10-year FBT on upland sheep farms up for tender in Scotland

The farms are being let on an initial FBT term of 10 years, with the agreement commencing on November 11, 2020
The farms are being let on an initial FBT term of 10 years, with the agreement commencing on November 11, 2020

A 10-year Farm Business Tenancy (FBT) is up for grabs for a farmer to take over two renowned upland sheep farms in the Scottish Borders.

Covering a total of 2300 acres, Hethpool and Fleehope farms are located in College Valley, in the Northern Cheviot Hills.

Hethpool, which rises 1125ft above sea level, and Fleehope which reaches 1970ft, have been farmed by highly respected sheep breeders Bill and Fanny Elliot for the last 21 years.

They are being let on an initial FBT term of 10 years, with the agreement commencing on November 11, 2020.

Included in the FBT are the farm buildings, sheep pens and a four-bedroom house.

The tenancy will be awarded to a farmer who has a track record of hill sheep farming husbandry skills, according to the farm owners, College Valley Estates.

The farmer must also 'demonstrate respect, management and enhancement for the natural environment'.

Hethpool is home to the renowned North Country Cheviot flock, and Fleehope is home to the Scottish Blackface flock.

The take over will be for 885 NCC ewes and 265 hoggs, and 450 Blackface ewes and 145 hoggs. The farms’ upland sheep regime is also suitable for some summer-only cattle grazing.

Farming for almost four decades

The outgoing tenant Bill Elliot was born in the Cheviots and has farmed there with his wife for almost four decades.

He is now retiring after a notable career as a producer of some of the UK’s leading NCC and Blackface sheep.

The couple took over the tenancies of Fleehope and Hethpool in 1999, and their partnership has since run and managed the farm, with additional support brought in on an ad-hoc basis during the key times of the year.

Each year, their goal has been to sell every ewe lamb privately direct from Hethpool and Fleehope. Most wether lambs are sold for slaughter, half of them direct off grass, at average weights of between 18.5 and 19.5 kilos.

Their Cheviot tups are sold at Lockerbie, Lairg and Dingwall, and the Blackface tups at Hexham.

Throughout his tenancy, Mr Elliot’s ultimate aim was to top the Cheviot and Blackface draft ewe sales in the same year, Lockerbie Auction Mart for the Cheviots and Hexham for the Blackfaces.

A tall order, and he has topped both, although not in the same year. He has, however, managed first and second in the same year.

His other long-term aim was to produce improved conformation and quality of the draft ewes.

'This is a very special place'

For their successor, Mr and Mrs Elliot’s advice is to 'enjoy what you are doing, take pride in your work, and everything else will follow'.

“This is a very special place, we have tremendous neighbours, and we have shared a real community spirit. And of course, most importantly, please look after my sheep,” they said.

Brockthorpe Consultancy are handling the tendering process, and have set a deadline for applications of interest to be received by 2nd July 2019.

This will be followed by an invitation to successful prospective applicants to an open day in the College Valley on the 16th July 2019, with the final tender submission closing on the 31st August 2019.

Those interested in seeking more information about taking on the tenancy for Hethpool and Fleehope should contact Louis Fell of Brockthorpe Consultancy on 07770 255 639 or by e-mail louis@brockthorpe.co.uk.