What's Going On?

After the busiest season we have experienced as a group I'm pleased to say we have achieved everything we set out to do. The growth of the group has been steady, welcoming many new members during the season with the taster day being a particular success. The work in the woods has been tough at times with ever larger tress to deal with. This has brought with it challenges, but the learning and experience will be invaluable for the future.

As with life in general there's never enough time to sit back and congratulate ourselves. On the last day of the season I had a number of members asking when the new season dates would be out! At the time it seemed like a long way away to plan those, but actually we have made a great start so dates will be out earlier than previous seasons. We will keep you updated via these newsletters.

You will also see more planning for the spring and summer, plus setting ourselves up financially for another season. So as usual there is plenty to do and thankfully members keen to get involved. Don't hesitate to contact me or the committee if you would like to get more involved.


End of Season Update

What did we actually achieve during the last season? There are some sobering statistics crunched by the committee, not just for our own consideration, but for reporting into the Woodland Trust and the National Forest Company.

We loaded and transported over 360 boot loads of logs, this equates to over 100 cubic metres of timber (this is across all of the sites we worked)

Across the season we had 465 attendances at sessions, so that's 465 days at an average of 6 hours volunteer time. A staggering amount of effort and dedication.

We contributed to habitat creation by placing 60 nest boxes, 36 bat boxes in the wood we have worked and stacked considerable brash piles, opened up rides and let huge amounts of light into the woodland interior. All giving new and improved wildlife conditions.

All in all a very successful season, managed well by the leadership team and attended well by all of us as members. We really do deserve a pat on the back from ourselves for what we have achieved.

End of Season March 2019

Heartwood Base at CEEP

For some time now we have been looking to find a "real" base for our group. We have been working with the team at CEEP for a couple of years, but we have now agreed a more formal relationship. In the spirit of collaboration and co-operation we have been given space of our own at CEEP and wider use of the site in general. This has come about due to the excellent relationship we have developed through the mutual benefits of helping each other. A number of our members have given their time and effort to help with task at CEEP and the team at CEEP have been very welcoming and flexible in allowing us to meet there, store timber and use the site for charcoal making.

With the space we now have comes the need to consolidate ourselves. There is work to be done in the form of wood stores/sheds to build, logs to process/stack and we are planning a social area where we can make charcoal, meet socially and allow our members to exercise their woodland skills and crafts.

There are already working party dates in the booking system, so please take a look and come along to help if you can spare a little time. If we get a few nice evenings we'll also pop a note out if anyone wants to spend a couple of hours there.

If you want to know more about what we are doing and what needs to be done please drop me a line.


Situations Vacant

We are still looking for someone to work with us on the committee to pull together the business aspects of the group. It really doesn't need a great deal of experience or a big commitment of time. Please give Kevin a call or drop me a line if you would like to discuss further.

Next Season's Planning

We have now drafted the sessions for next season and will be releasing them over the next month or so. We are learning from experience and plan to make a couple of distinct changes. The first being we want to spread the load better across the season. Last season we were very much "back-end loaded" with our work in the wood. Luckily we didn't have any issues with the weather, but this won't always be the case so we are planning to bring sessions forward in the season to help us mitigate bad weather and unforeseen circumstances.

The second change has resulted from a discussion at a committee meeting. We want to ensure that every member of our group gets what they want out of the sessions (not just the logs). With the increase in mechanisation last season, mainly resulting from the size of the trees in Woodcote, we feel that some of the community aspect of our days has suffered. When we ran the taster session in February it certainly felt more like the sessions used to do before the quad and several chainsaws started working the woods. We will be trying out a "quiet session" concept next season to see if we can bring back some of that ethos. As the trees tend to be smaller at Donisthorpe we may align this to the sessions we run there. We will inform everyone which sessions are designated quiet sessions when we issue the dates - be aware though that we will still need to use chainsaws for the final cross-cutting to achieve the output we need to fill the boots.

Spring & Summer Events

We will be holding a group BBQ on the 15th June at CEEP. The event will run from around 11:00 through to 15:00 with the BBQ itself taking place at midday. There is an event on the system so please book on there and make a note of how many people will be in your group (family members are very welcome) and if you have any dietary needs.

Anyone who would like to help with the organisation and running of the event please contact one of the committee or click on the Feedback button at the bottom of this newsletter.

Once we have the list of attendees we will provide more details and directions etc.

There are also a number of sessions on the system where we will be making charcoal, working on the base at CEEP or processing the logs we have stored at CEEP. Any help much appreciated, please book onto the sessions if you can.

TIMBER Festival

This year at TIMBER we will be sharing our area with CEEP and Darren Abell, This is to reflect the co-operative working we are doing with both and as a follow-up on the bursary of £500 awarded at TIMBER last year for us to set up a woodland co-operative.

The National Forest and Wild Rumpus have asked us to do a few specific things at this years event. We will be running the "charcoal" sessions where the retort will be running whilst conversations on various topics take place in the woodland. We will also be managing the camp fire for the storytelling area. It is also our chance to sell some of the firewood and charcoal we have produced along with our partners in the co-operative. For those of you who came along last year we are in a different part of the site. We will be in the woodland close to where the "moon" exhibition was.

Anyone who would like to help this year please let us know. You will only be asked to do a "shift" on one of the activities and for that you will have free access to the festival.

There are still arrangements to be finalised so we'll keep everyone updated

Moira YHA Project

You may already have seen updates on the work we have carried out as a group at Moira YHA. We were approached by the team at the YHA to see if we could help provide logs for a stepping stone walk. Graham did an excellent job in identifying the right trees in the woodland, getting them felled and cut to length and then organising the transportation of them to Moira.

These were very heavy logs which were all moved in a single morning by a team of season weary Heartwood members.

There were then follow-up sessions at the YHA to process the logs, by putting "flats" on them and cross-hatching to minimise the slip hazard.

The YHA team have now put all of the logs in place and the feature is ready for the public to use.


Another great article in a local publication. Thanks to "Swadstyle" monthly we had a great write-up in the April edition of the magazine. The article covered the wider objectives of the National Forest, but gave a detailed outline of what we do and where we do it.

We have agreed that any future events such as taster days will be included in the "What's on" section of the publication. If you haven't had chance to read the article you can take a look on pages 8-10 by following this link