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Lowther Estate
Moving to regenerative land-management

Eight hundred and fifty years ago, the earliest known member of the Lowther family established himself in the corner of Cumbria that is now known as the Lowther Estate. Three principal dwellings have come and gone since that first settlement and today, the Estate is presided over by the ruined Lowther Castle – a Gothic building completed in 1812, deroofed in 1957 and today, a thriving and prize-winning visitor attraction.

While the Estate has grown and fluctuated, Lowther has been guided over the past centuries by an abiding will to stay ahead of the times. The benefits of forestry were foreseen during the reign of Edward I. Vegetarianism was embraced by Viscount Lonsdale in the late 17th century. Lowther Castle may have been partly demolished in the 1950s but in the long-term, the removal of its roof ensured the future security of the Estate at large.

Today the Castle’s success as a visitor attraction is based around its virtues as a ruin. It has not been restored but conserved, with layers of new history added to those already in place.

Looking forward, Lowther continues to be ambitious – with access and education at the centre of the agenda for the Castle and a regenerative agricultural strategy driving the machine of the Estate. Access across the Estate has been opened up to walkers and cyclists within the North Park while other areas of the estate remain private to allow natural processes to return and the wildlife to flourish without being disturbed. The medieval Deer Park may still be as it was hundreds of years ago but its management, along with the husbandry of much of the park, is being substantially de-intensified. Fences have come down, small graziers replaced by large ones, stock managed in an entirely different, more sustainable way. This is to promote a more natural environment where biodiversity and species richness increases.  To promote natural regeneration and create a more diverse range of habitats for our birds, insects and mammals, we use our graziers as ecosystem engineers.

The success of Lowther Estate lies with its ability to adapt. The challenges of the coming decades are to be faced up to, not ducked away from. Turning to enlightened methods of land management, Lowther Estate is proud to be taking a lead in the northwest and blazing a few trails as it goes.