SUBTLE changes, including the installation of willow sculptures, are set to take place at Skipton Castle Woods after people were asked what they would like to see at the ancient woodland.

The Woodland Trust, which looks after the woodland in the shadow of Skipton Castle, put forward a number of proposals looking to introduce additions such as interactive benches and sculptures to help tell the story of the wood through the centuries,and to improve the ‘visitor experience’.

Activities such as organised pond dipping in the dam were also proposed to encourage a younger generation to visit and to learn more about the history of the town and its fascinating woodland, so close to the town centre.

Hazel Birdsall, the charity’s visitor experience officer for Skipton, said there had been a ‘tremendous response’ to the consultation days held at the town hall and also to an online survey, which finished in the middle of March.

“The community had some firm favourites while other ideas were not as popular as visitors thought they were not in keeping with the woodland,” she said. “We really appreciate the feedback given to us as the outcome will shape how we tell the story of the woodland in the future”

Ideas which will be taken forward include improvements to an existing bridge to create a viewing area over the ‘round dam’, the installation of two willow sculptures, and a proposal to create pond dipping sessions for schools and families.

A seasonal giant reading chair was a big hit with families as was a carved bird bench for those who want to sit by Eller Beck to watch wildlife.

Ideas that were less popular, and will not be taken forward, included a giant sculptural listen cone and interpretation directly on two bridge structures. Also, a ‘ soundscape’ proposed for the woodland is now to be offered as a download to offer visitors an improved listening experience.

The first new installations will be a ‘willow hunter’ and ‘stalking horse’, in recognition of the ancient woodland’s medieval history. It will be carried out by Ripon based willow workshop, Anna and the Willow and will be installed in the autumn, subject to first getting planning permission.

During the Medieval period, or Middle Ages, the wood was known as Old Park and would have influenced the original decision to build a castle close to the site, providing many of the necessities essential for survival during the castle’s early existence, including water, fuel, building materials, fishing and hunting.

More recently, during the 18th and 19th centuries, the wood provided timber, building stone and, most importantly, water to feed and power the town’s woollen, corn and sawmills. To find out more about the area, visit: