On Sunday we decided to go to the Forestry Festival, run by Cumbria Woodlands and hosted on the Estate of Hutton-in-the-Forest. It was billed as a gathering of all things wood-related for foresters, traditional woodland workers and the whole family.
The weather was perfect (if not a little too hot for the chainsaw workers) and we set off early to beat the crowds. Getting there was a breeze thanks the organisers who had arranged plenty of signs from the Motorway (satnav was not required). We arrived at 10am (an hour after the opening), parking and entrance was free. Initially the site looked a bit empty, giving us a definite “what have we let ourselves in for” moment, not knowing if we were going to be the only “general public” there. Our fears were unfounded though as there were actually quite a lot of people about, the layout of the site giving plenty of room to move around without feeling “hemmed in”. It definitely helped going early as it got very busy later in the day.
I thought the billing of something for everyone lived up to expectations, with large forestry businesses set up next to single carvers. The Royal Forestry Society offered advice and carving workshops in conjunction with Woodmatters, Agricultural colleges and the University of Cumbria sat together with Biomass Wood Fuel and Equipment businesses. The Natural world was represented by the likes of the RSPB, Solway Wetlands, Penrith & District Red Squirrels and the Bat people. Catering was well represented (as usual) with food ranging from Pork Baps, Steak Burgers, Ice cream, Indian Cuisine, to Coffee and Ale tents.
Entertainment was supplied by a Woodland Storyteller, who proved very popular with the kids (both young and old), a Folk Singer, Archery, Axe Throwing and the UK Loggers competition. Greenwood crafts were in abundance with each person happy to talk and demonstrate techniques. Quite a few ran workshops where you could make spoons or stools for a few pounds. Our girls made willow bird feeders, which could never have been bought for the £2 we paid. Even though there were plenty of activities for the children to do, our four year old did get bored after a couple of hours but an ice cream and a go at Archery kept him happy.
We had lunch in the shade of a magnificent Oak, listening to the sound of a flute on the wind. It was very peaceful (considering the chainsaws and people).
From a crafter point of view it was nice to see so many traditional crafts on show: shave horses, pole (bungee) lathes, charcoal burning, willow weaving, forging. I particularly found the Horselogging interesting, especially when viewed against modern methods. Unfortunately we missed the UK Loggers climbing competition, but after 4 hours the kids were definitely wilting (no pun) in the heat. As we left there were still cars coming in and lots of people around.We came home with a free Cherry tree courtesy of http://www.albatrees.co.uk, an adopted Hawthorn sapling from http://www.treesmeanbusiness.co.uk, two willow bird feeders made by the girls and an Elm wood chopping board.
All in all it was a very enjoyable day and seemed to have been very well organised. Parking was good, but could have been difficult if the weather had been wet. All aspects of Woodland business and Ecology were represented, and there was a good mix of traditional and modern techniques on show. It truly was a “Forestry Festival”. I do wonder if the amount of craftworkers present may have been influenced by Cumbria Woodlands decision NOT to charge stallholders. I hope not, but I suppose the proof will be next year if they decide to charge entrance or stallholders fees.
Thank you Cumbria Woodlands for a thoroughly enjoyable day and I am seriously considering going again next year … as an exhibitor!