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Future North Pennine Walls in Safe Hands
2012-12-18

Lee Hope, from Gateshead, and Dale Pattinson, from Tow Law, have successfully passed their Level 2 Lantra accredited test in dry stone walling at Low Kays Lea Test Centre, near Hamsterley in County Durham.

Dale Pattinson (left) and Lee Hope at Low Kays Lea Dry Stone Walling Test Centre

Low Kays Lea Dry Stone Walling Test Centre

This marks the completion of a rigorous six month traineeship, set up by the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Partnership with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The AONB Partnership teamed up with the Dry Stone Walling Association (DSWA), professional wallers in the North Pennines, LANTRA and Peter Dent at Low Kays Lea Test Centre to set up the Heritage Landscape Skills project.

The traineeships are part of the AONB Partnership’s Heritage Landscape Skills project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The project is bringing £165,000 of training opportunities into the AONB. The project is halfway through and will enable nine people to learn the skill of dry stone walling and three graduates to study conservation and land management methods to increase biodiversity and improve habitat integrity. 

Peter Dent has run his training and test centre near Hamsterley for six years and sees approximately 25 candidates through each year. People from all walks of life come for training, some for their own projects, some to help relatives and some to set up in business. Peter said: “Following a course of intensive training from Beginner through Lantra Level 1 to Level 2 can fast track someone into the dry stone walling industry, but there is no substitute for actual experience, which is the benefit of the North Pennines AONB Partnership’s scheme”.

Lee Hope, one of the trainees said, “It was a privilege to be placed with Allan Rosemurgey, a local dry stone waller. His experience working with local stone and his knowledge of walling is something you just could not get anywhere else. You get a lot of satisfaction in knowing the walls that you are building are going to be there for many years to come”.

Lesley Silvera, Project Development Officer with the AONB Partnership, manages the Heritage Landscape Skills project. She added: “When visitors find that there is no mortar in the hundreds of miles of dry stone walls that divide up the North Pennine landscape, they are often astonished. Good wallers combine hard work with a skilled eye, they know which stones will lock together to create a solid boundary set to stand for the best part of the next hundred years. This training scheme is partway through and will see nine people trained in the traditional skill of walling within this project which is set to run until 2014”.

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