Awesome family adventures in the woods and a giveaway

I’m sitting on a moss covered log, under a canopy of leaves, their delicate skeletons illuminated by the sunshine. My dog is by my feet and a friend by my side. Giggles from the den carry across the wood, followed by the sound of branches snapping and leaves scrunching as our kids run across the clearing to tell us their plan.

Another day of family adventures in the woods, this time at one of our favourite National Trust places, Calke Abbey, which I was also pleased to discover is one of the 900 woods listed by The Woodland Trust in their guide to woodlands.

The Woodland Trust are a wonderful charity who help preserve our woodlands for future generations, as a parent that’s something I feel really strongly about. Leaving a legacy of woodland and kids who believe it is important to protect the woods and all those who inhabit them.

We also went to Ilam this week and gave another favourite tree a hug. It needed it, but it’s given us so much fun over the last few years.

The Woodland Trust have just launched a membership scheme for children and families, an excellent way to get young people excited about woods, as well as raising money for the trust.

There’s a new adventure playground for the summer at Calke, made out of trees. Although we didn’t spend much time in there, as they had already spent lots of time making their own adventures in the woods.

To accompany the amazing idea on The Woodland Trust site for things to do in the woods, I thought I would share 5 family adventures we’ve shared in the woods recently:


Make a movie

Woods are the setting for so many amazing narratives, from fairy stories to horror films, kids naturally know how to recreate them.

We made a movie at Calke, which my friend kindly edited for them, I filmed and edited this film on my IPhone about our other fabourite wood.  Click on the link for even more movie making tips, with my ex media studies teacher hat on.

This is the scene where the lost kids sleep in the woods after escaping the wolf.


Make a den

So many woods we have visited recently have dens, whether they are organised den making areas or remnants left behind by other visitors, there is nearly always something to work with. If there aren’t enough big sticks, make a den for a teddy, a fairy, a mouse or another woodland creature.


Stumble on a rope swing

Both woods we have visited during the Nature Detectives campaign have rope swings. The one at Calke is really inpressive. You can’t beat screaming ‘I’m a wrecking ball!’ as you whizz round on a rope swing.


Geo Cache

We stumbled on a geocache at the base of a tree, without looking for it at Calke, searching for geo caches is the perfect way to get kids to walk further.


Collect leaves/sticks/flowers/seeds

I went on a brilliant walk with my son’s class where the children had to collect as many different leaves as possible in a bag. They identified them at school and used them for art work.

On our wood walk with Becky from Baby Budgeting, she collected feathers to paint. Another lovely idea.

The ranger at Sherwood Pines introduced me to Forest pictures, a strip of sticky back plastic on a card that you stick bits and pieces you find on the forest floor too.


There are loads more ideas for fun in the woods over at The Woodland Trust, membership will ensure you and your kids get seasonal inspiration through the letter box too.

I will leave you with a little more of our trip to Calke. Our kids had made their own fun by the time they reached the adventure playground, and probably need another visit to make the most of it. I normally go to the woods to escape other people and organised adventure. But it really is a magical space, and only there for a limited period, come September it will close again.


Gorgeous isn’t it?

We also fitted in a butterlfy hunt for Butterfly Awareness week.


Find your nearest wood

Search here to find great ideas for woods close to home or wherever you find yourself if the UK, you can’t go wrong with a wood to explore!


Join The Woodland Trust as a family

Create your own little legacy in the world, protect woodlands for future generations and immerse your family in nature.

Here’s what you get…


  • Membership to Nature Detectives.
  • A Nature Detectives welcome folder and activity booklet, plus bookmark, nature passport and stickers.
  • New seasonal activity pack four times a year posted to each Nature Detective, and weekly Facebook challenges.
  • Different packs for different ages.


  • A tree dedicated to you in your nearest Woodland Trust wood.
  • A unique guide to native British trees.
  • Directory of Woodland Trust woods to discover.
  • Two copies of our Broadleaf and The Woods Today magazines each year.
  • Emails with details of activities, events and lots more.

Join the Woodland Trust with your family today – membership starts from just £5 a month for one child and £6 a month for two children.


Visiting Calke Abbey

Check out our favourite trees at Calke here, there are some amazing ones to play in.

Entry is £3.20 per person, or free to National trust members. Family membership to The National Trust is another great option.



To celebrate the launch of the nature detectives and family membership schemes, I have one gift set from The Woodland Trust to giveaway – a bag, notebook, jigsaw, mug and tree identification swatch book. Just leave a comment, telling me about your favourite wood or woodland family activities and complete the rafflecopter and I will choose one person at random on the 1st September 2015.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


UK competitions at ThePrizeFinder – See more at:

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  • Reply My Two Mums

    I love the sculptures! This wood looks amazing. I love finding new places.

    13/08/2015 at 2:43 pm
    • Reply parentshaped

      Such a cool adventure 🙂

      14/08/2015 at 8:22 am
  • Reply Tracey Peach

    Hide & Seek 🙂

    13/08/2015 at 3:06 pm
  • Reply Carolynn Woodland

    Heartwood Forest. A fairly new forest very close to where I live. Some fabulous walks.

    13/08/2015 at 3:06 pm
  • Reply Angel

    Love looking out for unusual wildlife and the tranquility.

    13/08/2015 at 3:14 pm

    My favourite woodland activity is playing hide and seek

    13/08/2015 at 3:21 pm
  • Reply trevor linvell

    birdwatching and animal spotting

    13/08/2015 at 3:23 pm
  • Reply Jennifer Haden

    Looking out for animals and birds and collecting sticks

    13/08/2015 at 3:34 pm
  • Reply Andrea

    We’ve not visited Calke Abbey yet this year, but it looks like great fun – I think we’ll pack a picnic and head up there tomorrow! Its such a gorgeous place 🙂

    13/08/2015 at 3:54 pm
    • Reply parentshaped

      Never tire of it! Have fun Andrea 🙂

      14/08/2015 at 8:22 am
  • Reply Terrie-Ann Wright

    Looking out for animals and collecting leaves for collages

    13/08/2015 at 3:59 pm
  • Reply Sarah E

    Hide & Seek Whilst Mommy & Daddy Pop Open The Wine

    13/08/2015 at 4:01 pm
    • Reply parentshaped

      He he!

      14/08/2015 at 8:21 am
  • Reply Jessica Powell

    Bird spotting 🙂

    13/08/2015 at 5:30 pm
  • Reply katie skeoch

    Rambling, nothing better on a sunny day

    13/08/2015 at 6:08 pm
  • Reply kim neville

    Exploring and seeing what we can find hidden in the woods

    13/08/2015 at 6:46 pm
  • Reply Jacki Hamer

    We love exploring the woodland of Cannock Chase

    13/08/2015 at 7:28 pm
  • Reply Michelle Banks

    just walking in the peace and quiet x

    13/08/2015 at 7:52 pm
  • Reply Samantha Loughlin

    Looking out for all kinds of wild life

    13/08/2015 at 7:56 pm
  • Reply Martina Pichova

    We walk around our local Malvern Hills quite often, parts of them are quite bare but some have woods. We love exploring them and admiring the views from the top.

    13/08/2015 at 8:17 pm
  • Reply laura banks

    i used to love making dens

    13/08/2015 at 8:50 pm
  • Reply mike daniels

    My favourite woods are those that lie above, about and around Alderley Edge and I love those crisp, bright days when you can kick up the fallen leaves, or perhaps even the fallen snow, with the kids in tow and no-one else around.

    13/08/2015 at 8:52 pm
    • Reply parentshaped

      Grew up in Macc, love Alderley Edge, miss it!

      14/08/2015 at 8:21 am
  • Reply karen Howden

    There are a number of woods around me, kings wood, sherwood forest, wickersley wood, clumber park. Just love walking the dogs, watching the birds and having fun

    13/08/2015 at 11:13 pm
    • Reply parentshaped

      Some of my favourites there!

      14/08/2015 at 8:20 am
  • Reply Suzanne

    Den building is enjoyable for the whole family and takes you back to the challenges and benefits of nature.

    14/08/2015 at 12:31 am
  • Reply Annie

    Great photos as always and rope-swings are one of my favourite things. Really enjoyed this post.

    14/08/2015 at 12:52 am
    • Reply parentshaped

      Thanks Annie! Taken on my phone while dog was on a lead, so glad you like!

      14/08/2015 at 8:20 am
  • Reply claire woods

    We love riding bikes in the forest.

    14/08/2015 at 8:55 am
  • Reply Kasia

    hide & seek

    14/08/2015 at 10:11 am
  • Reply laura stewart

    we enjoy searching for bugs xx

    14/08/2015 at 10:33 am
  • Reply Simon Kneller

    Climbing Trees

    14/08/2015 at 10:37 am
  • Reply tracy baines

    ashdown forest is lovely and my favourite activity is just walking in the shade of the trees

    14/08/2015 at 11:28 am
  • Reply david cavender

    photographing unusual shaped trees

    14/08/2015 at 1:08 pm
  • Reply Wendy Smith

    We live on the edge of woodland and love to just stroll, watching the birds and trying to see the deer, wild boar and other elusive wildlife.

    14/08/2015 at 5:56 pm
  • Reply Laura Pritchard

    I love geocaching & we do it as a family (in woods and out!) regularly!

    14/08/2015 at 6:47 pm
  • Reply Helen Southam

    Collecting sticks, leaves and anything else is my little girls favourite woodland activity so I enjoy doing that as it makes her happy! 🙂

    14/08/2015 at 8:50 pm
  • Reply Rachel Butterworth

    We like taking the dog for long walks in the wood, she loves it.

    14/08/2015 at 11:43 pm
  • Reply Stevie

    We’ve been going on a bug hunt and drawing them when we get home.

    14/08/2015 at 11:50 pm
  • Reply lynn heath

    We love walking through the woods and looking for bugs under logs!

    15/08/2015 at 8:56 am
  • Reply Sue McCarthy

    Bird watching

    15/08/2015 at 10:05 am
  • Reply Keith Hunt

    Play hide and seek

    16/08/2015 at 2:11 am
  • Reply Andy Kadir-Buxton

    Taking photos of Bluebells.

    16/08/2015 at 7:24 am
  • Reply Ruth Harwood

    We love wandering Grizedale in late summer/early autumn when the leaves are changing colour – we collect some and make a collage every year 🙂

    16/08/2015 at 8:20 am
  • Reply Julie Ward

    The nature trail in a park near where we live

    16/08/2015 at 11:11 am
  • Reply Sonia Vegas

    The Pine woods surrounding Holkham Beach in North Norfolk where my Husband and I often stop for a picnic.

    16/08/2015 at 6:02 pm
  • Reply claire griffiths

    looking for birds and animals

    16/08/2015 at 7:18 pm
  • Reply frances hopkins

    Finding mushrooms

    16/08/2015 at 8:45 pm
  • Reply Sam Cornford

    Huntin out the wildlife.

    16/08/2015 at 9:16 pm
    • Reply Sam Cornford

      To just observe…

      16/08/2015 at 9:17 pm
  • Reply Caroline Signey

    We love to collect different leaves and do leaf rubbings and name the leaves

    16/08/2015 at 10:45 pm
  • Reply Julie Edwards

    I just love walking in the forests and feeling at one with nature.(and I am abit too old to climb trees now) Love Clumber Park as it is so gorgeous and we have spent many a happy family moment there.

    17/08/2015 at 1:15 pm
  • Reply Corinne Peat

    We have loads of woods near us and they are our favourite place to walk. No traffic, no pollution and the kids love to run through them!

    18/08/2015 at 8:45 pm
  • Reply Michael Griffin

    Cranham Woods. Hide and Seek

    19/08/2015 at 3:55 pm
  • Reply Suzanne Jackson

    We like building dens!

    22/08/2015 at 10:11 am
  • Reply Ana N.

    Animal spotting

    22/08/2015 at 1:38 pm
  • Reply Sara Friend


    23/08/2015 at 12:24 pm
  • Reply Natasha R-M

    Listening to the birds and looking out for wildlife

    23/08/2015 at 9:05 pm
  • Reply Lisa Pond

    A bike ride around the wyre forest 🙂

    23/08/2015 at 9:09 pm
  • Reply carole n

    Love to bijke around the woodland trails

    25/08/2015 at 5:06 pm
  • Reply carole n

    Love to bike around the woodland trails

    25/08/2015 at 5:06 pm
  • Reply Kirsty Woods

    Building dens and climbing trees

    26/08/2015 at 6:19 am
  • Reply Liz Weston aka @TheLizWeston

    For us, it’s good old fashioned hide and seek!!! I’d like to say that it’s geo caching but I get very annoyed when I can’t find what I am looking for !!!!

    26/08/2015 at 9:05 am
  • Reply Elizabeth Doody

    Whippendale Woods Watford

    26/08/2015 at 9:29 am
  • Reply claire nutman

    Making dens, all time fave x

    26/08/2015 at 9:43 am
  • Reply Kat Lucas

    We love going to our local woodlands to pick blackberries to make jam

    26/08/2015 at 9:46 am
  • Reply Jessica Smith

    I love Gillifield Wood in Sheffield, It is gorgeous when the bluebells come out

    26/08/2015 at 9:57 am
  • Reply Emily Knight

    We love Leigh Woods in Bristol – absolutely beautiful!

    26/08/2015 at 10:20 am
  • Reply Fiona Salmon

    I love bird-watching with my mum. She’s great at identifying them.

    26/08/2015 at 10:50 am
  • Reply Fiona K

    I love to go for a stroll and smell that lovely woodland smell

    26/08/2015 at 11:09 am
  • Reply Samantha Wheeler

    We love playing hide-and-seek!

    26/08/2015 at 11:19 am
  • Reply Andrea Miles

    just walking & enjoying the sounds * scents

    26/08/2015 at 11:28 am
  • Reply Lorraine Tinsley

    We enjoy the wildlife trails where there are rubbing plaques, we daughter loves looking for them and using crayons to get the pictures

    26/08/2015 at 11:37 am
  • Reply Jennifer C

    I love combing the forest for interesting things like pinecones, acorn cups, seedheads or beautiful leaves to press. Great to take home and display on a nature table – plus it’s fun to encourage the kids to sit and sketch them!

    26/08/2015 at 1:04 pm
  • Reply gemma brown

    my boys love moors valley and building dens

    26/08/2015 at 1:17 pm
  • Reply Lisa Evans

    Going to loggerheads in mold north Wales!

    26/08/2015 at 1:34 pm
  • Reply Sarah-Jane Laycock

    Treasure hunts – has been a feature since childhood with the tradition still going strong

    26/08/2015 at 2:08 pm

    pond dipping 🙂

    26/08/2015 at 2:41 pm
  • Reply Rich Jeffery

    Tree Climbing

    26/08/2015 at 5:18 pm
  • Reply Sam Swain

    We love Calke Abbey too. We were there at the weekend and the kids had a wonderful time – particularly on the rope bridge.

    26/08/2015 at 6:04 pm
  • Reply Ashleigh Allan

    We pretend we are looking for a gruffalo!

    26/08/2015 at 7:11 pm
  • Reply Lyla

    Walking and enjoying the woodland sounds

    26/08/2015 at 8:06 pm
  • Reply anne-marie wigley

    exploring and looking out for red squirrels in parkhurst forest 😀

    26/08/2015 at 9:42 pm
  • Reply Kirsty Fox

    We love looking for Geocaches in the woods

    26/08/2015 at 10:24 pm
  • Reply Ellie-Mae Taylor

    Going bike riding!

    26/08/2015 at 10:53 pm

    climbing trees

    27/08/2015 at 2:46 pm
  • Reply Amy Beckett

    I love shelter building

    27/08/2015 at 3:21 pm
  • Reply helen tovell

    finding things to create other things

    27/08/2015 at 4:41 pm
  • Reply Gillian Cooke

    I love to walk in the woods and try to identify the plants and trees!

    27/08/2015 at 4:52 pm
  • Reply Sarah Gray

    Den building 🙂 last time we went with friends the kids made a ‘cafe’ den, with leaf receipts and leaf carpet 😛 x

    27/08/2015 at 6:42 pm
  • Reply Katarzyna Szewczyk

    Looking out for animals and birds.

    27/08/2015 at 9:37 pm
  • Reply Caroline H

    It’s wildlife spotting for us, whether that be squirrels, deer, slow worms or anthills. It’s great when you spot something. Foraging for berries is also great fun. I like mushroom foraging but that’s something you really have to take time with to know what you are doing with so I wouldn’t recommend it for kids!

    27/08/2015 at 11:59 pm
  • Reply clare H

    we love Haldon forest – especially as there’s a gruffalo hiding in there!

    28/08/2015 at 8:55 am
  • Reply Maranda Thomson

    Dunnet Forest in Caithness. We love collecting fallen pine cones to make our own Christmas wreaths.

    28/08/2015 at 9:56 am
  • Reply Suzie W

    Collecting chestnuts or conkers.

    28/08/2015 at 4:55 pm
  • Reply Mike Gerrie

    Climing tress and playing hide and seek

    28/08/2015 at 9:41 pm
  • Reply Sheri Darby

    We just enjoy walking looking at the trees

    28/08/2015 at 11:24 pm
  • Reply Isabelle Smith

    archery x

    29/08/2015 at 1:34 pm
  • Reply Tammy Neal

    we love naming the different types of trees, picking up the different leaves and playing hide and seek! xx

    29/08/2015 at 1:48 pm
  • Reply janine atkin

    insect hunting

    29/08/2015 at 4:03 pm
  • Reply Rachel Wise

    We love to build dens

    29/08/2015 at 5:59 pm
  • Reply MichelleD

    We love building dens in the woods!

    29/08/2015 at 8:03 pm
  • Reply steph lovatt

    I love the woods around our local mere

    29/08/2015 at 9:05 pm
  • Reply Anna

    Building a den was my favourite as a kid. Now I love sketching plants and photographing wildlife!

    29/08/2015 at 10:18 pm
  • Reply Nancy Bradford

    I really enjoy woodworking and would love to have the chance to practice it more.

    29/08/2015 at 10:54 pm
  • Reply ellie spider

    we like to collect leaves and pine cones to make garlands to decorate our garden with

    29/08/2015 at 10:56 pm
  • Reply jo liddement

    We love looking for chestnuts and hazelnuts in our local woods in the Autumn

    30/08/2015 at 7:26 am
  • Reply Sarah Robinson

    We love den building and wildlife spotting. x

    30/08/2015 at 9:44 am
  • Reply Jade h

    Making dens

    30/08/2015 at 12:01 pm
  • Reply Juli Savage

    Watching the natural home of wildlife

    30/08/2015 at 1:34 pm
  • Reply Aaron Milne

    Love macclesfield forest

    30/08/2015 at 2:17 pm
  • Reply Lara Latchem

    Love grey fields wood

    30/08/2015 at 2:19 pm
  • Reply Chris Fletcher

    We always love building dens !

    30/08/2015 at 2:51 pm
  • Reply Rachel Bustin

    I love Tehidy Woods, which is local to me. Its always full of wildlife with beautiful ponds. Lots of ducks! xx

    30/08/2015 at 3:44 pm
  • Reply ElizM

    nature walking spotting interesting things around us with my kids

    30/08/2015 at 3:46 pm
  • Reply Victoria Prince

    My favourite activity is simply walking through them, appreciating the beauty and flora and fauna 🙂

    30/08/2015 at 3:47 pm
  • Reply Angela Paull

    We love Alice Holt – especially whilst they had the Gruffalo Trail 🙂

    30/08/2015 at 4:27 pm
  • Reply Jessica Townley

    Looking for different types of bugs!

    30/08/2015 at 4:48 pm
  • Reply pauline black

    Culloden woods in inverness, the gruffalo walk. My grandson loves it

    30/08/2015 at 4:51 pm
  • Reply Cerys John

    Going on a lovely long woodland walk and spotting all the nature on the way 🙂

    30/08/2015 at 7:06 pm
  • Reply Karen Laing

    I love taking my grandchildren and my three dogs for long walks through the woods,the dogs run off in all directions,sniffing as they go and my grandchildren collect acorns or pine cones x

    30/08/2015 at 8:00 pm
  • Reply kelly holden

    Exploring new places

    30/08/2015 at 8:35 pm
  • Reply Lindsey M

    I love looking at the blue sky and listening to bird song.

    30/08/2015 at 8:36 pm
  • Reply Terri-Louise Dudey

    looking for creatures and trewe climbing xx

    30/08/2015 at 9:26 pm
  • Reply Tracy Gladman

    I love hunting for pinecones

    30/08/2015 at 9:46 pm
  • Reply Michelle Wild

    Bluebell Woods. Looking and listening – fab.

    30/08/2015 at 10:03 pm
  • Reply claire little

    just exploring 🙂

    30/08/2015 at 10:18 pm
  • Reply Ruth Wollerton

    Bourne Woods – fresh air and great for exploring undiscovered paths

    30/08/2015 at 10:28 pm

    Bird Spotting, I love all our gorgeous birds & love to hear the dawn chorus

    30/08/2015 at 10:33 pm
  • Reply jackie rushton

    Looking for animals and collecting leaves

    30/08/2015 at 10:49 pm
  • Reply Nicola Holland

    Making animals out of woodland materials – true woodland art!

    30/08/2015 at 11:25 pm
  • Reply PSWhere the really wild parents are #30daysofrewilding - PS

    […] many long walks and loved it. And when you tell the universe it answers, this summer we worked with The Woodland Trust, and now as members we get lovely ideas for things to do in the wild through the post each month. […]

    22/09/2015 at 11:35 am
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