Newsletter December 2017
2017 has been another busy year for us. During the year we have run 397 days of activity with 3008 people days on our site and have been involved with just over 4000 people in our off-site activities.
Our work was recognised by Living Woods magazine with first prize for Community Woodlands and first prize for our stand and activities at shows all over the country
Our off-site activities included RHS Chatsworth, RHS Tatton, Glastonbury, Blissfields, Woodfest, Caerwys Show, North Wales Country Fair, Holywell Fair, Forest School Association annual conference, Greenfield Valley, Wepre Park, Brickfield Pond and St Asaph Country Fair where we demonstrated traditional crafts and ran short workshops.
We attended 3 interesting conferences at Liverpool, Mold and Wrexham promoting the value of activities outdoors. We gave presentations to the Vintage Tractor Society, St Asaph WI, Llangernyw Garden Society and Nantglyn Ladies Guild.
We hosted visits from Ysgol Rhewl, Ysgol Talhaiarn, Denbigh Civic Society, St Asaph Rotary, Mold Slow Food Group and the Clwydian Young Rangers.
We were involved in a very successful project with Liverpool University School of Architecture to rebuild one of our Forest School shelters. The students made various designs, which we commented on, and they then came up with a final design. Three of the students and two of the staff visited us and we agreed on the final design, materials list and construction techniques. The University paid for the materials (local larch) which we sourced and brought to site. A group of 20 students and 4 staff came for the weekend, camping on site and completed the building over the two days. It looks great.
On our site we had 3 new projects this year. We established a medicinal herb garden which was designed by Cassie Sherriff from Llandyrnog and planted up on a 1 day course in April with about 60 different varieties. The garden has 9 raised beds and the plants grew well. We ran a 2 day course in September when we harvested plants and made a range of herbal remedies. The second project saw the planting of 150 Rondo vines in our new vineyard. Our Community Support groups did the fencing, prepared the land, planted the vines and erected the posts and wires. It will be 2 years before we get a crop! We have completed our second timber-frame Centre building and this is now in full use allowing us to cater for more activities.
We are now involved in the Long Forest project in conjunction with Keep Wales Tidy and the Woodland Trust. We will be one of four hubs in Wales growing hedgerow trees from locally collected seed – another excellent project for our groups to be involved with.
Even though much of the work around the site is carried out by the groups we have here in the week, there are some jobs which they cannot do. This is particularly the case in terms of woodland management and our on-going ecological recording. We have therefore set up, for a trial period, a regular volunteeer day on Mondays. This has been running for nearly 2 months and is proving successful. Each day is run by one of our staff and we hope to make it a permanent feature.
Mindfulness in a woodland setting
We have started running a series of Mindfulness courses. Each session lasts for two and a half hours starting indoors and then moving out into the woodland and ending with a shared vegetarian meal. The courses are going well as we steadily build up numbers.
We have completed setting up the course programme for next year and this is now on the website. The printed leaflets will be ready by mid January.
We are contracted to deliver a range of programmes in 2018 : 2 days a week of Community Support on behalf of Social Services for adults with learning difficulties; a day with 14-16 year olds who are reluctant school attenders; a day a week with a group from MIND; a day a week with residents from a local care home who are all in wheelchairs; a number of shorter programmes with young carers, young people with autism, long-term unemployed, young mothers and children with special needs.
Music, drama, poetry and story-telling
We have run a number of music and drama events in the woods over the years and we hope to develop a more regular programme. We have some lovely sites in the woods and we are looking for artists who want to perform outdoors for a small group – maximum 60 people.
We recognise that we need to do more to make our site and activities accessible to more people particularly those with mobility problems and impaired vision. It presents many challenges but we are making some progress.
Best wishes to everyone for 2018 from all of us at the Woodland Skills Centre.
***** Launch of new course ‘Mindfulness in the Woods *****
There has been a lot of coverage in the press recently about the benefits of Mindfulness on mental health and wellbeing.
A very interesting interview of Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of MBCT (Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy) and MBSR (Mindfulness-based stress reduction) was published in the Guardian:
Woodland Skills Centre has supported health and wellbeing for many years in their provision of Social Forestry Level3 OCN courses but also through the work with the various special needs groups that visit the Centre on a regular basis.
As an extension of our programme we are excited to now run this new course:
Mindfulness in a Woodland Setting course
Come and experience mindfulness in the award-winning 50 acre Warren Woods.
We currently offer sessions as an introduction to Mindfulness in a Woodland Setting that are suitable for anyone over the age of 18 who either already practises mindfulness or wants to explore the benefits of mindfulness in nature.
The aim of the session is to become aware of the small changes in the physical sensations in your body, your thoughts, moods and emotions and what is happening in the world around you.
Some of the benefits of practising mindfulness include:
General happiness and contentment – Greater harmony in relationships – Enhanced insight and clarity – Improved analytical skills – Increased curiosity, openness and acceptance – Reduction in anxiety, depression and stress – Improved memory and concentration – Enhanced ability to deal with illness and to manage pain – Reduced risk of heart problems – Improved immune system responses.
The sessions will take place in the beautiful tranquil woodland where we will experience nature at its best. In case of inclement weather we will have the use of one of the timber-framed Centre buildings heated by a wood-burner stove.
The sessions will be led by an experienced Mindfulness tutor.
Cost – £15 including a simple vegetarian lunch
For further information please email email@example.com or phone 01745 710626
We are excited to announce the launch of a Volunteer Programme at the Woodland Skills Centre.
The regular Volunteer day will take place every Monday from 10.00 till 3.00 to look after our 50 acre site – woodlands, tree nursery, arboretum, heritage orchard, wildflower meadow, vineyard, Forest School sites.
Volunteers will work with one of our staff who ensures that full training is given. You will learn about our woodlands and what lives in them, a range of woodland management skills, habitat creation and wildlife monitoring.
If the weather is bad we have the use of our large workshops and make products from material we harvest from the woods.
We provide tea, coffee and biscuits and we have the use of one of our heated timber frame buildings. Just bring a packed lunch and suitable outdoor clothing and we will take care of the rest.
If you are interested in this opportunity please contact us by email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01745 710626.
Kids Holiday Club
My girls Sofia and freya would like to thank you after an amazing two days with you . They are genuinely sad it’s come to an end and I would highly recommend you to any parents wanting to encourage kids off gagets and engage with nature.
Diana, February 2018
Bowl Turning on a Pole-lathe course
Just wanted to say thanks again for another superb course at the WSC. Really enjoyable and a great learning environment. Thanks also to you and the team for making me feel welcome. Hope to see you soon.
Martin, October 2017
Tool Sharpening Course
I did a tool sharpening course, one day, with Doug. I found it extremely helpful. Obviously you’re not going to become an expert in a day, but you can bring your own tools and the course is designed to help you learn what sharpening skills are most useful for you. By the end of the day I felt much more competent and had a clearer idea how to look after my wood carving tools. Doug was a patient and well informed instructor and there was only four of us in the group so you get plenty of one on one time. Sharpening is crucial for anyone learning to carve so I’d definitely recommend this.
Eadon, May 2017
Review from a regular visitor
Superbly well kitted out centre with campsite, green woodworking centre, examples of carbon neutral building and well managed diverse woodland. A well curated set of courses and workshops keep our family coming back for more!
David, May 2017
I just wanted to thank you once more for a fantastic day yesterday. Everyone on the course enjoyed themselves, and really appreciated every aspect of the course.
Llangollen Community Garden – September 2014
I just wanted to send you a quick email to say Thank You. We has a wonderful time at the Bushcraft Course and I just wanted to say thanks for running a great centre and doing a great course!
Victoria – August 2014
We all had a great time yesterday so thank you for making it so engaging and interesting. Please also pass on our thanks to Alan and Helen who were brilliant. We will definitely book another course and will have a browse of the brochure and website.
Kind Regards, Lisa Williams
Kind regards, Nikki
Nicola Cole, Instructor/Work Preparation Advisor
I would like to repeat my thanks for the wonderful setting and facilities which you provided for my birthday party last Saturday.
Everybody had an extremely good time – my 5 year-old grandson is already planning a repeat performance for his birthday. It will be difficult to think of anything as good for future birthdays so I am likely to come again, too.
Best Regards Stella Bennett – April 2013
Next morning, we set off for the Woodland Craft Centre in Bodfari (woodlandskillscentre.co.uk, adults £35, children £10).
Rod Waterfield manages this beautiful 50 acres of woodland with his two children, Helen and Alan. The woods are open to walkers for free, but they also run a programme of courses in woodland skills and traditional crafts. You can learn to build a coracle, weave a basket or make a rustic stool.
There’s also a school holiday club and adventure days and weekends for families, including free camping. They can even host woodland birthday parties. In our sometimes over-protective culture, giving a child the chance to run wild in the woods is an opportunity not to be missed.
The Woodland Skills Centre has a fantastic approach – they take safety really seriously but don’t wrap children in cotton wool. Our two were thrilled to use proper wood knives with gleaming blades and chunky homemade hammers to split kindling and to be taught how to light fires without matches. All of it was done within framework of very clear, sensible rules. So the way the knife and mallet were held meant accidental slips weren’t possible.
Before learning how to forage for firewood, to lay a fire and use a magnesium fire starter and dried birch bark to coax it to life, the children first learned the important safety rules for treating fire with respect, how to sit and move round a fire and how to make sure it’s properly extinguished. We gathered round the outdoor fire pit for lunch – a pan of sizzling sausages cooked over the open fire with plenty of bread and salad, washed down with hot drinks made using the immense kettle suspended from a tripod above the fire.
We finished off with an American campfire delicacy: marshmallows toasted over the fire and sandwiched between two chocolate digestives. These go by the name of “s’mores”, so the story goes, because that’s how you sound when you inevitably ask for “some more” while your mouth’s still full.
Thank you so much for the Birthday Party for Polly on Saturday. The girls all had a really fantastic time in the woods. All of the feedback I have had has been positive and the parents are all very impressed with the different type of birthday party!!
Janette Nevin – March 2012
Beekeeping – Swarming (May2018)£60.00
Bushcraft – Explore (April 2018)£70.00
Corn Dollies (May2018)£55.00
Elfin Bow – Live in the Woods – Sunday 20th May£20.00 Per Car
Family Day in the Woods (April 2018)£0.00 – £35.00
Gary Edward Jones – Live in the Woods – Friday 6th April£20.00 Per Car
Introduction to Coppice Crafts (March 2018£50.00
Jude Lane – Live in the Woods – Saturday 30th June£20.00 Per Car
Mindfulness in the Woods – 14th April 2018£15.00
Mindfulness in the Woods – 24th March 2018£15.00