The Cherry Wood site has been handcrafted by the green-woodworker, Tim Gatfield [read his bio below] and his team of apprentices and volunteers since 2005. They ran courses teaching thousands of folk over the years and were rated in 2018 in the “10 of the Best Creative Retreats in UK and Europe.”
From 2020, Tim Bowles [bio also below] we will be running various courses, retreats and other events with a wide range of activities available for our guests that are consistent with our vision and values.
tim bowles - campwell founder
After 5 generations on the family farm, Tim broke with family tradition and moved to London and then Hong Kong for more exciting and rewarding work in advertising and then wine sales.
However, as he experienced the world outside becoming more and more connected, it seemed to become increasingly disconnected, lonely and stressful.
So, he headed back home in search of a better life.
In rebuilding a new life on the family farm; reconnection with nature and simple living became the basis for his recovery and new enterprise, The Farm Camp in 2013. This off-grid eco camp was created to inspire people to live more real, balanced and simpler lives. Adventures away from screens, reconnecting with others, themselves and our natural environment. He believes our future health and the health of our planet is all about this re-connection.
Since growing a strong bond with Tim Gatfield and Cherry Wood since 2013, the opportunity arose to take it on and rebrand as ‘Campwell’ in 2020 with a similar ethos and even wilder vibes to The Farm Camp.
With the arrival of his daughter ‘Minnie’ in 2019, the future looks wild all round.
tim gatfield - cherry wood founder
Tim Gatfield first became involved with green woodwork in 2000, having
worked as a cabinet maker for 12 years. With a longtime interest in
conservation, rural and craft skills, and a more sustainable way of
life, Tim fulfilled his dream of owning his own woodland when he
purchased Cherry Wood in 2005 with the intention of managing the wood
and setting up a school to teach green woodworking skills to others,
and pass on the pleasure of living and working in the woods. A
previous career in the army had given him valuable knowledge of
bushcraft and living outdoors, which he could pass on to his students.
Over the past 12 years the Cherry Wood project has run some 350+
courses with nearly 3000 students and many hundreds of school
children’s activity days. Many, many volunteers have helped to restore
the wood back to a coppice rotation and build the sustainable
structures using materials from the wood. The adjective most used by
visitors and participants alike is ‘inspirational’ and indeed many
have found their time at Cherry Wood to be life-changing.
Tim will now split his time between Cherry Wood and Devon.
lisa barsley - camp superviser
Lisa grew up in South Devon, spending much of her childhood exploring its magnificent woodlands, beaches, and moorlands. After leaving to study International Development at university in Norwich, then spending a fun but quite wearing few years living in the metropolis of London, Lisa is now desperate to get back to nature and enjoy a more grounded way of life.
Having focused her degree on natural resource management and working for the last five years for an international non-profit that aims to reduce the textile industry’s negative impact on people and planet, Lisa has always had a passion for protecting what nature has graciously provided us.
Being a keen camper herself who has long dreamt, together with husband Will [see Will’ Barsley’s bio], of one day setting up a small site of their own in South Devon, Lisa instantly fell in love with Cherry Wood when first visiting back in June 2019. When the opportunity arose to get involved in supporting the development and running of Campwell at Cherry Wood, the decision to leave the city for the woods was easy. Lisa cannot wait to get stuck in and learn first-hand the ins and outs of running an off-grid woodland site.
will barsley - camp superviser & woodworker
Will is no stranger to making big life changes, having left his 9-5 office job at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization in 2012 to follow his dream of becoming a professional woodcarver. After an inspiring journey across Asia documenting different woodcarving techniques, Will enrolled on a three-year course in traditional woodcarving at the City and Guilds of London Art school, moving to the big smoke with his wife Lisa [see Lisa Barsley’s bio].
Four years later, Will now runs a successful carving business (www.williambarsley.com) and has just completed a year-long project working at the Palace of Westminster helping to restore the stunning medieval roof of Westminster Hall.
However, his intention was never to stay in the city. Having grown up in the beautiful Kent countryside and being passionate about the environment, Will has been looking for an excuse to get back to a more natural and low-impact lifestyle. When the chance to work and live at Campwell came up, Will and Lisa jumped at the opportunity!
Alongside his ongoing carving business, Will cannot wait to contribute to the special woodworking heritage of Cherry Wood, built up by Tim Gatfield over the last 14 years, by running woodcarving courses of his own. Will’s courses will offer good fun, good food, and the sense of fulfilment that only comes with making beautiful things with your own hands.