Sunday, 15 September 2013

Dry Stone Walling, a competition with confoundingly round stones

Friday was miserable, Sunday was stormy but on Saturday sunshine beamed down on the righteous as they toiled away in the Snowdonia Society’s 30th Dry Stone Walling Competition. In recent years the competition has been held near Beddgelert, where the stones are flat, but this year it was at Egryn, just north of Barmouth, where the stones are confoundingly round.

At 09:30 competitors dismantled the wall which was marked out in lengths of six feet for professionals and four feet for amateurs or beginners. A master line was stretched along either side at the base and profile bars banged in to guide the required taper as the wall rises.

Two judges patrolled, conferred and made notes on their clipboards as they marked each element of the walling. Up to 20 points for foundations, 20 for first lift, 5 for throughs, 20 for second lift, 15 for coping, 5 for hearting and 10 for line and batter. There were 5 points for ‘general’ and I’m not sure what they were looking for; maybe good manners?

Volunteers served chunky baps, cakes and mugs of tea out of the kitchen gazebo to maintain energy levels. Spectators came and went and generally came back again; it really does make a great spectator sport.

By 17:00 the wallers had finished, then the judges totalled up the scores and everyone gathered around for the prize-giving presentation. Brian Evans from Corwen won the professional section picking up a cheque for £120 plus the trophy. Terry Thomas from Nottingham won the amateurs section and Rhys Roberts from Tywyn won the beginners section.
Brian Evans receives the trophy from Ed Bailey

Edmund Bailey, President of NFU Wales, presented the prizes and said after the event ‘I was particularly delighted that there was a beginners section so that the old rural skills can be perpetuated. My concern, following the withdrawal of stone walling from the basic agri-environment scheme, is that fewer youngsters will have the opportunity to gain the knowledge and then the repeated practice to become competent wallers.’

The competition was part of the Egryn Heritage Open Day, organised by the National Trust, with many activities including apple pressing, sheepdogs in action, vintage tractors, talks on historic houses and on field names, walks to the iron-age hillfort and guided tours of Egryn.

Edmund Bailey also said ‘Egryn is in such a fine position with all the features of this area so prominent, especially Ardudwy's extensive field systems, that it would be difficult to imagine a better venue. The house and the other attractions added to the enjoyment we all experienced’.

1 comment:

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