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 email@example.com 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.
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.
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.