Explore the ancient mixed woodlands of the New Forest
Welcome to the wild woods where bears, beavers and wolves once roamed.
Where, they say, that even to this day imps, faeries, trolls still lurk between twisted branches and crinkled bark.
- Learning objective
The ancient mixed woodlands of the New Forest provide a wonderful stimulus for exploring rich varied habitats and to strengthen everyone's relationship with the natural world.
A typical day out varies with season and weather but may well include the following.
A Silent Walk
Wearing a magical veil of silence the children walk as a silent snake through the woods; any unwanted sounds will cause the line to stop, crouch, listen, wait until silence is resumed. The quieter we are, the further we go, deeper into the dark woods.
As the silent walk finishes we meet in a finger held circle surrounded by the old and ancient forest. We hold up five fingers; each finger will record a different sound from the forest, natural, unnatural or human-made. Not walking or talking, eyes closed, our collection begins. Our collections are shared in a whisper.
Two different stories both ending up with a small number of children buried beneath camouflaged leafy cocoons. Caterpillars hatching, eating, crawling, skin shedding eventually become cocooned in leaves and twigs; waiting for warm spring's return they emerge.
A secret name in a secret language. Each child is given a wooden badge with the Latin name of a creature or plant that lives in the forest community. The children and adults are called by these names whilst at Minstead and their task is to discover who they are, who eats them and who they eat. These badges are a major feature of the week as they capture the memories of everyone's journey through the week (and can be removed and earned back if behaviour is inappropriate).
A huge swirl of colour, shape and texture emerges on the forest floor as children collect and assemble natural materials. A symbol of cooperation, a dragon's nest, a door to the otherworld!