Head for the hills – are ewe the right person for this one-off shepherding opportunity?

The National Trust is looking for a second shepherd to support an innovative conservation project in the foothills of Snowdon in North Wales.

Herding the sheep on the mountains above Hafod Y Llan. Credit Joe Cornish

Herding the sheep on the mountains above Hafod Y Llan. Credit Joe Cornish

The conservation charity’s in-hand farm, Hafod-y-Llan, manages 1600 Welsh Mountain sheep and every day between May and September, some of the flock is shepherded to new grazing areas away from any sensitive mountain habitats such as upland heaths and flushes (wet, boggy areas), in a bid to improve plant diversity on areas of the mountain.

A second shepherd is needed to ensure that the sheep are cared for during daylight hours, creating the only full-time shepherding project on the mountains in Wales.

The five-year conservation shepherding project which started last year, is being part funded by Natural Resources Wales, and is being closely monitored to measure its effect on the mountain vegetation as well as on the traditional, hefted flock.

Arwyn Owen, farm manager at Hafod-y-Llan says: “By combining the traditional skills and knowledge of shepherds as well as new conservation approaches, we are trying to demonstrate that farming and conservation can work successfully together.

“Taking on another shepherd or shepherdess will allow us to manage the flock seven days a week so that the habitats and wildlife have the maximum opportunity to renew and thrive.

“The role itself is truly the opportunity of a lifetime, but it won’t be for everyone. Snowdon is wet and the work can be lonely, but for a shepherd(ess) that loves sheep, sheepdogs and walking it will be the perfect job!”

Bryn Griffiths, the current shepherd for the National Trust's conservation project on Snowdon. Credit National Trust

Bryn Griffiths, the current shepherd for the National Trust’s conservation project on Snowdon. Credit National Trust

Current shepherd, Bryn Griffiths, reflects on his time on the mountain last summer. He says: “It got to the point when the sheep knew who I was and what I wanted. When I got up on the mountain in the morning, they would start walking even before the dogs started. We got into a routine, my dogs learnt a lot, and so did I.”

The farm sits within the Yr Wyddfa National Nature Reserve and Natura 2000. Sabine Nouvet, the National Trust’s conservation ranger for Snowdonia and Llyn added: “If we are successful with this project, the mountain tops will flower with heather and other plants such as bog asphodel and fruiting bilberries. The valleys will be mottled green after grazing by the hefted flock.

“Our aim is that in five years we will have better habitats, a better understanding of how sheep can be managed for the benefit of conservation, and more skilled shepherds on the mountains.”

This opportunity is suitable for anyone with experience of shepherding and an interest in wildlife conservation. For more information, please contact Arwyn Owen, farm manager on 01766 890473 by 21 May 2015.

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