Hill Top Farm is home to the fourth generation of the Heseltine family to farm in Malham. Whilst agriculture in general may have changed, the Malhamdale landscape leads us to use traditional methods of farming so that the ethos of what we do hasn’t.
The farm is largely located in the Limestone uplands with most of our land being between 1200 – 1800ft. We therefore choose hardy native breeds to graze this land, breeds which have evolved to cope with the weather and marginal grassland of the hills. We have acres of drystone wall, all mended and maintained by hand and run a flock of 250 Swaledale sheep, both major symbols of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
We’ve farmed Belted Galloway cattle for 12 years now and as part of conservation grazing schemes their presence on our hill land has been crucial in terms of improving biodiversity and natural habitat. There are two Sites of Special Scientific Interest on our land and we’ve embraced sustainable ways of farming so that these areas can flourish and enjoy protection. We’ve had Barn Owls nesting on the farm for the last two years and have seen a marked increase in natural flora and herbs, including the restoration of a traditional hay meadow with the help of the Yorkshire Dales Millenium Trust. We continue to work with the National Trust, Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority and RSPB to maintain and create a diverse farm habitat.
Our cattle in turn lead a natural outdoor life; they graze outside all year round without the use of any grain based feeding, maturing slowly at a natural rate. It’s very important to us that they’re free to roam and exhibit natural behaviour and this in turn shows in our beef. Part of our land belongs to the National Trust Malham Tarn Estate and as tenants we were lucky enough to win one of their Fine Farm Produce Awards for our Belted Galloway beef in 2014. We’re also approved suppliers of the Pasture Fed Livestock Association, dedicated to raising animals on pasture alone.
We’ve been selling our farm produce commercially for generations and now sell our raw fleece to hand spinners and weavers after shearing every summer. Our meat is available for online purchase via our Farm Produce page – please contact us if you’d like more information about either.