Have you or your kids ever wanted to see how a working forest runs? Now’s your chance!
Kielder Water & Forest Park in Northumberland is offering people a chance to take part in working forest tours of the 62,000 hectare (155,000-acre) Northumbrian wilderness. The tours run each Tuesday from 31 July to August 28 and they offer a grandstand view of a high-tech timber harvester in action.
The tours will be given by Paul Allen, an experienced woodsman. He will show the behind-the-scenes operations at Kielder and give and overview of timber harvesting. Paul will also explain how timber production is being balanced with recreation and conservation.
Kielder Forest produces over 440,000 metric tonnes of timber annually, making it the UK’s most productive woodland. To replace those felled 2.5 million trees are hand planted each year. Meanwhile the forest harbours nine Sites of Special Scientific Interest and is haven for red squirrels, wild goats and birds of prey like ospreys.
Last year’s tours proved a big hit with the public so booking is essential on 01434 250209. Meet at 2pm at Kielder Castle Visitor Centre. A mini-bus will be used to ferry people to harvesting sites and the cost is £10 adults. Bring stout footwear and please note that dogs are not permitted.
Paul has spent the last eight years driving a £250,000 piece of equipment which can fell more than 180 trees a day. Originally a tree surgeon in Coventry – where he was born and raised – Paul chose a move north before winning the role operating the biggest beast in the forest. It took intensive training to learn the controls. He also used a computer simulator and a stint on a specialist machine operators course in Dumfries, Scotland.
Paul, 29, has worked in every part of Kielder and mechanical harvesters are the backbone of the operation. He said: “It’s not so many years ago that every tree had to be felled by hand, which would have been a daunting challenge. I always wanted an outdoor job it doesn’t get much more spectacular than Kielder.”
Using a mechanical claw linked to an on-board computer harvesters can cut trees to customer requirements and strip branches in double quick time. But there’s a lot more to forestry than just felling trees.
To book: 01434 250209. Meet at 2pm at Kielder Castle Visitor Centre. A mini-bus will be people to harvesting sites. Cost: £10 adults. Wear solid, flat and stout footwear. Sorry, no dogs allowed.