Tales from the Valency Valley

If you took a walk past Minster bridge on Sunday you would have perhaps seen a plume of smoke ascending into the Autumn sky, you may have heard the clang of metal on metal or the sound of oak splitting whilst being prise apart.

Away from the hustle and bustle of footpaths, balsam pulling and hay rakes our volunteer group gathered for some wittling, bodging and a charcoal burn.

We started by setting up the charcoal kiln and filling it with some oak that had been felled as part of our Woodland Grant Scheme work that is carried out in Peter’s Wood every winter. Once the kiln was alight and smoking away happily we set about cleaving oak for a handrail we are installing up a flight of steps towards Newmills.

Part of our WGS is to thin some of the Oak in the woods, so I had selected some straight(ish) bits for uprights and for a long interesting piece for the hand rail. Once these were cleft using splitting wedges, we shaved the bark off using a combination of bill hooks and draw knives.

In the meantime a volunteer from the other patch planted herself on our shave horse and wittled a walking stick. We all kept an eye on the kiln to ensure that the burn was as even as possible and set about making a hurdle form some small Ash we felled in the Valency earlier. Time was eventually against us and despite not putting in the hand rail we have all the pieces in place. The kiln was shut down and with weary limbs and a hurdle kit we returned to our cars, with another woodworking session already being organised.

If you would like to come and join us on any future volunteering days please contact Fred Hutt 01288 331372 or fred.hutt@nationaltrust.org.uk
PS - I'm also on Twitter @ncntranger