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A summer to celebrate at Hainault Forest

Hainault forest landscape
A summer to celebrate at Hainault Forest

As summer transitions into autumn, we are reflecting on a very successful first summer of the new and improved Hainault Forest. Since the grand opening in early April, Hainault Forest has become a harmony between nature and community, offering a perfect blend of outdoor adventure, education, and relaxation. The summer months have been marked by the much-anticipated opening of Foxburrows Farm and the brand new outdoor adventure play area, along with a variety of engaging events that drew visitors young and old.

Hainault Forest is now also home to a variety of wonderful local artists who occupy the units in our craft courtyard offering painting workshops, pottery painting, glass blowing demonstrations and woodworking; transforming raw materials into works of art, which have blown away (pun intended) visitors!

Play and Explore

The reopening of Foxburrows Farm, nestled within the scenic beauty of Hainault Forest, was a resounding success. Families have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to interact with the farm animals once again, learning about their care and feeding.

Adjacent to Foxburrows Farm, a new outdoor adventure area opened its gates. Designed to blend seamlessly with the forest surroundings, the play area is more than just a playground; it’s a space for active, imaginative, and collaborative play and, as expected being surrounded by this wonderful ancient forest, all the play equipment is crafted from natural wood, channelling the woodland.

Engaging and Inspiring Events

The festivities at Hainault Forest were made possible by the team at Vision Redbridge, who organized a series of captivating events. Some of the highlights included:

  • Over 60 sessions run by our friends Tindersticks including bushcraft workshops that taught participants the art of fire-starting techniques using materials found in the forest, the importance of shelter, as well as Little Acorns sessions for pre-schoolers.
  • Forest Yoga and Pilates; more than 100 attendees for invigorating Yoga and Pilates sessions amidst the tranquil forest setting, providing attendees with a holistic experience of mind and body connection.

In addition, over 1100 hours of Volunteer sessions went ahead with participants lending their support to the Forest in a range of activities including: installing 9 new log dams on a stream in the woodland, over 140 litres of paint used to restore the farm and its fences, mulching over new hedgerows in public spaces.

Visitors to the forest have also had the pleasure of meeting the local artists now operating from our Craft Courtyard and enjoyed their workshops and demonstrations during the summer months.

The Woodland Trust hosted a series of events over the summer, drawing over 250 attendees. These events included: Treelaxation walks; a walk in the ancient woodland combined with sensory exercises to connect with and disconnect from the pressures of modern life, Night Hikes; a walk through the woods by night to see the woods from a different perspective and ‘Nature Detectives’ children’s sessions; adventures in the forest looking for clues as to who lives there and which natural plants grow there as well as bug hunts, as well as many other walks. Participants shared their awe and appreciation for these events:

“When you focus your senses, you start to be in tune with the forest.”

“Loved the tree quiz; it’s a great way to get the children engaged.”

“Seeing the bats buzz above our heads was amazing, and hearing the owls was a great experience.”

Shop ‘til you drop

The Woodland Trust Visitor Centre and gift shop has seen over 10,000 visitors during the summer holidays, a testament to the community’s love for Hainault Forest and the new facilities now offered. Visitors have enjoyed learning the history of the forest, how it came to be and how they can support the wonderful work that the Woodland Trust are doing to secure the future of the forest. Visitors have spent time browsing and purchasing a variety of gifts and merchandise including swatch books, garden tools, bird feeders, tea towels, relaxing gift sets and much much more. The local community are now also able to map out their walks and hikes using our new forest map with colour coded trails and waymarking signage throughout the woodland.

As the vibrant summer celebrations have now drawn to a close, we’re looking forward to the Autumn/Winter season offering a calendar full of engaging events, as Hainault Forest promises to remain a hub of excitement and nature-inspired activities, and a natural gem in the Heart of East London, thanks to the tireless efforts of Vision Redbridge, the Woodland Trust, and the enthusiastic community.

 

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