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.
Read more about what’s on offer and our terms and conditions. If you want to find out more, drop us an email.