Landscape Setting

The landscape of the Churnet Valley and the broader Staffordshire Moorlands is characterised by neutral grassland and hay meadows utilised for dairying and stock rearing. The land embraces both the “Disadvantaged” and the “Severely Disadvantaged” categories of “Less Favoured Area” with sheep grazing key to management of landscape and habitat. The invention of the “quad bike” may have eased the effort for the modern shepherd but it has failed to displace the role of the sheepdog in flock management. Although the English sheep flock stands lower than the 8.9 million breeding females reported by DEFRA in the Agricultural census carried out in June 2000, prior to the outbreak of Foot & Mouth Disease in 2001, the national sheep flock has grown steadily over the recent past from 6.5 million breeding females in 2010 to 7.1 million breeding females in 2013.