10 reasons to visit Surrey Hills Wood Fair 2015 at Birtley House, Bramley
PUBLISHED: 10:05 29 September 2015 | UPDATED: 14:22 05 October 2015
Having become a fixture in the calendar for all lovers of rural life, the Surrey Hills Wood Fair is back at Bramley’s Birtley Estate for a sixth year – and more diverse than ever. While the event is centred on celebrating our county’s woodlands and those who work with wood, there will also be theatre, live music and local food and drink to enjoy along the way
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine October 2015
Need to know!
The Surrey Hills Wood Fair takes place at Bramley’s Birtley Estate on Saturday October 3 and Sunday October 4, 10am to 5pm. Tickets are £7.50 for adults and entry is free for children under 12. For more information, visit surreyhillswoodfair.co.uk.
Learn traditional skills
You’ll discover some truly talented and interesting people who work with wood. At the festival this year, there will be a team of coppice workers who will be showcasing their skills, from basket weaving and willow demonstrations to sculpting and charcoal making. You’ll also have the opportunity to have a go yourself, as well as buy a whole host of stunning wood products.
Witness chainsaw carving
The ever-popular Tree Pirates return with their amazing skills and engaging personalities. Watch this dynamic team of chainsaw artists create wooden sculptures of any size – not to be missed! Among the many creations by this motley crew over the years is the Pegasus sculpture at Horsell Common near Woking.
Watch pop-up theatre
This year, The Man In The Moon Theatre Tent (a regular fixture at GuilFest over the years) will be setting up shop. You’ll be entertained by various artists who will be performing a series of themed shows and workshops throughout both days. As well as watching the action, children will have the opportunity to get up on stage and take part in the performances.
Listen to live music
The entertainment continues with a host of local bands performing throughout the two-day event, co-ordinated by the Academy of Contemporary Music (ACM) in Guildford. There will also be acoustic busking areas throughout the site, as well as a main stage where you can see top-quality performances. Also returning this year will be the Surrey Hills Ukulele Big Band, who will perform while moving around the fair on a horse and wagon, as well as on the main stage.
Feel the steam
The wood fair wouldn’t be the same without the awe-inspiring, large-scale machinery used within the wood industry. This year, there’s something special for steam enthusiasts – a 1926 steam-powered sawmill. To bring things up to date, Jas P Wilson will be showcasing today’s modern machinery and demonstrating how it is used to manage our woodlands. The Rural Life Centre will also be on hand with historical facts and their fine collection of tools used throughout the ages by foresters.
Take a wild ride
The ever-popular horse and wagon rides make a welcome return and will take you on a gentle circuit of the site. You’ll also be able to see horses at work and the traditional art of horse logging. The heavy horses will amaze you with their strength and gentleness in moving trees and you’ll find out how horse and man work so well together. You’ll also discover the Birtley Estate pigs in their woodland home; as well as a variety of owl species, with an expert available to tell you all about them.
Get woodland educated
Learn all about the importance of woodland in the Surrey Hills, one of the most wooded Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in England with almost 40% woodland cover. Ancient woodland has particular significance in terms of historic and nature conservation importance, and the Surrey Hills boasts over 4,500 hectares of ancient woodland covering 12% of the AONB. The Woodland Trust, Surrey Wildlife Trust, Merrist Wood, Plumpton College and the Surrey Hills Society will all be on hand to give advice on woodland management, conservation and wildlife, as well as providing great ideas for how you can get out and enjoy our woodlands.
Fun for the young
There’s a big focus on families this year, with lots on offer for children ranging from raft building, tree climbing and a zip wire to storytelling, face-painting, craft making and archery. Join the nature and bush-tucker trails and learn more about the wildlife that lives in our local countryside; you may even get up close to a crayfish or snake! And to help the already squeezed budgets of many families, the wood fair is free for children under 12.
Taste local produce
Discover a whole host of interesting stalls to browse and buy from, including some great local produce. Take the opportunity to stock up on mince pies and Christmas puddings, sweets and fudge, cakes, pies, local meat, chutneys, jams, honey and much more. If you’re interested in sampling or buying a local tipple, there’s the Tillingbourne Brewery, The Crafty Brewing Company, Albury Organic Vineyard and Silent Pool Gin to name but a few.
Enjoy a Surrey showcase
Members of Surrey Hills Enterprises, the community interest company responsible for the Surrey Hills Wood Fair, will be showcasing their talents and expertise throughout the event. Visit and meet Abinger Stained Glass, who will be demonstrating copper foiled items and leaded lights; Surrey Hills Butchers, this year’s Butcher of the Year in the Surrey Life Food & Drink Awards, who will demonstrate their butchery skills; and find out more about the secrets of Silent Pool Distillers’ gin. There’s plenty more where that came from, too…