Explore England’s forests this summer

Bracken, Wyre Forest cr Forestry Commission and John McFarlane

Bracken, Wyre Forest © Forestry Commission / John McFarlane

If, like me, you’ve found yourself entranced by Sara Maitland’s Gossip From The Forest, you’ll be able to satisfy your yearnings thanks to VisitEngland’s summer forest activities. Part of a national campaign to promote England’s forests and woodland with Forestry Commission England, there are magical experiences to choose between, from al fresco film screenings to fairy kingdoms and bat trails.Forest Fairy Tales

Alarmingly, a recent Forestry Commission survey revealed that children typically start to lose their imagination at just 10 years old – significantly younger than their parents’ generation. To help reignite young imaginations, forests across the country are laying fairy trails this summer and arranging special events, sculpture making classes, picnics, crafts and story walks to engage youngsters in outdoor play.

Across the UK, children can discover fairy kingdoms in the forest with 3D mazes, troll bridges and enchanted trees. They can sit in a giant’s chair or a big tree stump and hear tales of princes, frogs and witches.

Wyre Forest © Forestry Commission / Isobel Cameron

Wyre Forest © Forestry Commission / Isobel Cameron

The fairytales programme includes:

• 14 August: Fantastic Fairy Day at Cannock Forest, Staffordshire

• 22 August: Forest Fairy Trail at Wyre Forest, Worcestershire

• 22 August: Away with the Fairies, Goblins and Trolls in Sherwood Pines, Nottingham

• 24 – 26 August: Fairy Tale Activities at Bolderwood, Hampshire



For the grown up, why not indulge in culture al Fresco? Picnic Cinema is running a selection of outdoor cinema experiences in forests:

• 10 August: watch 28 Days Later at Grizedale Forest in Cumbria.

• 17 August: watch Bram Stoker’s Dracula at Dalby Forest.

• 24 August: Apocalypse Now will be shown at Gisburn.

Wyre Forest cr Forestry Commission / John McFarlane

Wyre Forest © Forestry Commission / John McFarlane

Meet the wild things 

England’s forests are home to some diverse wildlife, from nesting pairs of osprey and rare red squirrels at Kielder Forest, otters near Fiddlers Ferry, Merseyside, and nightjars in Sherwood Forest. Here are some of the highlights celebrating this diversity:

• 4 August: Delamere‘s Butterfly Walk winds up to Old Pale, one of the best places in Cheshire to see wild butterflies.

• 21 August: To mark European bat weekend, Whinlatter Forest is offering a bat box-making workshop on 21 August, and a chance to explore this animal’s forest home. Don’t forget your torch!

• 27 August: Mini Beasts and Clay Critters workshop at Alice Holt.

Sleep beneath the trees

Love the idea of this! Camping in the Forest offer Young Explorer experiences to introduce children aged 4-11 to the natural forest environment. Participants get to investigate the forest with a knowledgeable ranger, forage for treasures and join in arts and craft activities using their finds. Young Explorers is available at Spiers House, Christchurch and Hollands Wood sites and costs from £5 per child (one free adult place per child). Alternatively, just camp out using one of Camping in the Forest’s pitches, costing from just £7.70 per person per night in peak season.

Golden Oak Hideaway cr Forest HolidaysFor something a bit less rustic, Forest Holidays offers contemporary, glass-fronted cabins in prime Forestry Commission land. Blackwood Forest is home to Forest Holidays’ newest cabin – Golden Oak Hideaway (pictured above. This one-bedroom cabin is designed specifically for couples – fitted out with a sunken bath offering forest views, a hammock on the deck and floor-to-ceiling views from the cabin’s open spaces. Sounds like heaven to me!

Forest Holidays is offering 20% off bookings for August when you use this link or quote CABIN.