Ancient dry stone walls restored after vandalism

A DEDICATED group is used to restoring the community’s historic dry stone walls when they need some care and attention – but it is not often they have to repair them due to vandalism.

However that was the case for the Lancashire Branch of the Dry Stone Walling Association after deliberate damage to walls at Burnedge Bent farm.

The farm has been home to the branch for almost 40 years since they were formed by farmer Bryan Hough, who died in 2017.

One morning last November, Bryan’s son Darren was feeding and checking the flock when he came across two young men and he asked them what they were doing.

They took offence and immediately became aggressive and threatened him.

As they cleared off, they pushed down more than 10 metres of dry stone wall, most of which was almost two metres high.

The damage caused by this act of vandalism was extensive, and it took members of the branch four days in March to rebuild the wall.

Chris Bolshaw, chairman of the branch, said: “The walls are essential in the management of hill farms and when they are damaged the task of the farmer is considerably more difficult.

“These walls which are iconic in our landscape and rich wildlife habitats which fundamentally influence the appearance of our countryside.

“Our mission is to keep walling alive in Saddleworth as the land starts to look derelict when the walls are down.”

The branch is active throughout the year and works every week repairing and rebuilding dry stone walls.

Their first training course of the year was held in March at Roundhill Farm, Dobcross and saw 18 complete novices, with the help of branch members, rebuild 26 metres of old, ruined wall.

The course also raised more than £200 for Dr Kershaw’s Hospice, which the branch continues to support each year.

Practice meets for members are held throughout the year, and more training courses for novices will be held in August (in Diggle) and in October (in Greenfield).

More details can be found on their website: or from the branch secretary Paul Clayton: 07733 103500.

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