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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: http://www.theprizefinder.com/content/wood-land-trust-goody-bag#sthash.OoC1B0D4.dpuf



  1. 13/08/2015 / 2:43 pm

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

    • parentshaped
      14/08/2015 / 8:22 am

      Such a cool adventure 🙂

  2. Tracey Peach
    13/08/2015 / 3:06 pm

    Hide & Seek 🙂

  3. Carolynn Woodland
    13/08/2015 / 3:06 pm

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

  4. Angel
    13/08/2015 / 3:14 pm

    Love looking out for unusual wildlife and the tranquility.

    13/08/2015 / 3:21 pm

    My favourite woodland activity is playing hide and seek

  6. trevor linvell
    13/08/2015 / 3:23 pm

    birdwatching and animal spotting

  7. Jennifer Haden
    13/08/2015 / 3:34 pm

    Looking out for animals and birds and collecting sticks

  8. Andrea
    13/08/2015 / 3:54 pm

    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 🙂

    • parentshaped
      14/08/2015 / 8:22 am

      Never tire of it! Have fun Andrea 🙂

  9. Terrie-Ann Wright
    13/08/2015 / 3:59 pm

    Looking out for animals and collecting leaves for collages

  10. Sarah E
    13/08/2015 / 4:01 pm

    Hide & Seek Whilst Mommy & Daddy Pop Open The Wine

    • parentshaped
      14/08/2015 / 8:21 am

      He he!

  11. katie skeoch
    13/08/2015 / 6:08 pm

    Rambling, nothing better on a sunny day

  12. kim neville
    13/08/2015 / 6:46 pm

    Exploring and seeing what we can find hidden in the woods

  13. Jacki Hamer
    13/08/2015 / 7:28 pm

    We love exploring the woodland of Cannock Chase

  14. Michelle Banks
    13/08/2015 / 7:52 pm

    just walking in the peace and quiet x

  15. Samantha Loughlin
    13/08/2015 / 7:56 pm

    Looking out for all kinds of wild life

  16. Martina Pichova
    13/08/2015 / 8:17 pm

    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.

  17. laura banks
    13/08/2015 / 8:50 pm

    i used to love making dens

  18. mike daniels
    13/08/2015 / 8:52 pm

    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.

    • parentshaped
      14/08/2015 / 8:21 am

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

  19. karen Howden
    13/08/2015 / 11:13 pm

    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

    • parentshaped
      14/08/2015 / 8:20 am

      Some of my favourites there!

  20. Suzanne
    14/08/2015 / 12:31 am

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

  21. Annie
    14/08/2015 / 12:52 am

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

    • parentshaped
      14/08/2015 / 8:20 am

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

  22. claire woods
    14/08/2015 / 8:55 am

    We love riding bikes in the forest.

  23. Kasia
    14/08/2015 / 10:11 am

    hide & seek

  24. laura stewart
    14/08/2015 / 10:33 am

    we enjoy searching for bugs xx

  25. Simon Kneller
    14/08/2015 / 10:37 am

    Climbing Trees

  26. tracy baines
    14/08/2015 / 11:28 am

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

  27. david cavender
    14/08/2015 / 1:08 pm

    photographing unusual shaped trees

  28. Wendy Smith
    14/08/2015 / 5:56 pm

    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.

  29. Laura Pritchard
    14/08/2015 / 6:47 pm

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

  30. Helen Southam
    14/08/2015 / 8:50 pm

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

  31. Rachel Butterworth
    14/08/2015 / 11:43 pm

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

  32. Stevie
    14/08/2015 / 11:50 pm

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

  33. lynn heath
    15/08/2015 / 8:56 am

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

  34. Sue McCarthy
    15/08/2015 / 10:05 am

    Bird watching

  35. Keith Hunt
    16/08/2015 / 2:11 am

    Play hide and seek

  36. Andy Kadir-Buxton
    16/08/2015 / 7:24 am

    Taking photos of Bluebells.

  37. Ruth Harwood
    16/08/2015 / 8:20 am

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

  38. Julie Ward
    16/08/2015 / 11:11 am

    The nature trail in a park near where we live

  39. Sonia Vegas
    16/08/2015 / 6:02 pm

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

  40. claire griffiths
    16/08/2015 / 7:18 pm

    looking for birds and animals

  41. frances hopkins
    16/08/2015 / 8:45 pm

    Finding mushrooms

  42. Sam Cornford
    16/08/2015 / 9:16 pm

    Huntin out the wildlife.

    • Sam Cornford
      16/08/2015 / 9:17 pm

      To just observe…

  43. Caroline Signey
    16/08/2015 / 10:45 pm

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

  44. Julie Edwards
    17/08/2015 / 1:15 pm

    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.

  45. Corinne Peat
    18/08/2015 / 8:45 pm

    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!

  46. Michael Griffin
    19/08/2015 / 3:55 pm

    Cranham Woods. Hide and Seek

  47. Suzanne Jackson
    22/08/2015 / 10:11 am

    We like building dens!

  48. Ana N.
    22/08/2015 / 1:38 pm

    Animal spotting

  49. Sara Friend
    23/08/2015 / 12:24 pm


  50. Natasha R-M
    23/08/2015 / 9:05 pm

    Listening to the birds and looking out for wildlife

  51. Lisa Pond
    23/08/2015 / 9:09 pm

    A bike ride around the wyre forest 🙂

  52. carole n
    25/08/2015 / 5:06 pm

    Love to bijke around the woodland trails

  53. carole n
    25/08/2015 / 5:06 pm

    Love to bike around the woodland trails

  54. Kirsty Woods
    26/08/2015 / 6:19 am

    Building dens and climbing trees

  55. 26/08/2015 / 9:05 am

    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 !!!!

  56. Elizabeth Doody
    26/08/2015 / 9:29 am

    Whippendale Woods Watford

  57. claire nutman
    26/08/2015 / 9:43 am

    Making dens, all time fave x

  58. Kat Lucas
    26/08/2015 / 9:46 am

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

  59. Jessica Smith
    26/08/2015 / 9:57 am

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

  60. 26/08/2015 / 10:20 am

    We love Leigh Woods in Bristol – absolutely beautiful!

  61. Fiona Salmon
    26/08/2015 / 10:50 am

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

  62. Fiona K
    26/08/2015 / 11:09 am

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

  63. Samantha Wheeler
    26/08/2015 / 11:19 am

    We love playing hide-and-seek!

  64. Andrea Miles
    26/08/2015 / 11:28 am

    just walking & enjoying the sounds * scents

  65. Lorraine Tinsley
    26/08/2015 / 11:37 am

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

  66. Jennifer C
    26/08/2015 / 1:04 pm

    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!

  67. gemma brown
    26/08/2015 / 1:17 pm

    my boys love moors valley and building dens

  68. Lisa Evans
    26/08/2015 / 1:34 pm

    Going to loggerheads in mold north Wales!

  69. Sarah-Jane Laycock
    26/08/2015 / 2:08 pm

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

    26/08/2015 / 2:41 pm

    pond dipping 🙂

  71. Rich Jeffery
    26/08/2015 / 5:18 pm

    Tree Climbing

  72. 26/08/2015 / 6:04 pm

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

  73. Ashleigh Allan
    26/08/2015 / 7:11 pm

    We pretend we are looking for a gruffalo!

  74. Lyla
    26/08/2015 / 8:06 pm

    Walking and enjoying the woodland sounds

  75. anne-marie wigley
    26/08/2015 / 9:42 pm

    exploring and looking out for red squirrels in parkhurst forest 😀

  76. Kirsty Fox
    26/08/2015 / 10:24 pm

    We love looking for Geocaches in the woods

  77. Ellie-Mae Taylor
    26/08/2015 / 10:53 pm

    Going bike riding!

    27/08/2015 / 2:46 pm

    climbing trees

  79. Amy Beckett
    27/08/2015 / 3:21 pm

    I love shelter building

  80. helen tovell
    27/08/2015 / 4:41 pm

    finding things to create other things

  81. Gillian Cooke
    27/08/2015 / 4:52 pm

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

  82. Sarah Gray
    27/08/2015 / 6:42 pm

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

  83. Katarzyna Szewczyk
    27/08/2015 / 9:37 pm

    Looking out for animals and birds.

  84. Caroline H
    27/08/2015 / 11:59 pm

    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!

  85. clare H
    28/08/2015 / 8:55 am

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

  86. Maranda Thomson
    28/08/2015 / 9:56 am

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

  87. Suzie W
    28/08/2015 / 4:55 pm

    Collecting chestnuts or conkers.

  88. Mike Gerrie
    28/08/2015 / 9:41 pm

    Climing tress and playing hide and seek

  89. Sheri Darby
    28/08/2015 / 11:24 pm

    We just enjoy walking looking at the trees

  90. Isabelle Smith
    29/08/2015 / 1:34 pm

    archery x

  91. Tammy Neal
    29/08/2015 / 1:48 pm

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

  92. janine atkin
    29/08/2015 / 4:03 pm

    insect hunting

  93. Rachel Wise
    29/08/2015 / 5:59 pm

    We love to build dens

  94. MichelleD
    29/08/2015 / 8:03 pm

    We love building dens in the woods!

  95. steph lovatt
    29/08/2015 / 9:05 pm

    I love the woods around our local mere

  96. Anna
    29/08/2015 / 10:18 pm

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

  97. Nancy Bradford
    29/08/2015 / 10:54 pm

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

  98. 29/08/2015 / 10:56 pm

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

  99. jo liddement
    30/08/2015 / 7:26 am

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

  100. Sarah Robinson
    30/08/2015 / 9:44 am

    We love den building and wildlife spotting. x

  101. Jade h
    30/08/2015 / 12:01 pm

    Making dens

  102. Juli Savage
    30/08/2015 / 1:34 pm

    Watching the natural home of wildlife

  103. Aaron Milne
    30/08/2015 / 2:17 pm

    Love macclesfield forest

  104. Lara Latchem
    30/08/2015 / 2:19 pm

    Love grey fields wood

  105. Chris Fletcher
    30/08/2015 / 2:51 pm

    We always love building dens !

  106. Rachel Bustin
    30/08/2015 / 3:44 pm

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

  107. ElizM
    30/08/2015 / 3:46 pm

    nature walking spotting interesting things around us with my kids

  108. Victoria Prince
    30/08/2015 / 3:47 pm

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

  109. Angela Paull
    30/08/2015 / 4:27 pm

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

  110. Jessica Townley
    30/08/2015 / 4:48 pm

    Looking for different types of bugs!

  111. pauline black
    30/08/2015 / 4:51 pm

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

  112. Cerys John
    30/08/2015 / 7:06 pm

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

  113. Karen Laing
    30/08/2015 / 8:00 pm

    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

  114. kelly holden
    30/08/2015 / 8:35 pm

    Exploring new places

  115. Lindsey M
    30/08/2015 / 8:36 pm

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

  116. Terri-Louise Dudey
    30/08/2015 / 9:26 pm

    looking for creatures and trewe climbing xx

  117. Tracy Gladman
    30/08/2015 / 9:46 pm

    I love hunting for pinecones

  118. Michelle Wild
    30/08/2015 / 10:03 pm

    Bluebell Woods. Looking and listening – fab.

  119. claire little
    30/08/2015 / 10:18 pm

    just exploring 🙂

  120. Ruth Wollerton
    30/08/2015 / 10:28 pm

    Bourne Woods – fresh air and great for exploring undiscovered paths

    30/08/2015 / 10:33 pm

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

  122. jackie rushton
    30/08/2015 / 10:49 pm

    Looking for animals and collecting leaves

  123. Nicola Holland
    30/08/2015 / 11:25 pm

    Making animals out of woodland materials – true woodland art!

I'd love to know your thoughts!