A unique opportunity to take part in constructing a Dry Stone Boundary wall, in the heart of the Bedfordshire countryside.
These workshops are a 'hands on' experience to the introduction or improvement for DIY and interested persons of all ages over 16yrs. You will assess the ground and setting out of building pins, batter frames and lines. You will stack out material in the appropriate manner and commence building. You will position foundation stones and build upto the first lift and placing through stones. You will continue building second lift and have an over view of placing top stones.
During the construction, you will learn the heritage and craft overview, geological and engineering terms and descripton of stones used. You will receive, and discuss, an overview into the construction of various wall features and finishes. You will learn fundamentals of building a retaining wall, raised flowerbeds, squeeze stile and Cheek End -- if time allows.
The instructor/trainers are experienced wallers and certificated by the Dry Stone Walling Association.
At the end of the day you will - be able to safely and confidently set out and construct a dry stone wall or basic feature - understand DSW heritage and terminology used - distinguish various stone materials and their uses.
If you will be redeeming a CraftCourses gift voucher on this course, the voucher code must be provided at the point of booking.
What's included in the price?
All materials, tools and equipment are provided along with personal protective equipment for example - gloves, goggles, kneeling pads, where required and first aid. Excellent welfare and personal facilites requirements. Essential to bring your own packed lunch and drink, stout, robust footwear, preferbly safety boots and old protective over clothing which may become dirty or marked and suitable for the possible weather conditions.
On conclusion of the workshop, each participant is provided with a range of excellent informative handouts, brochures and a 'Certificate of Acheivement'.
John Holt at London School of Dry Stone Walling
Marshwood House Ravensden Road Renhold, Bedford Bedfordshire MK41 0JY
John is as experienced and knowledgeable as they come, having been building dry stone walls since the age of 8.
The course struck a good balance between supervised and unsupervised learning - you need to be told some knowledge and shown some techniques, but ultimately getting your hands dirty and making mistakes, with someone checking in and correcting where necessary, is the way to get a feel for it, and by the end of the day I definitely felt I was starting to get my eye in.
John was a very patient teacher, especially considering how slow and incompetent we must have looked compared to himself. He's also very keen to make and keep people aware of the what goes into dry stone walling and its heritage, and provided some useful information about e.g. National Dry Stone Walling Centre (which I will be sure to visit next time I'm on my way up north) and bee boles. I'm planning to volunteer for some restoration in the Lake District (although this will require some additional techniques).
All round I would thoroughly recommend this course.
Hello Dominic - Thank you for your feedback, it was good to have you on board. Great you felt the benefit of important specifics, the balance of teaching techniques and developing your 'eye'. Enjoy the NDSWC and your volunteering day's, Best Wishes, John
My husband and I attended the workshop run by John on 10th Aug. We had a thoroughly enjoyable day and gained great insights into techniques used to build dry stone walls. John is a great instructor and very patient with absolute novices. There’s a good balance of checking/making sure you are on track and being left alone to work it out for yourself. Very therapeutic! I would actually like to go back to do a 2nd day to try building different part to the wall e.g. foundations stones. Thanks for a memorable day.
Hello Anne - Thank you for your feedback. I am pleased you felt the benefit of 'being left alone' to put one over two or two over one. There is much to learn and you achieved completing a good section of the wall, juggling with the stone and following the line !!
The next section is under preparation, more trench digging ready for foundations, to carry on building into where we finished the raking back!! You would be welcome to return, at any time. Take Care, Best Wishes, John
I had a wonderful day! It seemed to pass extremely quickly, which was a testament to John's insights and "the wall." It is essentially a big jigsaw. I learned about basking stones, hearting stones, batter, first lift and second lift and more to boot. It was an inspiring and renewing experience which I would recommend to anybody in these fast days of computer games.
Hello Guy - Thank you for your feedback. I am pleased you were inspired by the experience. It was good to see your handling of the stone and how it improved during the day, choosing particular ones to form a 'racking angle', keeping the batter and placing the fillings.
Best Wishes, John
I have been looking forward to doing this course for some time. I have always loved DSW, having the chance to learn new skills is great and John is a great teacher.
I cant wait to put what i have learned in my own projects at home and friends.
Thank you for a great day.
Thank you Paul - I am pleased you gained benefit from attending the DSW workshop. It is good to learn you will be using your skill to build a feature at home - or elswhere !! The group worked well together and much was achieved. I wish you well for the future. Take Care and Best Wishes - John
A very good day despite the weather. Excellent insight from John and good company. I am inspired to attend a practice weekend to go one stage further.
Had a very good day. Learnt I can’t keep a straight course, with thin pieces of stone. Got better with the hammer chipping bits off to reshape.
Leant some terms, batter the angle of the wall, jumper - evening up a course.
Would take on doing a wall at home.
Hello Nicola - It was a good day and i am pleased you found it interesting, observing the 'batter', the lines, seeing the foundations going in, placing of the 'three quarter throughs', juggling with the stone until you found the suitable 'face' and placing it 'one over two' ! It does take time to settle into the activity and wish you well in your future activity overseas - Take Care, Best Wishes - John
I found the Dry Stone Walling course to be very educational, and set at the right level for those attending. John was very knowledgable and helped the course along with his encouragement and anecdotes. It gave me the confidence to try a a few small home projects, and an interest to learn more about this countryside craft.
Hello Nick - thank you for your time to review. Good to have two 'brothers' ! working along side each other 'juggling' the stone. You did appreciate getting your 'eye' in and time required to find the appropriate piece with suitable 'face'. I am sure your garden features will appear in due course and you spend happy times building a DSW. Best Wishes to both, kind regards, John
The day with John was a great experience! There were 7 'students' (all excellent company by the way) having a go at what, on the face of it, seems a straightforward process. I soon learnt how straightforward John made it seem!!
John spent time patiently explaining the process, showing details of the wall already built and pointing out the features of a dry stone wall. He dealt with the wall from foundation up and we soon learnt some of the terminology (2 on 1, 1 on 2, jumpers, cheek ends, batter etc.) and were able to (try and) apply the principles taught. I don't consider myself a good DIYer although I give things a go and this is the attitude that John wants. For me, it was not easy, and you should see it as a hands-on taster/introduction to the subject. In that regard, it was very good.
Thank you for your comments Philip, your time to consider the workshop content is much appreciated. It is a practical subject and i am particularly pleased you remarked on some of the terms used. It does take time and some 'juggling' to consider what stone goes where ! Best Wishes, John
John's dry stone walling course is an active participation in learning the basic skills of wall construction. I thoroughly enjoyed the course but more importantly took away the necessary skills and appreciation for the wonderful works of stone that most of us just walk past. John is a fountain of knowledge on all matters of stone and patiently answered all my questions. I am looking forward to another course taught by him.
Hello Peter - Thankyou for your positive feedback, we covered a lot of ground over dsw chitter chatter. You will surely make a good impression with your homestead walls !!
Take Care, Best Wishes John
The trainer,John Holt, emailed sheets before the course giving basic guidance on good and bad practice in Dry Stone Walling which was helpful preparation. He also sent good instructions on location etc.
The course was very 'hands-on' which was ideal for such a practical subject. John gave us a brief talk on what we needed to do and then watched us doing it giving us tips and helping where necessary. We worked in two teams, one on the base of the wall we were building and the other on the higher level, switching over after lunch so that we all experienced both.
We were given instruction in how to lay out the strings to keep the wall straight and the courses of stone even, plus the dimensions required to make the batter frame.
Hello Neil - Thank you for your feedback comments. I am pleased you found the workshop content helpful. During the day, i saw how you and the group developed, choosing, juggling with stone, then a chip here and there and finding a place for it on the wall. Particularly pleased that you benefited from swapping round different places on the wall and developed your own techniques in shapeing the stone. I am sure your experience and interest will enhance further, as you begin to notice more and more DSW during your travels. Best Wishes, John
Really enjoyed this course as I had seen a few things on TV about dry stone walls and there importance.
John was excellent at demonstrating the batters, ratio of wall depths and thicknesses in proportion to the height. Had a great time chipping the stones, introducing the shims and the through and through stones to give rigidity. I would like to do more of this and hopefully will get an opportunity soon.
I feel confident in placing the foundation stones to the best advantage and following the lines of the batter to make a complete wall. A friend has bought a farm house in wales with lots of walls that need fixing so this will come in useful.
Thank you for your feedback Tim. I am pleased you recalled some of the terms used and do hope you will be able to continue the practice of DSW in Wales - that's just great news. Don't rush it !! Take care and I wish you well for the future - John
Who'd have thought it, I'm a Waller! I won't say it wasn't tiring work but I found it very satisfying assessing the right stone for the right place and seeing the wall grow strong and sound to the required shape and size. What a sense of achievement to build something beautiful that could stand for hundreds of years
A huge thank you to John for his careful tutelage. What a gent.
Hello Marc – Thank you for your feedback. I valued your input and your contribution will stay put, that was no sample !! As you said at the time, the workshop experience sheds more insight and understanding into the skill and craft heritage of previous generations.
If you have some building experience/general DIY skills/are good with your hands then you'll do well, if not you may struggle through no fault of the course, not as difficult as you'd imagine for handy people and John was a good teacher. This is the kind of skill you need to practice to excel at but it's amazing after little tuition (more general tips & pointers) you can build a section of wall that's not too different to the sections already built (to the untrained eye at least). You can well imagine with experience you'd develop your own style & flair.
This is a beautiful countryside skill that's far kinder to nature & durable (with deliberate considerations to birds, butterflies and other insects. The downside to drystone walls is that for many it would prohibitively expensive even if you consider your own time to be free but again this no criticism of the course or teacher. If you could go on to make a living from this then that would be a truly wonderful way to live (fresh air, working with a natural material, physical exercise) and one could well imagine there are people with enough money who'd be willing to pay for such a beautiful architectural feature.
Thank you for your detailed feed back Jim. It was a great day. I hope you would be able to use the workshop experience in future projects you may undertake and wish you well for the future.
As a Landscape Gardener, I have knowledge of bonding brickwork and the principles behind strength in walls, foundations etc. The knowledge that John has can only be achieved through years of experience and thats what i was after from the day. All the little tips and tricks that real, traditional craftsmen possess are priceless. John is a genuine, friendly gent whose passion for the craft is evident in his teaching. Cracking day with my Dad for a bit of Father/ Son bonding.
I had an excellent day along with my son. Having been involved within construction in different roles for many years it had always been an ambition of mine to learn the art of DSW. I wasn't disappointed.
I found John to be a very enthusiastic ,most knowledgeable instructor, who obviously gets great satisfaction in passing on his extensive knowledge to others, with his directing and instructing at different stages of construction .
Thank you John we had such a good day.
Jim & Shay
I had a great day, great company, great instruction . John was excellent and very informative. Gave everyone in the group equal time and answered every question asked. I feel that, with the instruction given, I could quite confidently build my own wall. I would recommend this course to anyone that wants to spend a day in the fresh air, away from computers and phones and learn something new.
Huge thanks to John and Mike for providing a fabulous day of learning and laughter! We were a small group of four which proved ideal for group and individual coaching in the challenging art of dry stone walking. John is patient, encouraging and with a dry sense of humour. We really felt that we'd accomplished something pretty special by the end of our day which incidentally flew by. As the homework suggests, it looks simple but isn't! Johns ability to eyeball a stone and with a deft hammer blow make it fit seamlessly into place is a joy to behold. My family booked this for a Fathers Day present; A great gift with happy memories!
John's passion for dry stone walling is infectious and I found him to be a patient and effective teacher. I feel confident that this course has given me a strong foundation to begin my own wall and learn more as I go.
A very satisfying day that has Inspired me to build my own dry stone wall.
John balanced gentle guidance with huge enthusiasm. A lot of practical advice and encouragement. I left exhausted but with a great sense of achievement.
A very enjoyable experience. John Holt runs the day in a relaxed manner and imparts a surprising amount of knowledge as you learn by doing. John is enthusiastic and knowledgeable and gets the right balance between letting you get on with it and intervening when necessary. You end up having actually built some wall. which is very satisfying.
really good course and learnt a lot and enjoyed it. The only improvement is maybe better joing instructions e.g. bring drinks and food. I asked so I knew to bring those but some simple instructions would avoid any mistakes.
I felt inspired to just want to start building some dry stone wall. I would even go as far as saying I would be up for the possibility of becoming a dry stone wall craft worker if I change from gardening. John was easy going, very knowledgeable and I felt I didn't want to stop. Great day! Thank you