A 300-year-old sheep pen and washfold has been restored on Brant Fell in the Howgills as part of a £3m project supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Two dry stone wallers, Steven Allen, from Tebay, and Trevor Stamper, from Shap, completed the task in 15 days this winter, in bracing weather conditions, said Claire Braeburn, Our Common Cause: Our Upland Commons project officer.

Master craftsman Steven said: “Being a farmer's son, with sheep on this moor back in the day, I was delighted to be able to rebuild this historic sheep pen. I hope the commoners use it for many years to come.”

The Northern Farmer: From left, master dry stone wallers Trevor Stamper and Steven Allen Picture: ROB FRASER

The practice of commoning, with people exercising rights over land that is privately owned, dates back to the 13th Century. Today common land accounts for just three per cent of England. It includes large tracts of the most well-loved, free to visit and ecologically rich landscapes, which are also important for health and wellbeing. Only 3,900 farmers are commoners in England.

The Northern Farmer: The Our UPland Commons project has restored an historic 300-year-old sheep pen and washfold on Brant Fell Picture: ROB FRASER

The Our Upland Commons project, backed by the Foundation for Common Land, comes at a pivotal time for the 12 commons getting help, totalling 18,000 hectares. There are serious threats to commons and the system of commoning. If not addressed these rare landscapes and the benefits they bring now and, in the future, will be lost, says Claire.

Other initiatives that are part of the Our Upland Commons Project in the Dales include farmer-led habitat assessments, natural flood management, supporting commoners through schemes like Sustainable Farming Incentive and providing tools to support their businesses.