“Fandabidosy” “ Wow” and “That is interesting” are rarely comments I hear in my day to day job, but this month I’m pleased to report it’s been full of them thanks to the People’s Postcode Trust!

It’s been the start of our spring programme and people of all ages, locals and visitors, have been seeing what happens if they ‘go down to the woods today…’

We got off to a snowy start and had to cancel a couple of events (sorry everyone!) but kicked off with a Gruffalo Adventure and Bushcraft day for children the following week.

The 24 children arrived full of high spirits and parents waved them off on the minibus. We headed up to the Painted Rock Trail and older children disappeared into the wilderness to learn survival skills. The younger children followed the clues to track down the Gruffalo. They made their own likeness of the monster himself, complete with hairy green wart.

The group made wishes on Bruce the Spruce (mostly related to Barbie DVD’s) and continued on to make scary snakes, little creature dens, carrot ‘fires’ and woodland masks.

The bushcraft group built a very well camouflaged den, learnt how to make fires and enjoyed a well-deserved cup of hot chocolate.

Smiles abounded and a group of very tired children headed home at the end of the session. I shall include a disclaimer along the lines of ‘Bute Forest is not responsible for the behaviour of tired children following events and can not be held liable for the consequences of early nights, late mornings and temper tantrums’ in future event paperwork!

Later that week families headed into the Balnakailly Woodlands for Forest Explorers. They made forest art, used a kelly’s kettle, did a scavenger hunt, told some (naughty!) jokes and built dens. Smiles abounded once more and many promised to come back for the next Forest Explorers on 28th April. (Booking essential!)

A Ramblers Secret Walk attracted some new walkers to explore the south side of the Balnakailly Burn and despite a brief rain shower all had a good time.

The Foraging was later on the same day and we explored the different habitats to be found in the forest. Along the access track, through the spruce, down through birch planting, along a burn and finally along the coast. All wielded different plants for foraging (you can even eat the tips of spruce trees!) and tons of top tips about how to cook them from Forager and Chef, Mark Williams.

We ended the session with a glass of Elderflower Champagne and a cook-up of our finds, smoked haddock, wild food sushi and pre-prepared Sweet Elderflower vinegar. I don’t exaggerate when I say the food was delicious – and all the more so with the satisfaction of knowing we found some of it ourselves!