Theft of dry-stone walls blamed on gardening craze

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The Independent Online

The craze for garden landscaping has been blamed for a sudden rise in the theft of dry-stone walls in the Peak District.

The craze for garden landscaping has been blamed for a sudden rise in the theft of dry-stone walls in the Peak District.

Foresters in the area have discovered that hundreds of metres of stone walls, built from local sandstone and sometimes dating back more than 100 years, have disappeared over the last six months. Witnesses have also told Forestry Commission staff on Matlock Moor, a 1,000-acre estate in Derbyshire, that they have seen cars being driven away laden with stones.

Other targets include Victorian chimney pots, rare plants, garden tools, and, in one notorious case this year, an entire garden and pond complete with fish, from near Bristol.

Albin Smith, a forester in the commission's 7,000-acre Peak District and South Yorkshire area, said the stones most likely to be stolen were the heavily weathered, curved "copings" that top the walls, which are hard to replace and expensive. Replacement copings have had to be fixed with mortar.

"Near the gateway to one of the woods a 12-metre section of the wall toppings was taken off and, in a couple of months, all the stone underneath had gone," he said.

"I wouldn't like to say Charlie Dimmock [co-presenter of BBC Television's programme Ground Force] is responsible," he said. "But obviously, the more coverage of that kind there is, it's quite possible people want the stuff more and may not know where to get it or mightn't want to pay for it."

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