Down by Foxes Beck, a tangle of willow scrub emerges from the waterlogged banks. The inner bark, or more precisely, ‘the cambium layer’, is a fine material for bindings. Either raw, or retted (boiled in a hot ash-liquor), it’s tough, and ‘strips-down’ a little more consistently than bramble. If you pummel it (only a little, or you’ll end up with tissue paper!) you can make good quality cordage, and without the need for retting.
I’m hoping to find willow at Hickling Nature reserve for my next workshop at the end of the month. I’d better go down beforehand and take a look. And if I don’t find any? Well, I always carry a ball of string!