Otherwise, exploitation of these areas was doubtless mainly on a seasonal basis by means of regular transhumance from the lower valley to the sheiling grounds in the upper valley and hopes where stock would be grazed from April to August (Charlton & Day 1979, 209-210; McDonnell 1988, 8, 14-15).
It is significant in this context that designated 'forests' or free chases are particularly characteristic of the large but territorially compact baronies to be found in the uplands of northern England. Forests form one of the most strikingly common features of the Cumbrian baronies examined by Winchester (1987, 3-5, 16 - 22) for instance.
Moreover the forest zones correspond to areas where the practice of transhumance can be documented either directly in historical records or indirectly through scale/shield placename evidence or can be attested archaeologically in the form of the shieling cottages and associated remains.
Further, the baronies may themselves be based to a considerable extent on pre-Conquest units of lordship or 'multiple estates' as suggested by successive scholars (Jolliffe 1926; Barrow 1973, 7-68; Jones 1976; Kapelle 1979, 51-85). The forests thus, in part, represent a device for drawing profit from the longstanding seasonal pastoralism prevalent in the northern region, a profit derived through agistment charges on the use of pasture and woodland by the peasantry of the dependent manors. Whether this method of exploiting the subsistence practices of northern communities was entirely a Norman innovation or was based at least to a limited degree on the customs of pre-existing 'multiple estates' is a matter for debate.
The upland tributary hopes recorded in the inquisitions do not, therefore, comprise the full extent of Umfraville land in upper Redesdale, the acreages recorded being far too small. Rather they represent merely the parcels which were being leased out at any one time to tenants at will, for the grazing of livestock. The valuations recorded were the sums payed by those tenants as indicated by the inquisition of Robert de Umfreville held in 1331 (IPM VII, 290 no.390). Similarly another Umfraville inquisition (IPM V, 14, no.47 - 1308, cf. Hodgson 1827, 109) specifically labels the value of four unnamed wastes in the liberty as their 'worth in agistment'.
No messuages are listed along with the 'diverse parcels' of wood, moor, pasture or whatever in the upland hopes and it is clear that there were no permanent farm tenancies situated there (though demesne stock farms may have been). The highest recorded settlements in Redesdale at the time of the mid 13th-early 14th century climatic optimum were situated at Elishaw, where there was a hospital, and Shittleheugh on the north bank, and at Blakehope and 'Smallburne' (mod. Dargues) on the south (Hodgson 1827, 20, 24-28, 146; Hodgson 1916, 8; Liber Feodorum, II, 1122 – AD 1242).
The exploitation of the valley above these points was therefore almost certainly effected by means of seasonal transhumance from lowland farmsteads to upland summering grounds. There is only limited evidence for transhumance in Redesdale at this date. The place names Davyshiel and Garretshiel demonstrate that transhumance was practiced in the area at some date before the late 13th century by which time these had become permanent settlements.
The tract of upper Coquetdale incorporated in the Umfraville liberty has preserved more explicit evidence for this period. For example in 1244 Batailshiel, in the Usway valley next to the lordship of Kidland, was described as the shieling (logia) "formerly belonging to William Batalle but now to John of Letelwell". It featured in the boundary delimitation of a land grant to Newminster abbey by Gilbert de Umfraville (NCH XV (1940), 436-437; NC 78). Later on, in 1398, sheilings are specifically mentioned in Redesdale in the inquisition post mortem of Matilda, wife of Henry de Percy, earl of Northumberland, and formerly wife of Gilbert Umfraville (Cal IPM XVII, 468 no.1246). The shielings were presumably located on Earlside and Over Redeshead which figure amongst the places listed therein.