... or is that second course at SLC? Due to COVID restrictions, we had to split our May course in two, run over successive weekends. Here's the result of the second course/part ...
Thanks to Bruce Curtis for the photos.
This weekend saw the completion of our first beginners' training course at the new training facility at the Scottish Lime Centre, with the wall looking good, and both trainers and trainees looking justifiably happy with it.
Thanks to Stevie for the photo, once again.
And sure enough, CSB have now finished the wall:
Slight shortage of stone means there are some turf copes, but this is fine - just adds another element to the training (how to cope if you don't have enough copes ...).
Thanks to Kate Armstrong for the photo.
For a number of years we've discussed setting up a dedicated training and practice site, and now we have one, courtesy of the Scottish Lime Centre at Charlestown in Fife (www.scotlime.org/). We're sharing the site with the Central Scotland Branch of the DSWA (CSB), as they also felt they could use a dedicated site (and furthermore, Fife is really their patch).
We're planning on holding our first training course there later this month, and to that end we need a section of wall long enough for the trainees to work on socially distanced. So earlier in the year several tons of stone were delivered, and now that the COVID restrictions have been lifted a bit, a few volunteers were able this weekend to go along and do some work on this.
Some CSB volunteers had already been along earlier in the week (we have to take turns, as we're restricted to six people on site at a time), so our guys picked up where they left off- thanks to Stevie Gordon for the photos.
I think CSB are heading back later this week to finish off, so the wall should be ready for our first training course.
It's been a long time ... the coronavirus pretty much put a stop to our activities over the summer, and only in the last couple of weeks have a few of us been able to get out for some (socially distanced) walling. As this is a new area for us - normally we're only separated from our nearest workmate by the thickness of a dry stone wall - we decided for our first outing to limit the participants to members of the branch committee, partly to limit the numbers but also because we're learning
how to manage this as we go along. In the end I couldn't make it along myself, and the work was carried out by the more than capable team of Richard, Stevie, Alan and John, with help from Coolie the dog - photos of the build provided by Stevie.
A few years ago we did a couple of walling demonstrations at the Midlothian Community Hospital's open day, at Bonnyrigg, just to the south of Edinburgh. They must have liked what they saw because they invited us back to build a permanent feature, comprising of a circular dry stone wall enclosing (and supporting) a wooden seat. It had to be wheelchair accessible, with space beside the seat for said wheelchair to park.
We thought we'd like to get a stone engraved, both so we could claim credit for our work and also so that the hospital could put any message they might want to pass on to their visitors. In the end they decided they only wanted the word 'failte' ('welcome' in Gaelic). The stone was engraved for us by a former member, Pete Smith, who fortunately had the foresight, when the original build date was delayed, to suggest only putting the year of construction, rather than including the month as we'd originally planned.
The build would have been delayed anyway due to flooding, which necessitated extensive drainage works before the site could be built on - which works were themselves delayed by the virus. However, once done, the site was excellent: smooth packed whin dust on a bed of larger aggregate - a far cry from our usual overgrown muddy field boundary.
In order to accommodate the seat and the wheelchair space we needed to build the wall about 3m in diameter - pretty much the whole of the area prepared for us.
A couple of pretty substantial pieces of wood had been provided to make the seat; however, we needed to cut them to fit the curve of the wall, which could only be done once the wall was up to seat height.
Of course, it's important to test your work as you proceed ...
And, after a few return visits, the finished seat.
Hopefully we'll manage to get some more builds in before the end of the year - watch this space for further updates.
Last Sunday was our last practical outing of 2019, to build a dry stone seat in the 'ruined croft' in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh. The 'croft' is basically a small folly, on the banks of a pond at the back of the rock garden. It's mostly there as a backdrop to the surrounding planting, but inside is an under-used space, so those in charge thought that it might be nice to add somewhere where people could sit down.
The idea was to build a seat, or rather a bench, in the corner with the walls acting as a back rest. The Gardens had ordered in a couple of tons of stone - a bit much for the size of seat we could build, but one ton wouldn't've been enough. The stone was Olston, which is quite square, and there was quite a lot of good flat stuff for the seat top. They'd also sorted it out a bit for us, with the flat stuff and the small bits in separate piles, which meant we could crack on straight away, and in a couple of hours we'd got the first couple of courses done and made a start on the third.
After a break for lunch we got the final course finished ready for the flat slabs on the top.
Normally we'd mortar them in, but we reckoned that this spot would be vandal-free so they'd be fine as they were.
And after it had been tested by our official seat-tester, it was all done.
Update 16/10/2019: Galloway Glens Landscape Partnership have posted a video about this build - check it out at m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=1853928054753078&id=871207806358446&sfnsn=mo&d=n&vh=e
Last weekend our esteemed colleagues in the South West Scotland branch (SWS DSWA) organised an inter-branch project for all the Scottish branches - the first for many years. This was a great opportunity to meet and work with other dykers, and to get some experience of different dyking styles.
The project was a wall repair at Threave Gardens, a National Trust for Scotland property near Castle Douglas in Dumfriesshire. The site was on the edge of a wood near the top of the hill behind the Gardens, with fabulous views over the surrounding countryside.
The existing wall had collapsed at this point, and the plan was to build a new curved wall providing shelter for a viewpoint with benches looking out across the valley. The area had already been cleared and stone brought up.
Different sections of the wall were going to be in different styles: some standard (double) dyking; some single boulder dyke; and some Galloway dyke - the local style, double until half way up and then single on top.
Single dyking is an art unto itself, and the granite boulders were massive, but the speed at which it went up was impressive - long before us double dykers were even half way up the first section of boulder wall was done.
Saturday was a glorious day, and it would've been almost too hot if it weren't for the breeze and the shade from the trees.
As well as the benches inside the circle, a couple of large flat stones were to be built into the wall to act as seats. These were too big to lift by hand, and were lifted in by tractor.
As the day wore on our double dyke gradually caught up with the single one next door.
SWS DSWA had set up a field kitchen nearby, and provided us with a fantastic lunch (including quite possibly the best rice pudding I've ever eaten).
Very foolishly, I didn't take any photos at the end of the day, thinking that the wall would still be the same the next morning and I could just take some then. The next morning the wall was the same - but the weather wasn't. It started to rain just as I went to breakfast at 7:30 am, and continued steadily for the rest of the morning.
Not that we let this put us off, of course.
The section next to the 'top' stone seat was Galloway dyke, and as for the boulder dykes the single section went up very quickly.
We knocked off late on Sunday afternoon with nearly all of the wall completed - just one section of standard wall joining on to the existing wall was left to do.
Thanks to Nic Coombey and all at SWS DSWA and to Dave at Threave Gardens for organising this, to Karl for the photos (his ones are the better ones, especially on Sunday when my phone got very damp and blurry), to Linda for the superlative catering, and of course to the many dykers from around the country who made this possible.
Over the two days of last weekend we built a curved dry stone seat at Colinton in the south of Edinburgh, on the section of the Water of Leith walkway that runs along the old railway line. This is part of a larger project to enhance this area, which also includes some pretty spectacular murals in the tunnel that's there.
The project's being run by the Colinton Amenity Association (CAA), and they'd prepared the site before we arrived on Saturday morning, cutting a flat area out of the banking near the tunnel.
The stone was from the Swinton quarry, just north of the Tweed (the specification being that it had to be Scottish), onto a large piece of which one of our former members, Pete Smith, had carved an inscription for us notifying who'd built the seat and when.
It was quite tricky working in the fairly enclosed space within the curve, and the bank above was quite muddy and slippery too, which didn't make it any easier. The stone, however, was pretty easy to work with, and there were several large flat slabs which would do well for the seat area.
By lunch time we were up to seat level - the slabs having to be mortared on to ensure that they stay put.
The CAA even provided us with cake to keep us going.
And fortified by this we soon got the seating slabs finished off.
The back of the seat would need to be built on top of the slabs and we therefore had to let the mortar set before we could build it, so all we could do for the rest of that day was build up the lower parts of the back wall to seat height.
We reckoned Sam was light enough not to cause the seat to shift, so he tested the seat for us before we headed off at about 3 pm.
On Sunday, the mortar having dried, the back could go up - a tricky curved build with a sloping top.
And finally the completed seat, with the inscribed stone in the middle of the back.
And proof, if any were needed, that it works.
I now have some photos from the second day of the build, and some from before I arrived on the first day - many thanks to Karl and Chris for these (see previous post for the bit in between!).
This is the site at the start of the build - we'd been provided with a curved base of whin (I think) rubble to build on, but it took quite a bit of measuring to get the poles and lines in place.
And it seems they got on pretty rapidly without me on the Sunday, with the throughs going on by mid-morning.
And even some of the copes on before lunch.
By early afternoon just the remaining copes needed finished off.
And by mid afternoon the wall was complete.
This weekend we're building a curved stone wall at Woodside near Acrum in the Scottish Borders, to provide a sheltered and meditative spot in one corner of the community garden - and a very nice spot it is, too, not far from the pond and shelter beyond..
I wasn't able to get there until lunchtime, by which the site had been prepared and the cheek-ends started. It's a bit hard to get a good shot of the site as it's enclosed by trees and bushes..
We had seven wallers in total - eight if you include my son, Sam, who helped out as a "hearting monkey", filling the gaps between the two side of the walls with smaller stones.The was pretty much the ideal number- if we'd had any more it would've been hard to fit us all into the site.
By close of play today, we'd got the first three courses or so up, and I very much expect that tomorrow they (sadly I can't make it along myself) will get it completed.
Hopefully someone else will take some further photos tomorrow - if I can get some I'll post them here as well.
This blog, and the rest of the site, are produced by Donald McInnes, treasurer of the SES DSWA (I'm the baldy one, sometimes in a saltire hat).