I’M conscious that - not to be too dramatic about it or anything - I’m about to do something with a mallet that can never be undone.

I’m at a stone carving workshop in Dalby Forest. A group of us have gathered in the sunny courtyard area in Low Dalby to spend a morning learning how to carve our initials into hefty blocks of local sandstone.

It’s part of the forest’s dry stone wall maze project; the growing work of art which is currently under construction in the depths of the forest.

When we’re finished with them, the stones we carve on today will be built into the walls of the maze. There they will be on show for decades or even centuries into the future, seen and wondered at by countless future generations. So no pressure.

We start with an introduction by sculptor Peter Maris, who is leading the workshop. Peter started his career back in 1987, and worked as stone carver at York Minster for 10 years. He came on board the maze project at the end of last year and has run the workshops ever since.

He starts by taking us through the maze project itself. “It’s one of those classic grand projects,” he says. “When I saw it in progress for the first time the size of it took me by surprise and I just knew instantly that it’s one of those projects that people will look back on in years to come and say... ‘wow’!

“I really admire and love the eccentricity of it too, and I think it’s wonderful that so many people, from far and wide, want to be involved and make a personal connection with it, and for a variety of reasons.

“It’s truly such a great project.”

We then go through the carving process itself. It is more creative than I’d expected. You start with a blank sheet of paper and sketch out your letters to make a template, which is then laid onto the stone. But even among our small group there are lots of different personal styles on display, from simple and straight Gothic-y letters to more stylised initials, cursive, and symbols derived from amalgamated letters. My own initials turn out more bubbly and child-like than I anticipated, but I try not to be too precious about it.

We then take up our chisels and small mallets. Before long, the room is full of the sound of delicate clinking as everyone gets to work.

The chiselling itself is unexpectedly engrossing. You could lose hours doing it. The aim is to create a neat ‘V’ shape into the rock. It’s hugely satisfying when a letter takes shape just as you want it to.

But it’s been a while since I can honestly say I chiselled anything, to be fair, and there’s a definite knack to it. Thankfully Peter is on hand to offer advice and skilfully correct any wayward scratches you hammer into the stone.

After an hour or two the letters begin to look finished. By the end, people are assessing their handiwork: standing back, tilting their head and half-closing their eyes. I do a quick tour of the other participants’ stones. Each one has a unique look. One couple doing the workshop were Samantha and Peter Middleton who had come up from Leicester - the carving was a birthday present for Peter. “It was excellent,” he said. “The instruction was fantastic and it was just good fun.”

We’ve written before in this newspaper about what an extraordinary project the maze is, and the workshops are a way of supporting it.

Officially started in 2014, the maze is currently being worked on by three builders. Leading the team is dry-stone-waller Mark Ellis, and he is joined by long-time collaborators Mark Simpson and John Wharton. “John came to me when he was 17, and has worked with me on various jobs over the last 17 years,” says Mark Ellis. “He said recently, ‘I’ve worked with you half my life,’ making it sound like a prison sentence.”

It is expected that, over time, once it is completed, the maze will gather lichen and moss and will settle naturally into the surrounding forest, which as it stands is mostly sitka spruce, larch and some Scots pine.

“In time,” Marks says, “as the native oak, ash, beech and sycamore grow up in and around the maze it will look like it’s always lived here.”

I wonder about the process of constructing the maze. Dry-stone walling is surely slow, meticulous painstaking work.

“On a dry warm spring day with the curlew calling out across the Dale there’s a sense of interconnectedness with the land and nature,” Mark says. “But on a cold wet January day when your fingers are a little numb you just want to get done and home.

“Walling is what it is, real and honest hard work and plenty of people round here know about that.”

And what would he say to anyone considering the stone-carving workshop?

“Not only will you be helping build the maze with financial support but also build into it a human story and bring life into the walls into the maze,” he says.

“The idea for carving initials into the stones came about when I saw the initials of a waller carved on a stone at the bottom of a wall. His face has long since been forgotten no doubt, but his name lives on proudly carved on that mossy stone. Time moves on but the wall stands still.”