Federation of Cumbria Commoners

Raising the voice of commoners in the far north of England.

What we do

We are a group of hill farmers from Cumbria and Northumberland who want to let people know that hill farming and commoning matters in so many ways. Our family farms produce food, wool, sheep and cattle. We care for nature and landscape and are the cornerstone of upland rural economies.

We lobby the Government and Agencies at all levels. We work hard to represent the views and concerns of hill farmers and safeguard their interests wherever we can.


Agricultural policy is changing. We lobby and influence the Government, its Agencies and NGOs at all levels. We want to see fairer farm funding that supports high nature and climate-friendly farming systems like commoning.



Few people know about our rich farming culture of collaborative land management, native sheep breeds, traditional shows and sports, shepherds meets and local dialects. We want to show how we farm and manage the mountains and moorlands.



We constantly monitor the latest national policy developments, local strategies and partnerships around hill farming and commoning. We provide information and support to our membes on issues that affect them.

cumbria-commoners- herdwicks-gather-mixed

Rooted in Cumbria and the North of England

The Federation of Cumbria Commoners is a hill farmer owned organisation. We represent hill farmers who have legal rights to graze sheep, cattle and ponies on moorland commons – they are known as “commoners”. We are dedicated to safeguarding the rights, livelihoods and future of commoners.
By actively engaging with agencies and government at local, national and international levels, we influence policy on rural, agricultural, social, environmental issues.

Open to All

Commoners and their livestock have shaped many of our most spectacular mountain landscapes in Cumbria and northern England.

Common land is open for all to enjoy, but please remember it is a farmed landscape. The Countryside Code sets out some simple guidance so the public can visit some of the most beautiful and fragile parts of the uplands, while being safe and respectful of others. 

What is Commoning?

Commoning is a farming system developed by farmers many centuries ago to share the grazing on mountains, moorlands, heaths and marshes.  This special way of managing land is based on fairness and interdependence between a close community of farmers who have passed on from generation to generation a deep knowledge of the land

Commoning is steeped in farming traditions from breeding hardy livestock and working sheep dogs to fiercely competitive agricultural shows where you can hear local dialects.  These shared values and traditions contribute to the World Heritage Status of the Lake District.

Commoning has endured and adapted to meet the challenges of the day. Today it is as relevant as ever. Commoners are blending new and traditional farming practices to tackle 21st Century challenges of nature recovery and the climate emergency. Done well commoning produces natural reared meat and helps nature recover; increases carbon in the soil; reduces flooding; and provides clean water and air.

This 2 minute video was made by one of our younger members.

It conveys a year in the life of a commoner and his sheep and his pride in a job well done.

Current News & Issues

By Commoners For Commoners.

Dartmoor Independent Review

Dartmoor Independent Review

Background: many Dartmoor HLS commons agreements ended in 2023 In early 2023 Natural England (NE) notified Dartmoor commoners and their Associations that NE could not recommend extensions to most of these agreements unless the commoners agreed to make significant...

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ELMs condemns commoners to produce public goods on the cheap

ELMs condemns commoners to produce public goods on the cheap

New ELM support barely noticeable We noted with a wry smile the polite gratitude expressed by many organisations that Defra has provided us with more detail. It has taken them five years and we still haven’t had the full scheme details yet! What’s more, new support to...

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“Unbounded freedom ruled the wandering scene
Nor fence of ownership crept in between
To hide the prospect of the following eye
Its only bondage was the circling sky”.

John Clare,
Herd Boy & Farmer (1792-1864)