Before there was programmes like Our Yorkshire Farm starring Amanda Owen and her wholesome family life up on Ravenseat Farm, Yorkshire had its own iconic female Yorkshire farmer that embodied true Yorkshire grit and hardships. Displaying what it takes to live in the harsh conditions of the Yorkshire Dales with no electricity or running water, Hannah Hauxwell, the Yorkshire Daleswoman, was brought to the nation’s attention back in the 1970s in an ITV documentary named Too Long a Winter.
The country was in awe of the woman living on her own in the harsh climates of the Yorkshire Dales. She was seen as an inspiration to many. The documentary set the tone of Hauxwell’s life when she’s first seen leading a cow to its shed as a blizzard hit her Dales home, a dilapidated 80-acre farm Low Birk Hatt, located 1,000ft up in Baldersdale.
Ahead of her time for the 1970s, Hannah Huaxwell, an independent woman by all accounts rejected modern lifestyles and became one of television’s first and unassuming reality stars. She had run the farm by herself after the death of her parents and uncle from aged 35. And, struggled to survive with no electricity or running water earning only £240 to £280 a year (equivallent to £4,000 in 2018).
After Barry Cockcroft’s Too Long a Winter aired, ITV companies received hundreds of phone calls and sacks of mail containing gifts and money for “the old lady in the Yorkshire Dales”. Although, Hannah was only 46 when the programme aired, she caught the imagination of the nation with her simple life. The programme featured other Dales farmers, but she was the one who the viewers were drawn towards.
Almost two decades later in 1989 Cockcroft heared that Hauxwell was leaving Low Birk Hatt and made a new documentary with the same film crew entitled A Winter Too Many. Hauxwell’s health was declining and she struggled with the day-to-day task on the Dales farm stating that “In summer I live and in winter I exist”. Six decades up on the farm came to an end just before Christmas 1988 cottage in the nearby village of Cotherstone.
Books written with Cockcroft Seasons of My Life (1989), Daughter of the Dales (1990), Innocent Abroad (1991) and Hannah in America and Hannah’s North Country (both 1993) left Huaxwell living comforatbly off the royalites.
Hannah Hauxwell Died in West Auckland, County Durham in a nursing home in January 2018 with a service at Barnard Castle Methodist Church. She made her first visit to London to attend Woman of the Year lunch in 1976 and even took tea with the Queen in 1980 at a Palace garden party.
Hauxwell’s legacy lives on as the land she farmed, Low Birk Hatt Farm has been named Hannah’s Meadow – and because her family avoided using farm chemicals the land is now a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
Watch Hannah Hauxwell in Too Long a Winter below:
Feature Image Credit: ITV