Dry stone wallers achieve new heights

Photo: @ShortTitle@

Two dry stone wallers trained in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) are on their way to becoming master craftsmen after successfully completing an advanced dry stone walling qualification with the help of the Cotswolds Conservation Board.

John Hepworth from Kidlington in Oxfordshire and Ceri Jenkins from Swansea have completed the Lantra Level 3 dry stone walling course which was set up in the Cotswolds with financial support from the Ernest Cook Trust with the aim of addressing the current shortfall in advanced dry stone walling skills and techniques in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The course was also supported by Huntsman’s Quarries who supplied the walling stone and training venue.

The 22-week course and assessment has prepared the wallers to deal with the range of situations that they can encounter, including curved walls, walls on sloping ground, high or retaining walls and ‘lunkies’ which are holes in the wall designed for animals to pass through. These are all aspects of the skill critically important to the conservation of the Cotswolds landscape and the special features that add local character as well as the continuing development of the profession.

Also celebrating their success in dry stone walling are Gloucestershire’s Jeremy Mort and Jason Baxter who have achieved their Lantra Level 2 Intermediate qualification. Alistair Bidmead from Minchinhampton also completed the Level 3 course but was unable to attend the assessment day

Rural Skills Officer, David Molloy, said: “We are delighted with the achievements of these dry stone wallers who can now go on to achieve Master Craftsmen status. The Board has a very strong track record of delivering and promoting dry stone walling courses in the Cotswolds and we hope that we can continue to support the next generation of top flight wallers, developing the skills necessary to help conserve the special character of the Cotswolds in the long term.”

ENDS

PHOTOGRAPH: Ceri Jenkins (left) and John Hepworth (3rd from left) celebrate achieving their Lantra Level 3 certificate in dry stone walling, while Jason Baxter (2nd from left) and Jeremy Mort (3rd from right) achieved their Level 2 certificate.

Notes to editors:

  • The Cotswolds was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1966 in recognition of its rich, diverse and high quality landscape, www.cotswoldsaonb.org.uk
  • The Cotswolds AONB is looked after by the Cotswolds Conservation Board – an independent organisation established in 2004 which has 37 members - 15 nominated by local authorities, 8 by parish councils and 14 appointed by the Secretary of State.
  • The Cotswolds is the second largest protected landscape in England after the Lake District National Park and represents 10% of the total AONB area in the UK. It covers 2,038 square kilometres (790 square miles), stretching from Warwickshire and Worcestershire in the north, through Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, down to Bath and Wiltshire in the south.
  • Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), along with National Parks, are considered to be the most special landscapes in the country and belong to an international family of protected areas. There are 38 AONBs in England and Wales, and a further eight in Northern Ireland. For further details, visit: www.landscapesforlife.org.uk