The Apprentice diaries: January 2023

By Jacob Rowell,  Countryside Worker Apprentice

Our first week back after Christmas and we got right into it with some dry stone walling at Moorgates for the North York Moors Railway. In typical North East fashion, we experienced the extremes of wintry weather but come rain, snow or (occasionally) shine, we kept on working.

We set about dismantling enough of the wall to fit a 12ft gate and rebuild a crumbling section of the wall, carefully making sure to lay the stones out in their courses and keeping the coping stones and hearting separate - only for the lot to be buried in snow and frozen to the ground!

Putting this gate in was an important job as it provided an access point for fire services to tackle any fires breaking out along the railway, something that unfortunately happened quite often in last year's unprecedentedly warm summer.

Learning such a treasured traditional skill is incredibly valuable for us as apprentices, not only in our jobs now but our careers ahead too. This wall we completed with cock and hen coping stones, in fitting with local style.

Being given the responsibility of such essential work is a fantastic opportunity for us, and hearing the positive feedback the fire services had given us made the whole thing even more rewarding.

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