Although not a working farm today, Broadrayne Farm is steeped in the history of the Lake District. For generations, some of the best sheep in the Lake District came from our farm, and you’ll still see the gorgeous grey faces of the Herdwick Sheep in the surrounding fields. Our name was inspired by the site’s sheep farming heritage. ‘Yan’ means ‘one’ in the old Cumbrian dialect counting system. If you listen closely, you will still hear lots of local farmers using the same system today to count their sheep.
Sitting just above what would have been the flood plain of the valley and below the fells behind, the name ‘Broadrayne’ traces back to the old Norse language. 'Broad' translates to ‘wide’ and 'rein' means ‘long strip’ which perfectly describes the shape of the original farm footprint. Our oldest maps and the field walls indicate that the farm extended further to the north than today, in a wide, long strip. It’s almost like it all makes sense, isn’t it?
We aren’t sure whether people lived here back then or not but for the name to survive, the land around us must have been utilised and treasured for a very, very long time.
The Main Farmhouse
Standing on a large boulder base, the main farmhouse dates back to circa 1620. However, there was probably an earlier building than the one that stands today as it was tradition to rebuild on the same site as the previous one. The stone walls around the farm and the shape of the fields also reflect a similar date to the current farmhouse. Our deeds and a very early map tell us that these fields were enclosed before the 1720s.
The outlying barn to the North has always been known as the ‘Bracken Barn’. Here, farmers would store all the cut bracken. Some of it was used as animal bedding and the rest was burnt to make potash. The potash would then be turned into soap which was then used to scour the grease from the sheep’s wool before it was spun and sold. They had the zero waste way of life well and truly sorted!
The Yan at Broadrayne
The Yan building dates back to the early years of the 19th-century. Like the bank barn, this building was two-storey. On the top floor, storage bays for hay, barley and oats could be found and on the bottom floor, a byre for the cattle. The oats and barley would have been grown in the meadows further down the valley; no wheat could have been grown in the actual valley, as it would have been too wet (and still is). Today, you’ll find a thoughtfully converted barn that houses our fantastic bistro and seven contemporary bedrooms.
The building attached to the north of the farmhouse is a 17th-century Lakeland bank barn. Today, this is where you’ll find our lovely Woolloft Cottage. This particular type of barn is quite common in the area and throughout upland landscapes in Europe. They were designed to enable them to be built along or across slopes or banks (of which we have lots in the Lake District). This two-storey building was heavily utilised back when the farm was working with cattle housed on the ground floor and storage for animal feed and sheep’s fleeces found on the second floor. The cows and fleeces are long gone and now you’ll find our 2 bedroom barn conversion cottage.
Believe it or not, the building where you’ll find our lovely one-bedroom apartment, The Byre, was an actual byre. The 19th-century byre (or cow barn) was where the cows would be housed during the winter or brought into milk.
The Cottage is a 19th-century building that overlooks the Vale of Grasmere. Once the ‘downhouse’ for the original Broadrayne Farm it is now a beautifully converted cottage.
The Fold is the farms only studio apartment previously part of the farm's cow byre, converted in 2016. Although it currently houses our Sous Chef Sam!
The Smithy is a detached one-storey building that was once a blacksmith’s workshop for the farm, hence the name. Today you’ll find it has been converted into a gorgeous one bedroom cottage with a private garden.
Our Herdy history
Broadrayne Farm has over the years bred and been home to some of the best sheep in the Lake District - more specifically Herdwick sheep or ‘herdies’. The brown and grey beauties are widely considered to be the hardiest of all Britain’s breeds of hill sheep, living out on the fells pretty much year round and many without supplementary feed thanks to their fantastic foraging abilities. Their wool is used in lots of textiles such as carpets and the Herdwick lamb is also a rather special Lake District delicacy (try our famous Shepherd’s Pie at the bistro and you’ll see what we mean).
The gorgeous grey faces of the Herdwick Sheep can be seen on the farm and surrounding fields. These are descendants of the sheep that were here many generations ago and are hefted to the farm. This flock is actually called Broadrayne Sheep and is now owned and managed by our next-door neighbours. If you look closely, you’ll see that they are marked with the Broadrayne flock mark.