At the time of writing two training events have taken place so far this year in North Wales. Both have been held in the beautiful Pensychnant conservation centre on the edge of the Snowdonia, a few miles from Conwy.
By running these courses we are not only teaching people the basics of dry stone walling but also repairing some of the miles of walls that border the estate, making them stock proof and helping with the wildlife management. In April we held a taster day whereby three trainees helped repair a section of wall that the warden had started to work on but had not completed. The aim of these taster days is to give people an introduction to walling with a view to them attending a full weekend course. On a full weekend course we will completely dismantle a section of wall down to the bare ground and rebuild it with coping stones so that the trainees get to do the whole process.
Although there was only one trainee for the July course together with Julian, the Pensychnant warden and our training office Paul, we stripped and rebuilt a short section of wall. As you can see from the pictures there were some pretty large stones so the building was reasonably swift even if a little grueling on our backs. The stones were a mixture of a jagged volcanic rock called Conwy rhyolite and rounded glacial boulders bringing additional challenges to the novice waller. When taking down very old walls, such as those at Pensychnant, I usually ponder the question “will we find treasure today?”. This time we were rewarded with a mummified field hare that must have crawled into a gap in the wall where it died to be preserved in its bone dry resting place! All very interesting but I will not be retiring early on the proceeds of Egyptian style finds! Anyway, the weather was kind and our trainee, Arwel, was confident that future repairs to the walls on his dad’s farm will last a good bit longer than his previous attempts.