkshire market town, but found herself increasingly drawn to the moors and followed in the footsteps of her hero James Herriot and moved to the Yorkshire Dales to become an apprentice shepherdess. At age 21 she began her crazy, chaotic, much-loved life as a farmhand at Ravenseat where she met and married Ravenseat owner Clive four years later. Amanda acknowledges that life is far from easy, the farm is too remote for the internet, radio reception is restricted to the local station, the older children spend nearly four hours daily travelling to and from school and during winter they often get snowed in or flooded. As Amanda says ‘it takes bloody ages for anyone to get to us, and bloody ages for us to get anywhere from here.’

Ravenseat sits at the head of the River Swale, about an hour’s walk west of Keld, the halfway point on the Coast to Coast footpath where the trail cuts directly through the farm not far from the mysterious Nine Standards Rigg. Open from May to September the farm is a welcome break from the Coast to Coast offering hot tea and Amanda’s freshly home-baked scones. Opening hours can vary due to the farm’s location and the logistics of running a working farm with 1,000+ sheep and lambs, so it’s advisable to phone ahead to double check on opening times.

Amanda is very active on twitter so if you interested in more it is worth a look: twitter.com/AmandaOwen

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