Hurdle Making at Leith Hill

Mature coppice growth in Elgins

The ancient art of hurdle making has been going on for many years near Leith Hill.

Etherley Copse at Leith Hill has been used for many years as a working woodland to produce hazel rods for making woven fencing panels which are known as hurdles.  Hazel is cut down close to the ground with a billhook to encourage regrowth of many straight stems – this traditional woodland management technique is called coppicing.  Our native plants and animals have adapted to the 6 to 10 year coppice cycle and a carpet of spring flowers will flourish in a newly coppiced wood.

The hurdle maker’s craft is an ancient one and dates back to medieval times.  Our local hurdle maker, Gavin McCourt in harmony with the biodiversity of Etherley Copse to ensure that this ancient skill is retained for the future, and his hurdles are used across the local area to support our conservation work.

Gavin also runs hurdle making workshops to encourage others to get involved – if you would like to try your hand at the ancient art you can contact him at