Getting kids outdoors at Sizergh, Cumbria

Children around a campfire in the woods at Sizergh, Cumbria © Gareth Thomas

Children around a campfire in the woods at Sizergh, Cumbria

Sizergh, near Kendal in Cumbria, is a much-loved family home, which is still inhabited by the Strickland family. Surrounded by gardens and 647 hectares of beautiful estate, Sizergh is home to a rich and diverse selection of wildlife, making it an unexpected treasure at the gateway to the Lake District.

Tom Burditt, lead ranger in South and East Cumbria, told us what they are doing to get kids enjoying the outdoors.

What are you doing to reconnect kids with nature?
At Sizergh we’ve formed a partnership with Woodmatters, a small, local organisation designed to celebrate the emotional, physical and environmental benefits that healthy sustainable woodlands provide.

In the middle of an area of Trust ancient woodland, we’ve created a woodland camp, equipped with a composting toilet, fire pits and tarpaulin shelters. The campsite is used as the base for our bushcraft and woodworking courses aimed at children.

We run camping courses during school holidays, which gives the kids the opportunity to stay overnight in the woods. They learn to light fires without matches, take part in campfire cooking and learn basic woodworking skills.

Why do you run the activity?
We run the activity because we want the kids and their families to try something different. It’s great to get them along and show them what they are capable of doing.

The activities we run are creative and out of the ordinary for most people, which means that they’re a lot of fun.

Do you think the kids enjoy doing it?
They really do; it’s amazing. The response from the kids is always fantastic. When they see what they can achieve, even the young kids, their reaction is very inspiring and so rewarding.

What do the kids say?
'Thank you so much for giving us the most fantastic time in the woods. One of my children tells me he is now much better at being still and tuning in. The other keeps talking about how much she enjoyed it and how she wants to do it again. Many, many thanks for giving us such a great experience.'

As a child, what got you into nature and the outdoors?
My grandma. She was really into nature and the outdoors, so when we used to go and stay with her she would always take me and my sister out and let us go roaming in the rivers and woods.