Now the clocks have changed it really feels like we are hunkering down for the winter, curling up in front of the fire and getting in the hot chocolates. But how do you make sure you have the right logs to burn?
You may think that all wood is, well, just wood. But you would (wood!) be wrong! If you want to maximise time stretched out on the rug in front of the fire and minimise time spent to’ing and fro’ing from the log store to refill the basket, you need to choose the right types of wood. There is also lots of folklore and superstition that goes with burning different trees that you may not have been aware of…..
Birch – looking stunning at this time of the year and anyone who has been on one of our bushcraft courses will know that the bark is the all-important secret ingredient to lighting your fire without matches. It is perhaps then unsurprising that the birch is known as the fire tree in Norse mythology. It burns very fast and hot, so you’ll get through a lot of it.
Oak – this is one of the best woods for burning but it has to be seasoned for at least 2 years. It burns nice and slow and produces loads of heat, even when there are only embers left, so it is perfect for cooking over. If you can lay your hands on a good supply, snap up as much of it as you can!
Pines – if you fancy your own mini-firework display of an evening, burn some pine: spruce, larch and cedar will all spit like crazy but they do burn hot and smell nice too. The Scots Pine is also a good burner and has long been associated with fertility, especially the pine cones, so depending on who you are sharing your fire with, you may need to be careful!
Holly - it’s not the hottest wood but it does produce a very bright flame, so a great one if you are sitting out or using your log burner as a source of light too! But be warned, only use holly for burning because according to the wise old folk, a holly walking stick can give you arthritis…
Ash – according to the famous poem, ‘Wood to Burn’, Ash is worth its weight in gold because you can 'burn it green or burn it old'. Great news for those of you who, like me, are rarely prepared enough to season wood for two years.
Elder – apparently should never be burned indoors. Because of its association with magic and the devil it was said to cause a death in the family. Perhaps it is fortunate then that it doesn’t burn that well! But the mythology follows that if you plant one outside your front door it wards away the evils spirits. More practically, you’d be able to use the flowers for elderflower champagne and the berries for wine. Now that is definitely more my kind of way to raise the spirits!
The Forge is a beautiful site, perfect for getting away from it all and relaxing. Sheena and Jamie are nice and friendly hosts whom we could have spoken to for hours. I've never slept in a more comfortable bed away from home, all of us had the most sound of sleeps. The pitch has more or less everything you need for your stay, less packing to be done before setting off. You can't beat starting your own fire and cozying around it as the sun sets. A remarkable stay, we will be return visitors!