Walter Lloyd is a well-known figure in the South Lakes. A bow-top caravan builder, charcoal burner, fell-pony breeder and honorary chairman of the Coppice Association (NW), he can often be found demonstrating hay or straw rope making at shows around the county and entertaining folk with his tales. A couple of weeks ago I was asking him if there would be any suitable rods in his willow beds for making rake handles (‘stails’). During the conversation I realised that the cutting had gotten a bit overgrown and Walter could use a hand with this year’s harvest. So this weekend, on a beautiful day that felt like spring was truly here, a dozen folk made up of coppice workers, basket makers, woodworkers and others met at Walter’s place near Newby Bridge to work together.
We concentrated our efforts on the most overgrown section which will mostly end up fueling Walter’s bow top woodburner but also yielded yurt poles, rods for riverbank spiling work, some basket materials, willow setts for planting and my raw stails.
It was a daunting sight when we first arrived but, as always, with plenty of hands good weather and a steady supply of tea the work was done and became a pleasure. Even more, this was a chance to meet up with friends, make new contacts and help out a neighbour.