A Powys shepherdess fears she will have to “give up farming” after being forced off pastureland that her family has occupied for nearly 40 years.

Claire Davies’ father Hugh has been tenant of the Ty Mawr Sheepwalk – a 350-acre unenclosed permanent pasture in the Elan Valley – since winning it via a tender in 1984.

Claire, 27, went into business with her father in 2017 and has been shepherding their 300-strong flock of Welsh Mountain sheep at Ty Mawr, at the northern end of Graig Goch Reservoir, ever since.

In 2018 she took sole charge of the flock after her father became unwell. He died in December 2021.


“I went into business with dad in 2017, but I’ve always been on the farm,” said Claire.

“He became unwell after my parents’ divorce and I became the boss. I’ve been running it solely since 2018.

“When dad died it was a shock and very sudden. He wrote in his will he wanted me to carry on his legacy and left everything to me.”

Claire said she was stunned when, soon after Hugh’s funeral, she received correspondence from the Elan Valley Trust regarding vacating the sheepwalk.

After two years fighting over the land, Ty Mawr has now been advertised for tender on the Elan Valley website, with the new tenancy taking effect from May 13. Claire has not been invited to interview.

County Times: Claire on horseback beside her father's plaqueClaire on horseback beside her father's plaque (Image: Claire Davies)

“I’m a young person who wants to stay in farming," she said. 

"you would have thought having someone in the family who’s young and can carry on the job for the trust would be welcomed.

“I’ve got the sheep, a farm at home, knowledge of the hill, I know the neighbours and know the area like the back of my hand.

“But I’ve been told the directors do not know who I am and that my age was against me.

“They haven’t even had the decency to have me in for an interview or tell me why I’m not good enough. It’s not my age, it’s my sex.”

The trust said it is currently investigating an allegation of discrimination, including with independent oversight.

Hugh’s ashes are scattered on “his hill”, as per his wishes, and a memorial plaque has been erected.

The pens on the sheepwalk were built by him and there is even a famous You Tube video of Hugh gathering a flock of then 2,000 ewes, marching them off the hill and through Rhayader to be sheared at the farm where Claire lives, and back to Ty Mawr the following day.

She posted her own Facebook video this week, explaining her plight, which has been viewed over 1,600 times. She has also received the backing of Gareth Wyn Jones, who has shared it on his YouTube page.

“They’ve taken everything off me and I am now going to have to give up farming,” added Claire.

County Times: Claire during shearing season.Claire during shearing season. (Image: Claire Davies)

“The farm at home isn’t big enough to hold them (the flock), so I’m going to have to sell them and give farming up, I’ve got no other option.

“Other tenants have thanked me for speaking up, because they’re too scared to, because they might lose what they’ve got. I felt like I had to speak up.”

“The Elan Valley Trust are concerned to hear about a complaint made in relation to the letting of Ty Mawr Sheepwalk, following the sad death of the tenant,” said a spokesperson.

“The trust values the close-knit community of the Elan Valley, our tenants and our staff.

“As a landlord, the trust complies with agricultural tenancy law and balances this with furthering the objectives of the charity as we manage tenancies on the estate.

“We offer long term starter tenancies in line with charity law. These are advertised and recruited using a fair and transparent process.

“Whilst we believe we have the policies and procedures in place to safeguard against discrimination, we are undertaking an investigation into the complaint in line with our complaints policy.

“In addition, we are appointing an external expert to evaluate our procedures and conduct throughout the letting process.

“We have paused the letting process while this investigation is underway, and it is not appropriate to comment further until that is concluded. It is our policy not to discuss these matters publicly via social media.”