A Yorkshire Dales hill farmer who has spent a lifetime rebuilding the drystone walls around his 220 acre farm will today (Tuesday) receive a top award for his conservation work - and then go off to hospital for a serious knee operation.
Dales farmer wins top walling award for second time
Stan Bargh, of Springcote, Chapel-le-Dale, has been working on his drystone walls between two of the famous Three Peaks - Whernside and Ingleborough - for more than 50 years, starting at the tender young age of ten.
He finished the last length earlier this year and today he will be presented with the Country Landowners and Business Association's award for the best stonewalling in the county - for the second time running!
The winning wall - a 100 metre stretch next to a hay meadow in the valley bottom - was rebuilt in April/May 2006 and represents the completion of his task. This is just as well as serious surgery on his knee is Stan's next challenge!
Stan Bargh was born on his traditional sheep farm at Chapel-le-Dale, near Ingleton, between the peaks of Whernside and Ingleborough, and has been rebuilding the walls for more than 50 years, starting when he was only ten years old.
The CLA competition, organised in association with the Yorkshire Dry Stone Walling Guild, 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.
Dry stone walls are an essential and much admired feature of the Yorkshire landscape
Christopher Bourne-Arton - CLA
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. Mr Bargh said "I pack the fillings by hand. I don't chuck them in. I'm still learning a few tricks. In fact I reckon I can do the job better and faster than I could 20 years ago."
The CLA's Yorkshire president Christopher Bourne-Arton presented Mr Bargh with a glass perpetual challenge trophy.
"Dry stone walls are an essential and much admired feature of the Yorkshire landscape," he told the farmer at the presentation "This is why the CLA decided to play a major role in the revival of this traditional craft. There can be no finer example than your lifelong devotion to walling and the encouragement it has given to others. You are a true ambassador for this craft."