Some people will know that I am fond of wood – growing it, cutting it, turning it, storing it, smelling it and burning it. I have a barn at home, but a slightly bigger project is on the horizon. Our new Saltcote is to be clad in 500 square metres of Welsh wood, and I felt it was time to visit the more serious sized barn where it is to come from.
We couldn’t quite get up the track in our old car so we were collected and driven up a small road until we could see no evidence of mankind, just trees, and then round the corner and high in the beautiful hills of mid Wales we found this little beauty, probably the biggest barn in Wales made of wood, housing an amazing timber operation. Peter, the owner, was away so Michael showed us round and we saw the cladding that we will be using in a few months time, fresh from the forest….
Most people will have had a few trees down in the recent wild gales but probably not 4000 tonnes of tree! The whole year’s felling, and a lot more that shouldn’t have been cut, has already been done by the wind in a couple of days, leaving the timber dangerous and awkward to extract. You feel for them with their tough life in the hills – it’s not all Monty Python Lumberjack songs out here (I know that dates me).
Anyway, back to ‘our’ wood. This will now go from inside the Mid Wales barn to a special kiln on Anglesey where it will be heat treated to change the sugars into something better so it won’t rot in the wet Anglesey winters, but will instead keep us warm- sustainably and beautifully. It ticks the boxes of our planning conditions as we are located in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty on Anglesey and we need to fit in to the landscape (unlike some buildings on the Menai Strait). Our building will be largely hidden by its earth mounds, but when you do see it, it will feature this real Welsh wood on the outside.
If this is what sustainability means- then bring it on. Jobs in Mid Wales for Peter and his team growing, cutting and moving it, jobs on Anglesey for Phil and his team drying it, jobs for Anwyl’s builders who will be erecting the building, jobs for Halen Môn staff making sea salt, jobs for new Halen Môn staff to show people round and a warm building for customers to use when they visit us next year when it opens to the public at Easter.