Welcome to Woodland Skills Centre!
Newsletter October 2019
The clocks have gone back, the days are getting shorter and the first frost is the early sign that winter is near. Autumn – one of the most colourful seasons and the provision of a bounty of wild food for animals and people alike. There are certainly masses of hawthorn, rowan and holly berries on the trees and the colourful display of fungi encourages curiosity in humans about their edibility.
Nature might be slowing down but October didn’t slow our work down at the Centre with plenty to organise, plan, courses to run etc. Here is an overview:
We have run the following courses: Home Chainsaw, Rustic Stool, Rush Basket, Ash Splint Basket (new for this year), Nest Boxes, Birdfeeders, Weaving on a Peg Loom (new this year), Bowl Turning on a Pole-lathe, Bushcraft, Make a Shave-horse, Managing a Small Woodland.
There are only a few courses now left for this year and most are fully booked.
We have started planning for next year’s course programme which should be live on our website by Christmas.
Shows and Festivals
We attended the Anglesey Woodland Festival for the first time. This festival has been running for many years in the grounds and woodland of the stunning location of Plas Newydd. Well worth a visit if you have never been to the festival.
The small group that comes for one day a week for the whole school year are beginning to settle in. Due to the complex difficulties and challenges that these young people face in their lives it will take time and patience but we are hopeful that we will give them the grounding and routine they need, help increase their self-esteem and nurture them into caring, compassionate and confident people.
We are also working with a group of pupils from Plas Cefndy, the Pupil Referral Unit in Rhyl. We are working with an adult with dementia for 2 days a week.
Community Support Services
This programme has been running for 2 days a week for nearly 5 years and Denbighshire County Council Social Services have indicated that they wish to extend the contract to 2022.
Long Forest Project
The new polytunnel is fully operational and we have collected a lot of tree seeds to grow on for plants for hedgerow restoration schemes. As part of Long Forest we have run 2 courses on growing native trees from seed. Both courses were fully booked with people from organisations such as the National Trust and the Woodland Trust and several community woodland groups.
Healthy and Active Fund
We have been asked to deliver a range of courses in Wrexham and Denbighshire: one programme for adults in need of activity for wellbeing, a programme for parents and children doing Forest School activities and another for adults with physical or mental health problems.
The weekly Actif Woods Wales Wrexham Walking Group runs throughout the year on a Wednesday afternoon with walks in all the Wrexham country parks as well as Erddig, Chirk Castle and Trevor Basin. Numbers of participants are steady but new walkers are always welcome on these sociable walks.
Focus on Forestry First
This organisation arranges for Government subsidised training in the Forestry sector. They are running a First Aid course at our Centre every month and have also run a course on using drones.
We were invited to Calon FM Radio station and did a long interview talking about the Woodland Skills Centre.
We will be running a Mindfulness in the Woods Retreat Day on Sunday 17 November. The emphasis of the day will be on immersion in the tranquil woodlands. The whole experience is about engaging the senses through connection with nature which in turn helps relax and soothe body and soul.
Follow the link for more information – https://woodlandskillscentre.uk/product/mindfulness-retreat-day-shinrin-yoku-november-2019/
Don’t forget – Woodland Skills Centre Gift Vouchers – a Christmas present with a difference! Our gift vouchers can be personalised, issued for any value, used towards any course and don’t have an expiry date. We can either post or email them.
Enjoy relaxing evenings in front of the fire and breath-taking autumn walks – until we ‘meet’ again in November.
Newsletter September 2019
The date of writing is 23rd September – Autumn Equinox – marks the first day of autumn (according to the astronomical calendar).
The time of transition in nature has begun – nature providing us with explosions of colours, autumn fruit in hedgerows, nuts and berries on trees, mammals beginning to reap these nourishing delights in preparation of winter.
Helfa Gelf Art Trail
Offa’s Dyke Marathon
Denbigh Open Doors
If you happen to be in the area, why not call in at the Centre either on Saturday 28th or Sunday 29th September between 10am and 4pm and learn about the traditional building techniques applied in the construction of the two main buildings combined with modern technology.
After a very successful season of live acoustic music we are looking forward to Live in the Woods 2020 – watch this space!
Mindfulness in the Woods
The 2020 course programme should be live on our website by Christmas.
Don’t forget – a Woodland Skills Centre Gift Voucher makes for a Christmas present with a difference. Vouchers can be personalized, made out for any value and have no expiry date.
Newsletter August 2019
Another busy month at Woodland Skills Centre.
The highlight of the month was receiving acknowledgment for all the work that takes place here. The following is a copy of a Press Release:
“Denbighshire woodland takes top award at the Royal Welsh Show
2019 marked the 100th anniversary of the Royal Welsh Show and also the final round of the Welsh National Woodlands Competition 2015-2019.
The Woodlands Competition gives awards in 9 different categories covering young and established woodlands of broadleaf and coniferous trees. One of these categories is for a Community Woodland with public access.
In 2016 the Woodland Competitions were held in North Wales and Warren Woods in Bodfari, home of the Woodland Skills Centre, won the gold medal and first prize for Community Woodlands.
In 2017 the competitions were held in Mid Wales and in 2018 they were held in South Wales.
This year all the regional winners of the last 3 years went head to head to decide the outright National winners. The winner in the Community Woodland category was Woodland Skills Centre as the best community woodland in Wales.
There was then a further award, sponsored by the Royal Forestry Society of England, Wales and Northern Ireland, when all the national winners were considered and one woodland was selected as the best entry of all. This award went to Woodland Skills Centre and Warren Woods.
The Woodland Skills Centre site is in the heart of the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley AONB and comprises 40 acres of the Warren Woods which are managed for people, wildlife and profit. The site also includes a further 10 acres with arboretum, vineyard, allotments, medicinal herb garden, heritage orchard, wildflower meadows, apiary, polytunnels, tree nursery, workshops and energy-efficient timber-frame buildings.
The Centre is run by a community-owned, not-for-profit Social Enterprise company and holds around 70 courses a year in traditional crafts, art, countryside management and mindfulness. The Centre also runs live music, poetry and drama events and events for children and families. During the week the Centre runs a wide-ranging Social Prescribing programme working with people of all ages with various learning and physical and mental health challenges.
The Centre welcomes the awards as a strong indication that woodlands are not just about timber production but have a big role to play in carbon capture, wildlife, air and water quality, tourism, social events and health and well-being.”
Denbigh and Flint Show
This year marked the 157th anniversary of the Show. A team from Woodland Skills Centre attended the Show and ran craft workshops for children.
Denbighshire Countryside Services
Denbighshire Countryside Services as part of their Nature for Health programme invited us to run workshops at their sites in Rhyl and Prestatyn. Our woodland craft and camp cooking workshops attracted children and adults.
Friends of the AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty)
A large group of members of the Friends of the AONB came for a visit to the Centre.
We have been awarded a new contract by Denbighshire County Council for their Pupil Inclusion Programme which will involve 6 young people attending Woodland Skills Centre one day a week for a year working on basic skills but not in a classroom.
During the summer term we welcomed two autistic teenagers as part of Barnardo’s summer provision. They attended weekly sessions with support staff due to their high needs.
Our regular Monday Volunteer Day is popular with a dedicated team of people getting involved with helping to look after our woodland, ponds, wildflower meadows, medicinal herb garden, vineyard and Forest School sites. They gain new skills, learn about the woodland, plants and wildlife and habitat creation. It is also a good opportunity to meet like-minded people.
If you are interested please contact us
firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01745 710626
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The next Live in the Woods concert will take place on Friday 30th August, 7-9pm when we welcome back the amazing Elfin Bow supported by Skeet Williams and Deborah Jackson for an evening of acoustic folk music held in our woodland (weather permitting!)
There are still a few tickets available for this popular event. Details can be found by following this link –
There will be one more Live in the Woods music events to conclude this year’s programme and this is Little Sparrow on Saturday 21st September, another top-class musician.
Our courses are going well with many fully booked but we still have availability on the following courses:
Mindfulness in the Woods – Four-week course starting 10 September
Bushcraft through the Seasons – Autumn – 21-22 September
Introduction to Growing Native Trees from Seed – 27 September
We hope you enjoyed reading our latest news.
Newsletter July 2019
Our Tuesday and Wednesday groups of adults with complex disabilities, funded by Social Services, continue to be successful with a high attendance rate. Both days are now full as we have taken on 3 young adults with autism who have integrated well into the groups.
Ysgol Plas Brondyffryn (the Regional Centre for Autism Education) – Primary Department
We have been concerned for some years that we do not engage enough with children with additional needs and their families. They seldom come to Holiday Club or on Family Events. We have been awarded funding to work with Ysgol Plas Brondyffryn to offer a progression through Forest School to Holiday Club to Family Days. This will both allow us to develop new techniques to provide suitable programmes and also to make families with children with additional needs aware of what we offer. The current programme concludes with the last session in August.
Ysgol Plas Brondyffryn – Secondary
The final session of the current programme with the pupils in Year 11 and 12 has taken place. Six pupils have been attending one day a week in the last term for an outdoor programme – Forest School, Bushcraft and craftwork.
We have just completed a very successful 10 week programme for a group of six 14 and 15 year olds from Flint High School. These pupils were either not in school or experiencing difficulties in school.
We have delivered Team Days for Denbighshire County Council, one for the 24 members of South Denbighshire Community Resource Team – a new multi-disciplinary team – and the second one for the Corporate Communications Team.
Courses are going well with many fully booked. We have already had students from Scotland, the east of England and one from the USA. We have several new courses which are already fully booked : rush hats, knife making, re-handling tools.
Our Make a Deckchair course was very successful and no doubt the finished product is enjoyed by the proud owners who made them. New courses are always added to the website i.e. Corn Dollies – 1 September and Weaving on a Peg Loom – 20 October.
Adults with Dementia
We have been asked earlier this year to take an adult with dementia for one day a week. This has proved successful and he is now coming for 2 days a week.
Our Monday Volunteer Group are invaluable. They have been working on refitting the workshops, building in more storage and making them fully wheelchair accessible as well as completing a timber-framed storage shed.
The workshops are now fully accessible for wheelchair users and we will start to look at how we can develop techniques for wheelchair users to be able to take part in a wide range of craft activities.
Family Holiday Events
We are running family holiday events in Rhyl, Prestatyn and Greenfield Valley.
Mindfulness in the Woods
Following on from the success of our Mindfulness in the Woods courses and the demand from participants wanting to extend their knowledge further, we are offering a 4-day Mindfulness in a Woodland Setting Accredited OCN course in September.
Live in the Woods
Our Live in the Woods events have been very popular again this year with acoustic live music in the woods and some poetry too. Two more concerts will take place in August and September.
Shows and Festivals
We have been invited to and attended several shows – RHS Chatsworth Flower Show, RHS Tatton Flower Show, International Ceramics Fair at Aberystwyth and Woodfest where we have been demonstrating and promoting traditional crafts and running workshops for children. The shows remaining are Denbigh & Flint County Show, Mold Food Festival and the Anglesey Woodland Show. Why not come and visit our marquee if you are going to any of these? We would love to see you.
We are taking part in three partnership programmes:
Roadside Verge Wildflower Restoration Project – Seed was collected last year from roadside verges that had not undergone drastic cutting, was sown in cells, potted on and looked after with the help from our Community Support group. The plants have grown well and are now distributed to other organisations. If you are interested and/or would like to be involved in safeguarding our wildflowers on the roadside verges, information can be found on https://plantlife.love-wildflowers.org.uk/roadvergecampaign/inspiring-stories
Longforest Project – We are continuing with making nursery space and storage space available and collecting seed and growing plants. We will also be delivering two courses for community groups on Growing Trees from Seed. This project is run by Keep Wales Tidy with support from the Woodland Trust. More information can be found https://www.keepwalestidy.cymru/longforest
Deer Initiative – We provide storage space for equipment and support for the new Education Officer. For more information here is a link http://www.thedeerinitiative.co.uk/
We are very pleased that the whole of BBC Radio Wales Country Focus Programme on Sunday morning 28th July was devoted to the work of Woodland Skills Centre. It covered what we do in protecting the environment and all the work we do to support our local community.
If you would like to listen to the programme “A Community Woodland for All” here is the link to copy and paste in to your browser https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000751v
We are feeling very proud to have been awarded the Green Flag status by Keep Wales Tidy.
The following are extracts from the Assessor’s report.
“ Excellent use of sustainable materials throughout the site. The construction of the centre buildings is a credit to the work carried out on site and an accurate reflection of the philosophy of the organisation.
An excellent example of sustainable conservation in practice. Affiliation with partner organisations such as the Wildlife Trust strengthens the credibility of the site.
The conservation of traditional skills and techniques should be applauded, as should the inclusion of a heritage orchard to provide refuge for a range of fruit varieties with local provenance.
The development of a medicinal herb garden is a wonderful concept and a great way to involve visitors in an interesting and practical field of horticulture.
The inclusion of social prescribing is a model that should be commended and replicated across the country, as an additional care method for the wide range of users with complex mental and emotional support needs.
The Woodland Skills Centre is a rich and varied site that is carrying out fantastic work from both a social engagement and biodiversity/conservation aspect. It is an excellent example of what can be achieved when a site is developed and managed with clear objectives in mind and a focus on sustainable practices. “
We look forward to welcoming you to Woodland Skills Centre
The regular Volunteer day takes 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 and ponds.
Volunteers 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 email@example.com or phone 01745 710626.
Mindfulness in the Woods course
I have attended two Mindfulness courses at the centre and absolutely loved them both. I was a little nervous at first but was made to feel extremely welcome. The courses were fantastic and I loved every minute of them. Being quite a anxious person the course has provided me with the skills, knowledge and the desire to practice mindfulness daily and it is now part of my life. I would go as far as to say that the course is life-changing and extremely beneficial to my wellbeing. The surroundings are beautiful and I am looking forward to attending again soon to further develop my skills and practice. That you so much Sabine for sharing your knowledge with me, the impact has been profound. If you are interested in the mindfulness course, I would advise you to take the leap of faith and book, you won’t regret it!
Rebecca, July 2018
Live in the Woods
‘what a wonderful night on Friday at Garry’s concert, I loved every minute of it, such a beautiful way of combining music in a natural setting well done.’ (Live in the Woods – Gary Edward Jones)
John, April 2018
‘Just a note to say a big Thankyou for a great evening last Friday. Phil and I and friends Kathy and John really enjoyed it and hope to be able to come to the next one! Weren’t we lucky with the weather too! You must be very pleased that it was such a success……..worth all the hard work getting ready.’ (Live in the Woods – Gary Edward Jones)
Mel & Phil, April 2018
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
Had a great day yesterday making a shave horse. Lovely friendly and relaxed atmosphere. Help on hand when needed but allowed to just get on with it too. Second visit for a course and I’m sure it won’t be my last.David,
David, October 2016
Hi guys, just a quick note to say thank you so much for an excellent day making charcoal, Helens knowledge and explanations were spot on, can’t believe l learnt so much in just one day, had a really fun day with Sabine and Dylan as well, thank you for your company! Will definitely be returning ASAP and for the woodland courses in October, best wishes to you all till then ; )))
John, May 2016
Recently Llais y Goedwig initiated a pilot bursary scheme to support community woodlands attend Coed Lleol’s Social Forestry OCN course. The course explores the use of woodlands to promote social and human wellbeing, equipping trainees with the tools to apply Social Forestry ideas in practice – suitable for social foresters, woodland owners/managers and health, wellbeing and social care professionals. Here Roy from Beaufort Community Woodlands, a recipient of a pilot bursary reports back on his inspiring experience, and what he will be taking back to his group.
Having travelled up through the beautiful countryside of Mid Wales I arrived at the Bodfari Woodlands Skills Centre (pictured above) to a warm welcome from both Rod and Julia.
During the morning of the first day the group had an introduction to the ethos and belief behind the management of the woodlands; the idea the woodlands should have a Social, Environmental and Financial element: all of equal importance. The initial talk was followed by an overview of the History of the centre and the services it provides to its users. The afternoon session was led by Alan – with a tour of the woodlands, discussing how they managed the site via Coppice to standards or Continuous cover with much emphasis on the benefits to both the environment and diverse habitats. How rational management builds in long term resilience.
The first day was also covered with a mindfulness session – a type of meditation. Walking into the woodlands, trying to empty your mind of your worries, feeling the earth below your feet, allowing your senses to take in the sounds and smells around you. If this sounds very hippyish- do not knock it until you try it.
The course progressed over the next three days: covering aspects such as the human impact on woodlands well-being both negative and positive. A practical series of sessions where covered on: Woodland management – where the group removed pioneer silver birch saplings from a unique heathland habitat, Risk assessment for social forestry activities, Hazel coppicing, leading onto bush craft activities.
Important legal aspects were also discussed, such as woodland protection under law, the role of the Disclosure and Barring Service if you undertake activities with children. The final practical session allowed individuals to investigate their own interests, strengths or weaknesses. Most had the chance to sit astride a shave horse – paring down timber with a draw blade. Others cleave timber to manufacture bespoke artefacts. One or two more adventurous souls created Hazel hurdles; making use of a rounding plane. I am particularly pleased with the mallet manufactured from a solid piece of beech (I am simply pleased).
Following the attendance at the course there are two immediate impacts to my Society; to undertake the planting of a stand of Hazel for coppicing. It became apparent from the Social Forestry course that Hazel is a sustainable species for forest activities. When applying for grants in the future my society will be able to highlight the knowledge and experience gained from the course.
If you have the opportunity to attend this course, it’s a must for all those who are active within their own woodlands. It puts your personal experiences into context whilst filling in gaps within your own knowledge. If it was on trip advisor – I would have to rate it with five stars.
Roy, June 2016
We had a brilliant weekend with you. Thank you so much for everything. See you again very soon.
Nic, September 2015
Yet another wonderful weekend making baskets with the amazing teacher and basket maker Mandy Coates.
Such a beautiful place and the people that run it are so knowledgeable, welcoming and friendly.
I highly recommend any of their courses. Still smiling five hours later, and I succeeded in making a log basket. Very proud.…
Thanks everyone! See you soon.
Kate, July 2016
I have been there several times. Our daughter did a wood owl carving course there and thoroughly enjoyed it. Really friendly and helpful people. I am really impressed with their eco classroom. Its definitely worth picking up some of their BBQ charcoal. Never had anything better. Will be back again.
Andy, April 2016
I recently attended a course at the WSC, and would like to write a few words about it:
I originally applied for the Practical Woodland Tasks course, but not enough signed up for it; however, the WSC suggested I attend the Managing a Small Woodland, and they would adapt part of this for me, to include some of the Practical Tasks course; so I experienced part of each course, the best of both worlds! I commend the WSC for their adaptability.
Managing a Small Woodland is aimed at those thinking of buying, or who have recently bought, a small woodland. Part of the day is spent looking at different compartments of the woodland owned by the WSC and how each is managed, with successes and failures. The day also covers the woodland owner and the law.
I spent the afternoon having a one-to-one session covering some aspects of Practical Woodland Tasks – tree planting and aftercare; and looking at recent plantings to consider which trees should be selected as potential standards and how they could be improved by formative pruning.
Both parts of the day were very helpful to me as a new woodland owner, and I would recommend both courses to potential or new owners. The Centre offers courses for small numbers and the tutors are very relaxed and helpful. Fabulous setting on the edge of the Clwydian Hills too!
Many thanks for your course at Bodfari. Appreciated your patience, fascinating all the way & I am ever so chuffed with the result!
The Woodland Skills Centre was very much enjoyed by the group.
In fact this was the best thing the Cubs said we did during this year.
Just being able to explore a beautiful woodland, cook over an open fire, foraging, understanding more about trees and nature.
Plus they certainly really loved learning from the experts on how to use various tools , making nest boxes, willow and gypsy crafts, so thank you all for this.
Denbigh Scouts and Cubs who came on a series of visits in 2015
I wanted to say than you once again to yourself and Alan for what has been an absolutely splendid day. I honestly can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a learning experience so much.
I’ve just arrived home and had the whole family trying out my new ‘shave horse’ in the back garden, along with lots of curious looks from the neighbors!
Everything about the Woodland Skills Centre is brilliant, from the new training block to the incredible workshop and of course the skill and knowledge of the team, it’s like an explosion of sights and sounds that keeps you thirsting for more.
I will be back, and next time I won’t be alone!