An anonymous person has outbid a community effort that raised £2 million to restore one of the last surviving valley-head farms in the Lake District.
The secret bidder is willing to pay £2.6m for Dowthwaite Head farm in the Matterdale valley, £600,000 too high for a project that wanted to 'breathe new life' into the farm, according to a report by The Times.
The team, consisting of shepherd and author James Rebanks, along with Countryside Restoration Trust and the Friends of the Lake District, have been tussling with the unknown person or organisation over the last month.
Mr Rebanks and the charities met the £2 million guide price, but were locked in an ensuing bidding war, pushing the price too high for them to the continue.
The trio wanted to turn the 290-acre farm, on the market with Savills, into a beacon for environmentally-friendly farming, placed at the heart of the local community.
They also wanted to ensure that the farm's Herdwick sheep heritage would still continue to be active, coupled with skilled commoning.
But fears have now been raised that the unknown buyer could end the farm's iconic traditions.
James Rebanks said on social media he was a 'little heartbroken' at the news: “There are only a handful of such farms left in our Unesco World Heritage landscape and we wanted to save it for the community.
I am a little broken hearted today... it felt like it was a special dream of how our community could breathe new life in to that much loved farm and valley - taking charge of our own fate and owning the challenges— James Rebanks (@herdyshepherd1) October 22, 2020
And we were keen to share that journey with you all
“It felt like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to implement all that we as a community had learnt in recent years in restoring hay meadows, restoring rivers and floodplains, creating wood pasture, supporting a farming family as tenants, making it a model of what a farm could be.”