Tatton Park Ranger Hedges his Bets…
The skilful countryside ranger won first prize in the Cheshire class at the Agden Hall Farm event on September 30th, beating ten other dextrous competitors (including two Tatton Park colleagues!) In fact, this was Adrian’s 3rd win in this class; he now has a glittering silver trophy to add to 26 other hedge-laying prizes he has received over the years.
His win is a bit of a thorny subject with colleagues, Clem West and Richard Dixon, whom he cut out of the competition for first prize. Adrian commented “I will have to leave the trophy in the Rangers’ office for a few days so everyone can have a hold!”
Hedge-laying is a traditional craft which requires great skills of agility and strength. Historically, well managed hedgerows were used to contain livestock and mark boundaries, a tradition that continues today. Hedgerows are a particular feature of the Cheshire countryside, unlike other counties such as Derbyshire and Cumbria, where dry stone walls have been used to contain livestock.
Competitors are allocated eight yards of hedgerow and have a maximum of six hours to lay the perfect hedge. Judges look for quality craftsmanship; the aim is to create a straight line, laying the stems over at a correct angle to help encourage re-growth.
Adrian has had plenty of opportunity to practise with his billhook and axe at Tatton, home to over 2,000 acres of Parkland, agricultural land and woodland. He has worked at Tatton for 33 years (arriving on the very same day as Ranger, Richard Dixon!) Hedge-laying is just one of the many traditional skills practised by Tatton Park’s Rangers and an element of healthy competition always helps keep these skills honed!
So what next for Adrian? He commented “I expect I will have to compete again next year and I might even try my hand at a new skill like dry-stone walling!”