Saturday, 10 August 2013

Den building and forest fun at Fineshade

As an official reviewer for Salcey Forest in Northamptonshire, our discovery pass also covers Fineshade Woods, but up until yesterday we had never visited.  I was keen to see how it differed, when we got to attend a fun-filled family day along with other bloggers Carol; Kimberley; Lucy; Karin and Sabina.


When we arrived, we were met in the fabulous play park by ranger Cheryl.  The kids didn't seem to want to leave the park they were having such a great time, but were soon enticed away with promises of more adventures in the forest.





So, who wants to build a den??!!


Cheryl set the scene - we had survived a plane crash and were stranded deep in the woods.  There was no hope of rescue before night-fall so we must build ourselves a shelter to keep safe and warm.  She gave us some tips on how to build the best den and then each family set to work finding a suitable spot and hunting out fallen branches and sticks.  Den building is a brilliant activity for kids and families.  It encourages team-work; teaches them about safety and risk-taking; encourages respect for nature and is a great physical activity - but above all else, it's FUN!





We were all hugely proud of our dens, and each one was tested for it's water-tightness by brave kids, and a few brave dads.


After 'surviving' the morning in the forest, we all trekked back to the Top Lodge Cafe and were rewarded with a well-deserved lunch.  The cafe is bright, clean (5 star hygiene rating) and offers a wide range of hot and cold food; drinks; snacks; delicious cakes and ice creams.  There's loads of healthy options and they pride themselves in their locally sourced produce.  They are independently run by a small family business who are clearly passionate about what they do, actively seeking to be as environmentally friendly as possible by reducing their waste, composting on site and using it in their newly developed kitchen garden which will ultimately supply the cafe.

We enjoyed toasted sandwiches and tea in the pretty courtyard area, which also has a number of retail units including some set aside for local craft sellers.


I was really impressed with their eco initiatives - the toilets are flushed with rainwater collected from the roof; there is a reed bed sewerage system and solar panels for power.

After re-charging our batteries, we headed to the bike shop and hire centre managed by Rutland Cycling.  Here, the staff were friendly and knowledgeable, kitting us out with all we needed to enjoy a bike ride around the forest.  They have bikes; baby seats; trailers; pullalongs; helmets - you can even hire a satnav or an electric bike if you're not feeling energetic!







I have to say, I didn't like the wobble of the trailer bike so didn't manage to get very far.  I think next time I'll stick with a buggy trailer which feels more stable, although it was a great opportunity to try one out.

There are lovely, well-marked cycle trails for varying abilities and it offers a different way to see the forest, allowing you to get around much faster than on foot.

After our excursion, we headed back for a rest and an ice cream before heading back into the trees for a final explore, when we spotted Red Kites soaring high above, and a host of beautiful butterflies close-up.



As we pulled away in the car and the end of a wonderful day, Ruby asked "Mummy?  When can we build another den?"  Soon.  Very soon I think.

They were grubby, happy and utterly exhausted - the signs of a great day out don't you think?

Details:

Fineshade wood is managed by the Forestry Commission.  Entrance is free although there is a charge for car parking of £3 for the day or £1 for up to 1 hour/or after 5pm.  The car parking cost is invested into the management of the woodland.

The visitor centre and cafe is open 10am-5pm every day.

It is located an easy drive from Peterborough; Corby; Stamford and Oakham, sat nav postcode NN17 3BB

Disclosure:

We are official Forestry Commission reviewers and receive an annual Discovery Pass.  This event was organised and subsidised by them and their partners.  All opinions and images are my own.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

20 comments:

  1. Den building! How brilliant! They all look very chuffed in the picture of them together in their finished den!

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    1. They were very proud of their efforts. x

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  2. Looks fab, especially the den building- must take Syd to the New Forest again soon and give it a go!

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    1. It's such a great activity - keeps them busy for hours and costs nowt! x

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  3. I love that shot of all the children in the forest. What a brilliant way of firing their imaginations for den building!

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  4. Ah I love den building - so much fun :-)

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  5. The imagination is fantastic. LOVE how they built the den out of fallen branches and sticks. We will have to meet up and you teach my boys they would absolutely love it! And free too (the parking is very cheap for a day out).

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  6. Great to meet you and your family, hope to see you all again soon at Top Lodge cafe. The blog is really well composed, i would happily work with you outside of an event such as Friday's and i have fed back exactly that to Laura at the FC. Please stay in touch, even if you're dropping by with friends to visit again in the future give me a quick email.

    Thanks again,
    Matt

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    1. It was really lovely chatting with you Matt, I love what you are achieving there. Thank you for looking after us so well we had a really great day.

      Hope to come back soon x

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  7. What a fantastic day out for all the family and the den's were very impressive. I can see Fineshade's has a lot to offer for a full day of activities in such great surroundings - thanks for sharing your outdoor adventures with Country Kids.

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  8. Looks like a great day out - I absolutely love the den building and that they 'set the scene', so cool! I'm dying to try out some bikes in a forest but it has been a few years since I've been on a bike, must try before the end of the holidays! Looks like a great day for the family.

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    1. I was very wobbly on my bike! A bit out of practice methinks!

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  9. We love Den building. I find bikes in the forest a little bumpy for me yet. I need more practice!

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    1. Thanks Jen, ahh yes - that sore bottom feeling is not good!

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  10. Wow that looks amazing, will definitely put that on a list of things to do if we're up in that part of the country! xx

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    1. It's such a great place with so much to do there. Do check out the map though and see what there is near you Emily x http://www.forestry.gov.uk/visit

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