Wood by name wood by nature

Hidden down a rough track in a 100-acre wood in part of the National Forest is an indescribably sylvan workshop created from the landscape.

There is the sweet smell of wood smoke in the air, the rhythmic sound of pole lathes and the crunch of wood being split with an axe.

This is the domain of Peter Wood the inspiration behind Greenwood Days a centre for woodland and greenwood crafts.

Under his expert guidance, novices and keen amateurs can learn pole lathe turning, Windsor chair making, how to make your own long bow and learn to fire it, weave a willow basket, make a traditional trug or bend a hazel hurdle.

The master woodman, who was originally from south London, trained in woodland management and put roots down in the National Forest soon after it was conceived.

“However I soon realised that I would rather make than manage and decided to learn the traditional craft of Windsor chair making,” he explained.

“I have always gone along to festivals and while I was demonstrating my work people would ask me if they could try it out and eventually I ended up on the twin track of courses and chairs.

“At first I used to bob in and out of the courses and make a chair but now I run the workshops all summer and spend the winter making chairs.”

Peter, who lives at Ticknall, rents part of Spring Wood on the Staunton Harold estate just outside Melbourne and has created a functional workshop that has a low impact on the environment and makes use of the natural resources all around.

The 48-year-old craftsman uses the shavings and chippings to fuel the campfire and for the composting toilet. The shelters, shaving horses and pole lathes have all been built with woodland timber. He even has a handcrafted Flintstonesque mallet that he uses to wallop in stakes.

For those on the courses it is a fantastically relaxing way to spend a day or even a week. Once they have been shown what to do Peter lets them work at their own pace but is there to offer advice and a helping hand if necessary.

If you want to see Peter demonstrating his skills then don’t miss him at Melbourne Festival on September 17 and 18 where he will be one of the makers taking part in the Wild Wood theme. A willow rowing boat he has created will also be on display at Melbourne Hall.

If you can’t get to Melbourne then he will also be at the Derbyshire Woodland Festival at Elvaston Castle Country Park on September 24 and 25.

To find out more about Peter’s courses go to http://www.greenwooddays.co.uk