A local sheep farmer has picked up a prestigious award for his book about family life in a rural landscape.

James Rebanks, from Matterdale, picked up the UK Nature Writing award at The UK Nature Wainwright Prize awards on Tuesday. The awards focus on works that are inspired by the general outdoors, nature, travel and conservation.

The book tells of how rural landscapes around the world have been brought close to collapse, and the age-old rhythms of work, weather, community and wild things are being lost.

Rebanks was grateful to win the award. He said: “It probably took me 20 years to write my first book, because I started thinking about it when I was 17 and I was about 40 by the time I did it. This one took three or four years of work,” he said. “The first book was very much about who we are and why I’m proud of the people I’m from and the landscape I’m from, and what our lives are like. It meant a lot to me to try and get that in front of other people.”

Comparing English Pastoral to his older work, he said: “It’s probably a more grown-up effort, it’s me reckoning with all the big stuff that’s going on at the moment, and some of our flaws and limitations – the complexities of what it actually is to live on the land. They’re competing needs – we need food, and we need nature, and we need trees and fields.

It’s all about a quite small farm, and quite a small life and a small community, but I think it touches on a lot of the bigger issues.”

English Pastoral has also been a Top Ten bestseller and was named the Sunday Times Nature Book of the Year. Heralded as a ‘masterpiece’ by the New Statesman, it was shortlisted for the Ondaatje prize and the Orwell Prize for Political Writing, as well as being longlisted for the Rathbones Folio prize.

Philip Pullman, who wrote fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials, said: “Rebanks writes so well that I can’t imagine anyone starting to read it and not being eager to read it all at once, as I did, and not being moved by the life and the landscape he describes so well. I was thrilled by it."

English Pastoral is available to buy on paperback for £9.99.