Swaledale is famed for many things, but, perhaps most people will be more familiar with our woolly friends, the Swaledale Sheep. The Swaledale Sheep are a breed that has been named after Swaledale, the most northerly dale in the Yorkshire Dales, and are the iconic symbol of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
The Swaledale sheep, with black faces, curly horns and off white wool, can be found roaming the dales and fells of the Swaledale valley and throughout the Yorkshire Dales. However, they are not exclusive to the region and are also farmed in other areas of the UK such as County Durham, the Pennine Fells and Cumbria.
The Swaledale Sheep are renowned as one of the hardiest breeds of sheep in the UK. The Swaledale Sheep endure some of the UKs harshest winters and thrive in some of the most exposed locations in the up land of the Yorkshire Dales. Their thick coat, agility and bold nature makes them well suited for the harsh climate they are exposed to.
The Swaledale sheep are farmed for three reasons, for their wool, their milk and for mutton. The Swaledale Sheep produces durable and resilient wool that is usually off white in colour. Due to the coarseness of the sheep’s wool it is most suited to products such as carpets, rugs and insulation. However, the wool can be used for spinning and knitting clothes although is not the predominate use of their wool. Swaledale sheep are well known for their tender mutton, full of flavour and growing in popularity – some flocks are specifically bread for their mutton. The Swaledale sheep milk is used for some popular cheeses!