Certificate in Cornish Hedging - Intermediate

At a Glance

Assessment Type:
Practical assessment/demonstration/assignment
Delivery Method:
Training (with Assessment )
Recognised by:
The Guild of Cornish Hedgers

This 10-day assessed course provides attendees with a foundation in the skills required to independently construct and maintain Cornish Hedges in line with the Guild of Cornish Hedgers “Code of Good Practice.” Extended guided practice will prepare trainees for the Practical Hedging test where their work will be assessed. The course is very 'hands-on' and the emphasis is to learn by doing under the supervision of the instructor.  In 2021 the Guild of Cornish Hedgers are partnering with Golden Tree Productions on their project Kerdroya: the Cornish Landscape Labyrinth. Built of traditional Cornish hedging with a 56m diameter, Kerdroya is a classical labyrinth and major new piece of public land art built on a disused car park site. Built in the Bodmin Moor Style of hedging, it will also contain stretches of artisan stonework celebrating the aesthetics of distinct hedging styles celebrating all 12 sections of the Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in their 60th anniversary year. Anyone taking the course this year will attend the ‘Outdoor University of Cornish Hedging’ at Colliford Lake on Bodmin Moor. Here they will learn this ancient craft whilst contributing towards the construction of the Cornish Hedges making up the labyrinth.This is a unique opportunity to learn a new skill and be part of something timeless.

Overview in brief

Learn to build Cornish Hedges with a qualified Guild Craftsman to age old techniques on this 10-day assessed course. This course will provide in-depth knowledge and practical experience over 9 days and then test your ability to work independently with a 1 day practical test.

On this assessed course learners will:

  • Learn and correctly practice the correct health and safety procedures whilst hedging.
  • Gain a thorough understanding of the Code of Good Practice for Cornish Hedging , the importance of it how to work in adherence to it.
  • Know how to select and use the tools of the trade.
  • Be able to independently set up a work area ready for building new hedging .
  • Gain in depth hands-on experience in building each element of a Cornish Hedge - foundations, grounders, random course & hedgers preparing them to build indepently for the practical hedging test.
  • Develop and practice skills in selecting and shaping stones.
  • Fill and ram a hedge and understand the importance of doing so correctly.
  • Learn how to correctly shape, place and secure turf to ‘Top off’ a hedge.
  • Know how to strip back and prepare an existing hedge ready for repair.
  • Finish and tidy a work area.
  • Understand key maintenance issues.
The finer details

By attending this Intermediate level assessed course, you will obtain in depth knowledge of how to construct a Cornish Hedge to a high standard set out by the Guild of Cornish Hedgers. Your instructor will train you and prepare you to work independently ready for the Practical Hedging test.

The course is arranged into 3 parts: Learning the skills, practicing the skills and finally preparing for and taking the practical test.

From the ground up you will learn how to prepare the foundations ready for construction, how to select and lay grounder stones to form the correct batter to start building a traditional Cornish Hedge.

Moving up you will learn how to select, grade and place stones correctly following the Code of Good Practice to form the correct Cornish hedge profile. Whilst constructing you will learn how to fill the hedge and ram the earth fill, forming a tight core within the hedge which gives the stability required for a long-lasting hedge.

Finally, you will learn how to turf top the hedge to give it its capping and then clear and tidy your work area.

Throughout the course you will learn how to work to the Guilds best practice, learning the theory behind the method & putting them into practice preparing you to confidently use the skills independently.

Before attending the course, we recommend that you go online to the Guild of Cornish Hedgers website and read the paper entitled ‘Repairing Cornish Hedges and Stone Hedges’, also ‘The Code of Good Practice for Cornish Hedges’, and the ‘Health and Safety Risk Assessment Guidance’. But we will provide you with all necessary documents once you have signed up.

Cornish hedging is normally safe and injury-free if sensible care is taken in lifting and handling the stones. Before attending the course, please equip yourself with

  • steel-toed boots
  • safety goggles to protect your eyes as you may need to chip stones with the hammer to make them sit comfortably in their place.
  • Work gloves
  • Suitable sturdy and warm outdoor clothing.
  • We would also advise having a set of waterproofs with you as the worksite is exposed and the weather can change very quickly.
  • Sun hat/Warm hat – ideally both due to changeable weather
  • Your lunch and something to drink, as you will spend the day working outdoors.
  • Tools are provided throughout the course for your use - however if you have some hedging experience and have your own tools you would like to use, please feel free to bring them.
Who should attend?

Suitable for those looking to embark on a career as a Cornish Hedger or that are regularly required to do hedging in their job and need advanced skills and knowledge.

Those in related professions or sectors i.e. Agriculture, Landscaping, Horticulture or Construction

What will be covered?

Day 1:

The course will start with an introduction to the site and the area where the practical building will take place. This will be followed with a short presentation covering the following:

  • History of the Cornish Hedge, why it is unique as well as their cultural and environmental importance.
  • The theory and method of construction of a Cornish Hedge
  • The Guild of Cornish Hedgers ‘Code of good practice’
  • Tools of the trade and how to use them.
  • Safety talk – It is important that you pay particular attention during the safety talk and take the advice of the instructor during the course.

Your instructor will answer any questions learners will move onto the training site to venture out and have a go.

The rest of the day will cover the practical construction as follows:

  • Selecting an area to construct a new section of hedge.
  • Preparing the Foundations
  • Setting profiles and string lines ready for construction ensuring it conforms to the required dimensions.
  • Selecting and moving grounders safely to the hedging area.
  • Laying grounders to follow the profile.
  • Collecting, placing and ramming the fill around the grounders ensuring grounders are stable and suitable for subsequent courses of stones.

Throughout the day the instructor will guide and discuss all elements of the construction process and answer any questions as they arise.

Day 2:

The day will start with a presentation about the construction skills required for the random course of the hedge – you will then move straight on to the practical tasks;

  • Collect, sort and Place random course stones into the hedge ensuring interlocking and good contact whilst following the hedge profile
  • Collect and move fill to the hedging area.
  • Ram the earth centre ensuring stones do not push out and continue to stay in line with the profile.
  • Continue to collect, sort and place stones and fill in the random course.

Throughout the day the instructor will be guiding trainees and discussing all elements of the construction process and answer any questions as they arise.

Day 3:

The day will commence with short presentation about the construction process for the Hedgers element of the hedge which will be started later in the day. On day 3 trainees will:

  • Continue placing Random Course stone and packing fill to reach the level line ready for the hedgers section.
  • Be shown how to select suitable stone for use as hedgers from a stone pile.
  • Select and grade selected stone ready for each hedger layer.
  • Be shown how to and practice shaping hedgers stones.
  • Move selected hedgers to the construction area.
  • Place hedgers onto the hedge.
  • Collect and move fill to the hedge.
  • Place fill into the hedge and ram - ensuring the profile is followed and that best practice is always used.

Throughout the day the instructor will be guiding trainees and discussing all elements of the construction process and answer any questions as they arise.

Day 4:

The day will start with an opportunity for further discussion about the Code of Good practice and then a full day of hedging as follows:

  • Sorting and shaping hedgers.
  • Moving them to the hedge and placing them correctly following the code of good practice.
  • Collecting and moving fill to the hedge.
  • Filling and compacting fill behind hedgers.

Throughout the day the instructor will be guiding trainees and discussing all elements of the construction process and answer any questions as they arise.

Day 5:

Following a discussion regarding the best practice for ramming and topping a hedge, trainees will:

  • Complete any hedgers as required to the top of the hedge.
  • Collect, place and compact fill up the top of the hedge.
  • Learn to dome and prepare the top of the hedge.
  • Cut, place and pin turf toppings.
  • Clear and tidy the working area - ensuring the area around the hedge is clear and any unused stone piled ready for future use.
  • Tools cleaned and ready for next use.

Again, throughout the day the instructor will guide and discuss all elements of the construction process and answer questions as they arise.

On completion of day 5 there will be a debrief, of the weeks training, the opportunity for any further questions and a discussion about what will happen in the following 5 days.

Day 6-8

After the opportunity to raise any questions, you will continue constructing new sections of hedge under the guidance of your instructor putting into practice the skills you learnt in week 1. You will applying all the skills you have learnt in the initial 5 days, always working to the ‘Code of Good Practice.’ Your trainer remains on hand to answer questions and provide guidance.

Day 9

This day is about preparing for your Practical Hedging Test. You will select, sort and prepare your stone ready for your test build with the support of your trainer.

You will move your materials to your allocated hedging area and prepare your work area for the test day.

Your trainer will explain everything he will be looking for in the test build and again answer any questions you may have.

Day 10

Practical Hedging Test Day.

You will work independently on a section of hedge; your work will be assessed throughout the process and on completion. Formal feedback will be given. If your work is to the required standard, you will be rewarded with the “Intermediate level Certificate of Competence in Cornish Hedging”.

On successful completion of this course, you can proceed to take the Advanced Certificate in Cornish Hedging, with this course will counting towards your final qualification.

Other areas of interest?
  • Introduction to Cornish Hedging Skills - (2 days)
  • Cornish Hedging Skills - Foundation (5 days)
  • Certificate in Cornish Hedging – Advanced - Craftsman Certificate (50 Days) 

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