Hedge Your Bets with Saltscape

Saltscape will be running a hedgelaying competition on Sunday 22nd January 2017 at the Woodland Trust’s Thorn Wood, Weaverham , near Northwich .

There will be two categories : professional and novice (the latter category is for hedgelayers with limited experience or who may have been along to one of our volunteer training days).  Entry is free and there will be a modest cash prize for the first three places in each category!

One of the key aims of the Saltscape Landscape Partnership is to reconnect people with their landscape and heritage through events and workshops.  Hedgelaying is a dying rural craft that would, at one time, have been passed down from generation to generation as a means of managing the landscape.  It  involves cutting part way through the stems of the hedgerow trees in order to bend and lay them over stakes to form a living fence. Did you know that there are variations in regional styles throughout the country?

Saul Burton, Project Officer for Saltscape said, “Cheshire is not a county of dry-stone walls, and so hedges have always been our traditional rural boundary, creating essential corridors for wildlife.” As many as 16 out of the 19 birds included in the Farmland Bird Index, as used by Government to assess the state of farmland wildlife, are associated with hedgerows, with 10 using them as a primary habitat.  Increasingly, they are valued too for the major role they have to play in preventing soil loss and reducing pollution, and for their potential to regulate water supply and to reduce flooding.

Saul said, “Cutting hedges back using modern, mechanised flailing techniques does not make for healthy hedges often resulting in a tangles and gaps and compromising its effectiveness as a way of keeping sheep and cattle.  This can prompt a landowner to replace the hedge with a fence and lose vital natural habitat.  However a well-laid hedge promotes vigorous re-growth from the stumps and will maintain a stock-proof barrier.  They’re vital to the health of our countryside and landscape we all love so much.”

But if you’re not amongst the dwindling number of experienced hedge layers out there, come along and watch the competitors from 10am.  There will plenty to see and do throughout the day with demonstrations of  willow weaving, green woodworking , den-building and bushcraft activities for children,  and birds of prey from  Vale Royal Falconry.  Parking is on the Grange School Playing Fields adjacent to Thorn Wood.

If you’d like to take part in the competition, give Saul a ring on 01606 723 160 or email us.

You can see a stretch of well-laid hedging recently completed by volunteers working with us at Bottom Pitch on Owley Wood Road in Weaverham near the scout hall.