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Page last updated at 11:12 GMT, Friday, 19 March 2010
Dry stone wall courses held to safeguard their future

David Shiel and Richard Jones
David and Richard hope to encourage people to take up dry stone walling

Take a walk across the countryside and one feature you may see, but may not always notice, is the mile upon mile of dry stone wall, some of which have been standing for centuries.

Over time, some have fallen, but they have been deemed such an important part of the landscape that taster sessions and courses in the craft of dry stone wall building are being run to encourage people to take up this traditional skill.

A dry stone wall at Nercwys follows the curve of the hill

David Shiel, countryside officer for the Clwydian Range, explains: "The dry stone walls and the hedges that form part of the Clwydian Range are a particular feature of the landscape and recognise the way the landscape has been shaped by agriculture over the last many hundreds of years.

"The dry stone wall that many people may have noticed as they've walked up to the top of Moel Famau is the county boundary in parts between Flintshire and Denbighshire and has been the county boundary on and off since the 1400s so it's a key feature of the landscape."

The walls were generally built for an agricultural purpose on Moel Famau to enclose various areas of the common in the early 1800s.

But, over time, they have become an important habitat for plant and wildlife, with birds and small mammals making them their homes.

David said farmers built the walls with whatever was close at hand.

"You can see in the limestone areas around Llanarmon and Eryrys and further north around Prestatyn and Trelawnyd the limestone walls are a particular feature and in the central areas the walls are more shale and gritstone so they really do define those landscape areas in terms of the materials that were used."

Aerial footage of the Clwydian Range shows the heather, hills and stone walls

David said: "The Clwydian Range was designated as an AONB in 1985 and recognised as a high quality landscape, one of the finest landscapes in the UK, and one of the particular features of that landscape are the dry stone walls so we're very interested in that aspect of the landscape.

"We're working with the Dry Stone Walling Association in north Wales to make sure that quality continues and the walls are restored to a high standard."

Richard Jones works as a dry stone wall builder and will be teaching people about the principles of the craft via the Dry Stone Walling Association which received a grant from the Clwydian Range AONB.

Richard believes it's important that these skills are retained.

"These ancient boundaries are so important within the AONB. Most of the walls within these areas have probably been neglected since after World War II and nobody's done much with them so we're trying to encourage people to get into dry stone walling and hopefully take it up as an occupation.

"I'm hoping we can get the younger generation interested. It's physically demanding work but very satisfying because I always think that the walls we put up, if taken care of, are going to be there for the next 100 years at least. As dry stone wallers we are making some mark on the landscape and hopefully it will be appreciated!"

The taster sessions begin on 20 March and run throughout the summer. Further information can be found on the Dry Stone Walling Association's website.


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