Once, the UK's farmers employed thousands of shepherds, but a slump in sheep farming has cut a swathe through their ranks; nowadays shepherds are virtually a thing of the past, and most flocks are herded by farmers on quad bikes. The Last Shepherds follows hill shepherds Dave Baxter and Stewart and Gwen Wallace through the cycle of hill farming in the Cheviot Hills of Northumberland – lambing in spring, haymaking, shearing in the summer, then autumn lamb sales and winter feeding. This engrossing book is an extraordinary record of a vanishing way of life on Britain's traditional hill farms.
Charles Bowden is a Northumberland farmer's son who read English at Oxford before joining Thomson Newspapers in Newcastle. He was agricultural editor of the Newcastle Journal from 1975 to 1985 when he moved to Tyne Tees Television to produce the weekly farming programme they made for ITV. He has worked as an independent producer making over 150 programmes about farming, rural issues and wildlife for the BBC and regional ITV companies. He lives in Northumberland, very close to Sillywrea Farm.