About the Course
Jane Wilkinson from Special Branch Baskets has teamed up with Alyth Craft Tourism to provide a unique crafting experience.
On our 3 day coracle making course you will be able to learn an ancient craft whilst still having the opportunity to enjoy the natural peace and the splendid scenery that the local landscape has to offer. Alyth is nestled at the foothills of the Cairngorm Plateau at the start of the Perthshire & Angus Glens. It is also surrounded by Perthshire Big Tree Country.
Places are available on a non-residential and residential basis, the latter being with award winning partners Kirklandbank Farm and Vanora’s Cottages.
What is a Coracle?
Coracles or currachs as they are known in Scotland are one of the earliest recorded boats along with dug out canoes. The first records of coracles date back to the early Bronze Age over 4,000 years ago. The Romans even commented on their use at the time of the Roman Invasion. They are a 'skin-on-frame' construction, the frame usually being made of woven sticks or split laths and the skin being a cow or bull hide which has then been stretched across the frame.
The coracles of Scotland tended to be oval or round in shape depending upon what they were made of and the type of river they were being paddled in. If paddled in a shallow river or stream they were flat bottomed and not very deep. If paddled in tidal waters they were deeper with more rounded bottoms.
They made effective fishing boats as they can be manoeuvred very quietly through the water. In Scotland when used for fishing, two boats would be paddled with a net drawn between the boats. The paddlers would each hold a net in one hand and paddle very skillfully with just the other hand. On the River Tay the coracle was also used for catching river mussels in order to extract fresh water pearls from them. On the River Spey a coracle man would attach a rope loosely to his leg and the other end would be tied to a raft of timber. This raft of timber would then be guided by him from say Aviemore down to Spey Bay for sale further south in the country. The coracle man would then return to Aviemore carrying the Coracle on his back. They are incredibly light boats!
What's in store?
You will make a willow framework with seat; you will learn how to lash the frame and then cover the coracle with heavy-duty cotton and we will discuss options for waterproofing. You will have a complete coracle and tin of bitumen paint to take away with you! To make an authentic coracle frame no power tools, glue or staple guns will be used. You will work with the natural materials, (no machined wooden laths) purely by hand gaining an understanding of the properties of the willow over the three days of the course. It is a physically demanding project and takes place outdoors, but it is great fun and people achieve a huge amount of satisfaction on completing their boat and launching it for the first time. There is also the option to have a go at paddling a coracle on Loch Clunie, close by, on the morning of the last day.
Jane Wilkinson has been making coracles, fences and artisan willow baskets for 25 years. She has a wealth of teaching experience spanning 20 years and is only one of a handful of people in Scotland who teach coracle making.
Jane got into making coracles through making a lot of creels, or traditional Scottish back baskets used for carrying peat or fish. “They are made in a similar manner to coracles. The main framework consists of a number of large stakes which are pushed into the ground. You then weave around these stakes to form the structure of both coracles and creels. So essentially you are making the boat upside down starting from the gunwale."
If booking with a CraftCourses voucher for part or all of the course fee, please fill in the contact form above. Your voucher code must be provided at the point of booking.
What's included in the price?
Non-residential cost is £330.00. Residential cost for one person is £495.00. Residential cost for two people is £690. A £10.00 membership fee is payable on top of the course fee so that we can advertise through the coracle association newsletter.
Costs include welcome supper, midmorning, lunch & tea time catering on course days & all materials.
You can drink as much tea and coffee as you like on a self-service basis.
Tools will be provided but you are welcome to bring your own as well.
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