You might just discover your new favourite hobby at the Forest for Peterborough Woodland Crafts sessions, explains Laura Fanthorpe.
I recently joined the regular Forest for Peterborough Woodland Heritage Conservation and Craft Days for a taster session. I came away, just as dusk was falling, wishing I could have stayed longer and feeling absurdly proud of the wooden spatula I’d crafted in the space of one afternoon!
The Woodland Craft days are held every Thursday and on the last Saturday of the month, and they offer a unique opportunity to learn traditional skills associated with our ancient woodlands. There’s the chance to take part in traditional crafts, discover coppicing and habitat management work, plus you can enjoy wonderfully warming food prepared in the woods and cooked on an open fire.
The first thing to mention is the setting. Woodlands are wonderfully therapeutic: they are beautiful, beautifully silent, and a fantastic place to observe the wildlife. Here you can enjoy the wonderful scents of woodland, newly-sawn timber and food being cooked on the campfire.
Managing woodland is all about ensuring the future health and wellbeing of the site, the wildflowers and the wildlife, but I also found it very complementary to my health and wellbeing! After meeting all the friendly and welcoming people who attend the sessions you can tell they feel just the same.
I discovered more about traditional woodland management, including cutting and shaping stakes for natural deer barriers to the coppiced areas. I also became well and truly immersed in whittling my own spatula, which became a real quest for perfection! It’s truly grounding to see a natural product created from something that was part of the woodland just an hour earlier.
Every Thursday the group meets on Essendyke Road, Bretton, Peterborough PE3 8JD from 10am-10.15am, when they then travel to the woodland location. On the last Saturday of the month they work in Grimeshaw Wood on Essendyke Road, Bretton, Peterborough PE3 8JD from 10am-4pm. Just remember to wear suitable clothing and footwear for all weather conditions!
If you would like further details about joining the group, please contact Matthew Robinson, Forest for Peterborough Woodland Heritage Project Officer. Call 01733 568408 or email [email protected]. My advice is you won’t regret it!