Cotswolds rural skills programme reaches new heights with record-breaking figures

Photo: @ShortTitle@

Rural skills training in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is proving more popular than ever as end of year figures reveal 2012-13 to be a record breaking year for the Cotswolds Conservation Board's rural skills programme.

Last year the highest number of courses than ever before were organised, attracting the highest number of trainees since the programme began in 2005.
Total figures for 2012-13 include:

  • Twenty eight courses were delivered during the year.
  • Six different subjects were offered - dry stone walling; hedgelaying; green woodworking; lime mortar; woodland coppicing; and blacksmithing.
  • Rural skills training was provided for 230 people.
  • Dry stone walling and hedgelaying remain the most popular courses.

Other highlights from the year include the launch of the Conservation Board's corporate rural skills team-building events plus the achievement of an advanced dry stone walling certificate for two wallers who successfully completed the LANTRA Level 3 walling course, hosted by Huntsmans Quarry.

One of the success stories from last year’s beginner dry stone wallers was Andrea Keys from Evesham who successfully tackled the repair of her own dry stone wall after completing the beginners course. She said: “My friends still think I am a little mad for taking it on, but I know they’re quietly impressed as well. I now have the pleasure of driving past my work every day which is incredibly satisfying.” Read more about Andrea’s experience here.

Commenting on the results, Rural Skills Officer, David Molloy said: "Each year the Board delivers a programme of rural skills training courses and competitions to promote the understanding and use of these traditional skills in the Cotswolds. Since 2005, the programme has been growing steadily as we seek to provide an increasing number and variety of informal and accredited courses. This year looks set to be another successful one as we move into providing more accredited training for wallers, as well as increasing the opportunities for people wanting to learn and gain an insight into a new skill or craft."

All courses as well as the popular gift vouchers can be booked online by going to:


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.
  • 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: