Friday, 18 March 2011

Coppice Day, 13th March, Froggatt Wood

Last Sunday, Longshaw Estate’s Froggatt Wood was alive with the spirit of days gone by. Woodsmoke drifted through the trees from a charcoal burner, as local adults and children alike grabbed loppers, bowsaws and the odd billhook, and got to work coppicing hazel. 

Tour of the Old Lead Smelter
This event, co-hosted with Transitions Hope Valley, had something for everyone. Wardens led guided walks to explain the importance of managing this woodland for wildlife, groups visited an old lead smelter where an archaeologist described the historical importance of the wood for the local community, and children drew pictures with charcoal and played bow and arrows. 
Making Charcoal
In a clearing, a tarpaulin covered a tea and cake stall, beside a fire where volunteers and children baked bread. 
Up through the coppiced hazel was the green woodworking section, where local craftsmen demonstrated traditional “bodging”, the dying arts of cleaving, wattle hurdle making, hazel weaving, spoon carving, and pole lathe turning. After an overcast start, the day gradually brightened up until, by late afternoon, it felt like we’d witnessed the first day of Spring.

 John & Jon turning wood

Working horse from Sheffield Green Estates 'Big Lad'
My role in the Coppice day was “demonstrating” green wood turning on a pole lathe that I’d made over the last few weeks with the help of several of the Longshaw team (thanks Angela, Mike and Chris!) Ably assisted by Jon from the Estate Team and supervised by Andy from the Peak Park footpath team, we got the lathe working with a coppiced hazel pole and had plenty of interest from people of all ages. 
It was a relief to see it working since I’d never actually used one before I made it! We had to overcome a few obstacles such as extending the treadle, fixing hinges made from a pair of old leather gloves, and fixing a piece of Sycamore branch as an adjustable handle, but we got there in the end. 

All in all it was a great project to work on and hopefully the pole lathe will get a few more outings at events and open days yet to come! 

John Mead, Countryside Long Term Volunteer, Dark Peak Estate

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