Den building, campfires and scavenger hunts – fun and free Forest School sessions on offer

2nd March 2022

Fun and free Forest School sessions now on offer to children thanks to the Chase & Chalke Landscape Partnership and the National Trust

Woodland Cooking

Children who live or go to school near Cranborne Chase are being offered the chance to take part in free Forest School sessions with Chase & Chalke developed in partnership with the National Trust, thanks to funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the National Trust. 

The Woodland Wild Things Forest School which offers outdoor education sessions has been developed with the National Trust at its new Forest School site at Fontmell Down near Shaftesbury.  

Jonathan Monteith, Manager of the Chase & Chalke Landscape Partnership Scheme, said:  

“The new Forest School site is in a beautiful quiet woodland setting and is a fantastic, safe place for outdoor learning.   

“The Woodland Wild Things Forest School offers amazing opportunities for children to connect with nature, develop their confidence through hands-on learning experiences and become creative learners in this calm and welcoming woodland environment.” 

Forest SchoolThe Woodland Wild Thing Forest School is part of the Cranborne Chase and Chalke Valley Landscape Partnership Scheme and aims to connect more young people to the amazing landscape of Cranborne Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  

Schools, youth groups and home education groups are now encouraged to get in touch with the Chase & Chalke team so they can begin to plan and book their free sessions.

Developed in partnership with the National Trust, the Woodland Wild Things Forest School programme comprises a minimum of six sessions with groups of up to 15 children or young people, with sessions usually running on consecutive weeks.  

Clive Whitbourn, Area Ranger for the North & West Dorset National Trust team, said:  

“The Forest School at Fontmell Down is very much open for business. It’s the perfect venue for wild art, bug hunts, woodland games, fire-making, den building, outdoor cooking, and all sorts of other wild adventures. I hope thousands of children will experience memorable times amongst nature here and it will help to inspire the next generation of wildlife lovers.” 

All sessions are completely free thanks to funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and funding through a generous donation to the National Trust. 

As the children become more confident in the Forest School setting during the six-week programme, they are encouraged to follow their own interests and the Leaders are trained to allow children to learn at their own pace and to develop their own personal learning styles.   

Activities may include:  

  • Den building  
  • Safe fire lighting and fire management  
  • Campfire cooking  
  • Scavenger hunts 
  • Woodcraft activities using simple tools and natural resources 
  • Stories with themes of the natural world  
  • Sculpture and art using natural materials  

The Woodland Wild Things Forest School is one part of the wider Chase & Chalke Wonderful Woodlandsproject. This project aims to work closely with landowners to help bring small and medium sized woodlands back into active management for their biodiversity, landscape and some economic value.  

A Woodland Skills Training Programme will also provide inspiration, training and recognised certification or qualifications in many skills for 45 young people, as well as providing training for at least 40 adults in at least one woodland management skill. 

Funding for the Chase & Chalke Landscape Partnership Scheme comes from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Thank you to National Lottery players for making our work possible.  

Notes to Editors  

The Chase & Chalke Landscape Partnership is a National Lottery Heritage Fund scheme to protect and enhance the special landscape of the Cranborne Chase and Chalke Valley through twenty projects focused on the natural, historic and cultural assets of this important area.   

About the National Lottery Heritage Fund 

Using money raised by the National Lottery, we inspire, lead and resource the UK’s heritage to create positive and lasting change for people and communities, now and in the future. 

Follow @HeritageFundUK on Twitter, Facebook and Instagramand use #NationalLotteryHeritageFund  

About the National Trust 

The National Trust is a conservation charity founded in 1895 by three people: Octavia Hill, Sir Robert Hunter and Hardwicke Rawnsley, who saw the importance of the nation’s heritage and open spaces and wanted to preserve them for everyone to enjoy. Today, across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, we continue to look after places so people and nature can thrive. 

The challenges of the coronavirus pandemic have shown this is more important than ever. From finding fresh air and open skies to tracking a bee’s flight to a flower; from finding beauty in an exquisite painting or discovering the hidden history of a country house nearby – the places we care for enrich people’s lives. 

Entirely independent of Government, the National Trust looks after more than 250,000 hectares of countryside, 780 miles of coastline and 500 historic properties, gardens and nature reserves. 

The National Trust is for everyone – we were founded for the benefit of the whole nation. We receive on average more than 26.9 million visits each year to the places we care for that have an entry fee, and an estimated 100m visits to the outdoor places that are free of charge.  

Paying visitors, together with our 5.6 million members and more than 53,000 volunteers, support our work to care for nature, beauty, history. For everyone, for ever.