Yesterday was the third South of England Hedgelaying Society's training day, this time at Guestling Thorne in East Sussex. A dry bright day; mild but with a chilling wind. The long shadows in the photo below indicate some nice early morning sunshine that did not last. The hedge was across the field from the one worked on for the John French Competition but was of a different character. Of indeterminate age, it comprised a mix of Hawthorne and Blackthorn with very little else except bramble and rose. Flailed repeatedly over many years at four foot six it had developed large stag-horns and rot had got into a lot of the stems; four or five years of top growth gave the hedge some height but there was nothing at all around the base.
As the hedge was unfenced and the sheep had eaten out all the vegetation up as high as they could reach, this is a good example of what happens when a hedge is not laid on a regular basis and is no longer stock proof, deteriorating rapidly and with no regeneration.
My student James and I had the cant shown above. It was the second to last one down the field and had fewer stems than those on the middle section but fortunately was not as heavy as those at the other end of the hedge. Lots of bramble and rose in the top which took quite a while to remove, but there was very little clearing out to do at the base other than the removal of dead and rotten wood. Except for the thinning down of a couple of large stag-horn stems with the chain saw we laid almost entirely with hand tools as most of the stems were between three and five inches in diameter. However, many were awkwardly shaped and partly rotten making for some challenging axe work.
Quite pleased with the end result, given what we started with. Stock-proof, but not enough material to properly cover the pleachers.
Nice stake line and good even width. The binders were not that great but we did a reasonable job given the materials we had.
Finally a general view of a few of the other trainers and students at work.