AN EDEN Valley farmer who kept a watchful eye on the weather for 50 years has been recognised for her “devotion”.

Grandmother-of-ten Edith Mason’s half-century of service as a daily rainfall reader is being described as “an outstanding achievement” by the Environment Agency and the Met Office.

Every morning around eight o’clock, Mrs Mason, now 78, would read the rain gauge at her remote Ravenstonedale farm, having been up since dawn tending the livestock.

She recorded her first droplets in April 1968, and told the Gazette: “They just came round looking for someone to do this and I wasn’t keen. I said I knew nothing about millimetres and this, that and the other.

“I said, oh well, I would have a go at doing it.”

The original rain funnel is still in situ at Needle House, Fell End, where she and late husband Norman brought up their two sons and two daughters, and kept beef cattle and Swaledale sheep.

Mrs Mason’s early reluctance turned to fascination with meteorology as she kept her own weather diaries, as well as filling out official record cards to post once a month.

The most rain in a day - 144.2mm, over five inches - fell during Storm Desmond on December 5, 2015, and the driest year was 1995.

“It’s been very interesting, to be honest,” she said. “The summers are getting wetter and the winters are not as bad. I’ve lived up there when we’ve been blocked in by snow for about a week or more. I was always well stocked up - a good larder and a good deep-freeze.

“We got bad winters every year, and back in those days there weren’t tractors with front-end loaders - you had to dig it out with a spade.”

Mrs Mason has vivid memories of the “very hot summer” of 1976.

“I remember going up to Haweswater with the children because it had nearly dried up and I remember you could walk across to a little island: the walls [of Mardale village] had come into sight. We haven’t had a lot of summers like that.”

Mrs Mason and son Thomas have now left Ravenstonedale as the fells are so rain-sodden, farming has become too difficult and they have struggled to bring in their hay crop. Mrs Mason, a great-grandmother, has settled happily in Sedbergh, and her son farms at Middleton.

To mark Mrs Mason’s 50 years, the Met Office and Environment Agency presented her with a certificate, and said: “Obviously we owe a big thank you to Mrs Mason; there are not many rainfall observers who have achieved this length of record and she has been one of the best we’ve had.”