In 2018 I was approached to complete a re-roof on a Georgian property in the Scottish Borders. I’ve been passionate about working on heritage building for as long as I can remember. So that, combined with my hobby of rock climbing, I came back with the quick decision of ‘yes’.
Knowing I could work somewhere new for a few months on a completely different style of roof than I am used to in Southwest England, (sarking, not batten) and that I could climb some Scottish classic rock climbs at the weekend, I jumped at the opportunity.
Fast forward to April 2021 and the scaffold is up and I’m ready to make a start. Most roofs seem to look smaller and simpler once the access is there, though in this instance it was the opposite. The slates were small, the sarking had nail sickness and 2 of the 3 chimneys were just shy of 3m wide.
As with all jobs, once we started cracking on things quickly started to take shape. Our customer had a vast knowledge of old buildings and happened to manage two of the largest estates in Northeast England. This was a blessing as he wanted all the traditional materials going back on such as lime, lead, putty, cast iron and reclaimed natural slate.
This job was the largest job I had completed alone, removing every slate and relaying every slate. With the trusted labour help from my wife and Labrador. Covid changed all plans for getting help from friends. We made it work and were all very happy with the finished job.
Here’s four examples from this job that were a first for me.
Roll end to chimney detail
3m chimney back gutter
Custom extractor vent
Cast iron gutter reboarded and replaced with led
So, what can I say about sarking? It’s a system we all used to use before the revolution of large Welsh slate. Its slower and felt harder to get in a comfortable slating position (for newbies anyway). The best attribute is fixing slate, so many more options around those tricky details. Would I do it on my own house? I’d have to move to Scotland before that happened!
What was my highlight of working in Scotland? Well, that’s a toss up between a deep fried double cheeseburger and meeting a talented lead worker… probably the burger!
My weekend escapades took me to the Orkney Islands to climb the Old man of Hoy. What a fantastic country Scotland is. Stunning architecture, friendly people and some of the best roofing and climbing i’ve done to date. Thanks Scotland!