Consett is to host an annual competition that celebrates the ancient craft of hedge-laying, the art of creating and maintaining hedges by hand.

The contest will be held at Woodlands Hall Farm, Knitsley, Consett, on Friday 13th October, and local people are very welcome to come and watch the highly skilled competitors at their work.

Spectators will get to see hedge-laying professionals – including national and supreme champions – using their different regional styles to transform an overgrown hedgerow into a work of art.  

Hedge-laying is an artisan countryside craft which has been practised for hundreds of years. It is seen as one of the key skills in British farming and land management.  

As well as providing a vital habitat for wildlife, well-tended hedges act as livestock-proof barriers, shelter crops from the weather and improve the appearance of the landscape.

Hedge-laying also promotes the regrowth of the hedge from the ground level and ensures the hedgerow’s health and longevity.     

Friday’s contest, organised by Durham Hedgerow Partnership and supported by Trees Please, aims to raise awareness of – and promote good practice in – the techniques of field boundary management. The competition also aims to encourage more people to get involved in this traditional craft.

The competition is divided into open, experienced and novice sections, and there is no entrance fee. Those taking part will use their cutting, staking and binding skills to lay about seven metres of hedge over the course of the day.

There will be prize money for those finishing first, second and third in each category and an overall winner will also be declared. 

Dave Boyson 1st Open class overall champion
Dave Boyson, winner of last year’s open category and overall champion

Durham County Council’s cabinet member for tourism, culture and leisure issues, Cllr Ossie Johnson, said, “Hedge-laying is essential to preserving and regenerating existing hedges, and competitions like this are helping to keep alive an art that could easily dwindle and disappear.”

“It is enormously satisfying to watch a craftsman with a neat slice from a billhook and a thump or two from a mallet turning a scraggly thin row of trees into a neat, dense network of living branches.”

To enter the hedge-laying contest or to find out more information, please email landscape@durham.gov.uk.




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