THE real life ‘trials and tribulations’ of hill farmers in Cumbria will be revealed in a major London exhibition this year.

Billed as ‘one of the most far-reaching explorations’ of upland life, the Land Keepers project will be shown at the Royal Geographical Society in November.

It marks the culmination of three years’ research by writer Harriet Fraser and her photographer husband Rob.

The aim was to look beyond Lakeland’s chocolate box image to discover the reality of life for those mostly closely connected to the world-renowned landscape.

Backed by funding from the Lake District National Park Authority (LDNPA), DEFRA and the European Union, the pair have been chronicling the reality of upland farming in the early part of the 21st Century.

Harriet said it had been a compelling and valuable exercise, throwing up information which could influence and help policy makers in the future.

“Not only have we learned a huge amount about hill farming practices and culture, we have seen a wide variety of demands on the uplands and the challenges many in the farming community are facing,” she said.

“We’ve heard widespread concern for a sustainable future for the industry and practical ways to ensure rich biodiversity in the national park.

“Speaking to a cross-section of people working in the Lake District, we discovered some underlying conflicts of interest and lack of understanding. However, we found a lot of common ground with different organisations working together for a balance that works for everyone.”

Harriet paid tribute to LDNPA’s support, which included an £8,000 grant, and added: “It would be good to develop the project further, perhaps to tie in with the progress of the bid for Lake District World Heritage inscription.”

LDNPA community partnership and community co-ordinator Clive Wickham said he was pleased initial funding had brought such a powerful project to fruition.

“This work is very much in tune with our support for upland farming and we’re delighted Land Keepers is achieving such a high profile,” he said.

Further details and dates of the exhibition tour in Cumbria are on