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Country News - 2004

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Top award for Dales drystone waller

Wednesday 20 October 2004

A Yorkshire Dales farmer who has spent half a century working on one of the area's most famous features - its drystone walls - is to be honoured as a special award-giving ceremony today.

Stan Bargh, who was born on his 220-acre farm between the soaring peaks of Ingleborough and Whernside at Chapel-le-Dale, is to be presented with the top prize the Country Land and Business Association's biennial dry stone walling competition - the only event of its kind in Britain.

Stan has been rebuilding the walls for more than 50 years, starting when he was only ten years old. The winning section of wall in the competition, organised by the CLA in association with the Yorkshire Dry Stone Walling Guild, runs almost vertically up the rocky fellside and was awarded an all-time record score of 94 per cent.

The CLA competition is thought to be unique in that it judges long stretches of dry stone walls in the countryside, unlike the agricultural show contests where short sections are built on the day and then demolished. It was devised to help revive the craft of dry stone walling.

The judges were astonished to discover that Mr Bargh never uses a line or other equipment to ensure the walls run straight and are tapered.

"These are notoriously hard-to-build cobbly limestone walls," said the CLA's Yorkshire regional director, Dorothy Fairburn. "The terrain is difficult, punctuated by cliff faces, outcrops and scree. Some of the walls are six feet high. It is backbreaking work which Stan has had to do in addition to the rest of the farm work."

The CLA's Yorkshire president James Goodhart presented Mr Bargh with a glass perpetual challenge trophy. "Dry stone walls are an essential and much admired feature of the Yorkshire landscape," he said. "This is why the CLA decided to play a major role in the revival of this traditional craft.


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