I like to think that there is a short gap between the end of the my winter season working in the woods and the start of my summer season of shows, demonstrating and teaching woodland crafts.The cutting and felling of trees does stop at the beginning of March to avoid the onset of the growing and nesting seasons. Though I rarely, if ever, manage to finish all the extracting, clearing, bundling and preparing of the wood before the bookings for my craft products and demonstrations are upon me.
I do sneak a few days off at the start of March to blow away the cobwebs and try to prepare myself for the coming season. So a few weeks ago at the beginning of March I snuk away for my beachcombing break with wet and windy walks along the Gower cliffs facing South towards Somerset across the Bristol Channel where I grew up.
But thanks to an invitation for a ‘a cuppa’ in the woods with Paul Thornton – and I should have known better – it turned into something of a Woodsman’s holiday. A Woodsmans holiday is like a Busman’s Holiday but muddier and wetter to make the Woodsman feel at home! Still a change is as good as a rest and I welcomed the opportunity to experience a completely different woodland as well as being able to just do some work without having to worry about it.
Paul and his crew are responsible for the Welsh Wildlife reserves on and around Gower which includes some of the cliffs that I enjoy walking. I rarely venture into deepest Gower’s ancient woodlands and Paul’s crew were working in Gelli-Hir woods part of which is an ancient mixed woodland full of moss and lichen laden gnarly Oak trees.
Unlike our open sandy wooded heaths and woodland pastures in the Western Weald of Sussex and Hampshire the Gower woods are smaller and folded into the deep valleys. The clay soil keeps them wet so a quad bike is a sensible way to extract cut wood without damaging the woodland floor.
Paul is a master of all trades and the wood being piled up will be used to feed the charcoal kiln hidden away behind the quad bike once the weather allows. ‘Gower Charcoal‘ is available all over Gower and is a great local product.
Once I’d dried out and warmed up there was still time left to walk the enchanting Gower coastline looking for treasure. I don’t mean gold – to me treasure is anything that I find along the way including the view.