Want a cosy woodland shelter? Here is a recreation of a Bark Peelers Hut at Hay Bridge Nature Reserve which looks as though nature is trying to colonise it. In past times these would have been the summer residence of a bark peeler who would remove bark from oak trees before they were coppiced to supply local tanneries. They would also make other woodland products to sell such as brooms, stakes, clothes pegs and baskets. We gathered around to admire the construction but some of those present disputed it was a bark peelers hut and suggested a charcoal burners hut (both occupations having used the Lakeland forests for centuries).
To give you some idea of of the scale of the hut here is Bob bobbing down to enter. Bark Peelers Huts had low circular walls and a central heath with a flue. Obviously the degradable material of the poles and sides of the original huts have long gone but the remains of the walls and hearths still can be found in the woods of Cumbria. Charcoal burners huts on the other hand although the same shape were more temporary structures so their footprint can be harder to find.
Taking a higher view of the hut you can see that this is not the only piece of past woodland industries in this little corner of the Rusland valley for there is also a Potash Kiln. These were usually built into hillsides and I think this one has been rebuilt by Hay Bridge Nature Reserve as part of their educational remit. Here is a front view...
Wood or more often green bracken would have been burnt in this to make potash for fertilisers but could also be mixed with burnt lime and tallow and boiled to make soft liquid soaps called lyes. The other use was a combination of potash and alum which can fix the dye in the process of turning wool into dyed bolts of cloth. About 15 miles east of here is the town that originally produced the colour Kendal Green, famous for being the colour that Robin Hood wore. I have read that the last potash to come out of a Potash Kiln in Lakeland was about 1840.
An entry to ABC Wednesday, a journey through the alphabet, this week sojourning at H here