Bank End Farm, Cockerham

Sweet and tender salt marsh lamb from a flock that roams free over almost 500 acres of natural saltmarsh on the Lancashire coast.

Overlooked by the Bowland Fells, with the Lakeland hills brooding on the northern skyline, on high spring tides, Stuart and Caroline Lawson’s farm is surrounded by water on three sides.

Nestling between the river Cocker and the Lune estuary, the farm has been in the same family since 1936 and Stuart and Caroline have been selling their salt marsh reared lamb direct to the public via local farmers’ markets since 1999.

Their flock grazes alongside sandpipers, oystercatchers, geese and ducks, but for a few days every month, the sheep need to be rounded up and driven to inland grazing above the high water mark.

A quote from Caroline Lawson

“A lot of people think the meat will taste salty. But once they try it, they discover that saltmarsh lamb is actually sweeter and more tender than inland reared lamb. You really can taste the difference.”

“Our lives are completely dictated by the tide times,” said Stuart. “We have to move the flock every month without fail. It takes me about an hour to get the 280 sheep in off the marsh on the quad with a bit of help from Tess the sheepdog. She’s absolutely brilliant – she knows exactly what to do and if we’ve left it a bit late and the tide is already flooding, she’ll even swim across the channels to round up stray sheep and herd them to safety.”

The seawater naturally cleanses the land, so Stuart and Caroline’s sheep don’t need to be vaccinated as frequently, and with 450 acres to graze over, they have to walk further and work harder to get the calories from the fine marsh grass so the meat tends to be leaner. This natural diet of salt, seaweed and samphire also makes the meat sweet and tender.

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