Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Coracles In Herefordshire

At the end of June I spent an absolutely magical time with Peter Faulkner in Herefordshire. Peter is the only hide-covered coracle maker working in Britain today.

I've long been an admirer of Peter's work and I had hoped he would come to teach coracle making here in the Woodland Workshop. Unfortunately, I then discovered that he's just about to retire - which is nice for him, but rather scuppers my plan!

As you can probably imagine, I was therefore absolutely delighted when Peter very kindly suggested that he train me in this very ancient craft of making the greenest of vessels.

The process of building a coracle is relatively straight-forward - if carried out under the watchful eye of an expert - and by the time we'd finished weaving the willow and hazel and tied all of the joints we had an incredibly stiff lattice structure.

Working with a hide skin was a totally new experience for me and wonderfully direct, and with a bit of practice I got the hang of the lashing and ending up feeling inordinately proud of the end result. This is something that I see in our guests on a regular basis, and for once it was really nice to be on the receiving end of the satisfaction of learning something new and fulfilling.

As well as learning to make coracles, Peter also showed me the 'figure of eight' rowing technique and we tried this out for real on his local river - the perfect end to a experience I shall never forget and one that I'm looking forward to passing on to future coracle makers on our courses.

Peter's web site has some more details about his amazing achievements with coracles and currachs - boats that should never be underestimated!

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