AN ancient art will be brought to East Lancashire as part of a countryside ‘grand prix’ event.

For hundreds of years hedgelaying has served as a vital form of countryside stewardship, marking boundaries and keeping livestock safe.

But by the late 70s, the skills which had kept farms and country lanes in order were beginning to die out, leading to the beginnings of a national society to preserve the knowledge.

Lancashire and Westmorland Hedgelaying Association was a by-product of this and the organisation will be coming to Sabden next month to demonstrate members’ prowess.

Seven competitions are staged annually by the association, and Cockshott Farm will host such a gathering on March 2 with the support of the Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership.

Committee member Dave Padley said: “The hedgelaying competitions help sustain the craft and are a great way to help bring new and young people into the tradition.”

Each competitor will be asked to lay between six and 10 yards of hedging within a five-hour period, with marks awarded for neatness, the quality of cuts, straightness and an adherence to the Lancashire and Westmorland ‘style’.

An overall winner is determined after each of the seven heats and prizes handed out across five classes, from a grand prix champion to novice and junior winners.

Visitors are being encouraged to turn up on the day, between 9am and 3pm, and try their hand at hedgelaying and dry stone walling.

Association members will also explain all about the significance and importance of hedgelaying for the countryside throughout the day.

Partnership officers will also be leading a guided walk through the Sabden valley from 10.30am and arranging a children’s nature trail.

Stalls manned by everyone involved with the gathering, and local businesses, will be on hand at St Nicholas Church Hall.

A Pendle Hill spokesman added: “We wish to thank the Gill family for providing Cockshotts Farm as the venue and the association for organising the competition.”