The Hideway, our brand new accommodation block is almost complete. This week we are testing the building systems before welcoming our first group to use the new building in November.
With eight twin rooms, the Hideaway means we can accomodate sixteen more people at the wood. Each room has a separate entrance, making it easier to implement a Covid-secure plan for welcoming groups at our venue.
Prior to the Covid pandemic, we were enjoying hosting 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.
Having been aware that our accommodation was not adequate to meet the growing needs of our clients and, in keeping with our aspiration to give more people the opportunity to connect deeply and meaningfully with nature at the wood, we set about changing this.
Construction of our new build, The Hideaway, began in late 2019, and despite many major delays, the project is complete and we are now commissioning the building.
The Hideaway is going to transform what we can offer as a charity post the pandemic when we can welcome larger groups back into the wood, 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.
A simple but lovingly-finished 140m² building with 8 single / twin 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 is a timber frame and has used as much timber as possible from the wood in the fit-out.
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 hosted a volunteer and trainee event in early 2020 to help participants learn about off-grid technology and get involved in the Hideaway fit-out. The Hideaway is coming at a time when sustainability is a vital topic and environmental awareness and social activism is growing exponentially.
Thie Hideaway will be open to bookings from November.
Generous grants from both the EU Leader and a private donor have made this project possible – thank you to them both!
We are offering a lastminute booking discount for anyone who wants to book the 10-person Oak House or the 6-person Forest Ark for a self-catering forest mini break on the weekend of 25th and 26th July 2020.
Our off-grid buildings are situated in the heart of a 70-acre private wood and nature sanctuary. Government restrictions allow groups of one or two households to book each of these buildings. Book for a long weekend – Thursday 23rd to Sunday 26th July – for £400 (usual price £600).
Full details on what’s on offer and how to book here.
This summer we are opening our doors for summer holiday bookings. We are letting our two main ecobuildings, the 10-person Oak House and the 6-person Forest Ark for long weekend breaks in July and August. What might a break at Hazel Hill look like?
We are located about seven miles from Salisbury. Whether you cycle, take a train to Salisbury and jump in a cab or you drive, your first sight of the woods will actually be our wildflower meadow, which is buzzing with insect life at this time of year.
The path into the 75 acre woodland takes you past stands of broadleaf hornbeam, ash and oak, alongside dark douglas fir until you emerge into the magnificent heartwood. Whenever I stay at the wood with family or groups of friends, this is our base for outdoor activities.
Walk past the Heartwood and you’ll reach the first of the two eco-buildings we have available this summer. The Oak House is can sleep ten people in various configurations. It has a large catering kitchen and indoor spaces where you can congregate at an appropriate distance.
Alternatively you might book the Forest Ark, a smaller and more luxurious off-grid building that can sleep up to six. The living room has a large deck and glass wall that almost invites the wood inside, and in which you can snuggle up around the wood burning stove in the evening.
After you’ve settled in, you could go and explore the pathways and rides that crisscross the wood. We maintain these open rides to create pathway and habitat for insects. These paths are a great way to get out into the woods. As you turn a corner you may spot a friend at the end of another path, or a deer taking its chances and darting back into the undergrowth.
Or delve deeper into the undergrowth. Build dens, climb trees, or just stop for a while in the middle of the forest.
By tea time it’s time to back to the campfire in the heartwood. A recently discovered favourite – flame toasted crumpets and tea.
Once you’ve cooked up your meal, there’s lots of different places you could eat it, in the dining room, in the group room, up around the campfire, or – one of my favourites – around the circular table.
As the evening draws in it is time to light the fire in the heartwood for an evening of singing around the campfire, listening to the sounds of the wood in the dark and going for a night walk if you dare. The fire place has lots of space to sit around at a safe distance. There is a plentiful supply of firewood.
The first job in the morning is to get the fire going. The buildings are off-grid so keeping the fires stoked helps to keep a plentiful supply of water. The early morning is a magnificent time at the wood. No matter how early I get up, the wood is up earlier than me. If you want to know what it sounds like, listen to this podcast I made with Charley Miller, our conservation and education coordinator.
By the second day in the woods I find the kids are more willing to wander freely and further afield in the wood. Sure, there are the usual risks that you would expect in a forest, but it is a safe place for kids to go out and explore within the perimeter of the forest.
By the second day you will be starting to create your own adventures and your own way of exploring and enjoying the woods.
After three months of lockdown, we think Hazel Hill Woods provides the ideal space for a pair of households to get away. By booking your holiday with us you will be supporting our work as a charity to promote sustainability, resilience and wellbeing through contact with nature.
The Oak House and the Forest Ark are now available to two-household groups for long weekend breaks over the summer.
The mission of Hazel Hill Trust is to promote sustainability, resilience and wellbeing by bringing people into contact with nature at Hazel Hill Woods. As lockdown eases, what better way to nurture wellbeing than to invite households to spend time at the woods this summer?
Hazel Hill is a 70 acre woodland and nature sanctuary situated seven miles from Salisbury, Wiltshire. On site we have a number of off-grid eco-buildings that are set up to accommodate groups of people who want to spend time in the woods.
In response to the Government’s latest easing of lockdown restrictions, we are now able to make two of our buildings available to self-catering groups. Each building is available to a two-household group to book. The two buildings are the ten-person Oakhouse and the slightly more luxurious six-person Forest Ark. The buildings are spacious enough to permit groups to maintain one-metre indoor social distancing. Outside, there is plenty of space to spread out.
Here’s a quick overview of what we are offering:
Available for bookings for long-weekends (Thursday 6pm to Sunday 5pm).
We are taking bookings for the period 23rd July to 6th September inclusive.
Booking fee is £600 per building. This is a promo rate for this summer. It is also a flat rate – it stays the same whether you stay for one night or three.
The Oakhouse and Forest Ark are available for booking in parallel. This means that if you book one building, another group is likely to have booked the other. The buildings are self-sufficient and are sufficiently far apart for privacy. There is lots of space outdoors to ensure you maintain your distance from the other group.
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.
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.
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.
Charley Miller tells us what it was like to celebrate the beginning of Spring in her role as Conservation & Education Coordinator…
The Spring Equinox marks the turn of the seasons and this year fell on Wednesday the 20th of March. It was warm and sunny at Hazel Hill Wood which set the tone for a fantastic day working with people in the magical, 70 acre woodland.
We started with a 2 hour session for adult carers who came to us through Three Chequers Medical Practice in Salisbury. We went for a peaceful walk, taking in the pond and woodland rides, followed by tea and cake around a campfire and an optional practical conservation task. We ended with a short relaxation practice, focusing on nature and the senses – tuning into the sound of birdsong, the smell of fresh green leaves, the feel of the fresh air on our skin and the sight of the trees. There were lots of comments about “getting away from it all” and how peaceful it was. We are expanding on the work we already do with young carers, providing opportunities for adults too to benefit from our unique set up. We are piloting “Green Prescriptions” – taking part in outdoor, nature-based activitiesto benefit people’s physical and mental health and wellbeing. More info on nature and wellbeinghere.
Key Volunteers and conservation – in the afternoon, I met with one of the Key Volunteers who helps with wildlife surveying projects including our search for the elusive dormouse and the ongoing monitoring using a trail camera. This is an example of how we provide opportunities to use and develop people’s skills, and facilitate them to contribute in a meaningful way to the charity. We are on the look out for more people who are interested in utilising their unique skills and interests with us at Hazel Hill, so please get in touch if you have an idea of how you could support the work of the charity.
To round off the day, we welcomed 22 Brownies from the local village of Winterslow. We taught them how to light and build fires safely which forms part of their Adventure-Camp badge. Of course no fire in the woods would be complete without some marshmallows to toast – great fun! The visit was part of our Branching Out programme, which supports local groups and organisations to access Hazel Hill Wood and the benefits of nature, wild spaces and the inherent wellbeing it can promote. The group had a great time, experiencing the magic of the wood at night whilst learning a new skill.