A LEADING stonemason has been hard at work on carving a poem into dry stone wall seating at one of Skipton's most popular beauty spots which it is hoped will inspire people to love and cherish the area.

Skipton born and bred Chris Swales, who runs his own firm Swales in the Dales, has been carving the words into the long semi-circular seat above the round dam at Skipton Woods on behalf of the Woodland Trust.

He has just finished the work, which features an original poem written by the Trust's Hazel Birdsall-Singer, and hopes that it will help all the people who use the woods to care for them.

Chris, 36, who is married to Becky and has two children, Ruby, seven, and James, four, said: "I jumped at the chance when the Woodland Trust asked me to do the work, and I have enjoyed doing it immensely. I have been coming to Skipton Woods since I was a child and I love the area. These woods are 1,000 years old and have been enjoyed by generations.

"The Trust wants to make people aware that we all need to look after Skipton Woods for the future."

Chris said that the work, though interrupted by frequent rain showers, has taken him about six full working days to complete.

Hazel Birdsall-Singer, who is the Woodland Trust's 'visitor experience officer' for Skipton Woods, said the work was part of the organisation's brief to care for around 1,200 areas of woodland explored by thousands of people throughout the country.

She said: "Chris is well known for his quality work in the local area and we are delighted that he is as passionate about the woods as we are.

"Making sure our woods are inspiring, interesting places to visit is really important to us and we’ve decided to invest more time in some of our best-loved sites, like Skipton Castle Woods, to make them better than ever.

"This will mean providing improved access and points of interest for visitors, offering volunteering opportunities for the community and delivering events that celebrate nature and trees.

"The new poem on our recently installed dry stone wall seating area, designed by site manager Mark Feather and built by Sutton-in-Craven firm The Dry Stone Walling Specialists, will help remind visitors just how precious and rare ancient woodland really is."