Golden Cap hosts Hedgelaying Competition

A competitor can be seen laying a hedge behind a hedgelaying tool

In September, Golden Cap was host to the hedeglaying part of the annual Melplash Hedging and Ploughing competition.

We were pleased to be able to help the competition as the Estate has plenty of hedges for the participants to work on. 

Hedgelaying is a traditional rural skill that has been practiced for hundreds of years. It was originally a method for maintaining a stock-proof boundary for farm livestock in the days before barbed wire and modern forms of fencing. However, it also has a multitude of benefits for wildlife, including providing a good nesting habitat for farmland birds and cover for small mammals, like dormice.

There are regional styles of hedge-laying; the basic principles of partial cutting and bending over of stems remains the same, but the finished height and make up of the hedge can vary. In West Dorset, our hedges are mostly on 3-4 foot high earth banks, normally with a ditch on at least one side. The hedge is laid quite low (between 2-3 feet) and held in place by hazel bonds or binders. 

During the competition, even though ground conditions were wet, everyone managed to have a good day which resulted in 200 meters of hedge laid by 26 competitors. The event had 7 competition classes; novice, intermediate, open, local class, ladies class, novice pairs and open pairs (‘open’ is considered the professional class).

Many thanks to the Melplash Society for organizing the event and congratulations to all the competitors who took part.