Update on Stone Faced Bank at Steiner School

By Justin Clifford – DRST trainee.

What a difference 3 months makes. Hampered only by what seems an everlasting wet winter, trainees Justin Clifford and Mitchell Fawcett, along with instructor Don Gaskins, returned to complete the stoned faced wall at Steiner School which by way of a reminder looked like this before we started:


As the previous report will document the first task was to build a round quoin around the entrance to the schools admin area. Our task on this visit was to continue along the walls length with a plan of building into the wall a chair for waiting parents or children to sit awaiting collection. Thereafter it was important that the wall dovetailed into the existing wall boundary which had simply collapsed over the years. Our plan quite simply, under the direction of Don, was to maintain a low line wall on an ascending slope across its length.


Footings for the chair were made in the same way as the remainder of the walls footings. That is to say 4-6 inches below ground level. Having selected two suitable pieces of stone for both the base and back stone. The next task was to carefully select stone that would serve as arm rest for the inset chair. That is to say stone that gave a good angle to each arm yet large enough to remain stable whilst sat within the wall itself. It is important to ensure these stones are large enough to provide both structure and purpose and are themselves safe and are not set in a way that they would otherwise collapse in on themselves. This was the first inset chair I have done during my training which was challenging given the limited stone available. I was also reminded of the importance of maintaining the chosen batter on both sides of the chair swell as maintaining the height of the infill which at times seemed to eat up the finely sifted soil.


Proving the point the chair is both adult and child friendly, Master Don takes the chair after a really enjoyable days construction.
DRST hopes that staff, teachers, parents and pupils alike enjoy this new look to the Steiner School entrance and hope that it is both admired and used as is its intended purpose for many years to come. Hopefully once the turf sods and primroses have established themselves the wall should blend in perfectly with the raised bank behind and above the wall.
Thanks again to Don Gaskin for his invaluable instruction, guidance and knowledge.

Wattle Hurdle Course

By Don Gaskins

The wattle hurdle course held at Rudolf Steiner School, Dartington on the 31st of March was very popular with a full complement and people on the waiting list. It was good to have five ladies attending.

For the first time in several months we were able to have a DRST day without worrying about the weather – although the canvas roof over the green woodwork area was bulging with the weight of collected rainwater. It was very definitely a ‘Bosses Day’ with a cold wind blowing and lots of clothing layers the order of the day. There was snow on Dartmoor

Don and Mitchell guided their teams through the intricacies of cleaving, twisting and weaving hazel rods to make six foot by three foot wattle panels which were taken home by Sacha and John Alton and Kelly and Justin James.


Dry Stone Walling Course in Portugal

Dry Stone Walling Course being held in Azenhas Do Mar, Portugal, this April/May.  The course is being led by DRST Member and experienced waller Martin Stallard (www.martinstallardstonework.co.uk) and promises to be a great mix of learning, tourism and bonding with like-minded individuals in the warmer weather of Portugal.

Course Overview

An informative 7 day Dry Stone Walling Course and enriching Portuguese cultural experience held in the historic village of Azenhas Do Mar, situated within Portugal’s Sintra National Park (UNESCO whs).  Led by DRST member and professional waller Martin Stallard (UK), this residential training course for up to 8 people will be held alongside tours to some of Portugal’s most beautiful sites, and includes welcoming local accommodation, with breakfast and lunches featuring the region’s produce.
Perfect for those with little or no basic dry stone walling skills the course will also include techniques used at intermediate level, offering guests an in depth understanding of dry stone walling skills, and training will be given towards the DSWA Craftsman Certification Scheme Initial and Intermediate qualifications. The course will cover all aspects of building a dry stone wall from footings to coping stones whilst adhering to the tradition of the local Moorish style as seen in this part of Portugal.

To reserve your place email your full name and contact details to: dean@and-consultancy.com


Here at Velwell Orchard we are looking for an intern! We are offering basic accommodation in a cosy caravan, lots of good food, and the chance to learn new skills whilst living on the land.

As an intern you will learn biodynamic/organic gardening on our two acre smallholding, working alongside our volunteers and occasional WWOOFers. You’ll also learn rural skills including hedge laying, dry stone walling, coppicing, gate making, cleft chestnut fencing, scythe mowing and more. Our main summer work this year will be on site, constructing an exciting new building from cob. Go to Jeremy’s website at ProperEdges.com to see the sort of work you’ll be involved with.

The internship lasts for one year and is unpaid, but you will be well fed with lots of gluten-free, mainly organic and biodynamic food and you will be enrolled on a year’s worth of DRST courses. Workdays will be split between working on site and on jobs elsewhere. A small budget will be available for tools, work clothing, and training.

You will also have the option of studying Ki-Aikido at Jeremy’s dojo in the nearby town of Buckfastleigh with membership, mat fees and gi included in your training budget.

We are looking for a hard working, flexible, keen and independent individual. No experience is necessary, just an open mind, a strong body and a good heart. Applicants must be 18 years old or more. The successful applicant could begin a three-week trial as soon as February.

If you’re interested in this opportunity please contact us at velwellorchard@yahoo.co.uk or 07962 432317.