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​What does 23 sessions, 15 months, 8 volunteers, 2 members of staff and 1 very determined lead volunteer get you?
One transformed traditionally built dry stone wall leading into one of Northumberland’s quaintest villages.

It’s been a long time coming, but it’s finally finished thanks to the hard work of a small but dedicated group of volunteers! The first stone was laid back in October 2019, and the team finally finished this mammoth task just in time for Christmas.

Coast Care wanted to provide dry stone wall training to a group of willing volunteers who were keen to learn this traditional heritage skill and assist Coast Care in future conservation projects. The wall at Craster was identified through a Coast Care volunteer who at the time was involved with Craster Parish Council and knew of a wall that needed some TLC and also to make their new footpath safe for users. A drystone wall trainer was sought and ran a two day course with 10 participants and the group continued on to complete this project with lead volunteer Andy P taking the helm and ensuring the job was completed to a high standard. Andy said “having completed one of the training sessions I agreed to lead a small team of volunteers in completing the reconstruction of the 120 metre stretch of wall. We started the task in September 2019 and after a prolonged delay due to the Corona Virus restrictions restarted again in September 2020. We complete on average about five to six metres of wall in a four hour session and due to the current restrictions only have up to five volunteers on the task. We have just finished our 12th session and hope to complete the task by early December, weather permitting. I am now in my fourth year of volunteering with Coast Care and during that time I have had the opportunity to learn and develop a host of new skills. Whether they are reconstruction and repair, invasive species identification or removal, beach cleans or flora and fauna surveys they are always undertaken with enthusiasm by the many volunteers who fully appreciate this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.”

Work begins, pre-lockdown

Volunteers standing proudly by their accomplishment

Craster Parish Council were very pleased with the teams efforts. They said “Coast Care’s volunteers have cheerfully worked extremely hard, in all weathers and temperatures, to sort the scattered stone and use their skills to rebuild the wall from scratch, creating a much admired result. Nothing has been too much trouble, including accessing capstones and infill when there was insufficient to complete the project. We are grateful to K.W. Purvis, Longhoughton Quarry, for supplying these. The team’s enthusiasm and drive have been infectious and members of the parish council have been pleased to work with them on the project. Coast Care and its team are an invaluable asset to all small parish councils, who face pressure for funds and volunteers, to complete projects that improve the environment for residents and visitors alike. We have a fine piece of traditional craftsmanship that is part of Northumberland’s heritage. Thank you Coast Care!”

The finished wall

It is wonderful to have finished this project, especially because the team had to take a six month break until we were certain they could return to the wall in a covid safe way. Since then, smaller group sizes and the need to keep socially distant has slowed progress but what a fantastic final result which will stand for decades to come.

Well done dry stone wallers!

"I met some wonderful people and really felt that my work helped make a difference to my local area."

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