I don’t often get the opportunity to attend local shows, normally they clash with long established dates in my diary. But I was pleasted to be able to attend the wildfire awareness day this year held at the National Trust’s Devil’s Punchbowl only a mile up the road from me at Hindhead.
I’ve not been to the Punchbowl for a few years (I don’t seem to have the time for walking and mountain biking that I used to) so it was also an opportunity to see the work the NT has been doing in restoring the heathland and revealing the startling shape of the natural amphitheatre of the Punchbowl basin overlooked by the 900ft Gibbet Hill and Hindhead Commons. There are plenty of local legends regarding it’s name. One involves the Devil, coming from the Devil’s Jumps at nearby Churt, scooping up earth to throw at the Thunder and Lightning of Thor (in nearby Thursley) and making the Punchbowl in the process.
Back to the show for a moment. The small, but quality (ok so I’m biased), display of local woodland/heathland crafts included myself, Justin and Freddie with coppice products and Robert on Besoms. Justin works the Chestnut coppice close to Hindhead and on this occasion was making shingles (or shakes if you prefer) for the Speckled Wood project, a new cruck framed wardens house at the NT base in Haslemere.
Here Robert is ably assisted (I think that’s the right word?) by son Felix as he makes up besom brooms. A very apt occupation for the show as Hindhead and Punchbowl were famous for their ‘broom squires’ and at one time in the 19th century the parish boasted over 45 working broom-squires. Imagine how much birch scrub they would cut in one season!
The event was organised by the local fire service in Haslemere and it was useful to see just how much more gear I could really cram into my landrovers if I tried hard enough. Must try harder in future!