IF bell ringing piques an interest as a lockdown pastime, free online introductory courses are being held organised by the Wensleydale Bell Ringers.

Deeply-rooted in English culture, for more than 500 years the church bells of Wensleydale have been ringing out across the countryside. They provide the grand soundtrack to historic moments, call out for celebrations and toll sadly in empathy with grief.

This year, for the first time since the Second World War, the bells are silent as Covid restrictions have halted communal ringing. However, teams of enthusiastic ringers have not been silenced, as they get together on-line to practice and learn.

This has created an excellent opportunity for others interested in the art. Wensleydale Ringers are offering a series of short interactive online presentations on the joy, techniques, and benefits of bell ringing.

Anyone may join these sessions, from those who have simply wondered about how the bells are rung through to those interested in whether bell ringing is for them.

Group spokesman Simon Burren said: “Lockdown presents an excellent opportunity to investigate a new hobby from the armchair, with an open invitation to come and learn for real in your local bell tower once lockdown restrictions are eased.

“Bell ringing does not require great strength and we have had children as young as ten learning in Wensleydale. Many others learn in retirement.”

Bell towers of the Wensleydale area are at the churches of Askrigg, Aysgarth, Bedale, East Witton, Kirkby Malzeard, Middleham and Masham.

Times and dates of sessions will be arranged in agreement with participants; the first session is planned for early March.

To find out more, email wensleydaleringers@gmail.com with contact details. Alternatively, via contact the group on Facebook at Wensleydale Ringers, or call David Scrutton on 07510 304747.