Skip to main content
Barn (Cowhouse) at Keld in Swaledale A barn with blue skies and green fields at the back of Kisdon. Seen from the Pennine Way.


The Dales have been farmed for thousands of years. Without farming, woodland would cover all but the highest moorland. There would be no drystone-walled fields, no hay meadows, no isolated field barns.

In the Middle Ages, Italian merchants came to buy wool from Fountains Abbey and Bolton Priory. Later farmers kept cattle to supply cheese and butter to the industrial towns surrounding the Dales. In winter cattle were kept inside field barns and fed on hay cut from the surrounding meadows. Changing agricultural practice means most field barns are now redundant.

For information on farming today, see the Farming pages in the Living & Working section of the website.

Farming Through The Seasons


Watch the first of four seasonal films telling the story of an upland hill farm.

Farming in the uplands is challenging, both physically and economically. The management of the Yorkshire Dales National Park by farmers and landowners is intrinsically important to the landscape’s conservation and to protect some of Britain’s rarest habitats and species. Farms are important rural businesses and employers, and are vital to rural society.

For Stephen Bostock and 24 year-old nephew David, spring is a favourite time of year as everything comes to life and they prepare for lambing.