A NATIONAL project to promote Herdwick meat has been officially launched.

Taste Cumbria’s campaign to raise the Lake District breed’s profile is being backed by the Herdwick Sheep Breeders’ Association and Cumbria’s six MPs - Tim Farron, Rory Stewart, John Woodcock, Jamie Read, Tony Cunning-ham and John Stephenson.

Taste Cumbria manager Mary Houston said: “Thanks to funding from The Prince’s Countryside Fund, we are planning a series of events to promote Herdwick, including a spectacular event in the capital. It is great to have the full support of our Cumbrian MPs.

“Herdwick is a wonderful product of both farmer and landscape.

“We need to support the fragile network of specialist Herdwick farmers and shepherds who work as guardians of our unique fells.

“Herdwick meat is of outstand-ing quality, and we should be see-ing it on the shelves of quality butchers, retailers and on the menu of all reputable restaurants.”

Mr Stewart, MP for Penrith and the Border, said: “Herdwick sheep are one of the most beautiful, and important symbols of the uplands. They are a defining mark of Cum-bria, and a joy to locals and visit-ors.”

Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Mr Farron said: “Together we need to commit to do everything we possibly can to support our farmers. The significant increase in income seen over that last year is very finely balanced on the price of sheep which is constantly fluctuating and, therefore, our hill farmers’ income could easily suffer from unfair decreases again at any time. I know this campaign will make a difference and I support it totally.”

MP Mr Woodcock, who represents Barrow and Furness, said: “I gladly give my backing to the Herdwick project, which will tackle low incomes for farmers, support rural communities, and help promote the fantastic Herdwick wool and meat.”

Herdwick sheep are left to roam on the fells in Cumbria, which makes them truly free range. Experts claim it is their hardy way of life which creates such a rich and distinctive superior flavour, above other types of lamb.