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PICTURES: Hedge-laying sessions in Strathpeffer share passion for a skilled art as Old Railway Station hosts well-received workshops


By Hector MacKenzie

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Pausing for a break are (from left) Stefan Quarry, Phil Armshaw, Kev Denholm, Morven MacDonald, and Alex Teixeira. Picture: James Mackenzie.
Pausing for a break are (from left) Stefan Quarry, Phil Armshaw, Kev Denholm, Morven MacDonald, and Alex Teixeira. Picture: James Mackenzie.

ANCIENT skills that foster a closer connection to the land are being passed on at well-received sessions in a Ross-shire village.

Phil Armshaw, who is a director for Crystal House Retreat in Strathpeffer, was taught the ancient craft of hedge-laying back in 1988.

He worked around Cannock Chase, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), laying hedges most winters up to 2010.

He said: “The hedges layered reflected the decline of hedges in agriculture since World War II. The hedges were often lines of semi-mature trees lacking in management and of little use as a boundary feature or for wildlife.”

He is passionate about the subject and gains pleasure from passing on his skills.

Phil Armshaw teaching hedge-laying in the Midland Bullock style to Kev Denholm, Stefan Quarry and Alex Teixeira. Picture: James Mackenzie.
Phil Armshaw teaching hedge-laying in the Midland Bullock style to Kev Denholm, Stefan Quarry and Alex Teixeira. Picture: James Mackenzie.

The weekend course, the first of several, was hosted at the Old Railway Station in Strathpeffer and was primarily practical based but covered health and safety, terminology, hedgerow dating and hedge styles. The style being learnt is Midland Bullock, used on mixed farms to keep cattle from arable fields.

Course participants began to develop their skills and understanding of the craft. Feedback has been positive both on the day, in person and on social media.

Stefan Quarry later posted: “Great weekend, thanks Phil, looking forward to more.”

Alex Teixeira, who also took part, stated: “Thank you! Pleasure to be taught by you. I can feel my right arm today. Bring on next weekend.”


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