The Shepherd’s Life: A Tale of the Lake District by James Rebanks - review by Tom Fort

Tom Fort

Sheep Whisperer

The Shepherd’s Life: A Tale of the Lake District


Allen Lane 320pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

The humble sheep has, in general, struggled to receive its due acknowledgement and respect. It bleats and baas and is disdained for its presumed low IQ, absence of decision-making nous and tendency to run around in circles or block lanes that Range Rover drivers are anxious to negotiate.

But in this exceptional book, the sheep – or at least the Herdwick breed of the Lakeland fells – is at last lifted to its proper status. Under the knowing, affectionate eye of James Rebanks – known to his army of Twitter followers as @herdyshepherd1, the Herdwick Shepherd – it is transformed from bleating booby to doughty, hardy, resourceful, tasty, indispensable four-legged hero of the uplands.

Of course the wilding brigade – led by know-it-all George Monbiot – would like to get rid of them altogether and restore the fells to some prelapsarian forested wilderness roamed by wolves and bears and possibly the odd auroch or woolly mammoth, if such became available. It is one of

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