A lengthy conversation with one of the few remaining sheep farmers in Buttermere answered a lot of questions that I have often thought of asking. The fells in the Lake District and other areas are seeing less sheep as each year comes to pass. In certain places there are virtually none left. The Herdwick is the hardy breed that most fellrunners see high up amongst the crags and summits. But it is disappearing.
Farmers and Shepherds are getting older, there isn't much reward in it, no one to take the flock on, pressure from DEFRA, flocks being reduced and so on. The list goes on.
Whatever the impact I feel will be huge.
The fells in places are becoming overgrown. Maybe not on the popular routes but the more outer parts of the District the bracken is getting higher and higher up the fellside. I'm not an expert but eventually the sheep that have virtually kept the fells neat and tidy may just not be there someday