Coracle making

We shall be making a coracle (for you to take home) based on traditional Welsh styles, with the Ironbridge and Wye and Usk style having most influence on Alistair's design. Suitable for one or two paddlers, it is very portable, and great fun.  It will fit in most cars, but it is strongly advisable to measure the interior of your car before starting to make your coracle, or bring a roof-rack. 
A small, keel-less boat, the coracle was specifically designed for operating in swiftly flowing streams.  Evidence of coracles dates back to the early Bronze Age, though the first clear description of the craft does not appear in texts until 1188.  Early coracles consisted of a basketwork frame covered in animal hide.  Hide covers were supplanted by a material known as flannel (a kind of felt), that in turn gave way (1794-1880) to the canvas or calico coverings that we see today.  Alistair has devised another modern form of covering that is (almost) indestructible, but not traditional.  You can choose which one you would prefer.
Each coracle is made by lacing together a framework of sawn ash laths (strips of wood).  The laths are clenched (nails bent over) onto the gunwale of the craft that has been formed into a hoop around the seat.  A skin of calico, or alternative modern material (your choice), is stretched over the completed frame and tacked into place.  Loose fabric in the corners is tucked into darts that are sewn closed.  The craft then receives three coats of bitumen paint, after which laths are fitted to the inner and outer gunwales.  It is then ready to paddle.
On Monday, not technically part of the course, there will be a valuable opportunity to launch your coracle and practice paddling it, first on the mill pond and then on the River Stour nearby, where you will be able to try the coracle out in running water, under the supervision of the tutor. Only for those with flotation jackets!
It will take between two and three days to make your own coracle.  Paddling instruction will be given on the last day, Monday, if you wish to stay on. 
Book early as this is a very small class, and usually popular.
Please let us know asap if you have to cancel as we usually have people on the waiting list.

You might have seen us recently on BBC2's programme, "Escape to the Country".
Participants' comments:

Everything was completely brilliant.  I loved making the coracle, I loved having a go in these beautiful surroundings, and I loved waking up to birdsong every morning!  Anne and Bob were excellent hosts and the food was fantastic, thank you!  Very accommodating too.  Alistair was a patient and expert tutor and I am keen to make another coracle one day.

Excellent well paced course.  Size was right for this kind of course.  Valued having a choice of traditional and new-style cover.
Very friendly and relaxed.  Excellent hospitality and food wonderful.
An excellent weekend - camping facility much appreciated.
I am so happy with this course.  Thanks.
The last day trying out our coracles on the mill pond and the river was very exciting.  It was good learning to paddle against wind and tide and even how to deal with (tiny) rapids.  The fact that some of us got wet all added to the fun.  Thanks for tea and lovely cakes at the end.
I had a fab time.
A wonderful experience!
I had a wonderful weekend.  Hope to do it again soon.
Lovely working atmosphere,  Thank you.
Thank you for your hospitality and the welcome extended to us as well as our vehicle.  Be happy to recommend anyone thinking of doing it in the future.
Thank you for all extras - recipes, bluebell woods, walks.  Janet F.
Just a quick email to say thank you very much for a lovely weekend which I and wiggi really enjoyed , even though still feel a bit shattered from it all ! , the food , the mill , and even Olivia couldn't be faulted , still got her voice ringing in my ears , "you need a flat bottom ", both our boats made it home safely and now ready for the next launching , once I have made another paddle , so till the next time look after each other and have fun  ian





Alistair Phillips BSc
Friday, 11 May, 2012 to Sunday, 13 May, 2012

Times9.00 - 5.00


What to Bring

Drill - a cordless or electric drill is preferable
8mm drill bit
Small hammer, 4oz or 8 oz
Dolly (weight to hammer against)
Carpentry saw or tenon saw (the Japanese pull saw from Axminster Tools works well)
Pincers (for pulling out errant nails)
Cross head screwdriver (or bit for your drill)
Plane or Surform rasp
Stanley knife or scissors
Metal file
G clamps or similar to 3" capacity - at least 4 (spring clamps are not sufficient)
Tape measure
Heavy duty staple gun with 10mm staples
Flotation jacket for those staying on Monday.