Friday, 7 October 2016

Cheshire Style Hedge Laying Debut at the National

Evenly pleached Cheshire hedge at Poulton Hall, Bebington.
Photo: Paul Loughnane

Who can think of the lowland Cheshire landscape without thinking of a network of oak lined hedgerows, dairy cattle and marl pits? Cheshire hedgerows are slowly declining, not so much being removed but mainly by neglect and repeated flailing which overcomes the hardiest of hedgerow plants, hawthorn. Hedges can be restored whilst keeping their boundary function by laying them, cutting the upright stems and bending them over to form an impenetrable living fence. The principle is easy but the practice is more complicated than it first seems. Skill is required to create a well-constructed and flowing hedge. Cutting the stems thin enough so the hedge regrows from the base but not so thinly that the stem dies is the trick. If you are interested in hedge laying there is a great opportunity to see the best cutters in country performing the art of hedge laying locally.

On Saturday 22nd October the National Hedge Laying Championship is coming to Cheshire for the first time ever and to stimulate local interest they have a debut Cheshire class of hedge laying. As well as Cheshire style hedge laying there will be nine other regional styles of hedge laid, all cut from the same hedgerow.

The regional hedge laying styles reflect the livestock to be retained, the terrain and climate of these regions. Cheshire laid hedges are one of the thinnest styles being used for turning dairy cattle. Laying hedges looks radical but restores the hedgerow from the base. It is a very modest fee to see such a national event, £5 a car; an incentive to car share. There will be a countryside show too. So share a car load and bring along your friends and make this Cheshire event a great success.

A week before the national event, on Friday 14th there will be an illustrated talk about hedge laying and the national competition at Heswall Hall at approximately 8pm, following the Wirral Wildlife Group AGM. So, if you would like to know what a hedge laying judge may be looking at come along and find out. It will make more of your day at the national championships.

Paul Loughnane

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