Skills & Swills

Hosting our own programme of heritage skills courses and working in partnership with other groups who also run complementary courses.

The current landscape of the Rusland Horizons area has resulted from centuries of traditional land management, none more so than by farmers and foresters. However, evidence suggests that the traditional skills necessary to maintain this landscape in a sustainable way are being lost.

Our heritage skills training programme provides courses which enable skills to be passed on to more people and encourages landowners to become involved in traditional, sustainable land management practices. We run our own programme of courses and demonstration eventd, as well as promoting courses run by other groups and tutors.

Our 2016 - 17 programme saw the delivery of a diverse range of courses which were well attended and produced great feedback.

The 2017 – 2018 programme builds on this with training covering practical heritage skills such as dry stone walling, hedge laying, blacksmithing and coppicing to skills needed for making products from the land, such as wooden items furniture, hazel hurdles, oak swill baskets; woollen items, spinning, knitting and dying courses and skills such as tree identification, orchard management, bushcraft and foraging.

Because of the success of the programme, we will be extending it until March 2019.

Available courses can be found in our ‘Whats on' pages.

So far so good...

Update March 2018:

  • 14 heritage craft workshops delivered
  • 1 demonstration of snigging (horsedrawn timber extraction)
  • 6 courses delivered on land and habitat management
  • 5 courses on rural skills and heritage conservation held
  • 210 people have taken part in training
  • 50 days of employment for 24 tutors

Did you know?

Oak swill baskets are traditional to the southern Lake District and were used on the farms, in the mines and on the docks. Throughout the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, thousands of swill baskets were exported from manufacting centres such as Bowness, Lowick, Spark Bridge, Torver, Haverthwaite, Backbarrow, and Broughton. Now, there are only a small handful of people who make them.


Project Lead

Rusland Horizons team and Cumbria Woodlands

The Challenge

For the long-term sustainability of our working landscape, there are a number of countryside and craft skills and ways of working which need to be learned, protected and passed on. It is important that the traditions of the area are passed on to future generations while those with the knowledge are still able to do so. A number of studies and commentators suggest that rural skills are in danger of decline.

Our Approach

We are working with local craftspeople to run a number of courses relating to skills and abilities associated with the wooded landscapes of the Rusland Horizons scheme area. Working with wood, stone and other materials, the courses are a mix of skills, crafts and hobbies, aimed at the younger craftsperson who wishes to make their living from the land, and to those with a passing interest in rural industries and skills. We are also arranging demonstration days where other skills which are impractical to run as coursework, can be demonstrated and are strengthening contacts within the skills-based network.

© Rusland Horizons 2017 - 2019. All rights reserved.
Rusland Horizons is a Landscape Partnership funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund