The spectacular Gatcombe Park Estate, home of HRH The Princess Royal and her family, will be the setting for this year’s Cotswolds Dry Stone Walling Competition which is taking place on Sunday, 7th October.
Organised by the Cotswolds Conservation Board, in partnership with the Cotswolds branch of the Dry Stone Walling Association of Great Britain (DSWA) and with the support of Huntsmans Quarries, the event will see competitors of all abilities vying for the prestigious walling trophy and up to £120 cash prize.
Depending on which class they enter, competitors will have to strip and rebuild a certain length of wall to the correct specification. The rules associated with the competition are strict with marks awarded for quality of foundations, cope stones, sides, middle filling, batter and straightness.
Estate Manager, Arthur Witchell said: “Dry stone walls are a key feature of the Gatcombe Park Estate and we are therefore delighted to be able to host the Cotswolds Dry Stone Walling Competition this year. We very much look forward to meeting the competitors and seeing the final walls.”
David Molloy, rural skills officer at the Cotswolds Conservation Board, said: “This is the first time the competition will have been held at Gatcombe Park and we are grateful to the Estate for letting us have this opportunity. I’m sure that it will be another successful and popular event whereby we can help to keep the skills alive but also celebrate excellence and quality craftsmanship.”
The competition is free to enter and has four classes: Professional; Amateur/Part-Time Professional; Novice; Beginners Pairs. There is an additional prize for the best waller under 21 years of age. The draw for stints takes place from 8.45am with work completed at 4.15pm and prizes awarded at 4.30pm.
Anyone wishing to enter the competition can do so by registering online at www.cotswoldsruralskills.org.uk or by calling the Cotswolds Conservation Board on 01451 862000. Spectators are welcome.
Competition classes are described as follows :
a) Class 1: Professional: anyone whose main earnings are derived from dry stone walling or who is regularly employed as a dry-stone waller.
b) Class 2: Amateur: anyone deriving less than 50% of their earnings from dry stone walling or anyone regarding themselves as a competent dry stone waller.
c) Class 3: Novice: anyone with some experience of dry stone walling.
d) Class 4: Beginner pairs: any two people who have little experience of dry stone walling.
Competition prizes are awarded as follows:
a) Class 1 1st: Trophy and £120, 2nd: £80; 3rd: £60, 4th: £40
b) Class 2 1st: Trophy and £80, 2nd: £50, 3rd: £30
c) Class 3 1st: Trophy and £60, 2nd: £40, 3rd: £25
d) Class 4 1st: Trophy and £40 each, 2nd: £30 each, 3rd: £20 each
The competition is supported by the Dry Stone Walling Association of Great Britain which was formed at the Gatehouse of Fleet in Galloway in 1968 to preserve, improve and provide education in the craft of dry stone walling.
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: www.landscapesforlife.org.uk
Source: Cotswolds Conservation Board