Wild Wednesdays at Fyne Court

Children playing by the lake at West Wycombe Park, Buckinghamshire

Fyne Court estate in Somerset is a terrific spot for families to explore nature together. The woodland garden and meadows are full of chances for outdoors fun – and it’s just one of our places where we’re helping kids to enjoy wild play. Steve Sudworth, Area Ranger for Quantock and Blackdown Hills, told us about Fyne Court’s Wild Wednesday programme.

What are you doing to reconnect kids with nature?

Every week during the Easter and summer holidays, we run Wild Wednesdays at Fyne Court.

Our idea is to show kids and their parents how much fun can be had through wild play. We want to show families that this wild outdoor fun is rooted in a connection to the natural world around us and to give them the chance to experience it together as a family.

We run a different themed event each week, like butterflies and moths, bees, den and shelter building, bug life and pond dipping to name just a few.

As well as having fun, we also try to focus on the real meaning behind each activity. For example, if we’re going on a nature walk, we’ll take an ID guide with us so the children can learn how to identify the things they spot along the way and in their own garden.

One activity we’ve found to be really popular is barefoot walks. It’s something that many of the children have never done before, but they love the feeling of being that close to nature. And we don’t just focus on boisterous play; we run wild art sessions in the woods, dance activities and storytelling events.

Why do you do it?

Most people who have a connection with nature as an adult say that the love of it comes from childhood experiences. We want to provide other kids with these same experiences so that hopefully they’ll have the same connection and they’ll continue to care for things that they love.

We’re trying to provide kids and families with activities that they can do at Fyne Court not just on a Wild Wednesday but when they come back to visit. We hope that by showing them what there is to do we will open up a whole range of experiences for them. We’ve noticed that since starting this, Fyne Court is filled with far more families and kids climbing trees and getting muddy.

Do kids have a good time?

Without doubt. When we first started three years ago we had 20 – 30 children taking part each week. This year we had an average of 230 children at each session, with a record of 291 on one Wednesday.

My favourite quote, which really showed me that the kids can create a connection with nature at the same time as having fun, came from a five-year-old who had never seen a butterfly up close before. After a butterfly-catching walk, one of the events team asked him if he’d caught any exciting butterflies on his walk he simply said 'nah, it’s just full of meadow browns'.