Since being awarded Higher Level Stewardship status by Natural England, the Sanctuary has certain standards and practises that we have to abide by, and more sympathetic management of some of the hedgerows is one of them. So last week I went along to a hedge-laying course with my Manager James, Pete Daubney who works on Slade House Farm and two hedge-laying experts Martin Turner and Colin Ridgeway – both former National Champion hedge-layers.
We were very lucky with the weather, despite the bitter cold, we had beautiful blue skies all day and amazing views down across two Sanctuary farms - Hurfords and Paccombe and at both lunch and tea time we were treated to a chorus of brays from the hungry donkeys waiting their feed.
After starting the day with a health and safety briefing – we were using axes, loppers and billhooks and the experts were armed with chainsaws, we had an introduction to the art of hedge-laying. We were to continue laying a hedge on Hurfords Farm that the team had started last year. After a brief introduction we got stuck in, it would seem the best way to learn this is to do it.
We had a very constructive day and managed to lay a large section of the hedge – it was looking so neat by the end of the day.
I really enjoyed myself and the hard work kept the bitter cold at bay! I learnt so much about the traditional craft of hedge-laying, as well as learning about the different species of trees growing in the hedge and the wildlife that lives there too.
We had two volunteers join the team on Friday to help us continue with this hedge, and couldn't wait to get back to it! Once the 150 metre hedge is finished there’s a further 1,800 metres ready for laying this winter alone!
If you, or your team at work, would be interested in organising a practical day of hedge-laying here at the Sanctuary, please contact the Events Team on 01395 573156.