A NEW academy providing professional training in the traditional craft of dry stone walling is being launched by the Cotswolds Conservation Board.

The academy, which will be based at the Old Prison, in Northleach, offers a range of accredited training courses allowing new and existing 'wallers' the opportunity to gain qualifications recognised by industry as well as improve their skills in the centuries old craft.

Ray Stockall, chairman of the National Dry Stone Walling Association, said: "The new academy is great news for the Cotswolds as it will ensure that the Conservation Board can fully train up and equip the next generation of dry stone wallers and master craftsmen.

"The board has an excellent track record in dry stone walling course provision and the academy will be able to take this to a much higher level."

David Molloy, rural skills officer at Cotswolds Conservation Board, said: "Dry stone walls are an important landscape feature of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty but many of the existing walls are in quite a poor state of disrepair.

"By working in partnership with the Dry Stone Walling Association and using only the best and most experienced instructors, we aim to keep this important skill alive and ensure these special features of the landscape can be conserved and enhanced for the future."

For more details visit cotswoldsruralskills.org.uk.