The Woodland Skills Course is the main focus of the Calendar year at Coppicewood College. Running 2 days a week from September to March, this is a fantastic opportunity for our students to immerse themselves in the woodland environment through the entirety of the traditional coppicing season. During the six months our students gain the knowledge, skills and experience required to sustainably manage a woodland using traditional coppicing methods.
No power tools required and no chainsaw license needed, if you decide to join us on this unique course, our knowledegable instructors will demonstrate and guide you through the use of traditional tools including felling axes, saws and billhooks. By the end of the season you will have gained knowledge and experience in the maintenance and safe use of these surprisingly efficient tools.
The course is split evenly into 2 main activities, working ’on the plot’ is only half of the learning experience. An equal amount of time will also be spent in and around our beautiful roundwood workshop where you will learn how to utilise the materials cut on the plot to make usable and saleable products. We will also discuss the market and opportunities for selling greenwood and craft products. You will start by making some basic tools, acquiring the skills needed to then make a saw horse. Add to that some experience on the pole lathe and you will have all the skills to make your own shavehorse, an invaluable piece of green woodworking equipment. Finally you will be able to draw on your new found skills to design and create your project piece from your own design.
Firewood Processing and Charcoal Making
We don’t like to waste anything, so wood that isn’t suitable for craft use, can still be utilised, firewood is one option which we will explore and we will also demonstrate the small scale production of charcoal using cheap and easy to find equipment.
In February we offer a 4 day course on hedgelaying and students on the Woodlands Skills Course will be automatically enrolled on this course This course takes place away from the main site and we travel locally to get hands on experience of laying a neglected hedge.
The number of students for the main Woodland Skills Course is limited to 7. This ensures that our 3 instructors are able to maximise the support given to individual students and ensure a safe working environment.
Who is the course for?
• Anyone with an interest in traditional woodland skills using hand tools and who would like to earn all or part of their living working in a woodland environment
• Anyone interested in reducing their carbon footprint, preserving the natural environment and improving habitat
• Unemployed people and school leavers (Over 18) in rural areas looking for alternative employment opportunities.
• Woodland owners, farmers and their staff
It’s hard but rewarding work!
Please be aware that this is a practical course. Students will need to be prepared and able to undertake physical, outdoor work during the winter months. We are, however flexible and for days where the weather is extremely wet or cold we will rearrange the activities so that we can work in the workshop.
No special equipment is needed, but we do require students to wear steel toe cap boots. We have a selection gloves available but you are welcome to bring your own. Thorn Proof gardening gloves are ideal.
Coppicewood College is situated within the 160 acre Pengelli Forrest which is a SSSI and managed by the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales. It is also part of the largest block of ancient oak woodland in west Wales. Under a management agreement with the Wildlife Trust, Coppicewood College is undertaking the regeneration of part of the wood, much of which is carried out by staff and students involved with the annual 6-month woodland skills course. If you want to find out more about Pengelli Forest take a look at https://www.welshwildlife.org/nature-reserves/pengelli-forest
Our amazing classroom and well equipped workshop, was built by local craftsman and previous Coppicewood student Jamie (owner of Ty Pren) typren.co.uk, We meet at the workshop each morning and from there we either walk to the nearby coppice plot or stay at the workshop for classroom and craft activities. There is plenty of space in and around the workshop for our woodworking activities and there’s a cosy wood burner to gather around during breaktimes. We also have a Pole lathe shelter, currently home to 6 pole lathes and There is also a compost toilet onsite.
If you are keen to find out more or would like to discuss the possibility of becoming part of next years Woodland Skills Course family, please send us your details using the form below. We will then get in touch with you and arrange a pre-course visit to the woods to help decide if the course is right for you.
The course fees are £2.800 per year. Since we are a “not-for-profit” charitable organisation we try to keep the fees as low as possible.
Through the generosity of some of our members we are also able to offer a limited number of bursaries of up to £500 towards course fees. We are also happy to point you in the direction of other organisations who make grant funding available and from whom previous students have obtained funding.