Peaks Ramblings

Gritstone and Limestone

Posted by Eoin Connaughton on Nov 21, 2017

Dry stone walling is a natural activity. It is strenuous and you are outdoors in what is usually a beautiful environment. Definitely worth trying.

I have done a one day course on gritstone in the Rivelin Valley. There were 4 participants and we took down and rebuilt a 3 metre section of wall. One complication was that the wall was on a slope. This meant we laid to level and stepped at appropriate intervals. 

I learnt that face wasn't that important. Length into wall was. 

Place your stones ensuring points of contact for stability and pack behind your stone as you go. (Packing on the front face is a definite no-no)

I followed this up with a 2 day course on Limestone at Biggin near Hartington. This was led by the wily Trevor (Master Craftsman and genial host). There were 16 participants on this one and we tackled a 12 metre section of wall.

This limestone wall was said to have been originally built in the 1600s and parts of it were the original boundary to Biggin Grange. We did manage to make at least two voles homeless but we made efforts to ensure they found a safe haven.

Once we had taken down and laid our stones out on the ground, we set up our lines and batter poles. (No use of spirit levels this weekend - we eyed it up and said "that'll be reet")

One major difference with the limestone - there was no use of the hammer whatsoever! There was an implication on the first course that gritstone is more 'malleable' and the waller should decide where the stones go (not the stones). There was a fair amount of knocking and chipping going on. The limestone doesn't take to being hammered and chipped.

One mantra remained the same:- 'length is strength'!

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