Mark Cunliffe-Lister - my Yorkshire life

PUBLISHED: 00:00 27 July 2020

Mark Cunliffe-Lister

Mark Cunliffe-Lister


Mark Cunliffe-Lister runs the Swinton Estate in Masham with his family and is the newly-elected chairman of the Moorland Association

Something in Yorkshire that makes you smile

The Yorkshire characters I meet and work with. My wife (a Devon girl) says Yorkshire folk take pleasure in a gloomy outlook and often quotes our very own Sir Geoffrey Boycott. I tell her she doesn’t understand our dry sense of humour and get her to watch Hale and Pace’s Yorkshire Airlines sketch.

A place you love to eat

I am clearly going to upset one of my chefs for choosing one of our two restaurants, along with many other wonderful Yorkshire chefs, but will go with Samuels, the fine dining restaurant at Swinton Park. For a special one-off treat it is hard to beat. The dining room itself was built by my ancestor Samuel to show off his pomp from his highly successful Manningham Mill in Bradford. The food is mainly sourced from the estate and cooked to perfection, the venison from our fallow deer herd is a particular favourite.

To take friends

We go for a walk on the moors up to a bothy hut for a picnic. The heather moors are a very unique habitat that luckily has been preserved due to previous generations’ love of grouse shooting and not turning the land over to forestry or commercial sheep farming. It is an increasingly rare habitat that we are blessed to have both on North York Moors and the Yorkshire Dales. As chairman of Moorland Association I will do my best to continue to preserve it.

A childhood memory

I was very fortunate to grow up on the Swinton Estate which offers a variety of country sports. My favourite memory was doing walked up shooting days either as a beater or a gun, around the moor edge where you never knew what game might suddenly appear.

A cultural go-to

A drive up Wensleydale is like a history lesson covering the last millennium. Starting with the ruined monastery at Jervaulx, then the medieval castles at Bolton and Middleham and the more recent stately homes and gardens like Swinton Park.

Inspiration outdoors

I have already mentioned the moors and how wonderful they can be, especially in spring when the birds are hatching off; some species, like the habitat, are becoming increasingly rare. There is also the wonderful river system that forms the Dales and if you are lucky enough to be fishing you could get anything from a wild brown trout to a monster salmon. I am especially proud to be president of Yorkshire Dales River Trust given the work they do in protecting these rivers.

A place for indulgence

Growing up in Masham it is hard to avoid beer. Being blessed with two excellent breweries in both Theakstons and Black Sheep. I have been known to indulge in one too many in one of Masham’s pubs and very well may be tempted to again.

A Yorkshire view that inspires

My particular favourite spot is a viewpoint from Druid’s Wood (there is a druid’s temple in the wood).

You look out from a lovely pine wood over Leighton reservoir up onto the moor, taking in the fields leading to the moor with the typical dry stone walls.

We have built a glamping site there, Swinton Bivouac, so others can enjoy it.

I’m never happier than when

I get to spend time with the family enjoying the many wonderful attributes that Swinton has to offer and repeating the many treasured family memories I have.

Three words that sum up your best Yorkshire life …

God’s own county

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