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Holidays in the countryside

Cumbria holiday park plans a wild welcome when visitors return

Timber carving artist James Shelliker
Owls of delight: timber sculptor James works on one of his smaller creations at Skelwith just prior to shut-down

A popular Ambleside holiday park, Skelwith Fold, has called a temporary halt to its plans to carve out a celebration of local wildlife life in its 130 acres of woodland.

But there is a silver lining, it says, because when guests are allowed to return, they will be able to witness one of the region’s most acclaimed wood sculptors at work.

Owls, red squirrels, foxes, badgers and deer will all be seen taking shape throughout the grounds from blown-down trees and others needing to be felled.

They are being created by timber carving artist James Shelliker who lives near Preston, but who works extensively at sites in the Lake District including Muncaster Castle.

Henry Wild, who helps run his family’s park business, says he hopes the animals and birds will stand as a testament to nature’s resilience long after the present crisis is over:

Henry Wylde
Henry Wild says that all fallen timber at Skelwith Fold is re-purposed

“We are we are doing everything to ensure that when we do re-open, our park will quickly return to the happy and cheerful environment which our customers remember,” he said.

“Many families who come here take a particular pleasure in spotting our glorious wildlife, so we thought it would be great to celebrate this part of our natural heritage.

“James has had to hang up his chainsaws and chisels while the park is closed, but will be straight back on the job when we are allowed to welcome guests back.

“It’s fascinating to see him sculpting birds and woodland creatures around the park, and now he will be able to have a live audience when we open our gates again.

“Regarding the present situation, real fears have been expressed about the Lake District’s £3 billion tourism industry and the 65,000 jobs it provides.

“These are wholly justified, and it’s certainly the case that our sector will need as much support as the Government can provide.

“But Cumbria has always been an extremely resilient county, as we saw in the foot and mouth outbreak almost twenty years ago from which we also bounced back,” added Henry.

Skelwith Fold, which provides around 450 pitches for touring caravans, privately owned holiday homes and glamping accommodation, has won a number of top awards for its environmental care.

Henry Wild is director of the Cumbria branch of the British Holiday and Home Parks Association to which some 100 Lake District park businesses belong.

He is also a former national chairman of the association, and is presently helping to lead representations to Government on behalf of the body’s 3,000 park members.

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