Hedgelayers of all levels are being called to take part in the annual North Cotswolds Hedgelaying Competition, organised by the Cotswolds Conservation Board, and taking place at Hitchen Farm, Ford, Gloucestershire on Saturday 17th November.
The competition, which is part of the Board's rural skills programme of courses and competitions, follows on from the successful Dry Stone Walling Competition held recently at Gatcombe Park. The competition involves five classes of competitor, from novice through to professional, who will be battling it out for the prestigious hedgelaying trophy.
To compete, participants have to cut and lay a section of hedge up to 10 yards in length, depending on which class they belong. The hedge is to be laid in the Midland style and must be 3' 6" in height. Judging is carried out by representatives of the National Hedgelaying Society who look for specific aspects of hedgelaying including cut and pleach, stake and heatherings, back of hedge and general appearance.
The traditional art of hedgelaying has been part of the Cotswolds landscape for centuries. Originally used for the purposes of stock control, the skill of laying a hedge was once common practice. However, due to the introduction of cheaper and less labour intensive methods of stock control, this traditional form of land management is now a much rarer skill. The Cotswolds Conservation Board works to keep these skills alive through a programme of courses throughout the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
There are many styles of hedge-laying throughout the UK. In the Cotswolds the most commonly used are the Midlands style and the Somerset style. For further information on the competition and courses, and to register as a participant, please visit www.cotswoldsruralskills.org.uk or telephone the Cotswolds Conservation Board on 01451 862000.
The competition is kindly supported by the National Hedgelaying Society.
The competition takes place at Hitchen Farm, Ford, Gloucestershire.
Competition classes are described as follows :
Class 1: Open: anyone with experience of hedgelaying.
Class 2: Intermediate: those who have not won this class twice or been placed in an open or veteran class.
Class 3: Junior, Beginners and Novice. Juniors are to be under 21 years; Beginners are those who haven't entered a competition before; Novices are those who have not won this class before, or been placed in an Open or Veteran class.
Class 4: Veterans: competitors who have reached their 60th birthday on or before the day of the competition.
Class 5: Beginner pairs: any two people working on one section who have not entered a competition before.
Competition prizes are awarded as follows:
Class 1 1st: Trophy and £50, 2nd: £30; 3rd: £15
Class 2 1st: Trophy and £40, 2nd: £25; 3rd: £15
Class 3 1st: Trophy and £30, 2nd: £20, 3rd: £10
Class 4 1st: Trophy and £40, 2nd: £25, 3rd: £15
Class 5 1st: Trophy and £30 each, 2nd: £20 each, 3rd: £10 each
The Cotswolds was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1966 in recognition of its rich, diverse and high quality landscape. www.cotswoldsaonb.org.uk
The Cotswolds AONB is looked after by the Cotswolds Conservation Board - an independent organisation established in 2004 which has 37 members - 15 nominated by local authorities, 8 by parish councils and 14 appointed by the Secretary of State.
The Cotswolds is the second largest protected landscape in England after the Lake District National Park and represents 10% of the total AONB area in the UK. It covers 2,038 square kilometres (790 square miles), stretching from Warwickshire and Worcestershire in the north, through Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, down to Bath and Wiltshire in the south.
Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), along with 15 National Parks, are considered to be the most special landscapes in the country and belong to an international family of protected areas. There are 38 AONBs in England and Wales, and a further eight in Northern Ireland. For further details, visit: www.landscapesforlife.org.uk
Source: Cotswolds Conservation Board