The Shepherd’s Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape by James Rebanks

January 2018

I love sheep and sheepdogs, and I’ve followed James Rebanks on Twitter for a long time, so I was looking forward to reading this book. It’s a good insight into just how tough and unrelenting life is as a shepherd in the Lake District, but also how beautiful that life is. It sets up a strong “us” and “them” dynamic, however, where “us” is the people who farm in the Lake District and “them” is everyone else in the world. Rebanks’ point is that even though farmers/shepherds have been an integral part of the landscape for millennia there, they’re looked down upon and misunderstood by the wider society. I can’t argue against that, but I prickled at his blanket judgment of anyone who dares travel to the Lake District (or anywhere else) for the beauty alone and doesn’t make a living herding sheep. Not every tourist is an ignorant bumbler with no respect for the landscape and the people in it.

Further reading…