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It's bowtime in Guisborough Forest

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Archer Fred Bates of the Archers of the Tees Valley

Guisborough Forest Festival - the north’s biggest woodland jamboree - takes place this Sunday (12 September) in the spectacular North York Moors.

The mammoth event will see over 100 exhibitors and participants take part, showcasing ancient skills, surreal theatre and fun and music for all ages.

Organisers from the Forestry Commission, Friends of Guisborough Forest and Walkway and Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council expect over 3,500 people to attend, making the 900 acre beauty spot hum with activity.

Star attractions include the amazing puppetry of North East-based, Neighbourhood Watch Stilts International. They will bring along a 30 foot caterpillar, kept afloat by hot air and operated by a team of humans inside the beast!

Reviving the days of medieval archery will be the Tees Valley Archers. In the past when a youngster reachedseven years old he was handed a bow and by the time he was 15 he was expected to be able to draw a full-sized adult weapon and potentially join the ranks of the feared English archers. Fred Bates, from Darlington, who founded the 50 strong society, keeps those days alive by making hand made long bows from Yew and Ash. Once it was estimated that over 60% of the nation’s population was connected with making bows and arrows and locally one area was ordered to supply one million goose feathers for arrow flights and nearly 100,000 bow strings to meet national battle needs. People will be able to have a go at archery for themselves and continue a long English tradition.

Elsewhere there will be chance to saddle up and experience the excitement of cycling, try willow weaving, stimulate your senses with herbal medicines, sample organic produce, have a go at bushcraft, meet the British Black Bee and even scale a daunting climbing wall.

Flying the flag for ancient forest skills will be Chris Helliwell, from Barton, North Yorkshire. The former vicar decided to change career and is now a full-time green woodworker making rustic bowls and furniture and teaching a new generation the joys of woodcraft like bodging. He’ll be inviting people to have a go on a hand powered pole lathe and become a chip off the old block!

Cath Brason, Forestry Commission ranger, said:

"The festival is all about having loads of fun in a truly inspiring setting. There’ll be plenty of hands on crafts, chance meet to wildlife and enjoy surreal puppetry on a giant scale. It will be a day to remember in the woods.”

Further details on 01287 631132, or log on to

Media calls to Richard Darn on 0775 367 0038.

Notes to Editor

The festival is open from 10am to 4pm. A free park and ride bus service to the festival will operate from Fountain Street car park on Rectory Lane, Guisborough. No parking will be available at the Pinchinthorpe entrance to the forest (except for disabled visitors). Other parking arrangements will be signed on the day. Admission is 12 family ticket (two adults, two children), 4 adults and 3 children.

The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible in England for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment. Forestry makes a real contribution to sustainable development, providing social and environmental benefits arising from