The beautiful Sherborne Park Estate, owned by the National Trust, will be the setting for this year’s Cotswolds Open Dry Stone Walling Competition which is taking place on Sunday, 6th October.
Organised by the Cotswolds Conservation Board, in partnership with the Cotswolds branch of the Dry Stone Walling Association of Great Britain (DSWA), 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.
The competition will start with the draw for stints at 8.45am and finish around 4.30pm with the awards ceremony. Hot and cold drinks will be available throughout the day for spectators and competitors.
National Trust General Manager, Jonny Loose said: “We are delighted to be able to provide a venue for this year’s competition. Traditional stone walls across the Cotswolds have suffered from particularly difficult weather conditions in the past few years and the Sherborne Park Estate is no exception. It is so important to keep maintaining and repairing this iconic part of our heritage which provides such an instantly recognisable link to the Cotswolds. This competition again shows the fantastic level of interest in some of the most important traditional rural skills.”
David Molloy, Rural Skills Officer at the Cotswolds Conservation Board, said: “Each year this competition attracts some of the best dry-stone wallers from the local area and across the UK. The Board is delighted to be working with the National Trust to deliver this year’s event and celebrate the traditional art of dry stone walling in the Cotswolds.”
The competition is free to enter and has four classes: Professional; Amateur/Part-Time Professional; Novice; Beginners Pairs. 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.
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. 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. For details of the 15 National Parks in England and Wales visit: www.nationalparks.gov.uk