The combination of being steeped in history and having a natural environment of great beauty means that Newark and Sherwood offer visitors a chance to learn new and interesting skills. Unsurprisingly, many of these are based around the history of King John (more on this in an earlier blog post) and the folklore of Robin Hood, as well as the wonderful forestry of the region. Following are some of the outdoor skills on offer to visitors to the region.
Archaeology for adults
Mercian, a company that provides archaeology experiences throughout the East Midlands, runs training courses at Sherwood Forest. The Sherwood Forest Archaeology Project enables people from all walks of life to become involved in a community archaeology project – if you have experienced archaeology before, either as a student, volunteer, or professionally, or if you are a complete beginner.
Mercian’s project sites vary from King John’s Palace in Clipstone to the Viking meeting point in Sherwood Forest. It offers a wide range of experiences, from beginners’ archaeology days to fieldtrips, workshops and training courses.
In March this year, there is an opportunity to assist with surveying archaeological earthworks in the Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve. The company is holding a three-day Topographic Survey Training event on 2, 3 and 4 March, at a cost of £120 per person. Students will learn surveying skills in the classroom and carry out fieldwork, and all data gathered will be real research data that will add to the knowledge of the area.
In August, there will be sessions available in the Training Field School in Sherwood Forest, where participants get to learn about all aspects of archaeological excavation and receive hands on training and learning from archaeological professionals.
Bush craft for all ages
Back2Basics is the forestry school at Kelham Hall near Newark that offers bush craft experiences for all ages. There are courses that focus on specific areas, including knife/axe skills, fire building and shelter building, as well as general bush craft skills. They run throughout the year and are £40 per person for a 4-hour session. Also on offer, are overnight bush craft camping experiences. They run throughout the year and cost £60 per person. To learn more visit the Back2Basics website or call 0751 535 9203.
Sherwood Bushcraft, run by the Forestry Commission at Sherwood Pines, also offers a range of courses for specific skills. They include shelter building, campfire cooking, tool use and water purifying, and the courses can be adapted to suit any age. Overnight stays are available here too, where you get to build your own shelter for the night, cook food on the campfire, learn new skills and go in search of bats or deer on a dusk walk. There is more information on the Forestry Commission website or you can contact the Sherwood Bush Craft Ranger by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Forestry management for adults
The rangers at Sherwood Forest Country Park run forest management courses that cover specialisms such as coppicing and tree felling. They can be found on the Nottinghamshire County Council website or by calling 01623 823 202. Places are limited and they fill up very quickly.
Woodland crafts & foraging for all ages
The Forestry Commission at Sherwood Pines runs courses in wood whittling, willow basket weaving, green wood working and traditional woodland crafts. They range from a few hours to a full day and can be adapted for groups to suit any age. Foraging is another topic covered. On Saturday 9 June there will be a Wild Food Foray to learn how to identify edible and medicinal plants. Suitable for 12 years and upwards, it costs £25 per person and pre-booking is required. There are Fungi Forays planned for later in the year. Find out more here or call 0300 067 5467.
Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre runs craft courses for children all year round, such as bird feeder and bird box making, has family conservation days and holds fungi forages. With the RSPB becoming joint custodians of the Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre this summer, there are expected to be new courses and events on offer. Keep an eye on the Visit Sherwood website.
On 9 & 10 June, there is a special celebration of woodland skills at Sherwood Forest. Run by the Sherwood Forest Trust in conjunction with the forest rangers, the annual Major Oak Woodland Festival melds the mystery of Sherwood’s past with the more modern. It is free to attend and visitors can see traditional woodland skills plus more modern management methods, with plenty of hands-on activities for participants of all ages. It is a chance to meet bodgers, Windsor chair makers, wood colliers, wood turners, knife smiths, wooden toy and furniture makers, archaeologists and conservation organisations. Find out more here.
If you are planning on visiting Newark & Sherwood to take part in one these wonderful courses, you will find a range of accommodation options on our website.
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