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The name Swaledale originates from the valley of Swaledale in Yorkshire. Swaledales are hardy sheep that can withstand the harsh climatic conditions found on the upper fells in Cumbria, County Durham and the Yorkshire Dales.They are therefore ideal stock to populate hill farms such as Tarn House.

Swaledales have a black head with a white area around the nose and mouth. They have curled horns, produce resilient wool and are a first class source of mutton.

The ewes are excellent lamb rearers, nurturing and protecting their young even in the harsh conditions that sometimes prevail on the Cumbrian fells.

The Swaledale is one of three breeds that dominate sheep farming in Cumbria. The other two breeds are the Rough Fell and the Herdwick.