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A cut above the rest for Lake District hedge layers

Photo: Friends of the Lake District

A handful of hardy competitors contended with strong winds, spells of sunshine and snow showers this weekend to lay 115 metres of hedge.

18 hedge-enthusiasts battled it out at the Friends of the Lake District’s Annual Hedge Laying Competition at New Hall Farm, Staveley, on Saturday.

It's part of the Lancashire & Westmorland Hedge Laying Association Grand Prix series, which brings together novices, juniors and professionals to show off their skills.

After competing in 5 different classes, including a starter class aimed at encouraging young teenagers to learn the art of this traditional rural skill, the winners were chosen.

Thomas Kendal was crowned the best overall winner.

Credit: Friends of the Lake District

A well laid hedge not only provides a barrier for livestock which is attractive to look at and intrinsic to the appeal of the Lake District landscape; it’s also an important habitat for countryside birds, many of which are now in decline.

“The skill and technique required to lay a hedge well can’t be underestimated and as usual, we were delighted to welcome many spectators to the event. It’s heartening to know that so many people are keen to keep this rural skill alive and thriving.”

– Ruth Kirk, Friends of the Lake District competition organiser

What is hedge laying?

  • A fence is built from scratch by intertwining willow branches between upright stakes.
  • It is a traditional method of fencing used on farming land across the UK, although is less common as it requires skill, time and patience.
  • It's the only type of fencing to be livestock-proof. Cows can't lean on it, which often makes holes for sheep to escape through.
  • And it's not just a barrier - it also provides shelter for livestock and a habitat for various birds.