Rural craftsmen put their skills to the test

North East HedgeLaying, National President A Adams.
North East HedgeLaying, National President A Adams.

A NEW competition showcasing one of the most skilful rural crafts will take place this weekend.

The North East HedgeLaying Match will be held at Dunsheugh, Longhoughton, hosted by Geoff Humble, on Sunday.

The event has been organised by the family of Andrew Adams who began similar competitions near his home in Durham in 1990 and in Derbyshire in 1986 where he dairy-farmed for 40 years.

Mr Adams, national president of the National HedgeLaying Society, said: “I am delighted that this new competition has been launched. I am passionate about this important rural skill – it is so beneficial to the well-being of the land and our native species of animals and plants and effective farm management.

“We are hoping to attract some well-known names as the date ties in with the Scottish HedgeLaying championships which are held the day before.

“In particular we’d like novices to enter and people to come along and find out more. People I’ve introduced to hedgelaying tell me it’s addictive! I think I’d rather see it as absorbing. There’s no question it gets you hooked and it’s very satisfying to see the hedge thicken and strengthen over the years.”

The competition is sponsored by Esh Group.

Brian Manning, chief executive of Esh Group said: “We’re very please to support this new competition. At Esh Group we are very keen to encourage sharing and developing skills among the communities where we work. Hedgelaying is a tremendous skill and it has the potential for great appeal to some of the young people we work with through our employability schemes such as Esh Connexts.”

The hedges to be laid are 15-year-old maiden hedges planted mainly with hawthorn and some crab apple and nut.

A great example of hedgelaying can be seen on the approach to the site which is bounded on one side by a hedge which was laid by Andrew Adams himself three years ago.

The hawthorn hedge was planted around 15 years ago by Mr Humble and since being laid has been trimmed to form an impressive solid hedgerow.

He said: “This is a tremendous stockproof barrier now – it’s so solid it’s almost bulletproof! Anyone who sees this hedge needs no persuading about the quality of fence which is created by hedgelaying.”

Local agricultural supplier, Rickerbys, is also supporting the event through donation of goods in kind.

Two classes will be held novice – any style with a special prize for best cutter living within a radius of 30 miles of the event site and open, any style with a special prize for Best Cutter under 25 years of age.

Competitors cut the length of hedge which they draw at the start of the day and each length cut must join its neighbour.

The time limit for all competitors will be five hours, from 9am to 2pm with the prize-giving at around 2.45pm.