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#HighlandHumans – Meet Wooden Tom from the Cairngorms

Posted on Jun 27, 2016 by Rupert Shanks

“It was a pretty rough area where I grew up. Not much there for kids whatsoever. My alternative to knocking about the streets and getting into trouble was the countryside. If I hadn’t had that, I don’t know where I’d be now”.

We plan to share an insight into the vibrant communities of people that live in the Highlands and Islands. Meet Wooden Tom who works as a woodcarver in the Cairngorms National Park. #highlandhumans

“I studied ecology at university. After that I worked with the forestry commission in Aviemore. I got to walk around looking at trees all day! Off the beaten track, I got to see some beautiful parts of Scotland. So I’m thankful for that. I fell in love with the area, the Cairngorms National Park and felt I needed to stay here. I decided to create my own work, something which had been a hobby, woodcarving. I had always done it for presents, gifts for people when I was poor. When you don’t have much money, but you still want to give people you love something from the heart. The only way I thought I could do that was using some skills my grandad taught me back in Newcastle when I was young. I used to go into the woods in the area where I grew up. I would find some gnarly bits of wood and make something out of it. That was part of my childhood.

I think what makes me stay up here is not so much the beautiful surroundings, the mountains and the forests. It’s the people who live up here in the Cairngorms. Because they trust you from the start. A lot of places I’ve lived before it’s quite the opposite. People don’t trust you until you prove them otherwise. Here, people make such an effort to get to know you. That makes you feel so welcomed. It’s a lovely place to live.

The kids I knew growing up, they’re now a lot wealthier than me, I can tell you that! They probably have much bigger homes, take really nice holidays. Yes very different! But it doesn’t bother me. I love it here. It’s a very relaxed pace of life. It’s a bit slowed down, working in the woods. In the highlands in general I think everyone takes a different pace of life. I think it’s so healthy for people. Just to slow down a bit and enjoy what they’ve got. I love that about this area and the people that live here. I haven’t got much spare cash for a flash car but I can say that I enjoy every day.

highland humans

When you work with wood you have to take things a bit slower.

The sort of woodwork I do is green woodworking. Its a traditional process. It takes fresh wood from a tree when there is still sap. You’re using handtools mainly such as the axe and the knife. A lot of these techniques are Scandinavian. They’re very much in use in Scandinavia but not so much here. I’m not sure why, as we have the same resources. Lots of birch which is a wonderful wood to carve. You’re working closely with the wood. You’re not forcing it to do too much it doesn’t want to. Because I work with handtools you haven’t got all this noise like you do with powertools. It sort of goes hand in hand with living up here and that slow, take-it-as-it-comes way of life. It’s not fast paced, it’s not something that needs to happen right now. It just happens in its own time.

A lot of people who have been to my workshops say that it was the most relaxing thing they’ve done in years. It’s such a lovely thing to say but its also in a way a bit sad. It seems quite common now for modern day living that it’s stressful for a lot of people. I think coming out to the woods and just focussing on what is in front of you, using a natural material and your hands, making something. It gives people space just to let go of the normal things that worry them in everyday life. They come away with a nice relaxed peaceful feeling.”

Fancy Exploring the Beautiful Cairngorms on an Unforgettable Adventure Holiday?

We have all types of adventures for a variety of different skill levels from easy walking to thrilling canoeing journeys – just take a look below to see what type of adventure tours we run in the stunning Cairngorms!

Trip Date Name Price Availability Book
22nd Sep - 28th Sep 2018 Wilderness Walking - Cairngorms National Park & Royal Deeside £1,3951 place(s) leftBook Now
3rd Oct - 7th Oct 2018 Wilderness Walking - Autumn Highlands £1,1501 place(s) leftBook Now
6th Oct - 12th Oct 2018 Wilderness Walking - Cairngorms National Park & Royal Deeside £1,3955 place(s) leftBook Now
10th Oct - 14th Oct 2018 Wilderness Walking - Autumn Highlands £1,1505 place(s) leftBook Now
17th Oct - 21st Oct 2018 Wilderness Walking - Autumn Highlands £1,1505 place(s) leftBook Now
3rd May - 6th May 2019 Open Canoeing - River Spey Descent £6756 place(s) leftBook Now
11th May - 17th May 2019 Wilderness Walking - Cairngorms National Park & Royal Deeside £1,3956 place(s) leftBook Now
18th May - 24th May 2019 Road Cycling - Casks and Castles £1,8958 place(s) leftBook Now
1st Jun - 6th Jun 2019 Open Canoeing - Canoeing the Scottish Highlands £1,2958 place(s) leftBook Now
8th Jun - 14th Jun 2019 Wilderness Walking - Cairngorms National Park & Royal Deeside £1,3958 place(s) leftBook Now
22nd Jun - 28th Jun 2019 Wilderness Walking - High Points of the Cairngorms National Park £1,4955 place(s) leftBook Now
28th Jun - 1st Jul 2019 Open Canoeing - River Spey Descent £6758 place(s) leftBook Now
12th Jul - 15th Jul 2019 Open Canoeing - River Spey Descent £6758 place(s) leftBook Now
13th Jul - 18th Jul 2019 Open Canoeing - Canoeing the Scottish Highlands £1,2958 place(s) leftBook Now
13th Jul - 19th Jul 2019 Wilderness Walking - High Points of the Cairngorms National Park £1,4957 place(s) leftBook Now
20th Jul - 26th Jul 2019 Wilderness Walking - Cairngorms National Park & Royal Deeside £1,3958 place(s) leftBook Now
27th Jul - 2nd Aug 2019 Road Cycling - Casks and Castles £1,8958 place(s) leftBook Now
9th Aug - 12th Aug 2019 Open Canoeing - River Spey Descent £6758 place(s) leftBook Now
24th Aug - 30th Aug 2019 Wilderness Walking - High Points of the Cairngorms National Park £1,4958 place(s) leftBook Now
24th Aug - 30th Aug 2019 Wilderness Walking - Cairngorms National Park & Royal Deeside £1,3958 place(s) leftBook Now
7th Sep - 12th Sep 2019 Open Canoeing - Canoeing the Scottish Highlands £1,2958 place(s) leftBook Now
14th Sep - 20th Sep 2019 Wilderness Walking - High Points of the Cairngorms National Park £1,4958 place(s) leftBook Now
21st Sep - 27th Sep 2019 Wilderness Walking - Cairngorms National Park & Royal Deeside £1,3958 place(s) leftBook Now
2nd Oct - 6th Oct 2019 Wilderness Walking - Autumn Highlands £1,1508 place(s) leftBook Now
5th Oct - 11th Oct 2019 Wilderness Walking - Cairngorms National Park & Royal Deeside £1,3958 place(s) leftBook Now
9th Oct - 13th Oct 2019 Wilderness Walking - Autumn Highlands £1,1506 place(s) leftBook Now
16th Oct - 20th Oct 2019 Wilderness Walking - Autumn Highlands £1,1508 place(s) leftBook Now
23rd Oct - 27th Oct 2019 Wilderness Walking - Autumn Highlands £1,1508 place(s) leftBook Now

 

highland humans

Can you think of any interesting characters from the Highlands and Islands who should be featured in #highlandhumans?

Suggest them on our social media channels or email us at info@wildernessscotland.com.

About the author

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Rupert Shanks

After a spell in the corporate world in London Rupert decided to find a more rewarding way of life involving a closer connection to the outdoors and to his camera! Rupert produces a lot of the photography and video for Wilderness Scotland and works within the Marketing team.

Read more articles by Rupert


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