WHAT I DO

I will lay your Hedge, Build or repair your Dry stone walling or plant new hedges.

Hedgelaying, Planting, Drystone Walling, Garden features, House stonework, hedgelaying, teaching, illustrated talks, Training in Hedgelaying Training in Hedgelaying, Stonework, Drystone Walling

I live and work in the North York Moors area



I'm a qualified hedgelayer and have laid hedges in Ireland, Holland and in the UK. I'm also a drystone waller and have built houses (and walls), garden features, gate entrances in Ireland, Australia and in England.

I've been told I'm a bit of walling and hedgelaying nerd. But I don't mind it because it's normal. Doesn't everyone stop and take pictures of these when they are on holiday?

Some of the site contains my work along with pictures of hedges, walls and walling features from places I've visited. It should be pretty obvious which is my work.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Ireland & walls

On Sherkin Island, just off the coast of Cork in SW Ireland you can find some of the most unusual dry stone walls anywhere.

The specimen on the left is a 'single' wall and is quite common on the island. These are about 3.5ft high.







I'd been on Sherkin several times and never seen this one, until one day on the ferry to birdwatch on Cape Clear island the weather forced the ferryman to take us via the steep eastern side of the island. My eye attracted to a wall on the distant hillside I decided a closer look was in order.

The dog, by the way, is mine and she's Jilly a border collie X retriever.








And so several weeks passed before I had the opportunity. The wall runs for just a couple of hundred yards along the top of steep cliffs. It was built to keep cattle from straying over the cliffs.

So far as I'm aware these are the only pictures in existence of this rather unusually built wall, which still functions to keep cattle out of harms way.


 Excellent modern walling just outside Drimoleague in Co. Cork

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Cheek of some people

I was asked by a Park Ranger I know well, if I minded him giving someone my details as "They knew someone from a local college who wanted someone to do a bit of a demonstration to some students".

This was no problem and a little later I got a 'phone call from a horticultural lecturer who told me what they wanted - unfortunately there was no budget for the demo. Not a real problem as it was only a few miles down the road and it would hopefully give me some publicity. Helpfully the lecturer said that they'd be doing the 'cutting back' in the morning and could I come in the afternoon. Ever helpful I explained that I'd come in the morning as people who are inexperienced often cut good layers out.

I was told that this was not necessary as the owner of the hedge had asked this group to do it anyway as he was going to lay the rest of the hedge himself.

"Why isn't he doing the demonstration then?", I asked.

I was told, "Well, he's another college lecturer and he's with another group and doesn't want to loose any pay by having time off".

But he expects me to give up half a day but not himself!

I can't believe it!!!!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

My Walls

When I lived in Ireland, us 'Masons' as we were called often clad houses in stone as the stone was rather irregular and probably not suitable for cutting into 4" blocks like it is in Yorkshire.

This rather blank north facing wall has two windows in it which appear blocked up. There were never windows there of course - I just did this as a feature. Both windows also come at ceiling height so someone will have some puzzling to do in years to come.

The stone was from an old dismantled wall/ditch

Stone seats and wall.

This is West Cork Ireland. The seats are two slabs of liscannor limestone and the pillars for the seats are concrete blocks plastered with coloured sand/cement mixture.








A part of a retaining wall along with steps and seat















More of my walls here and here
The wall outside our house I built from waste quarry material and some bought in stone.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Spanish Drystone Walls

Like many(?) wallers I keep my eyes open when on holiday. So visiting family near Val de Morillo 60 miles north of Madrid I noticed many of these walls in the locality. Largely unworked stone but characteristically all had rather large overhanging copes, something I've not seen in the UK.











Here is another example, this time of a retaining wall near a disused medieval water mill. Really good walling, tight joints, and alternate corner stones.

The principles of good building are universal.









This wall is the boundary wall between Madrid & Avila in central Spain and runs for many miles over the mountains.  Incidentally the young man is my Spanish grandson and is not a bad waller himself.  He's even been known to do a bit of hedgelaying.  Unique I'd say.
 Well, they certainly can build them big in Spain.  These are the town walls in the Avila a town immediately west of Madrid.

Outside Madrid - a single wall built out of granite

A wall built from granite just outside Madrid

Friday, October 1, 2010

Park Wall - An Historic Wall


This old wall was once part of Fyling Deer Park in Fylingdales, North Yorkshire. In the 12th century the park was created by the Abbot of Whitby, but by 1577 had ceased to exist.

Every fifty feet or so, stones are arranged within the wall to form a cross visible of both sides.

Incidently this wall is now owned by a distant cousin of mine!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Hedgelaying regrowth six months later


After one year's growth a new hedge looks like this.









Here's the same hedge at the top of the page after at the end of the first summer's regrowth. Quite pleased with this one.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

truffers they're called here


Throughstones connect one side of the wall to the other as this picture taken from above a wall I built recently shows. The idea is that they tie together both halves of the wall and thus make the whole wall stronger. The use of 'truffers' as it is pronounced in this part of Yorkshire, near Whitby is important as most of the stone is fairly lumpy.and it is difficult to get stone to overlap from both sides.
When I lived in Ireland the use of throughstones was not always common as the stone was often irregular and/or thinner and it was a matter of course that both sides of the wall ended up with overlapping stones making the use of 'truffers' unnecessary.

Friday, August 6, 2010

A New Wall


This short section of wall was built from reclaimed building stone and is at Fylingthorpe. Typically for this area most of the stone being re-used from barns or buildings it has previously been shaped and worked. The copes (or 'corpse' as it's pronounced here are large flattish blocks spanning the finished width.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Walling and Google

This was going to be easy. I'd been asked to write an article on Dry Stone Walling and Google for Sean Adcock of the North Wales Branch of the Drystone Walling Association's magazine Stonechat.

"Punch “drystone walls” into Google and go through them – see what is out there – good and bad".

Page 1 until ? Well, I gave up the careful prowl at around page 20 of google results and started page hopping until I gave up at page 35 when my browser refused to open any more sites.

So what did I discover? Well,, most surprisingly was the fact that most sites I turned up were entirely as you would expect in that they were relevant and mostly quite good. Along the way I discovered a few odds and ends. I discovered that in answers at Yahoo.com a thread which stated a stone wall would cost to build anything from £30 to £300 per metre depending on who you believed. I also found a wall costing only £4.99. I found out you could attend a drystone walling course in Switzerland for £435 including 3 nights full board & breakfast at www.myswiterland.com. I also discovered the Catalan for drystone waller is “Margerer”

As you probably have already discovered, a search on google produces mostly waller’s own websites, several dswa pages, amazon books and rather amusingly a few portal sight which lists areas with drystone wallers in it. Swiss Cottage in London was listed and isn’t known for it’s walling traditions so I couldn’t resist a quick visit. It listed three walling sites, one of which was a quarry in the Black Mountains an address in Armagh which is in Ireland so I had a look to see what was going on there. (Nothing). An address in surrey turned out to be a builders merchang so I’m still trying to work out the link with Swiss Cottage. I pressed the back button.

The first interesting site was “Sticks and Stones’, http://www.omlxi.com/sticks_stones/index.php a Tasmainian site by two gents. One a waller, the other a hedgelayer. Yes, both are practised in Tasmania even if only by these two and you can see their work.

By page 5 some odd drystone walling sites appear. Attracted by www.opendemocrfacy.net and it’s appealing, ‘Reshaping The Dry Stone Wall of Irish history’ title I gave it ago. After all I’d lived there for 10 years and never, ever come across this book. The book’s description was as follows:, “This book of twenty-five chapters is a selection of papers presented at a conference organised by the British Association for Irish Studies held at the University of Salford in September 2005. An additional commissioned chapter deals with the fortunes of the two major Unionist parties since the Belfast Agreement of 1998, in particular tracking the transition of the Democratic Unionists from opposition to the ‘Trimble-Adams Pact’ to miraculous support for a Robinson-McGuinness Executive. Appropriately, the book retains the diversity of the papers’ subject matter and, in keeping with recent academic...” Back space again!! I eventually worked out the relevance of the title with help from Trish. I’ll leave you to work it out too. Good luck.

On page seven I turned up http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/412167 an animated video of “Old Man Pie” building a wall. Stupidly I expected an instructional video but it turned out to be an animated video almost showing wall building. Don’t bother but good if you like watching or listening to something pointless. “I build a wall around my home, It keeps out enemies and friends”. Oh, go on I suppose it was a bit of fun after all!

In total contrast and well worth looking at is the video by Mick Soft at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UIHc09Z5hvw. It’s a good micky take at wallers who talk about walling in some kind of hushed and referential manner. .The man does not confine his wit to us wallers either. If you follow the links watch his take on tree surgeons too.

A site known to many is Norman Haddow’s blogspot

http://wallswithoutmortar.blogspot.com and is a simple blog containing many excellent pictures and articles on walling from many countries. Well worth the visit. This site is an education in itself.

Another interesting site http://www.astoneuponastone.com/ the home of the Drystone walling association of Australia. Lots of pictures of.....errr,,, Australian Walls!

The first techno site I found with an extensive report on the strength of drystone walls, conducted by the University of Bath, can be found at http://www.bath.ac.uk/ace/dry-stone-2/

Of real interest to us wallers and probably well know is The National Stone Centre, especially the Millennium Wall at http://www.nationalstonecentre.org.uk/vs_millenniumwall.html. Numerous walls from around the UK built in regional styles using stone from around the UK and of course built by many different wallers from around the UK.

For those wallers who actually turn up to give an estimate then this site http://www.lowimpact.org/products_dry_stone_walling.html offers a solution. Just send them as many details as you can and they’ll give an estimate of the cost for them to build. This company would be a welcomed contributor to regular enquiries on the DSWA forum when it comes to questions of costs and speeds.

On the web you can also buy a complete Flexible drystone wall from JAVIS-JSTONEOOS-FLEXIBLE-DRY-STONE-WALLING and it will only cost a pound or two. But before you get excited it turned out to be the sort you get in a plastic bag and use on model railways and the like. I found another one advertised as, ‘suitable for model railways’ at £4.99.

The MPs have also been claiming for stonework. Janis Anderson Rossingdale MP paid several hundred pounds for walling on her home. (I’m not sure which one!) read more here in the Manchester Evening News http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/s/1121367_janet_andersons_dry_stone_wall

As we go further into google some new and unexpected stuff comes up This University of Huddersfield page http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/4729/ provides us with an extract from a thesis entitled, “Tacit knowledge, learning & expertise in drystone walling” (Farrar, Nicholas Stewart 2006) Reading the extract was interesting and one day I’ll get around to reading the whole thesis which can be read by clicking the link. At 277 pages you’ll be doing a lot of reading – in fact you’ll get to page 134 before you meet a wall or even a waller. On page 243 there are some useful lessons in support of the DSWA walling qualifications.

If you want an expensive book on stonewalling try Colin Sowerby’s http://www.thedrystonewaller.com/products.htm 6 pages for £5, an e-book claiming to be a concise guide to walling. Obviously some of us know far too much for our own good.

Flikr interestingly didn’t come up until page 20 and there are thousands of pictures which I’ll let you trawl through at your leisure.

The stone foundation www.stonefoundation.org an american site worth a visit even if I found the navigation a little confusing.

There are a number of good sites describing how to build a wall. But by far the worse is this one http://homeideas.howstuffworks.com/walls-and-boundaries/how-to-approach-building-a-dry-stone-wall.htm. If you are a knew nothing before looking at this site you’ll still know nothing afterwards.

You can even watch a stone wall being repaired. By invisible people no doubt at http://www.byrdir.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/stonewall.gif

Way down the listings on page 18 or so was this european site http://www.conselldemallorca.net/mediambient/pedra/pedraensec.php?idioma=ing&opcio=1 A Mallorca based site, of which a large portion is devoted to the rebuilding and conservation of their drystone walls and structures and is available in several languages which perhaps is a reflection on the recognition of the world wide interest in drystone walling. Conservation isn’t just a British thing!

And so on. I got to page 34 on google before my PC started to have a bad internet day but not before I noticed, “Taylors Master Guide to gardening which stated that “Drystone walls are ideal for gardening as they give when the ground moves as it freezes in winter.”

I’ll end my tedious tour here as the last paragraph could promote some discussion amongst anorak clad wallers. Oh, and if anyone does discover some really truly awful walling sites please let Sean know, because I couldn’t find them!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Hedgelaying 1982

This hedge was laid nearly 30 years ago in 1982. This is Whitby taken on 'The Switchbacks', between Four Lane Ends and Stakesby Manor.  There is now a housing estate being built on the right hand side.










The Older hedgelayer seen here is Mr Nellis who laid many local hedges. It was the first hedge I ever saw laid. This is the same hedge as the picture above and taken from roughly the same position. Most books on hedgelaying describe 'Yorkshire style' as having a sawn wooden top rail nailed to the stakes. In this part of North Yorkshire it is more common to see hedges laid with stakes and no rails used.

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Monday, May 3, 2010

The Biggest Drystone Wall in Europe?


On the island of Ireland are some of the most unique walls anywhere in the world. Just to give you a flavour of some of these walls is this one in the Mountains of Mourne in Northern Island. Pictured are the builders and I'll add further unusual walls later. This wall, one of many, is about 12ft tall.

Wall builder Phelim Doran and farmer Dermot Trainor built this wall, one of many using a JCB.

This picture appears with permission of the photographer and originally appeared in "Irish Walls" by Alen MacWeeney and Richard Conniff

Saturday, May 1, 2010

A short walk from home



Another wall, this one collapsed because of tree roots and ivy growing through the wall. At the same location as the previous wall this too is made from a mixture of stone, some coming from an old building. Total length of fallen wall was 15ft:-



And after about 15 hours work, which included resetting a yard or two of the original foundations the wall was completed but without the original copes as it appears they've been re-used elsewhere around the garden!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Hedgelaying



Mount Mellick, Co.Sligo in the Republic of Ireland. A very tall and typically unusual Irish hedge in that this one does not need a chain saw. It's also different from most Irish hedges in that it is not on a ditch. (Yes, in Ireland, banks are called ditches!) With so few hedgelayers in Ireland it is difficult to decide what style to use when laying a hedge on the flat, but as bindings (the twisty bits on the top!) were supplied I used them.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

First wall since returning to the UK


Common in this area is stone reused from buildings. Getting the courses so each one runs evenly is the key to a strong and neat job. Here the corner had fallen down and needed a complete rebuild as the main foundation stones had subsided.

This is at Fylingthorpe Park Gate Farm, near Robin Hood's Bay. Yorkshire.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Drystone Walling & hedgelaying

This site is currently under construction