Knitting Magazine feature A week in the life of Freda Pilkington (PDF)
The call of the curlew welcomes Spring to Higher Gills Farm, a hill farm adjacent to Rimington Moor and in the shadow of Pendle Hill. Owned and run by the Pilkington family. Higher Gills is a stock rearing farm, with sheep and cattle.
Some of our land is in the Countryside Stewardship Scheme this land is actively managed to preserve the traditional look of the countryside and encourage wildlife. Across the farm we have planted new hedgerows and manage all our hedgerows to encourage wildlife. See our local wildlife page
Recent work has included planting approx. 3 miles of new hedgerows. Over a 5 year period we have created several ponds of different sizes and renewed an old orchard. Over a mile of dry stone walling has been repaired, including enclosing 3 acres of woodland to control grazing and allow natural regeneration of the undergrowth to provide cover and habitat for wildlife.
Darrell and Freda have kept a small flock of pedigree Teeswater sheep for 30 years. Originating from the Teesdale area of County Durham the Teeswater sheep produces fine long stapled lustrous wool with a natural permanent curl. During the 1920s, Teeswater rams became a popular crossing ram, especially when mated with hill ewes to produce the half-bred lambs (Masham) as a replacements in lowland flocks. Thereby increasing in numbers and spreading widely throughout the UK. With the introduction of Continental breeds in the 1970s, however the popularity of Teeswaters declined and is now on the endangered list (cat.2) of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust..
There are now only 450 registered females on the society list, so as well as being of a very special type of wool the supply is limited.
Darrell and Freda produce a range of woollen products from their own and other peoples pedigree Teeswater fleece.
The cattle on the farm are for breeding beef, mainly Limousin and Blond D'Aquitaine cross cows running with a Blond D'Aquitaine sire.
We have three sheepdogs, which can be seen working most days of the week. Visitors are welcome to help feed and collect eggs from the hens, which run free in the orchard.
The return of the swallows heralds in the month of May, seeking out last year's nesting site.
Higher Gills Farm, Rimington, Clitheroe, Lancs. BB7 4DA