Well it’s been a rather different year here at Hazel Hill. Sadly, most of our group bookings in 2020 were cancelled. But it was lovely to see smaller groups enjoying the wood instead in their ‘family and friend bubbles’. These bookings have been a lifeline for us in the current restrictions, and so we plan to continue to offer short family and friend breaks in 2021, during school holidays and on the occasional weekend when availability allows. Check here for availability.
Work on our new accommodation building, the Hideaway, continued throughout lockdown, although delays caused by Covid-19 slowed progress substantially. Never the less we ploughed on and we’re finally at the final fit-out stage. We look forward to seeing the building being used by guests in the Spring. Huge thanks to Keith from KNK Developments, and his team of contractors, for their continued hard work in what has been a much longer project than anticipated.
We already have lots of bookings in 2021 from facilitators running their own events at Hazel Hill Wood, some of which will be advertised on our new website with links to further details, so look out for an ‘Events’ page coming soon!
Feel free to get in touch if you’re a facilitator interested in hiring Hazel Hill Wood as a venue in 2021. As well as residential hire, we are now offering daytime hire on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Ideal for running courses, workshops or sessions, you can hire the wood or the Oak House (or both) for the morning, afternoon or entire day. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
We have internal events planned too, including Conservation Weekends, a Big Garden Bird Watch in January, an Easter Woodland Craft Day, Bat and Glowworm Nights, with new events and activities being discussed all the time. Have a Happy Christmas and we look forward to seeing you at one of these events in 2021!
Haven’t been able to get away yet this year? Craving a digital detox from all those Zoom meetings? Why not spend this Christmas in one of our cosy off-grid lodges.
Enjoy wintry walks with the family during the day, then kick back and relax in front of a log burner in the evening. Toast marshmallows over the campfire with a cup of hot chocolate in hand. Read a book, build a den, go on an adventure… we all need the solace and restorative powers of nature now more than ever.
‘Christmas at the Wood’ 7 nights: 22nd – 29th December The Oak House – sleeps 10 The Forest Ark – sleeps 6
‘New Year at the Wood’ 5 nights: 29th December – 3rd January The Oak House – sleeps 10 The Forest Ark – BOOKED
We’ve welcomed a total of 18 volunteers back at covid-secure volunteer days between July and December which is fantastic. We’ve done lots of scything and raking to keep the rides and glades in good condition for wildlife, given the bird boxes their annual clean, maintained paths and tidied around the buildings. We’ve had so many positive comments about how good it is to be back volunteering at the wood, with many people saying they feel relaxed and refreshed. As well as getting physically active and completing valuable conservation work, it’s great to be around like-minded people and have an element of normal life in these strange times. We look after the wood and the wood looks after us! We are planning to welcome new volunteers in early 2021.
Felling of branches and trees of trees at risk of failing (falling), and making safe those that come down naturally, is a regular element of woodland management work. It would be unnecessary and virtually impossible to survey and monitor every tree in our 70 acre wood; we focus on high human use areas and “targets”. “Targets” include people congregating (e.g. at the Campfire Circle), buildings and cars. In September, James Ockenden took down the dead Lime tree situated next to the Hideaway, plus 2 ash trees and an oak that were dying and at risk of falling on the Hideaway or paths around it. The trees have all been left as “habitat poles”, which no longer have the “sail effect” that branches and leaves give (making them more likely to be blown over), and are great habitat for lots of wildlife including birds, bats, fungi and insects.
Whilst moving firewood recently we found an adult grass snake skin and then a live juvenile grass snake found in log pile. Very exciting! We will now leave some of the log pile here as it is clearly important habitat now. Frogs of different sizes and colours are everywhere! They’re all the same species, common frog. They’re also grass snakes’ favourite food… This one was moved to safety and out of the path of a scythe. 2020 marks a move away from machinery and power tools as we use scythes instead to maintain our wildlife-rich rides and glades at Hazel Hill Wood.
by Charley Miller, Conservation and Education Coordinator.
We are pleased to announce that our first Friday of the month volunteer days have restarted, with our next one on Friday 3rd July. If you are already subscribed to our volunteer mailing list then you will have already received information about the safety steps we are taking to maintain appropriate levels of social distancing.
To find out details of upcoming volunteer conservation days check out our events page.
Covid 19 update – we are pleased to be restarting our first Friday of the month volunteer days on 3rd July (next week). As you might expect, we have had to plan and prepare carefully for this to happen safely. Please do not come to a volunteer day without confirming with us beforehand and agreeing to follow our list of adaptations (which will be sent via email). We currently have capacity for maximum 11 volunteers each day plus me, in 2 groups of up to 6. Regular volunteers have been invited first, and remaining spaces will go on a first come first served basis. Please email us if you’d like to come.
In May this year, founder and lead funder of Hazel Hill Trust, Alan Heeks stepped down from his role as Chair of the Trustees. Taking up the role is Oliver Broadbent, long-time friend of the wood and co-organiser of many educational events here.
Oliver has been a Trustee of Hazel Hill Trust since July 2019, and has been playing various supporting roles over the last year. He has a background in training and facilitation, with a particular focus on creative skills in the climate crisis.
Last week Oliver cycled to the wood from Bristol for his first visit since the lockdown began. Taking up the role, Oliver said
How we engage with nature and treat our natural environment will define how we respond to the climate crisis, both in terms of our wellbeing but also in terms of the decisions we make. I know of no better place to combine connection with nature with a conversation about how we respond to the crisis than Hazel Hill, a place I have loved for many years and now have the responsbility to look after.
One of the ways we fulfill our chartiable aims is to invite groups of people to run their events at the wood. We provide a place where like-minded organisations, interested in sustainability, resilience and well-being – can meet in an inspiring, nourishing setting to do their work.
To help us welcome more groups into the woods, over the last year we have been building a brand-new accommodation block – the Hideaway. Hidden away behind the tall oak, ash and hornbeam trees to the south of our existing buildings, this new building houses eight twin rooms that overlook one of my favourite corners of the wood.
Last week we hit a major milestone in this project: building control sign-off the building. Over the summer we continue the fitout of the building, ready for guests this Autumn.
The Hideaway is part-funded by the EU Leader scheme.
Join us and contribute to valuable nature conservation work at Hazel Hill Wood. Our Volunteer Conservation Days give you the opportunity to develop new skills, meet people and get active in a relaxing and nourishing environment.
Tasks vary throughout the year; examples include ride maintenance, hedge planting, bench creation and wildlife surveys. Activities often require the use of tools. Children are welcome to come with a responsible adult. Please come prepared to be outside for the day, considering the weather.
10am – 3pm Friday 7th August Hazel Hill Wood, near Farley, Salisbury
The Autumn Conservation Weekend (mid October – dates tbc shortly) is a time for exchange: come and nurture the woods and the woods will nurture you. At the Autumn Conservation Weekend spend two days and two nights in this magical woodland environment, helping to look after the trees and the wildlife and then unwind.
Our team wil lead you through conservation activites to suit your level of energy and experience. Stay overnight in our eco-buildings or camp, and share vegetarian group meals.
The Hideaway – transforming the future for all of us
Help us bridge the funding gap!
As our charity develops, we have many more groups in the wood, learning about conservation, sustainability, wellbeing, resilience and mindfulness – not only from our own team, but from teachers worldwide who run their retreats and residentials at Hazel Hill Wood. For some time now we have been aware that our current accommodation is not adequate to meet all these growing needs.
You may be familiar with our current buildings and much as we love them and continue to make improvements to them, their total sleeping capacity limits us to groups of 15-20 and that relies on people sharing space in dormitory stye. We increasingly have demand for larger groups and single and twin rooms that offer greater comfort.
In-keeping with our aspiration to give more people the opportunity to connect deeply and meaningfully with nature at the wood.
The Hideaway will transform what we can offer as a charity, for example:
hosting programmes for senior policy makers in the NHS and other services, where nature immersion gives deeper perspective.
sharing our expertise with other centres and individuals by making train the trainer programmes viable. hosting larger groups of up to 32 people, e.g. whole school classes . leading teachers to run groups on topics like climate change and resilience.
The Hideaway will provide: A simple but lovingly-finished 140m² building with 8 single bedrooms (one of which is wheelchair accessible), off-grid technology such as photovoltaic powered lighting, composting loos and an efficient wood-burning stove for heating and hot showers. Construction will be timber frame, using as much timber as possible from the wood in the fit-out.
Off-grid technology: We have combined over 20 years of learning and experience in running off-grid systems at the wood and have designed intermediate technology at an affordable price. We will be planning a volunteer and trainee event in early 2020 to help learn about off-grid technology and get involved in the Hideaway fit-out (watch this space!) The Hideaway is coming at a time when sustainability is a vital topic and environmental awareness and social activism is growing exponentially.
When will constructions start?
We have planning consent, almost complete with building regulations approvals and have a reliable contractor who has worked with the wood and understands our ethos. Everything is poised to start this September 2019, subject to raising sufficient funds. If all goes to plan, The Hideaway will be open to welcome you from May 2020 (we already have expressions of interest for people booking the building in 2020).
Help us bridge the funding gap: bring the Hideaway to life!
The total cost of the Hideaway is £250,000. We have already secured £184,000, including a generous grant from the EU Leader and a private donation.
If you would like to contribute to bringing this building into being, and be part of our thriving Hazel Hill community, please do so either via:
Online via Charities Aid Foundation, using a debit or credit card by clicking here. If you select Gift Aid, your donation goes further.
Bank transfer: Hazel Hill Trust Capital Account: Sort Code 30 97 14 Account Number 28990360. Please mark your payment Hideaway, and email us so we know who gave it, and the we can arrange to claim Gift Aid.
By cheque: payable to ‘Hazel Hill Trust’, and send to Hazel Hill Trust, c/o Lauren Hall, 2 Kings Gate, Wilton, Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP2 0RP.
Any support, large or small, will be hugely appreciated and well used. Gifts over £500 will be acknowledged via a display within the Hideaway, and all donors will be invited to our opening celebration in Spring 2020. We would be glad to recognise high value donations in ways that feel appropriate to the giver, and are in keeping with our ethos.
Get in touch:
There is a detailed display of the Hideaway in the Oak House, please add your comments about the building and donations in the box provided.