Every Lake District valley its own tweed, made from local Lake District wool, working with local farmers from those valleys and all the tweeds produced in the North West of England, wouldn’t that be a great idea, Maria thought. And so Lake District Tweed was born as part of Maria and John’s Lake District farm diversification plan.
“We live and farm in Nibthwaite, at the south end of Coniston Lake. John's family have farmed in the area for more than six hundred years and John is the sixth generation at Nibthwaite Grange Farm,” Maria explains. “It made sense to diversify the farm.”
“It’s such a waste that local wool has lost so much of its value, it made good sense to use the wool to make a truly local product.” Besides the wool of their own Cheviot sheep for the Coniston Tweed, Maria and John buy their wool from local farms. “Plus farmers get a share of the sales profit as well”
Every valley has its own design and a farm from that valley supplies wool for that design. “Farmer and writer James Rebanks was the first to join the idea. The Ullswater tweed and throw are made from wool from his sheep. It takes its inspiration from the abundant meadow flowers achieved through the regenerative grazing system introduced on the Racy Ghyll farm where James and his family farm.”
The Coniston Tweed, from the lake where Maria and John live and farm, takes inspiration from its industrial history including Coniston slate, the historic copper mines and the old wooden mine shafts.
The latest one is the Haweswater tweed. Inspired by river conservation work at Wild Haweswater, an RSPB and United Utilities joint initiative. The Cheviot wool used to make this throw is from Naddle Farm in the Wild Haweswater estate.
“There are eight tweeds and that number is still growing. The goal is to have a tweed for every valley.” This local project is a great success, the throws and tweeds have already sold out several times.
Another part of Maria and John’s diversification project is the beautiful Cottage in the Clouds, a completely off grid cottage overlooking Lake Coniston. They rent it out as a holiday let and it is one of the most remote cottages in England. Part of the series was shot at this historic cottage.