Pleased to meet Paul..

As you enter the Durham Dales, you’ll find a flock of Lleyn sheep grazing the fields of Low Harperley Farm, looked after by farmer, Paul Allison. It’s here where the lamb for our new restaurant Forge is reared.

We pulled on our warmest coats, wellingtons and took a trip to the farm to chat to Paul to find out more about the Low Harperley flock, farming and Forge.

How long have sheep been raised on your farm?

Low Harperley has been a grassland farm for centuries. Sheep have been farmed here for at least 800 years.

How did you choose the breed of sheep you wanted to rear? And why?

We rear a Lleyn flock, they are a native British breed originating from north-west Wales. I like the breed because they are hardy enough for the Weardale climate and are good mothers to their young, and at the same time being fertile and productive. Because we have one pure breed, we can keep the best females as replacement ewes, which enables us to be a “closed flock”. This means our primary strategy for avoiding diseases is that we don’t bring any into the flock through annual purchase of breeding females.

How does your approach to sheep farming affect the taste and texture of the product?

Our sheep deserve to live their very best life possible and we do everything we can to give it to them. Animal welfare is everything to us. The amount of stress the animal goes through in its lifetime plays a huge part in the quality of the meat.

We make sure our flock has a healthy relaxed lifestyle. They live outside, grazing on grass in stable social groups and are looked after by the same people for their whole lives.

What do you feed your lambs and how does their diet and nutrition impact the meat?

Our lambs only ever suckle their mother’s milk and graze grass. They are never fed concentrates. Grass fed meat is known to be more flavoursome and healthier than meat produced in more intensive systems.

In the winter we provide the pregnant ewes with haylage (conserved grass) and just before lambing give them an energy boost with some whole oats and beans. We don’t use manufactured compound feeds.

Do you use any sustainable farming methods when rearing sheep?

We soil test regularly, so that we can minimise the use of chemicals on the land. All the haylage comes from our own farm. Grass pastures are also fantastic Carbon sinks that absorb and lock up Carbon Dioxide.

What is your favourite way to eat lamb?

Difficult question. It’s probably Lancashire hotpot; or maybe roast leg of lamb with roast vegetables, onion sauce and gravy; or possibly lamb chops. Then again, I am partial to lamb’s liver with onions and bacon.

We’re super excited to serve your lamb in our new Restaurant, Forge. What are you most looking forward to?

The chefs at Middleton Lodge are fantastic and I love what they do with our lamb, so I’m most looking forward to hearing the response of the restaurant’s customers to that. As farmers, we are quite remote from the end consumers of our produce. Most of our lambs go through the retail chain, so we don’t often get direct feedback from the people that actually eat our lamb.

I’m also looking forward to seeing the various ways the lamb is used in the different restaurants across the estate. The Forge focuses on elemental flavours and tells a true story of Middleton Lodge and the local countryside, so, in combination with the more traditional cuisine of the Coach House and the catering for events and weddings, it’ll be great to see how the estate can use the whole lamb, from nose to tail.

An update from the Estate

Dear Friends & Family,
As part of our staged reopening on Thursday 23rd July, Middleton Lodge Estate will be implementing “contactless stays” in line with government social distancing guidelines.

We are finally able to welcome you back to the Coach House Restaurant! We will be opening the restaurant for limited sittings for non residents, PRE BOOKINGS ONLY for Friday evening, Saturday lunch and dinner, and Sunday lunch on the weekends of 10th-12th July and 17th-19th July. Please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for reservations. We are also able to offer Contactless stays for both weekends, and our hotel will be reopening full time from the 23rd July. Rooms can be booked here: Please be aware that going forward that ALL guests will need a reservation before coming onto the estate, and temperatures will be checked at the gate. It should go without saying but please do not come here if you have any symptoms or have been recently exposed, and please be mindful of other guests and staff. Table sizes and groups will of course be limited in line with current government guidelines.

What is a contactless stay?

Guests will be guided remotely through booking and check in prior to arrival. On arrival, all guests will have a temperature check at the new gatehouse, and be directed via a map to their private rooms. Each has it’s own private entrance and views of the gardens or parkland setting. Unwind in one of our fabulous roll top baths, with signature Noble Isle amenities proudly made in the British Isles. Order dinner in your room, or head over to our stretch tent in the Coach House courtyard for alfresco estate to plate at a distance. You might not see much of our staff, but rest assured they will be there, and available to help with anything that you might need.

If that’s not enough to tempt you, upgrades are available for rooms with hot tubs and wood burning stoves…

The great outdoors remains firmly open, and guests will have access to a selection of walking routes around the 200 acre estate and beyond. We also have our utterly beautiful Walled Gardens to explore (and are begging to be painted for any creative types - don’t forget your watercolours and easel!)

Our Mission

The Covid-19 outbreak continues to be a testing time for everyone, and we are delighted to be able to invite people back to our estate to share our beautiful Yorkshire countryside at a safe distance. The safety of all our staff and guests is paramount, and we are doing everything we can to ensure that people can come and feel safe and relaxed here.

Gift Vouchers

If you know someone who needs to get away from it all we do have vouchers available. You can boost the experience with dinner for two or a bottle of something delicious on arrival. Look out for special offers too on longer stays.

As always, Middleton Lodge Estate adheres to strict hygiene and safety guidelines. In addition to these we are taking extra precautions to limit interaction between staff and guests. We are also boosting deep cleaning practices. Though out of sight, the team will be available to assist guests with anything they might need during their stay via our new messaging service.

It should go without saying, but we do ask that any guests with any symptoms that could be attributable to Covid-19, or who may have been recently exposed to not come to the Estate. We also ask that you follow government guidelines for social distancing while you are here.

Thank you for your support during this difficult time, we have been so heartened with so many lovely messages from you all! We can’t wait to welcome you back.

Please take care and stay safe.

The Allison Family and Middleton Lodge Team x