Try something different for Halloween and Bonfire night this autumn!

The Cotswolds Conservation Board has introduced two new exciting training courses – charcoal making and horse logging - to the Cotswolds Rural Skills programme this autumn. These new courses will offer an opportunity for members of the public to become involved in the practical management of woodland sites whilst learning more about the history of traditional woodland skills.

The first course, taking place this November, is the ancient art of charcoal making.  Traditionally undertaken alongside other woodland management techniques such as coppicing, charcoal making in England was once a vital component in the smelting and working of metal. Today it is readily associated with our summer BBQs. However the charcoal sold on many petrol station forecourts has often travelled thousands of miles from tropical rainforest and mangrove swamps which are unsustainably managed. This course is a unique opportunity to see how sustainable charcoal is produced in local Cotswold woodland.

The charcoal making course on Saturday 1st November is being offered as a special celebration for Halloween and Bonfire night. A day spent in the woods making charcoal with expert instructor, Alex Arthur of Chew Valley Charcoal, will be topped by an evening BBQ with drinks around the smoking kiln – a perfect way to celebrate Bonfire night!

The following weekend will also be spent in the wood with the launch of a new horse-logging course, running on Sunday 9th November. The low-impact practice of horse-logging is now seen as a sustainable and environmentally-friendly way of managing woodland areas, particularly where there is a need to protect wildlife or archaeological remains. This course allows hands-on experience of working with these beautiful animals in one of the sustainable woodland sites managed by the Conservation Board.

Traditional skills such as coppicing and horse-logging date back to the Neolithic period. However today, the rural skills associated with traditional woodland management have declined considerably. In addition, as many woodland sites become undermanaged or neglected their biodiversity value has also decreased.

Mark Connelly, Land Management Officer for the Cotswolds Conservation Board, said:

“Sustainable woodland management not only keeps traditional rural skills alive, it also greatly improves the landscape and biodiversity value of woodland by breaking up woodland structure and allowing more light onto the woodland floor; invariably increasing the variety and abundance of ground flora found there, such as bluebell and wood anemone.”

For further details of these and other rural skills offered by the Cotswolds Conservation Board, visit:


Notes to editors:

  • The Cotswolds was designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1966 in recognition of its rich, diverse and high quality landscape.
  • The Cotswolds AONB is looked after by the Cotswolds Conservation Board – an independent organisation established in 2004 which has 37 members - 15 nominated by local authorities, 8 by parish councils and 14 appointed by the Secretary of State.
  • The Cotswolds is the second largest protected landscape in England after the Lake District National Park and represents 10% of the total AONB area in the UK. It covers 2,038 square kilometres (790 square miles), stretching from Warwickshire and Worcestershire in the north, through Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire, down to Bath and Wiltshire in the south.
  • Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), along with National Parks, are considered to be the most special landscapes in the country and belong to an international family of protected areas. There are 38 AONBs in England and Wales, and a further eight in Northern Ireland. For further details, visit: For details of the 15 National Parks in England and Wales visit:
  • Over 300 Cotswold Voluntary Wardens dedicate thousands of hours of practical conservation work every year across the AONB, as well as lead an annual programme of guided walks and undertake a range of promotional and educational work.