Despite opposition by Prince Charles and other high-profile supporters, the National Trust has decided to divide High Yewdale Farm in Cumbria that once belonged to author Beatrix Potter.

The Trust believes the farm, which was bequeathed to the charity by Potter when she died in 1943, is no longer viable because of Common Agricultural Policy Reforms. When present tenants Jonny and Ruth Birkett retire from farming in October, the 17th century farm buildings will be rented out for residential or other use. The 700 Herdwick sheep, understood to have been close to Potter’s heart, will be given to another farm and the 188 hectares of land shared between neighbouring properties.

The Trust’s decision has sparked widespread protests from those who fear that a unique part of Britain’s farming heritage will now be lost, with little consultation. Environmentalist David Bellamy and Countryside Alliance president Baroness Ann Mallalieu are among those campaigning against the Trust’s decision along with the present tenants.

High Yewdale Farm is an exceptional example of its type and was chosen by the Trust as a showcase farm in 1985 and was visited by the Queen. The action group set up to keep the farm as it is believes that High Yewdale is still financially viable.

‘The end of High Yewdale as a working fell farm sets a worrying precedent for other hill farms in the Lake District,’ says Tim Farron, MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale and Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hill Farming, ‘Beatrix Potter wanted future generations to enjoy the Lake District as she had. The National Trust decision challenges this legacy. Will they allow the landscape that inspired Peter Rabbit to fall into ruin?’

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