Wilder Woods

Central Somerset Outdoor Learning Partnership

Good news for CSOLP

by Deb Millar - June 3rd, 2013

Bath & West Gold Award   Bath and West Show 2013

Thanks to all our helpers we had a successful few days at the Bath & West Show.

We have been coming since 2008 and we were surprised and proud to receive this award for our stall in the Woodlands and Wildlife area. We even had a visit from the Bishop of Bath & Wells.

We had made an extra effort to collaborate with other Forest School providers this year.

Louise Kennedy from Woodland Play Centre, Philippa and Eddie from Pogles Wood near Sherborne and Kaye Watts from Holly and Hawthorn Forest School in Shepton Mallet all joined us to help deliver activities and promote various projects and work.

As usual our CSOLP volunteers also turned out to man the stall each day and catch the show. Many thanks to them all. We made willow butterflies and wooly bugs, had a trail for children to follow around the area and green woodworking displays (lots of Martyn’s beautiful spoons).

Other good news:

We have received more grant support from Short Breaks for our holiday provision for disabled children. Thank you!

We also heard today that we will be receiving help towards our Inclusive Woodland Volunteering through Somerset Masonic Fund which is managed through the wonderful Somerset Community Foundation.This is fabulous news as our community based volunteering is still very much at the heart of what we do.

Somerset Community Foundation played a crucial role in getting our organization going. The help and advice we received then (6 years ago) has enabled us to build up our provision to the point where we felt able to regsiter as a charity. Thank you Somerset Community Foundation for all the advice and support.



Volunteer Week End at Hallr Wood

by Deb Millar - May 16th, 2013

Extra note about the w/e here is a list of the birds we heard/saw with Martin Prothero:

Robin, wren, blackbird, song thrush, mistlethrush, chiff chaff, little owls, tawny owls, buzzard, great spotted woodpecker, great tit, blue tit, jay, carrion crow, raven, willow warbler, green woodpecker, pheasant, heron, wood pugeon, goldcrest, tree creeper. On the walk- yellow hammer, chaffinch,skylark, dummock, linnet, sisken

Thanks to Beth, one of our longest serving volunteers, for this fab write up:

Volunteer weekend in the woods- 20th and 21st April

What a treat to be able to spend a night in the woods! We started early Saturday evening preparing Pizzas and sorting out sleeping arrangements scattered around the woods-either in hammocks, the yurt, tents or shelters- and then shared a delicious meal around the fire- Celia and Deb did a great job with the pizza oven, Torrin and Ian roasted tasty mini sweet corn and Juliet’s baked bananas were a big hit too! As darkness fell and the temperature dropped we gathered around the fire and Deb and Ian kept us captivated with a few well-told stories. After sampling some of Deb’s Mead we all turned in for the night with thoughts of the early start the next morning and braced ourselves for the chill of a clear night! After a few hours’ sleep most of us woke to our 4.45 am alarms and dragged ourselves bleary-eyed to the fire-circle to get ready for the dawn chorus. With a much needed cuppa and Sue’s flapjack we sat and listened to the birds while Martin from Somerset Wildlife Trust did a great job of helping us pick out each bird’s song from the chorus. We even had a visit from a tawny owl who was very surprised to see us at that hour as it swooped into the woods! Once the birds had settled down Jane organised the cooking of a fantastic fry-up and we then went for a lovely sunny walk through Green Down and surrounding fields with Martin pointing out even more bird song. When we got back to the woods our thoughts turned to woodworking! Martyn supervised the felling of a small ash tree which was then cut into lengths for splitting and carving into spoons and bowls. Hannah and Alex joined us and everyone eagerly set to chopping and shaping their wood, helped at each stage by Martyn, whilst Ian used his own pole lathe. The wood-working shelter became a hive of activity and before long the hours flew past and we forgot our early start! I’m very pleased with my spoon, even though it is still slightly mallet-shaped! Thanks so much to Deb, Jane and Martyn for organising such a fab weekend and also to Martin from SWT for his brilliant bird knowledge too. It was lovely to spend an extended length of time in the woods with such a great bunch of people!

Hallr Wood news

by Deb Millar - March 1st, 2013

We have had a challenging winter and are hoping for sunnier times ahead.

We have continued to offer provision whatever the weather, to our regular SEN groups and have also kept   our Wednesday group going..

We were also delighted to host the very first gathering of Forest School practitioners from the South West in November.

We have thoroughly enjoyed our literacy project (thanks Ernest Cook Trust) but had to cancel some sessions because of flooding. It made us re-think our shelter arrangements. We don’t have large groups very often but we are planning an open sided larger shelter capable of accomodating a whole school group for those odd times when we do.

We have offered two inclusive events for young people with additional needs during the October and February half terms.

We have had a successful open day last September. We have had three inclusive volunteer days.

We are looking forward to our Spring Celebration on March 23rd which will offer local families the chance to come and play in the woods and enjoy a fabulous puppet show.

In the summer term we willbe offering free drop in sessions to villagers thanks to the SCC Health & Well Being Fund.

Thank you to everyone who supports us, especially our wonderful volunteers.



Mid Winter Celebration

by Hannah Aitken - January 21st, 2013

A wonderful afternoon and evening , we weathered the pissistent rain, made bird feeders and a beautiful earth mandala out of collected materials from the wood. Then we lit candles, ate cake and sang seasonal songs to say thank- you to the beautiful trees and wildlife. We continue to replenish the bird feeders as the birds and squirrels are extremely hungry this year ( I’ve even started to feel sorry for squirrels!) The woodland site at Drayton is suffering from the floods but hopefully it will dry out soon…….

Summer in Drayton Woods- 2012

by Hannah Aitken - September 6th, 2012

As the summer draws to an end it is time to look back at what has been going on in Drayton Woods over the holidays.

The woods themselves have thrived remarkably well in all the wet weather- the young trees have put on lots of growth and the ferns on the northern edge have multiplied.
so also have the brambles, nettles and thistles!
We have cleared the main paths to allow access, but we are leaving the rest to the butterflys,dragonflys, toads and all the other mini- beasts who are enjoying some warm sun at last .
Numerous children have been able to access our wheelchair friendly  woodland site this summer, to play, learn and enjoy the wild and natural environment.
The following pictures give a brief glimpse of
  • Under 8’s playscheme,
  • Inclusive woodland adventure  for disabled young people
  • Campfire challenge for 8-12yrolds


Decorating the Dragon


Painting in the wood

Painting in the wood

scheme supported by Short Breaks For Disabled Children

Young people from Fiveways School Yeovil use natural paints to get creative  amongst the trees

hanging out in hammocks is always popular











Get Outside for Inspiration: woodland training day for schools and practitioners

by Deb Millar - May 14th, 2012

‘Get Outside for Inspiration’.  March 16th at Hallr Wood.

Report by Jenny Cater 

This practical workshop for school staff, forest school leaders and others working in the educational field was attended by 18 people from across the south west region. The start of the day revealed the range and mix of practitioners and their reasons for attending – teaching assistants delivering Forest School, BTCV volunteer co-ordinator wanting to make links with the curriculum, a couple from Arnos Vale cemetery, Bristol getting ideas for outdoor learning, teacher from north Devon looking for more inspiration for his Bushcraft and Country Way woods, teachers from a special school seeing how to use the outdoors for life skills, and teaching staff from a range of schools from Bath to Dorset wanting inspiring ideas for getting outside in their school grounds.

 The main aims of the day were to get ideas, games, inspiration and confidence to deliver a range of literacy, numeracy and cross curriculum topics outdoors. In the morning sessions the 3 groups, Early Years and KS1, Special Needs, Secondary and outdoor practitioners rotated around activity based workshops set in different parts of the woodland.

 Jacky King, (Arts projects, creative writing, author, outdoor learning in schools) took them on a journey of discovery to open up ideas for using the outside for literacy – woodland consequences, description and adjectives for poems, story telling and trails for spicing up the senses

Jenny Cater (Space 2 Play. Outdoor Learning Environments and FS leader) used ‘nature’s natural numbers’ on wooden cookies to create curving number lines to jump on and use for a range of numeracy skills. Journey sticks were made into 3D shapes and Pythagoras’s theorem of 3, 4, 5 triangles were used to make large scale quadrants.

Deb Millar (Outdoor educationalist, archaeologist and FS Leader) enticed the different groups into a world of fantasy with the creation of miniature habitats, getting enthusiastic about fantasy bugs and mapping out the environment using sensory trails.

 After a welcome lunch of hot soup to warm everyone (thanks Karen!) the afternoon session by Jenny gave a brief introduction to the process of designing and landscaping your own space to get outside and be inspired to learn. Finding out how everyone feels about their environment, zoning different areas (fire/cooking, access points, tool activity, woodlands and wildlife) and deciding on a project they could take back and put into practice were the key elements. By the end of the day, the wind had whistled through the trees and we were getting chilly but there was a buzz of enthusiasm and requests for more learning outside workshops in the woods. Perhaps the greatest inspiration had come from being in the woodland environment with so many like minded people and sharing possibilities and ideas for getting outside and using our natural surroundings to inspire our teaching and learning.

 Feedback: What Inspired you today??

 A great mix of ideas and discussion. Lots of ideas to work and develop. Great atmosphere generated. Thank you.

 Best bit is ideas sparked from each other

Made me feel that outdoor (FS) learning is fulfilling and has spurred me on!

 Whole day was inspirational and supportive. Love the space. Great soups. Very helpful grounds talk.

 Stimulus for literacy I found useful and will definitely organise. Particularly developing a story trail, what happens where…..

 What inspired me? Numeracy line and literacy games.

 Seeing the site and realising what can be done in our compound (which is going to become an outdoor learning space)

 Enthusiastic organisers. Inspiring site.

 Being creative. Something good from natural materials.

 Fire circle, chatting, sharing. Thank you!

 Many thanks. Sharing ideas. Camp fire – central point. Freedom within self and the surrounding area.

 Opening circle – network of like minded people.


 Great ideas to practically use.

 Great ideas. Meeting people



Funding for Creative Arts Project

by Deb Millar - May 7th, 2012

We are thrilled to have been awarded funding from the Ernest Cook Trust for a creative arts project to boost literacy in local schools. http://www.ernestcooktrust.org.uk/  We will work with secondary aged pupils to design story trails and a performing area. We will then invite local Primary Schools to our woods for creative writing, mark making and to develop traditional tales. THANK YOU Ernest Cook Trust!

Hallr Wood Easter Update

by Deb Millar - April 20th, 2012

We have been working hard at Hallr Wood this spring. We have planted lots of trees (especially hazel) and we’ve improved our paths,  rain water collection and tool storage.

Our beautiful earth dragon is now finished thanks to the Tree Pirates and will shortly be planted up with wild flowers.

Our regular groups continue.

Over Easter we ran a woodland playscheme and also hosted a day with Promise mentors and their mentees. We enjoyed the CSOLP 5 year celebrations which was a lovely informal evening of food and camp fire, spent reflecting on all that has been achieved since we started our group. 

Several other groups also ran holiday activities at Hallr Wood.

We look forward to a busy summer, enjoying the benefits of all our hard work! Special thanks to our trusty volunteers who help on Wednesdays.

Inclusive Woodland Adventure

by Hannah Aitken - February 20th, 2012

12 young people with a variety of abilities and additional needs attended Wilderwoods Woodland Adventure day at Drayton Woods on Thursday 16th February. Well supported by Forest school leaders & support carers, the young people spent the whole day in the woods, getting involved in various woodland tasks: making bird feeders, planting trees and helping create a willow screen.
3 young people from Langport came along to buddy up with some of the young people attending.
The day started with an opportunity to take part in an animal stamp trail. This was designed to be followed at the individual pace of different participants, including Katy in a wheelchair. Everyone was very proud of the stamps they had collected.

Pine cones were ‘found’ and collected on the trail and then filled with a bird food mixture. Some loved the different textures involved, others left the sticky bits to others! The filled pine cones were then taken out into the wood and hung on branches for the woodland birds to find.
Meanwhile cooking was getting underway back at the campfire. 17 baked potatoes were buried in the ashes and left to bake as a team set off to plant trees in the wood.
The Woodland Trust has kindly donated a mixture of trees that will eventually bear edible fruit: blackthorn, elder, crab apple & wild rose.
A wonderful tree planting team planted 10 trees, complete with stakes and protective spirals, while others engaged in clearing ivy away from selected trees. One boy just enjoyed sitting on the woodland floor soaking up the peaceful atmosphere. We were lucky to have a sunny and warmish day!

At lunch time young people helped cook and eat: 60 sausages, (plus 6 veggie ones) 15 baked potatoes, a big pan of homemade baked beans and loads toasted bread, all prepared on the campfire.
After lunch we were treated to a wonderful story about the beginning of spring, told by our visiting story teller Amanda. All (but the most hyper-active), listened enthralled, including the boys.
Young people then had the choice of various activities and took part in: peeling sticks and making charcoal around the fire; helping create a beautiful ‘free form’ willow screen in our woodland garden; sawing firewood using the bow saw; using tools to make gypsy flowers, bows and arrows, creating & using a safe target run in the woods;
The older boys were able to go into the wood with the buddies for target practice with only monitoring adult supervision needed. This was a wonderful freedom for both the disabled young people and the buddies involved.
The presence of the Langport buddies worked really well, they took on
mentoring 3 young people, all with varying degrees of Autism. They had to be reminded a few times but they hung on in there, showed care for others and created a brilliant, safe, boys atmosphere. I think those less able really loved it and really felt part of a group.
One very hyperactive autistic girl loved just hanging around the boys when they were using tools. I was very impressed by the maturity of the buddies who were able to accommodate this in a safe, non confrontational way.

The day finished with a review looking at photos of activities and sticking 2 stickers on favourites

Many thanks to Karen, Amanda, Camilla, Kevin, Fiveways School support carers Jane, Mary, John, Emma, Lauren, Alice, and Langport Buddies Matt, Joe and Keiral, for making this day such a success and enabling the group of young people, who normally spend a lot of their time indoors, to ‘Get out in the woods and go wild’!

Also many thanks to the Short Breaks funding team for their continuing support!

Hannah Aitken
Wilderwoods Forest School Leader

Website Update

by CSOLP - February 4th, 2012

Regular visitors will have noticed that we have changed the structure of our website recently. Many thanks to Will who looks after the web site for us and puts up with our limited technological understanding. We would all rather be in the woods…and it shows!

  • The events page now shows a list of upcoming events as well as a calendar. Events for both sites can be found here.
  • Hallr Wood and Drayton Woods are now separate main pages to make them easier to find.
  • Photo galleries for the two woods are now added to their respective pages.
  • The gallery software has been updated to help show off all of our lovely photos.