Many years ago I was travelling around the Dales with a family from Germany when the father insisted we stopped. They were from the flat area of the north west, close to the Dutch border, and I assumed he wanted the admire the view of the hills. Wrong. What fascinated him was the miles and miles of dry stone walling enclosing the valley bottom fields, stretching up the hillsides and disappearing over the tops of even the steepest of our modest Yorkshire mountains. Our  German friend contemplated why anyone would ever want to build the walls in the first place; he marvelled at the skill of the builders, especially on being told they had stood for hundreds of years without an ounce of mortar.Maybe Yorkshire folk take our walls for granted when we should actually be treating them as a treasure and an attraction. Last week I attended a presentation ceremony marking the achievements of wallers who are carrying on the ancient tradition… but they are few and far between nowadays. Many of our walls are falling into disrepair either because landlords cannot afford the renovation or the necessary skills are not to be found. Thank goodness then for organisations like the Yorkshire Dry Stone Walling Guild who are doing their best to keep the craft alive. Visit them at www.ydswg.co.uk. And look out for my report on the walling winners in November’s magazine.My photo shows field patterns and walls in Littondale.

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