Three months ago we started a dry stone seat at Tiphereth, in the Pentland hills, but had to pause the work due to a lack of stone. A couple of weeks back this was delivered, so a few hardy souls braved the chilly weather to continue the project, and got the bulk of the work done.
Looking pretty good, I'd say - and proof (if any were needed) that it worked:
And undeterred, last Saturday they returned in even less clement weather to finish the job, accompanied by some more truly dedicated dykers.
Yep, that's snow.
It's not stopping them from enjoying themselves, though.
And the seat still works.
Awesome work. Thanks to Stevie for the photos, once again.
This weekend we went ahead with the delayed project to build two viewfiender plinths and a circular seat at Easter Craiglockhart hill in south-west Edinburgh.
Yesterday was (apparently) a nice day, and half a dozen dykers supported by Ewan Davidson from the Friends of Craiglockhart managed to make a good start on the plinths. Sadly, I couldn't be there to witness this. Today was not so nice ... the rain did stop occasionally, but the mist never cleared. Sadly, I was there to experience this. Apologies for the less than clear photos, but they do give a fairly accurate idea of the conditions.
The two plinths were about 100 yards apart, to give the best possible views: one was near the summit, facing south west:
And the other was on a nearby rise, facing north.
Near the latter, a circle of stone had been started, to indicate where the seat should go.
We set to work to complete the plinths and make a start on the seat, and by lunchtime the plinths were done and waiting for their plaques:
And the first course was in on the seat.
After lunch we could all concentrate on the seat, and by the end of the day it was up close to "sitting" level.
We're heading back next weekend to finish it off - hopefully in more clement conditions!
Last weekend we held another training course at the Scottish Lime Centre in Fife - thanks once again to Stevie Gordon for the photos.
A few weeks ago (apologies for the delay) we undertook our first 'normal' branch practical activity in about a year and a half, when we went to Tiphereth to make a start on a curved dry stone seat.
Tiphereth is a community project for people with learning disabilities providing both residential care and workshops in Edinburgh. The site is at Torphin in the foothills of the Pentlands, and has great views over the city to the Forth.
It was pretty clear from the outset that we didn't have enough stone to complete the project, even with an abundant supply of rougher stone nearby for hearting. There was also a lack of flat stone for the seating itself.
However, we pressed on with what we had, and managed to get the 'base' (up to just below seat level) pretty much done.
We'll be heading back at some point to finish off, once more stone has been ordered and delivered (not sure when that might be ... seems to be a bit of a shortage at the moment).
(Apologies also for the quality of some of the photos ... I think there was something on my camera lens ...)
Last weekend we held another beginners' training course, this time back at our old venue of Easter Kinleith farm in the Pentlands. Thanks once again to Stevie for the photos - looks like they made a great job of it!
... 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.
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).