Give Me A Home Where?
With the end of fox hunting, whatever is to become of Hornby Castle?
Good news from the Yorkshire Post Today, which published this wonderful article by Brian Dooks.
Julia and Roger Clutterbuck have introduced the bison – better known as the buffalo of Hollywood westerns – to Hornby Castle, near Bedale.
They are to be farmed alongside the castle's 180 red deer to produce high-quality meat being sold from the Clutterbucks' shop and to local restaurants.
Mr Clutterbuck said: "Bison meat is the most heart-friendly you can buy, with the lowest cholesterol level and very little fat. It has a very distinctive taste – sweeter and richer flavour than beef. Once you taste it you won't forget it."
So far Hornby Castle has six bison cows and one bull – the only ones in the North of England. There are only 124 in Britain.
They should not be confused with the European water buffalo, pioneered in North Yorkshire by Paul and Kate Langthorne, of Brompton, near Northallerton, which produce meat and milk to make mozzarella cheese.
Mr Clutterbuck said: "They are gentle giants, but they have a tendency to be single minded – a full-grown one weighs almost one ton and you can't tell them where to go. However, they are remarkable because they will not cross a line, whether it's a single strand of wire or a railway line."
The Clutterbuck family bought Hornby Castle in 1936 after the estate was broken up by the Duke of Leeds, whose ancestors had passed it down through marriage since 1179. Recently the land has grown arable crops but it is reverting to grassland under a 20-year restoration programme following a Countryside Stewardship agreement.
The bison have been established with the help of a Rural Enterprise Scheme grant. Yorkshire's first "native" bison should be born next summer and when the breeding herd is established they will be sold on to other farmers. Income will fund restoration of the historic parkland, which is attributed to a pupil of Capability Brown.
Mrs Clutterbuck said: "Much of the original parkland had been given over to growing arable crops or grazing stock. As a result it's been broken up with stock fences. Our plan is to remove these and return it to grass. Once this is under way, most of the area will be opened up for riders and walkers to enjoy and explore.
"It's difficult to get a clear picture what it would have originally looked like. The estate was broken up in the 1930s and most of the original documents were lost. What we are recreating is an approximation of the original, but it will be as close as we can get it and will certainly look very different to its current appearance."
Rural Development Service spokeswoman Rebecca Clarkson said: " It is exciting to see a combination of old and new coming together at Hornby Castle to provide it with new income for the future. The new business adds authenticity to the park and the bison are a novel introduction. Both will help fund restoration work and provide alternative income."
Bill Langhamer, of Business Link York and North Yorkshire, said: "This is a great example of diversification. Farming faces many challenges and the Clutterbucks have spotted a niche. They are building the market for heart-friendly meat and providing a novel new food."