8 reasons to book for Woodland Pioneers 2024
Spending five days camping in a woodland in north Lancashire at the end of August could change your life. Here are 8 reasons to find out more and book yourself a place on Woodland Pioneers 2024, an Introduction to Coppicing course.

1. Woodland Pioneers is an opportunity to learn lots of different coppicing skills.

If you’re new to Woodland Pioneers, the Introduction to Coppicing week covers treen (that’s making small items like utensils and gypsy flowers with wood), making mini gate hurdles, creating charcoal, shaping and building a greenwood stool and a selection from working with willow, carving wood, sharpening tools, and much more.

In parallel, returners will be turning wooden bowls, weaving rush baskets or weaving willow shoulder bags based on traditional fishing creels.

And those are just the workshops – there’ll be people sharing all sorts of extra skills and knowledge throughout the week.

2. Woodland Pioneers workshops are led by some of the best coppicing experts in the UK.

Several of our workshop leaders have won awards for their work and all of them are making a living from their coppicing skills and heritage crafts. Many of them are BHMAT apprenticeship graduates themselves and several are hosting and mentoring current apprentices.

For example, Owen Jones is one of very few oak swill basket makers working in the UK and Twiggy is the current BHMAT Chair of Trustees, known for her great all-round coppicing skills. The Coppice Co-Op is rapidly developing a reputation for its work, especially on different ways of making and using charcoal. They’ll be demonstrating their retort as well as other methods of making charcoal.

Other workshop leaders include Jane Bradley (rush and willow basket maker), Adrian Lloyd (bowl maker and also bowl lathe builder), Helen Elvin (known for her work with willow) and another Helen, Helen Clarke, who is known for her Rusland Valley woodland and coppicing.

3. Woodland Pioneers gives you a chance to find out whether coppicing is for you.

There are so many different aspects to woodland management and coppicing that it’s hard to know whether any or all of it is for you for the future. And those of us who are already involved very much appreciate that being part of the larger community of coppicers is a huge part of the enjoyment and the work.

So, Woodland Pioneers is designed as a massive taster session for that approach – you can try plenty of skills, find out about many more and meet lots of the people who are actively involved already.

4. Woodland Pioneers is set in a brilliant location in the northwest of England.

Silverhelme is a Scout Activity Camp in woodlands in Silverdale, north Lancashire. There are 18 acres of natural woodland here and it’s part of the Arnside & Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

As if that wasn’t enough, we’re on the doorstep of Morecambe Bay, the Forest of Bowland and the Lake District.

Basically, it’s quite a nice area to spend a week in summer!

5. Woodland Pioneers is a great opportunity to “find your tribe”, build networks and connections and make really good friends.

There’ll be more than 42 people on site for the week. That’s 42 participants, 24 of them on the full-week Introduction to Coppicing course and 18 returners, plus leaders and organisers and cooks and, from past experience, other family members, partners, enthusiasts, visitors and more.

We all share a passion for woodlands and coppicing skills, many of us have completed coppicing apprenticeships and you can (honestly) ask us almost anything you want to know about coppicing.

6. Woodland Pioneers could be your route into a coppicing apprenticeship and other opportunities for the future.

Bill Hogarth MBE (1928 – 1999) was a coppice merchant who worked the woods of South Cumbria for many years – and who taught quite a few of us our skills too! The Bill Hogarth Memorial Apprenticeship Trust (BHMAT) was set up in 2000 to continue his work. BHMAT now runs a 3-year apprenticeship training scheme, which leads to the Bill Hogarth Coppice Diploma.

Our Woodland Pioneers course introduces those interested to the apprenticeship scheme. Participants gain an initial certificate by keeping a log/workbook of their learning throughout the week and this is a first step to applying for a BHMAT placement.

Lots of those taking part in Woodland Pioneers have taken this route themselves so it’s also a great opportunity to find out more about what’s possible, where, with whom and what’s involved.

7. Even if it turns out coppicing isn’t really your thing, Woodland Pioneers is a chance to spend a week going back to basics in a beautiful location with fascinating people, brilliant food and good fun.

Our evenings include talks, a quiz, live music and, this year, a guided walk in nearby Silverdale. And the food is amazing. Lynne and Mike (Mike was a coppicing apprentice and a previous WP participant) come across from Ireland and cook for the week. They bake their own sourdough bread every day in their fabulous rocket stove.

We also have a brilliant cake baker who makes sure we have freshly baked cakes everyday too. All food except breakfast is included in the fee and you can have breakfast too for a small extra cost.

And here’s number 8 from a previous participant …

"Woodland Pioneers was a brilliantly envisioned and perfectly executed, potentially life- altering experience in only five days!"

For more information and to book a place, head over to our booking page.