New Site Just Launched!

We are pleased to announce the launch of our new site with some new walking stick additions…come and take a look!

https://www.walkingsticksonline.co.uk

We have added lots of new sticks, including some amazing handmade ones and a nice new way of purchasing your favorite walking stick.

The sticks have also been grouped into some useful categories and pages so hopefully you can find what you are looking for with ease. For example, you can now shop by height (height adjustable, short, standard, tall, etc), you can shop by material (all wooden, metal with a wood handle etc), handle type, use and general product.

Handle type groups sticks together with the same handle, i.e Derby, crook and so on. Use (such as daily use or occasional dress use) and general product groups the sticks into their main categories, such as country sticks, handmade, fancy or accessories). we think this will make things easier to find the perfect stick for you or if its for a gift.

Please tell us if you spot anything you think needs to be changed!

 

The Heritage of Blackthorn Walking Sticks

Our Blackthorn walking sticks are quite a rarity and have a very handsome looking finish. Straight blackthorn stems have traditionally been made into walking sticks or clubs (known in Ireland as a shillelagh). In the British Army, blackthorn sticks are carried by commissioned officers of the Royal Irish Regiment; the tradition also occurs in Irish regiments in some Commonwealth countries.

Our range of handmade blackthorn walking sticks is updated regularly so be sure to bookmark us!

Blackthorn walking sticks are among the most sought after of all traditional walking sticks: for their appearance, heritage and scarcity. The blackthorn, or Prunus Spinosa, is a shrubby bush with vicious thorns and a suckering habit, so that it forms dense hedges through which livestock cannot escape. It grows particularly well in Ireland and England, where blackthorn sticks cut from hedges have been popular for many centuries.

A close relative of the blackthorn stick is the blackthorn shillelagh, which is about 16 inches long and generally has a large, heavier head than a walking stick. By popular tradition, Irish giants carry shillelaghs. Every Irish pub is said to have one of these behind the bar, to help keep order if required.

The bark of the blackthorn walking stick can be any colour from reddish-brown through to almost black. The spines, which can cause extremely sore poisoning if the stick cutter impales his hand on them, are cut back and sanded to produce a distinctive stick. A particular characteristic of blackthorn is that the arrangement of the thorns forms a spiral shape around the shaft of the stick. On the very best blackthorn sticks, it is possible to see that the thorns are arranged in little groups of three.

The heritage of blackthorn walking sticks

In Ireland, the blackthorn walking stick has a long history of use as a fighting stick. Thus, there is a certain amount of prestige and prowess associated with carrying a blackthorn stick. there are also many mentions of blackthorn in Irish mythology, not least that the ‘little people’ live in blackthorn bushes. They can take exception to their homes being cut down to make walking sticks. To avoid bad luck, the stick cutter should wait until a branch of the blackthorn has tapped him on the shoulder to give permission before the first cut is made. The hero of the 19th century Irish song, ‘The Rocky Road to Dublin’, cuts “A stout blackthorn to banish ghosts and goblins”, which seems a good reason to carry a blackthorn walking stick! It is also believed that St Patrick took shelter from the inclement Irish climate under a blackthorn bush, which promptly flowered to help protect the saint. This is said to be the reason the blackthorn produces flowers before leaves each spring.

In England, blackthorn has long been thought to have magical properties and, according to West Country folklore, our local witches used blackthorn sticks to aid them in their mischief making. The belief that blackthorn walking sticks were connected with witches persisted here until the time of the Second World War. They now have a more positive image; indeed, some British Army regiments carry blackthorn walking sticks on ceremonial occasions.

In Scotland, winter traditionally begins when the Cailleach (the winter goddess) strikes her blackthorn shaft on the ground. In the 17th century, the good people of Edinburgh burnt Major Thomas Weir as a witch, in part because they did not approve of his blackthorn staff, which his sister said had been given to him by the Devil. The staff is now said to roam the streets around the West Bow looking for its master. The Scots are not thought to have burnt any men as witches since, so owning a blackthorn staff is thankfully somewhat safer for the modern man!

Growing and manufacturing blackthorn walking sticks

Blackthorn is natable in the hedgerow for the clouds of creamy white flowers it produces each spring. Later in the year, it produces its small black fruits, the ‘sloes’, which can be picked after the first frost of the year to make into warming sloe gin. Finally, in winter, its shoots can be harvested as raw material for walking sticks. This is a skilled job that requires the stick cutter to have an appreciation of how each individual piece of raw material will later be made into a walking stick. There are many subtleties to cutting high quality sticks; it is not simply a matter of ‘getting one out of the hedge’. Many hedges are now cut with flail mowers, so it is increasingly difficult to find suitable raw material for blackthorn walking sticks. Stout, thorn-proof gloves are essential too. if a stick cutter hears the well-known biblical quotation: “There was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan, to buffet me.” (Paul of Tarsus, Corinthians Chapter 12, Verse 7), he naturally thinks of blackthorn spines.

One of our suppliers in Somerset, cut their blackthorn from December through to March, taking every precaution to avoid the messengers of Satan. The raw material is then graded and stored in the drying room for a minimum of one year. No heat is used as this would make the sticks dry too quickly and become brittle. Instead a dehumidifier removes water from the air as it evaporates from the sticks. When the raw material is sufficiently dry, it will progress through our workshop where it will be made into blackthorn walking sticks. The most common styles of blackthorn walking sticks are:

Blackthorn Knobstick

The stick has be grown upside down, usually in a hedgerow or on a coppices blackthorn shrub. There is a great art to shaping the handle so that it is comfortable to the hand. The handle part is prone to splitting, so it is common to see small splits that have been filled with wood filler. This is unavoidable sometimes and doesn’t warrant loosing an otherwise perfect stick and we believe it adds some character. The handle and shaft are varnished and a hardwearing metal ferrule added to the tip.

Blackthorn Derby

There are two variants of the blackthorn with derby handle: the country derby and the reduced and polished derby. The country version has its bark on and has a pleasing rustic appearance. The reduced and polished version has had its bark removed, an elegant taper applied to the shaft, and a high quality polish and varnish to bring out the beauty of its colouring. he contorted grain and thorn pattern of the blackthorn wood results in a very unusual and eye-catching stick. The derby handle itself will be made from another type of wood, often beech or maple.

Blackthorn Thumbstick

A blackthorn thumbstick or more than 120 cm (or four feet) in height is a special stick because blackthorn is a shrubby bush and it is difficult to find straight sections of blackthorn as long as this. A natural ‘V’ in the wood makes it comfortable to old the stick with either the user’s thumb or forearm resting in the ‘V’.

Blackthorn Antler and Ram’s Horn Sticks

The beauty of blackthorn makes it an obvious choice on which to mount beautiful stag antler and ramshorn handles, producing a fantastic contrast in colours. It is a skilled craft to prepare and dress the horn and to ensure the wood meets in a neat and smooth join. Top quality blackthorn horn sticks command high prices and demand always exceeds supply.

Cromack or Cromach Walking Sticks

A cromach or cromack is a Scot’s word meaning a staff, stave or walking stick. We have a large range of walking sticks available to purchase online. Please use the menu on the left to navigate through the different categories.

We hope you find what you are looking for!

Here is an example of the word cromack used in this famous Scottish traditional song…

“The Road to the Isles”

A far croonin’ is pullin’ me away

As take I wi’ my cromack to the road.

The far Coolins are puttin’ love on me

As step I wi’ the sunlight for my load.

Chorus

Sure by Tummel and Loch Rannoch and Lochaber I will go

By heather tracks wi’ heaven in their wiles.

If it’s thinkin’ in your inner heart the braggart’s in my step

You’ve never smelled the tangle o’ the Isles.

Oh the far Coolins are puttin’ love on me

As step I wi’ my cromack to the Isles.

It’s by Shiel water the track is to the west

By Aillort* and by Morar to the sea

The cool cresses I am thinkin’ of for pluck

And bracken for a wink on Mother knee.

The blue islands are pullin’ me away

Their laughter puts the leap upon the lame

The blue islands from the Skerries to the Lewis

Wi’ heather honey taste upon each name.

The Times Britain’s Best Walks is now available in paperback at just £16.99

From Cornwall to Shetland via Pembrokeshire and Barrowdale, this is the most comprehensive collection of walks in the United Kingdom available in one book, and features trails to suit all skill levels and references, whether you want a gentle ramble to the pub or something much more challenging. Author Christopher Somerville has covered the length and breadth of the UK on foot, and has written and broadcast about its history, landscape, wildlife and people for over 25 years.

More than just a basic guidebook, this is a meditation on our relationship with the landscape and a celebration of all that Britain has to offer. From Cornwall to Shetland via Pembrokeshire and Borrowdale, this is the most comprehensive collection of walks in the United Kingdom available in one book, and features trails to suit all skill levels and preferences, whether you want a gentle ramble to the pub or something much more challenging.

Each of the featured walks contains:

 Detailed description as featured in The Times column  Postcode and OS grid reference start point  Instructions on how to get there  Distance and grade so readers can suit walks to their ability, fitness and mood  Simple step-by-step walk instructions  Beautiful colour photograph for each walk  Full colour, clear and up-to-date map  Food and accommodation details for the hungry traveller

About the author:

Christopher Somerville is a Times journalist with over 25 years’ experience writing and broadcasting about country walks and tougher hikes. He has also written extensively about life in remote rural and island communities from Scotland to Crete, by way of the Faroes, made music in Irish pubs and frequented festivals both locally and internationally. He is the author of Somerville’s 100 Best British Walks, Where to See Wildlife in Britain and Ireland, Best Wild Places and The January Man.

Good Walking Stick to Buy for Christmas

We have sold quite a few of these of late! Our handmade antler thumbstick with an engraved collar. This is a good walking stick to buy for Christmas as it can be personalised.

Engraved Collar Antler Thumbstick
Engraved Collar Antler Thumbstick

Please order the engraving on the same page and we will have it made for you. Please allow 1 week to 10 days for delivery. The collar will fit a name and a date or something a little longer if we reduce the size of the text. Please email us if you have any questions about these sticks.

www.walkingsticksonline.co.uk/

New Sticks On The Website for Winter 2017

We have added lots of new and interesting handmade walking sticks to the site this week. Our handmade antler thumbstick with engraved collar is one of the best-selling sticks at this time of year, but we thought we should add some more handmade ones to the selection for those looking for something a little different.

We have added some one-piece thumbsticks, made from blackthorn, elm and apple wood, all three unusual woods with rich coloured bark. These sticks are truly natural wonders, plucked from the woods and then cut, dried and finished into perfect sticks for country walks.

Elm Thumbsticks
New Thumbsticks

Also new, beautifully carved and polished oxhorn handled sticks. The hand grip has been carved into the oxhorn handle and the entire sticks varnished and polished to perfection. The one pictured below has a fishing fly in-laid into the top with resin. Beautifully finished, these sticks will make lovely gifts.

Hand Carved Polished Oxhorn Walking Sticks
Hand Carved Polished Oxhorn Walking Sticks

Then there’s the three pointer antler topper sticks on English chestnut or hazel shafts. These sticks are full of character and you will get lots of admiring comments about them. The antler is cut from naturally shed red stag antlers from the Scottish Highlands and the hazel and chestnut shanks are from a local coppicer in Cambridgeshire.

3 Point Antler Topped Sticks
3 Point Antler Topped Sticks

Also there’s elm, ash and blackthorn knobsticks up for grabs. These sticks are very strong and reliable as they are made from just a single piece of wood. The bark has been kept on the shafts, while the handles are carved, sanded and polished to reveal the wood beneath. Elm bark has rich red and orange colours, ash is green and grey and blackthorn is a dark red/brown/purple. All very striking to look at.

Knob Handled Sticks
Knob Sticks

Last but not least, we have some apple wood cross head sticks now in. These are one-piece sticks again and will last you forever! Apple wood looks a lot like blackthorn, but the wood is round in cross section rather than oval as blackthorn and the other thorns are.

Applewood Cross Head Sticks
Applewood Cross Head Sticks

Drop Me Not Wall Mounted Cane Holder in Grey

An excellent device for anyone who has struggled to find somewhere to rest their walking stick, crutches or umbrella.

The Dropmenot attaches securely to the wall and can be used around the home wherever one is needed.

Each package contains one Dropmenot holder, two hexagonal bolts, three wood screws and an Allen key.

The Dropmenot is made from durable dark grey plastic with pale grey ‘fingers’, to discreetly harmonise with interior decorative schemes. Dimensions: 125mm wide x 70mm deep x 35mm high. Item weight: 125g.

The Drop-Me-Not was originally used in hospital bathrooms for hygiene reasons but demand from the public has been growing for some time. They are useful in bathrooms, kitchens, by the bed, shop counters . . . . . the list is endless.

One customer said, “I was on crutches for a while last year and I really appreciated the peace of mind knowing that my crutches or sticks weren’t going to slide along a wall and fall to the floor!”

Buy a Drop-Me-Not wall-mounted walking stick holder for £14.50 plus postage here:

https://www.walkingsticksonline.co.uk/

The Dropmenot wall mounted cane holder
Dropmenot wall mounted cane holder

A Different Kind of Switch Stick

The ‘Switch the Stick’ campaign is all about swapping the little plastic sticks in cotton buds with paper alternatives. So what’s the problem? Well, it’s all that plastic that ends up in the sea and ingested by the creatures that live in it. ‘Switch the Stick’ will prevent over 320 tons of single-use plastic being produced annually. Plastic that wouldn’t have been recycled and could have been flushed into our rivers and seas. That’s a huge pile of plastic pollution prevention!

The new paper and cotton cotton buds are already on the supermarket shelves, so please buy these from now on!

Check out the video below for more info:

 

New Switch Sticks Folding Walking Sticks Now In

We are pleased to announce the addition of eight new folding walking sticks by Switch Sticks to the website. Switch Sticks sticks have always been great sellers (especially for Christmas gifts) because of their beautiful designs and lovely quality.

Just like the others sticks in the range, these new ones are height adjustable from 81 to 91cm (32 to 36 inches), robust wooden handles, wrist cords, holding clip and ferrule, all in one tidy box and all matching. Also, like the others, the maximum user weight limit is 120 kg (18 stone 12 lbs),

Here are the new designs below. Please click on any of the images to take buy any of them, view more images or find out more:

Azure Blue Switch Sticks Folding Walking Stick
Azure Blue Switch Sticks Folding Walking Stick
Switch Sticks Graphite Folding Walking Stick
Switch Sticks Graphite Folding Walking Stick
Rose Gold Switch Sticks Folding Stick
Rose Gold Switch Sticks Folding Stick
Purple Switch Sticks Folding Walking Stick
Purple Switch Sticks Folding Walking Stick
Red Switch Sticks Folding Walking Stick
Red Switch Sticks Folding Walking Stick
Blue Striped Switch Sticks Folding Stick
Blue Striped Switch Sticks Folding Stick
Smiles Switch Sticks Folding Stick
Smiles Switch Sticks Folding Stick

 

Surrey Walking Stick Factories and Chiddingfold Bonfire Night

Looking through the archives, I found some very interesting pieces about walking stick makers in Surrey.

Lintott and Co (1876-1968) were walking stick makers in Witley, Surrey. Mr. Leonard Lintott of Downland, Petworth, originally a wood-cutter, founded his walking-stick business in 1858. He began by sending cut chestnut and ash to other manufacturers and later made walking-sticks himself, and, with the help of his sons James (Jas), Henry, Thomas and Geoffrey, the business and subsequent partnership thrived.

The Lintotts bought the cutting rights of local woods and had their own plantations, the wood from which was made not only into walking sticks, but also shepherds’ crooks, scout poles, umbrella handles, hockey sticks and army officers’ sticks.

The business lasted approximately one hundred years.

The Lintotts Walking Stick factory was based in Chiddingfold in Surrey and produced thousands of sticks which were exported all over the world. The range of tools and equipment was fairly small but totally unique.

Today, Chiddingfold is probably best known for its famous bonfire night event, which began as the mere burning of brittle remains from the walking stick factory! Nowadays, the event attracts up to 10,000 people who come from miles around to see the firework display and torch lit procession. A huge pyramid is built on the village green and local people bring  various bits of wood, trees and old furniture to gradually fill it up. Last time I saw it, there were some very nice pieces of furniture and sofas in there!

Coppice wood was also used directly in rural industries
such as the manufacture of hurdles, hop poles
and brooms and it was shaped by steaming to make
hoops for barrels and walking sticks.

Coopers and Sons Ltd were also based in Chiddingfold from 1991 to 2003.

A walking stick factory at Wormley, which also made
shepherds crooks for export to Australia, moved into
the manufacture of modern walking aids in the twentieth century.

Watch the British Pathé video below all about stick making.