The largest working forest in England is inviting visitors to have the rare opportunity to get close with some of its monster machines this summer.
The award winning Kielder Water & Forest Park in Northumberland is home to one of Europe’s largest woodlands, covering a massive 62,000 hectares (155,000 acres).
The Forestry Commission is staging Working Forest tours in the Northumberland wilderness every Tuesday from August 6 to August 27, offering a grandstand view of a giant, hi-tech timber harvester in action.
Using a mechanical claw linked to an on-board computer, harvesters can cut trees to customer requirements and strip branches twice as quick.
But there’s a lot more to forestry than just felling trees, visitors will also learn how timber production is being balanced with recreation and conservation.
Kielder Forest produces over 440,000 metric tonnes of timber annually, making it the UK’s most productive woodland. To replace those felled, 2.5 million trees are hand planted each year.
Meanwhile, the forest harbours nine Sites of Special Scientific Interest and is a haven for red squirrels, wild goats and bird of prey such as ospreys.
Malte Iden, Recreation Ranger at Forestry Commission, said: "This is a really special opportunity to get out and into our beautiful forest and more and more people want to find out about the forest and why it’s there.
"Seeing the machines at work can be really spectacular and makes this a great family day out – children (and parents) really love watching these monsters cut their way through the forest!"
Last year’s tours proved a big hit with the public so booking is essential on 01434 220 242. The tour starts at 2pm, meeting at Kielder Castle Visitor Centre.
A mini-bus will be used to ferry people to harvesting sites and the cost is £10 per person. Sturdy footwear is required and please note that dogs are not permitted.