MONIACK MHOR COMMUNITY GARDEN UPDATE
DRYSTONE WALLING COURSE WITH GEORGE GUNN
9TH & 10TH NOVEMBER 2013
Several members of the KBCT attended a drystone walling course at Moniack Mhor Writing Centre at Abriachan last weekend. They were all keen to learn more about drystone walling techniques from DSWA Master Craftsman and International Award Winner George Gunn from Caithness. The course was taught through the building of a spiral dyke that will enclose a fire pit in the grounds of the writing centre. The dyke had been started on a previous course and will take a further weekend course to complete. The trainees learned how to set out a dyke and build it from the foundations up, selecting the correct stone for the task and learning how to lay it to form the outside skins then filling the centre with ‘heartings’. The course ended with the selection and placing of the coping stones and the satisfaction of a job well done, for now. Throughout the course George regaled the trainees with anecdotes from his extensive experience and information on the different types of walling and materials he has worked with. All the trainees enjoyed this very hands-on course and were grateful for the relatively mild weather for the time of year. The setting sun on Sunday afternoon cast a warm glow on the dyke and it will make a delightful spot for presentations and evening chats over a log fire for those attending courses next spring.
The dyke is on the west boundary of the centre grounds, below the sleeper steps and planting carried out with the help of the BBC’s Beechgrove Garden, recently broadcast on TV. The landscaping will help to integrate the various buildings on the site with paths and planting, so that the grounds will be as much a part of the courses as the buildings.
The KBCT has supplied logs for the newest building on the site, a teaching and performance space with an unusual construction so the course was a useful opportunity to check on its progress. The building has a frame of log poles with straw bales on the outside providing insulation. The straw is finished with line render on the outside and clay on the inside so the walls can ‘breathe’. The roof is formed with a double spiral roof of logs, supporting their own weight. More straw bales are laid on top with pallets to provide a ventilation layer then a pond liner for waterproofing. It is finished with a heather turf roof that will help it blend into the landscape and minimise the amount of rainwater run-off. 2 log stoves will provide lots of heat and make this a cosy space for recitations and music. It should be ready for use in the spring.
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