Foraging, Fires and Forest Feasts
By far my favourite and loveliest discovery this autumn has seen us travel a little further afield to the Dorking Rangers Forest School, run by the magical Mimi whose enthusiasm for nature and exploring the forest knows no bounds. Hidden in the heart of The Nower in Dorking lies a campsite ready to be explored, with craft stations, hammocks, zip lines, tools and tightropes. Before starting the journey into the woods the theme is explored and we warm up our bodies with stretching and jumping. From “Going on a Bear Hunt”, to witches, potions and spells; from African drumming with rhythm sticks to poetry and stories - we sit around the fire circle ready to hear what we can make and explore.
The fire is made and lit by the children - a big highlight for my daughter who helps to choose the formation of the week. We light the “snappy sticks’ we have collected with cotton wool in scallop shells and with each “dragon sneeze”, the fire is lit. Every week we cook another delicious dish: pizza in a pan, spelt bread and hand churned butter, baked camembert, baked banana with chocolate and the favourite: toasted marshmallows on our own hand-whittled sticks.
The variety of crafts has been fantastic and with materials found in the forest we have decorated magic wands, whittled and carved firework sticks (some with more success than others), and hand-sawn and hammered home-made Christmas decorations and candle holders. We draw with charcoal from the previous week’s fire, make masks, and create animal footprint rubbings - there's so much to try and every week brings something new, something so well thought out and so child-led.
Tuesdays 9.30am - 11.30am
The Nower, Dorking
The Handy tips:
- Forest school can be chilly; it is important to wrap up warm. Snowsuits, snowboots, gloves, the lot
- Arrive early (not my strong point). It takes a long time to get on the layers and herd two children across a muddy field
- Bring a mug and plate for hot drinks and yummy snacks, no need for lunch
- Toilet tent provided
There are so many walks and forest schools to explore in the local area and there is nothing better than messing about in the woods, getting muddy and learning all about nature. Without all the distractions of a busy life their imagination has run wild and it has been magical to watch.
Other forest schools to try:
If you have tried any out let us know and we will include them here.
Recent Rambles is a new feature where we will share recent family-focused days out in Reigate and beyond. Follow us on social media for ideas and tips for great days out in Surrey and let us know if you try out any of the places we cover.