Timber festival is the place to head to this summer to meet and hear from inspirational minds in the fields of literature, science, philosophy and education who are currently contemplating what woodlands, trees and nature can mean to us today.
In Wilderness Tracks, BBC Radio 4’s Geoff Bird will be joined by best-selling author of The Lost Words Robert Macfarlane, multi-instrumentalist Erland Cooper and BBC Radio 6 Music and Radio 3 presenter Elizabeth Alker for lively conversation and eclectic musical choices as they reveal the six nature-related songs that have made it onto the wilderness soundtrack of their lives.
Those inspired by Macfarlane’s quest to collect and preserve natural words should not miss the chance to catch the premiere of the outdoor theatre adaptation of Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris’s bestselling book The Lost Words: Seek, Find, Speak at the festival too.
Broadcaster, writer and president of The Ramblers Stuart Maconie, meanwhile, will deliver Timber’s inaugural keynote session. Having walked the woods and byways of this country for decades, Stuart will muse on the changing nature of the landscape in a post-industrial Britain, the great pull of the natural world and how rambling ever became cool.
Hear from Chris Watson, the world renowned recorder of wildlife and natural phenomena. In an interview with Elizabeth Alker, he will be revealing how he brings the joys of the natural world to life in the TV, radio and film programmes we know and love.
BBC Presenter Lindsey Chapman (Springwatch Unsprung) will be chairing Happily Ever After. Together with panellists including authors Sara Maitland (Gossip From The Forest), poet Karen McCarthy Woolf (Seasonal Disturbances, An Aviary of Small Birds) and storyteller Ian Douglas, expect rich discussion about how forests have provided some of the most evocative backdrops in literature, art and film. From Gawain to Grimm, Shakespeare’s Arden to Boorman’s Deliverance and beyond.
Karen McCarthy Woolf will be performing brand new piece The Music of Trees, specially commissioned for the festival and Jonathan Drori will be reading from his first book, Around the World in 80 Trees, sharing fascinating stories of his encounters with majestic trees from all over the globe.
Twitchers can rejoice by putting the new Collins Bird Guide app to the test in a walk with eminent nature publisher Myles Archibald. Take part in a discussion on birdlife with a panel of ardent bird lovers including the RSPB’s Jaqueline Wier, poet Paul Farley, guitarist and BBC Radio 3 presenter Tom McKinney and birdwatcher and author Tim Dee.
There’s also the chance to take a walk in the forest with award-winning poet and BBC Radio 4 presenter Paul Farley as he explores how philosophers and thinkers revolutionised our relationship with woodlands and can help us to “live deliberately” today.
If this isn’t quite enough food for thought, there are daily sessions on environmental stories of the moment chaired by The Ecologist and My Green Pod, a discussion on From Field To Fork chaired by Pebble magazine, Living With Trees, curated by radical arts and environmental charity Common Ground and the role on money-making on sustaining Britain’s Woodlands with Making Local Woods Work. Not to mention the chance to have further discussions every evening in Charcoal Sessions with leading thinkers including Tony Greenham, Alun Watkins and Melissa Sterry.
Contemplate all you have discovered while relaxing in tents suspended between the trees, on a dawn run or in the eco spa. Phew.