TO say that the Castletown Estate is a diversified business is something of an understatement.

Situated to the north west of Carlisle, the estate is bounded by the M6 to the east, the Solway to the west and the rivers Esk and Eden to the north and south respectively.

The confluence of the two rivers creates one of the estate's defining features; the intertidal zone of about 1,000 hectares which sits between them and provides land for grazing, as well as an essential habitat for birds and other wildlife.

However, alongside livestock farming, Castletown also grows crops, manages forests and operates property and hospitality businesses, including hosting weddings.

Since 1807 the estate has been owned by the Mounsey-Heyshams, with ninth generation Toby Mounsey-Heysham the current owner.

Farm and estate director Ruari Martin says one thing that has remained consistent over the last 200 years has been the grazing of the saltmarsh by sheep and cattle, of which Castletown currently has 3,000 and 1,000 respectively.

The marsh is a vital breeding habitat for wading birds including barnacle geese, which fly there from Svalbard, in Iceland, each year.

“You name it in wading birds and we’ve probably got it,” said Ruari.

"We view ourselves as not farmers or foresters or environmentalists, we're very much land managers. We farm commercially, hand in hand with the environment. We're using the grazing animals as a tool to manage the habitat and the biodiversity."

In contrast to the saltmarsh, the sandy soil means inland areas are very well drained and good land for growing produce including maize, beans, wheat and barley, which are used as animal feed.

It also produces potatoes which are sold for human consumption to McCain.

During the winter the livestock will be transferred from the coastal area to the fields to eat forage crops such as turnips and red kale.

"It always makes me laugh when people start talking about regenerative farming as the next big thing," said Ruari. “What I would describe as regenerative farming is what our grandparents used to do and it's something we've done for years.

"We're working very closely with Natural England and Cumbria Wildlife Trust, monitoring bird life and the success or failure of clutches each year and reviewing the numbers and the grazing management and seeing how we can do things to improve that symbiotic relationship."