Jon Monks – Originally from the North West of England Jon’s background was in agriculture.
After leaving school al 16 he worked on farms on the fertile Lancashire plain for 2 years before studying at Lancashire College of Agriculture for three years.
From college Jon put his newly found shepherding skills to practice in the Isle of Man before moving out to Australia and working on a sheep station (F S Falkiner & Sons in the NSW Riverina, near Deniliquin) owned by Rupert Murdoch, of all people. A mere 51,114 acres.
Upon returning to the UK Jon was assistant shepherd for Lord Carnarvon at Highclere Estate, Newbury (more commonly known now as the setting for Downton Abbey).
After one year ‘down south’ Jon moved up to Northumberland and fell in love with the countryside.
Jon Initially worked at Cornhills Farm in Northumberland before becoming shepherd at Greenleighton Farm, this is the most northern farm on the Wallington Estate.
During this time at Greenleighton Farm Jon started the legendary 'Shepherds Walks', back in 1999.
As a former hill shepherd Jon looked at the landscape from a shepherd's perspective, which is truly unique. This really captured people’s imagination Shepherds Walks started to grow.
After being featured on BBC Countryfile, Radio 4 Ramblings and many broadsheet papers Jon has built his business up to be the largest walking business in the North East of England.
So who is Jon, what makes him tick?
- Which is your favourite walk in Northumberland? No doubt, Windy Gyle, what a walk.
- What inspires you to get up in the morning? The thought of another day walking in the Northumbrian Countryside with good company, and best of all getting paid to do it.
- Where would be your special place to eat your packed lunch on a walk? Sat on top of my favourite summit in Northumberland, Windy Gyle.
- What makes you smile? The first hug of the day that I get from my children. It is if they have not seen you for weeks, even though it was just the night before.
- What is your favourite Shepherds Walks event and why? I am a massive fan of the Cragside Challenge Walk. As I live in Rothbury I personally believe I could not create a better route anywhere in the world.
- What’s your greatest achievement? Overcoming all the people who doubted Shepherd’s Walks. I met so many people early on who questioned Shepherd’s Walks but its great years later to have turned into the largest walking provider in NE England.
- What can’t you do without when out walking? My rucksack, walking boots and my Mohair Socks, but I had to say that !
- Who would you invite to your fantasy dinner party? Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, true explorers.
- If you could walk any walk/ climb in the world what would it be? I would love to stand on top of Everest. One day!
- Which of your achievements makes you most proud? Turning a hobby into my job and now running three businesses; Shepherds Walks, Shepherds Walks Holidays and Capricorn Mohair Socks.
- A trip to Northumberland wouldn’t be complete without a visit to .....? Very predictable, but I have to say Bamburgh Castle. A true iconic image of Northumberland.
- What would you wish your epitaph to be? I told you this was the wrong way!