THE Cheshire West and Chester Countryside Ranger Service is offering free hedge laying lessons at sites along the Whitegate Way.

Ranger Chris Moseley started the regular weekly volunteer days on Thursday, October 6, where members of the public were guided through the basics of this ancient country craft.

The Whitegate Way stretches from Winsford to Cuddington.

Running right through the winter until March, these weekly sessions are completely free and open to everyone, and they are a great way to learn new skills, keep active and socialise outdoors.

Northwich Guardian: Countryside Ranger Chris Moseley (CWAC)Countryside Ranger Chris Moseley (CWAC) (Image: Chris Moseley)

Regular volunteer John Devaney said: “I enjoy the activity of hedge laying becuase it gets me out of the house.”

Hedge laying involves partially cutting - known as pleaching - the stem of each tree and laying them to the side to form a slanting, living barrier, with each county having its own distinctive signature style.

Cutting from the base rejuvenates the trees, which are often traditional varieties such as holly, hawthorn, and hazel, and encourages new growth.

In the past, this centuries old rural craft was carried out from October to March with the aim of keeping hedges in good condition, providing an impenetrable field barrier for livestock.

After the Second World War, this skill started to fall out of use as hedge-cutting machinery and wire fences became widespread, and these distinctive features of the British countryside became neglected.

Northwich Guardian: Volunteers having a well-earned tea break (Chris Moseley)Volunteers having a well-earned tea break (Chris Moseley) (Image: Chris Moseley)

Recent years have seen increased interest in this ancient country craft, and Cheshire West and Chester Countryside ranger Chris Moseley is one of those helping to pass the skill on to others.

According to the RSPB, hedgerows are an invaluable source of food and shelter for up to 80 per cent of woodland birds, 50 per cent of mammals and 30 per cent of butterflies.

If you would like more information or to attend the hedge laying volunteer days please contact Chris Moseley on or 07946400675