AMANDA OWEN is in the Big Smoke, staying in a room with a four-poster bed and a butler in the Mansion House. “I feel like a sheep that’s off my territory,” she baas. “I’ve got my case and my crook here and I need to get back up north.”

The Yorkshire Shepherdess is in London for a couple of days to lead the Lord Mayor’s annual Sheep Drive over Southwark Bridge, a ceremony that celebrates the ancient right of farmers, as Freeman of the City, to bring their sheep to market.

“What an honour to be asked,” she exclaims. “Alan Titchmarsh, Michael Portillo, Barbara Windsor have all done it, but I’m the first shepherd – I bet none of them used their shepherd’s crook, like I did. I had to get one of them in a headlock.”

Unlike Amanda, Michael Portillo would probably not have been able to identify the flock as comprising North of England Mules – a Bluefaced Leicester crossed with a Swaledale or Northumbrian Blackface. “One of them had a tag from Hawes auction mart,” she says, approvingly.

The Northern Echo: The Owen children at Ravenseat, by Amanda Owen

The Owen children at Ravenseat

Amanda first graced a television screen in 2011 when she and her husband, Clive, appeared on Adrian Edmondson’s ITV documentary, The Dales. Their bit part spun into a programme of their own, Our Yorkshire Farm, which has just started its fifth series on Tuesday evenings on Channel 5, drawing nearly four million viewers. It’s as much soap opera as it is Countryfile, with the Owens’ nine children – from Raven, 20, to Nancy, four – growing up in front of the cameras in the woolly wildness of Ravenseat Farm, which is nearly near Keld in upper Swaledale.

And this week, she publishes her fifth book, Celebrating the Seasons, which mixes photography, farming, family and food, and takes her back to the beginnings of her love affair with the countryside.

The Northern Echo: Winter at Ravenseat, by Amanda Owen

Winter at Ravenseat, by Amanda Owen

“Twenty-five years ago what inspired me was a photograph book: Hill Shepherd by John and Eliza Forder,” she says. “With a short narrative, it basically showed the life of a hill shepherd and it was the power of those photographs – they were raw and beautiful – that opened up a whole new world to me.”

The front cover of that book shows a shepherd trudging shin deep through snow, weighed down by a bale of hay on his back with the sparkly white dales folding behind him. “I was 14, living in Huddersfield,” says Amanda. “It was the equivalent of looking at the other side of the world. It was foreign to me.”

While her peers went to college and university, Amanda left school at 16 with an E in GCSE English and began working on farms for experience until she graduated as a contract shepherdess. One day in 1996, she was fetching a tup from remote Ravenseat where Clive, 18 years her senior, was tenanting, and she fell in love – with the man, the way of life and the place.

“I became a shepherd out of stubbornness, railing against the system,” she says in a no-nonsense accent where vowels are flattened so they don’t get in the way. “I sound like a renegade, and that’s a part of me. I like a challenge, to see what I can do – it’s too easy to err on the side of caution. Ravenseat has shaped that character even more; it gives you a sense of independence, of you against the world because you feel you are going it alone. You will overcome difficulties – if you need water you have to get water.”

The Northern Echo: Amanda Owen

The Yorkshire Shepherdess in Upper Swaledale

Her new book charts her daily battles with the elements throughout the seasons as she rears her flock and her family with her phone always in a pocket – it can’t receive calls in upper Swaledale so she uses it as a camera to record a visual diary.

“Every day I take pictures,” she says, rapid fire talking in a way that defies conventional punctuation. “They will be wonky with a drop of rain or a smear of snot on them, but I’m not going for perfection.

“My phone's waterproofed with gaffer tape and the on button doesn’t work because I put a banana in the case for sustenance and it went rank and it got stuck in the button, but there you go.”

The Northern Echo: April 1: a spring lamb, by Amanda Owen

A family portrait, by Amanda Owen

Photography receives the same down-to-earth approach as child-rearing and hill farming.

“If you ask me about f-stop, depth of field or aperture I just say it’s autofocus,” she says. “They’re pictures you can look at again, not posed, not staged, the countryside, the landscape, and children and animals – all the things you’re not supposed to work with.

“You don’t have to be an ace photographer in our neck of the woods. In fact, you’d have to be terrible not to get anything.”

The Northern Echo: Lambs by the fire, by Amanda Owen

Lambs by the fire, by Amanda Owen

She is very modest because her pictures are captivating, capturing the mud and the glory of farm and family life, and following the countryside through all its moods and colours as the seasons – long winters and short summers – sweep through Swaledale.

“You’d expect me to say spring and the lambing season are my favourite because it’s all about bringing new life into the world, but no, I love June because it all eases off,” she says. “It’s the lazy bit of my year. You’ve lambed your sheep, turned them out onto the moor, your cows have gone outside, you’ve finished with snow up our way – that’s why it’s not spring for me because we can get winter and summer and not much in the way of spring – the birds are back, the hay meadows are starting to grow, there’s this green verdancy.

“There’s an expectancy.

“You’ve been shovelling s*** all winter since November but now you’ve put your stinking leggings that smell of cat wee into the cupboard.

“In June, everything is growing, everything is to come. You’ve time to go round your walls to make sure the top stones don’t go through the baler.

“But when you get to the beginning of July, you are getting all panicky about clipping your hogs, and you are thinking about your hay – how you should, if everything’s going right, be looking at a sea of marsh marigolds, buttercups and globeflowers, and you can almost see the year turning and you’re thinking you’ll soon be going back to winter.”

The Northern Echo: Running the summer meadows, by Amanda Owen

Running in the summer meadows, by Amanda Owen

In the new book, Amanda combines her pictures with wholesome recipes – casseroles, soups and stews – because the first question people ask her when they meet is how she feeds 11 hungry mouths in the middle of nowhere where, even in the middle of spring, you can wake to find yourself snowed in.

“You can’t just go to the supermarket where I live,” she says. “It’s a week or so, maybe longer, in winter, to get supplies, so you have to plan ahead.”

She could drop into Kirkby Stephen, about 30 minutes away; she could go posh in Sainsbury’s in Darlington, but she prefers the Tesco, Lidl and Asda in Catterick Garrison.

“I try to hit it at markdown time, all my kids know that,” she says. “At 6pm, you get the first markdowns and at 8pm you get the markdowns on the markdowns. I tell them to loiter until you get your loaves of bread for 20p.”

She augments her supermarket shop with a little from the pantry on her doorstep.

“I’m all for foraging, but I’m very, very careful,” she says. “Wild garlic grows all over the place. Are you saving much by using it? Not really as it’s 40p a bulb, but if you get the kids involved in the picking of something, taking it home in a basket to sort through and get rid of the slugs, it is much more meaningful.

“We go mushrooming for field and horse mushrooms, and I love those mushrooms that we have carefully eased out of the ground, cradled all the way home and put in a pan with a bit of butter – they’re the best mushrooms ever.”

The Northern Echo: Celebrating the Seasons by Amanda Owen: The Yorkshire Shepherdess is published by Pan Macmillan, £20.

Celebrating the Seasons by Amanda Owen: The Yorkshire Shepherdess is published by Pan Macmillan, £20.

Centre stage in the book, amid the children and the dalescapes, are sheep. She’s got 100,000 photographs stored on her iCloud and when she uses “sheep” as a search term, she gets 35,000 hits.

“This is only farm diversification – an unusual one – but it is all about sheep,” she says in a rare moment when she’s not playing the part of the Yorkshire Shepherdess who has published five books, starred in five TV series, has 178,000 Twitter followers and features in glossy magazine spreads in national newspapers. Amanda Owen is grounded as a hill farmer with 2,000 acres and 1,000 sheep which provide the financial security that enables her and Clive to raise their family.

“Farmers as a type are very adaptable and are very willing to think out of the box and that’s all what we do,” she says. “It doesn’t matter how you are making a living out of them, by clipping, shearing, taking a photograph, talking about them, it is all about sheep.” From raw and beautiful tops of Swaledale to the glamour of a mayoral ceremony in London, it is all about sheep.

The Northern Echo: Sheep in Swaledale, by Amanda Owen

Sheep in Swaledale, by Amanda Owen