The Dingle

Appleton Forest School

UPDATE - Now moved to Friday!

Every Monday 10am Lumb Brook Valley

£5 per child

We've been running forest school sessions for our 'regulars' since February 2015 and its been a lot of fun!



Looking back of our sessions my first thought  is one of pride. I've seen Forest School build our pupils' confidence grow in leaps and bounds. Ranging from 2 to 14 year olds at first there was trepidation with going off path and into the Brook but soon this became normal so every session begins with a dip in the stream to have a look. This is led by the children - there's always this desire to explore and investigate.

Cooking with Fire  safely

Cooking with Fire  safely

Another regular is fire building. Fear of fire has grown into respect. Pupils can now safely identify and collect appropriate firewood - deadwood, tinder, kindling and logs, build a fire and light it with a flint and steel. We've made char cloth and cooked on the fire. We've developed and agreed safety rules which we all follow. This is something we can only do with the express permission of the land owner - so thank you Woodland Trust - and is carried out in a 'leave no trace' way.

            Hazel identified  and ripe for coppicing

            Hazel identified  and ripe for coppicing

Most sessions we use tools to make something. We've learnt to identify plants and in particular hazel.

A hazel hurdle/habitat pile made by 2 - 14 year olds and parents.

A hazel hurdle/habitat pile made by 2 - 14 year olds and parents.

Lumb Brook Valley has an abundance of hazel and with the permission of the Woodland Trust we've been coppicing hazel (cutting it back). Coppicing makes hazel live for longer and develops an understory - leave hazel too long and it turns into quite a large tree. This reduces the burden of maintenance by the trust so hopefully we're saving them money to spend on other things. By cutting it back every 12 years or so you prevent it turning into a tree  and help the herb layer get more light. At Lumb Brook that means more bluebells!

Using a bow saw, loppers, bill hook and knife we've used hazel for:

  • Den Building
  • Raising a fire pan off the ground
  • Building our fire safety tripod
  • Making handles for toasting popcorn and for our pond dipping sieves
  • Making walking sticks
  • Habitat piles for hedgehogs
  • Protecting the stream bank
  • Making a hurdle habitat fence

Our greatest achievement is that we've got children using tools safely, recognising dangers (such as a sharp blade) and taking appropriate precautions. The only injury we've had is Rawdon's pride when he fell over in the mud on a bear hunt.

What's next?

Sessions are child led so we'll see where we go but due to our passion, commitment to and love of nature we've now got another land owner on board to use even more woods in Lumb Brook Valley. We'll update you when all the paperwork is in place but this will give our pupils the  chance to develop their own site for forest school - so more exploring, more tool use, more learning and more fun.

Why not contact us to book onto a session? Have a look at our Appleton Forest School Facebook Page where we post site specific updates or alternatively our Fairy Forest School page for upcoming events.

Events for May


Its a chilly start to May but soon it'll be lovely and warm (hopefully).

EVERY MONDAY - Including Bank Hols. Appleton Forest School 10am at Lumb Brook Valley. Sessions are at least an hour but often stretch on to midday if we get into things (which we usually do). This is an ongoing series of child led sessions. Recently we've done some tool use with under 5s, explored, identified trees, stream walked, made hazel hurdles, bean poles and more. Its very organic and often involves participants influencing what happens at future sessions. PRICE £5 per child with sibling discounts, etc.

Sunday 10th May - PRIVATE GRUFFALO BOOKING at Gorse Covert Mounds. Get in touch if you'd like your own personalised session for family or friends.

FAIRY TALE WOOD Saturday 16th May 10am-12 noon New Moss Wood, Glazebrook. The 3 bears will be serving porridge to set us up for our adventure . Join us as we wander the woods in search of fairy tales and try making a house of sticks before the big bad wolf blows them down.  Followed by hot dogs (sorry 3 little pigs) cooked on a campfire. PRICE £10 per child with sibling discounts, etc.

FAIRY TALE WOOD Sunday 17th May 10am-12 noon Lumb Brook Valley, Appleton.

FREE MINIBEAST HUNT Saturday 23rd May - Exclusively for our Fairy Forest School Facebook friends. All you have  to do is like, follow and share our facebook page. More details on facebook.

Don't forget our Appleton  Forest School for the BANK HOLIDAY.

HALF TERM - TUESDAY 26th May - NEOLITHIC VILLAGE at Gorse Covert Mounds. Our favourite session so far exploring nature and building dens. Campfire Lunch Included. PRICE £10 per child with sibling discounts, etc. See our previous blog here.

HALF TERM - WEDNESDAY 27th May- BEAR HUNT at New Moss Wood, Glazebury. 9:45am Porridge, 10am set off and teddy bears picnic for lunch with campfire cooking. PRICE £10 per child with sibling discounts, etc. See our previous blog here.

HALF TERM -THURSDAY 28th May - WET n WILD. A nature walk along the length of the Dingle for adults and/or children. You will get wet. 10am (lasts up to 2 hours) PRICE £5 each.

HALF TERM - FRIDAY 29th May - FOREST SCHOOL FRIDAY. A bit of everything! Using tools, dens, camp fires, nature.  Great for those thinking of taking up forest school. Great for home educators or teachers, nurseries, etc. thinking of introducing forest school or families just wanting to get outside and do stuff! What is forest school? Find out here.

 FAIRY TALE WOOD Saturday 30th May -noon Gorse Covert Mounds. The 3 bears will be serving porridge to set us up for our adventure . Join us as we wander the woods in search of fairy tales and try making a house of sticks before the big bad wolf blows them down.  Followed by hot dogs (sorry 3 little pigs) cooked on a campfire. PRICE £10 per child with sibling discounts, etc.

WET WILD WALK Saturday 18th April

Walk the length of the Dingle Stream

 See the Dingle from a whole new perspective

Inspired by a wet day on New Zealand's Inland Pack Track we offer this opportunity to . . .


No path. Just water, rock, mud and sand.

Great for adults and children seeking a wet wild adventure.


We're proud and excited to travel Lumb Brook Valley from the valley floor giving a unique perspective of the woodland wildlife.

We'll give you the opportunity to go under the bridge "In at the Deep End". You'll stoop under branches and wade through pools, climb over rocks and slide down mini waterfalls. You'll find the best route to travel down streams with minimal impact to the stream and find the safest route.


We'll examine the bank and look for evidence of bank voles or other wildlife to make sure we leave no trace and we'll look into the water to see what lives there. You'll learn about the life of a stream and how it affects the woodland around it.


You will get wet. The maximum depth we can go to is 0.5m - that's knee length on most adults. You'll be sitting in the stream, lowering yourself over slippy rocks and you'll need to get over worrying about getting wet feet.


We can only take 6 at a time on this journey because we'll want you to tread where we tread until you start to recognise hazards and treat them appropriately. We avoid log jams as these have the potential to trap ankles and there are overhanging branches which well stoop under or if safe climb over.

The water is cold but not that cold. You need to trap water to keep warm so its a good idea to wear thermals if you have them. There is the occasional bramble so long sleeves and trousers are important.  Waterproofs help keep the wind off but don't expect to stay dry. We'll bring a thermos of warm squash for a much needed injection of heat.

The water isn't clean but it isn't exactly dirty either. As with all open water in the UK there exists the chance for contamination. The stream is mainly source from agricultural (crop rather than animal) groundwater. There exists as with all open water the potential for Weil's disease so as a precaution we advise covering any cuts with a waterproof plaster and washing hands after the event and before eating.

Wellies are not so good because they'll soon be full of water, have poor grip, rub and will stick in the mud - best wear old shoes that you don't mind getting wet or muddy. Old trainers or walking boots are best. Shoes change shape when they're wet so wear a thin inner sock and thicker outer socks. Waders if you have them are great.

The stream rises and falls with rainfall. After heavy rain the stream can rise and flow increase but we'll never go deeper than 0.5m and we'll guide you round any dodgy bits.


You'll begin your journey from Green Lane. Meet us there or we'll walk you to the start from our usual meeting place on Dingle Lane Bridge.

PRICE: Introductory offer £5 per person for an exciting wet and wild walk including refreshments.

Contact us to book.