The boss of the National Trust has vowed to invest to help farm businesses in the lake District to diversify.

During a visit to the region, National Trust director general Hilary McGrady, said the organisation would invest in farmhouses and infrastructure and help “to create opportunities for farm business diversification.”

The funding will be funnelled through the Trust’s Lakes Future Farming Programme. 

Ms McGrady gave details of the programme when she met with tenants in the county to outline “the role of farming in nature recovery”.

“It is also about supporting and developing a pipeline of new farm entrants with the skills, aptitude and adaptability to take on farm tenancies when they become vacant,” she said.

“Ultimately it’s about financially stable and viable farms where wildlife flourishes, soils are healthier and the land is more robust in the face of climate change, all the while sustaining the globally significant attributes that make the Lake District a World Heritage Site.”

Ms McGrady added: “We know our countryside can do so much more than provide high quality food. 

“As we look to the future there’s an increasing need – and demand – to dial up our focus on other products which farms can produce, from healthy soils to providing better homes for nature.

“It is tough right now but there will be opportunities for farmers to benefit from new markets, from locking up carbon to providing cleaner water. 

“We have also been heartened by new people coming forward to take on our farms with six re-let in the last year.”

The organisation – which owns almost 45,000 hectares of land in the Lake District National Park – is currently seeking a manager to head up the Lakes Future Farming Programme.