The National Forest

24th August 2007 at 01:00
You can see the wood and the trees and plenty more besides at Britain's newest woodland

Why go?

The National Forest, a 200 square mile area of Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Staffordshire, is the biggest wood to be created in Britain for 1,000 years. About seven million trees have been planted, making it three times the size it was in the early 1990s. Fifty one miles of new hedgerow have also been created.

Why now?

On Bank Holiday Monday you can experience the National Forest Wood Fair (August 27, 10am to 5pm, 01509 890048) at Beacon Hill Country Park, part of the ancient Charnwood Forest, near Junctions 21 and 22 of the M1 in Leicestershire. Try making useful objects from wood and willow with help from visiting experts. About 100 stalls will be selling local food and drink. Other entertainments include the Wild Man of the Woods storytelling, female chainsaw wood sculptors, and extreme tree climbing, with harnesses, safety hats and a tree surgeon's lift to get you 15 metres above the ground.

Or next weekend, join in Shakerstone Steam and Canal Festival (September 1 to 2, 01827 880754).

My kids just won't sit still

Burn off energy on one of the forest's walking or cycling trails. Hire bikes from Rosliston Forestry Centre (01283 563483,, or join the Get Active in the Forest programme, including orienteering, archery, laser combat games, and kite making, plus pond dipping and an evening with owls.

But I'm crafty

Learn chair, coracle or basket making at Greenwood Days (01332 864529,, which runs traditional craft courses in the wood at the Ferrers Centre for Arts and Crafts, near Staunton Harold in Leicestershire.

It looks like rain

Make for the new indoor Enchanted Forest at Conkers (01283 216633,, where all ages from four to adult can scramble through giant worm tunnels, for hundreds of metres of crawls and climbs to get a tree top view above the rest of the exhibits.

There's also a soft adventure play area for small children to enjoy. Or go to Snibston Discovery Park (01530 278444,, a museum of science, technology, history and fashion built on a reclaimed colliery near Coalville.

Summer is long we're a bit tired

The Heart of the Forest open-top bus tour (01530 411767) is a hop-on, hop-off sightseeing tour that takes in most of the forest's attractions, including the Sence Valley Forest Park.

Stay another day

Conkers is the Camping and Caravanning Club's first new site for nine years (

Need to know more?

For free information packs and leaflets call 01283 551211 or visit

Renata Rubnikowicz

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