A farm walk journeying three miles from the source of the River Dickler, marked the start of the recent Future of UK Farming Conference. Led by Paddy Hoare of Fir Farm and Guy Hayward of the British Pilgrimage Trust, the walk passed through fields and along country lanes, ending at Fir Farm itself.

Walkers were given the opportunity to explore parts of the working 700 acre mixed
 farm, which is now an integrated livestock and arable system, PFLA assured, and in conversion to organic, selling as much produce as possible from the farm gate. Sustainable land management is an integral part of the farm ethos, exemplified in its limited use of external inputs and aim to achieve zero inputs and zero waste. Fir Farm is home to 200 head of pedigree polled Hereford cattle, 250 acres of arable and 90 acres of conservation area and woodland.

During the morning walk, Guy sang two traditional folk songs to the group of more than 100, and led them in silence for a while, listening to the sounds of nature. Both Paddy and Guy believe that sustainability are key for the successful future of farming and our environment, both of which must be ‘in tune’.

According to the BPT, there are many kinds of holy place. There are temples – i.e. chapels, churches and cathedrals of all faiths. There are ancient trees, sacred stones and hilltops, and there is water in the form of holy wells, springs, river sources and confluences. Guy says that “walking from the source of the river you were born next to, or now live next to, all the way to where it meets the sea is a great thing to do”. Although the end point of this particular walk was not the sea, for many, the River Dickler represents an important water source flowing 7.5 miles through Upper Swell and to the west of Stow on the Wold into the River Windrush.

Listen below to Guy and co-founder of the British Pilgrimage Trust, Will Parsons sing the pilgrimage songs.



Photograph: Chloe Edwards

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