TWO trainees have successfully passed their level two Lantra accredited test in dry stone walling at Low Kays Lea Test Centre, near Hamsterley, in County Durham.

Dale Pattinson, of Tow Law, and Lee Hope, of Gateshead, completed a rigorous six-month traineeship, set up by the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Partnership with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The project is bringing £165,000 of training opportunities into the AONB and will enable nine people to learn dry stone walling and three graduates to study conservation and land management methods.

Peter Dent has run his training and test centre near Hamsterley for six years and sees about 25 candidates through each year.

He said: “Following a course of intensive training from beginner through Lantra level one to level two can fasttrack someone into the dry stone walling industry, but there is no substitute for actual experience, which is the benefit of the North Pennines AONB Partnership’s scheme.”

Mr Hope said: “It was a privilege to be placed with Allan Rosemurgey, a local dry stone waller.

“His experience working with local stone and his knowledge of walling is something you just could not get anywhere else. You get a lot of satisfaction in knowing the walls that you are building are going to be there for many years to come.”