BUDDING conservationists are forging a new interest in the artisan craft of drystone wall building to add key pieces to Saddleworth’s history.
The distinctive Pennine walls are crucial wild-life habitats for mammals, birds, insects and amphibians.
And the unique, robust hand-built structures enable farmers to manage land effectively instead of falling into disrepair.
Local farmer Bryan Hough, who passed away last year, founded the Lancashire branch of the Dry Stone Walling Association (DSWA) which, over 30 years has built and repaired walls throughout Saddleworth, passing on their skills and keeping the art of dry stone walling alive.
Now, the branch is hosting four two-day courses between March and October managed by highly trained instructors and supported by experienced members.
Over the two days a ruined wall is rebuilt by the trainees who have the satisfaction of knowing it will be an asset and last for many years.
“These courses are very popular and we have taught trainees from all over the world; they can also make unusual gifts and participants will be doing something worthwhile to enhance our lovely area,” they say.
“You can work at your own pace and there is plenty of opportunity for discussion and help for those that may struggle.
“All our walls are on working farms, and serve a purpose in maintaining the upkeep and management of the countryside.
“They are built to a higher standard of the walls they replace and each wall is recorded and photographed for future generations to enjoy.
“However, courses are limited to a maximum of six participants per instructor — this en-sures you get plenty of individual attention.”
At the conclusion of the day, each participant is provided with a range of informative handouts, brochures and a Certificate of Achievement.
A previous attendee Jeff Kiveal said: “It felt amazing to have contributed towards the building of a drystone wall which will now be standing for far longer than I will.
“I still have a quick look at it whenever I walk by and still feel that tingle of pride.”
Many who attend courses want to continue to improve their walling skills.
They can join the Dry Stone Walling Association (currently £35 per year) – making them eligible to at-tend any walling practice sessions free of charge.
For more information or to sign up for the classes, visit the Dry Stone Walling Association website: