A Day out in the Woods
We paid the £5 for an activity passport my daughter (8). All of the activities were then free (bar 2 which were well sign posted) and she could participate as many times as she wished.
The day began at 11am and continued until 3.30pm. We got there as soon as it started and expected to leave by 1pm especially as the weather was extremely changeable. (And the rugby was on!) Fortunately we were well prepared however as we ended up staying until the very end. (I managed to catch most of the second half!)
So much to do
We started off having a look at the National Trust area. It was really well thought out with loads of activities for all ages. The volunteers and people manning the stalls were very knowledgeable and engaging with the children.
Archeology and tree trails
There were also two trails to participate in. The first was over a small piece of the woodland. My daughter loved finding the pictures and letter clues to work out the word on the information sheet.
The archeology trail was a little more taxing but still only took twenty minutes or so to complete. Using a simple map we headed to the gateposts to start. We were fortunate enough to have one of the guides accompany us which was really useful. He had a great nature with kids and was very knowledgeable about the area.
We headed into a field that we had never been through before. Standing tall and proud was a huge stone. The stone from the 1700’s was a sign post along the pack horse trails cris-crossing the countryside. (I haven’t suddenly lost my ability to spell, apparently in the 1700’s Chesterfield was written ‘Chastfild’.)
More to do
We meandered up through the muddy pathway (some prams were struggling) and were just in time for the Storytelling at the Story Tipi. Again catering for all ages, the storyteller was vibrant and energetic keeping the attention of the listeners. Next my daughter had the opportunity to create a piece of art using charcoal which had been made earlier on the charcoal burner at the event.
My daughter decided to draw the story Tipi, then got a bit of a shock as Marley the Shetland pony arrived neighing behind her as she drew!
Time for a bite to eat
Although I had packed up food and drink to eat, the soup and potatoes on offer smelled too good to resist. We bought two tomato soups with rolls, a black coffee and 2 very nice slices of cake for £7. Both soups on offer were vegetarian and the variety of cakes was brilliant. Everyone was catered for, be it vegetarian, vegan or those with specific dietary requirements.
Youth Ranger Activities
We decided to try out the Youth Ranger activities next, first we tried out whittling. As with all the other activities the emphasis on keeping the children safe was really high. The people training my daughter either with an axe, saw or knife were incredible teachers making sure that she was safe and comfortable at all times. Needless to say she loved this activity. It made her feel very grown up and she came away with a tent peg that she had made all by herself.
Natural Dyes and Willow Weaving
Across from the Whittling area was a tent where material and wool was being dyed. Although there was nothing interactive for the children to participate we were shown the process and informatively told about how fabrics were once dyed naturally. There were pots on a stove showing the process as well as additional resources. It was really interesting. As it was still February the more vibrant berries and flowers were unavailable. The volunteers had been steeping different tree barks in jars, ready to show at the event.
Instructed by Louise at the Willow Weaving area, my daughter then made a beautiful fish made from willow stems. She worked really had and was instructed and encouraged until she had finished her creation.
On-wards and upwards!
Further up the trail we could smell another fire. As it had just started to hail we decided to sit by the Forest School cooking pit and keep warm. My daughter was given a small piece of dough which she wound round a skewer and warmed in the fire. The dough expanded and browned quickly and she enjoyed eating the bread that she had cooked herself.
Other activities in the Play Wild area included a small trail learning about tracks left by different animals, archery and clay face making. We did have quite a few goes on the suction archery and my daughter made a great gargoyle face on a tree. Some of the faces adorning the trees at the end of the day were very creative as you can see below.
We spent a short period of time getting to know Marley the Shetland pony, but we didn’t participate in besom making. (We still have the one my daughter made last year!) We also didn’t get to see the heavy horse which was a shame but I think you will agree, we had a very full day!
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