Wild at Heart
Reproduced by kind permission of the Countryman magazine
Enormous pleasure and wonder mingle on their faces because the basic information they were given has opened up a new world of knowledge to them and all the other schoolchildren and older students who visit the centre.
Few children today run wild in the countryside, picnicking in fields, and having adventures in woodland and on river banks. It's sad that this vital connection with nature has been lost and with it the knowledge enabling them to enjoy and learn from the environment. But here at Offwell they can make up for that loss, having fun while also exploring a variety of wildlife habitats via lots of hands-on practical activities.
Set in a steep sided and wooded south facing valley the 50 acre centre, managed by the
Offwell Woodland & Wildlife Trust in partnership with the Forestry
Commission, was originally a Victorian pleasure garden, built by the
Copleston family some 200 years ago. In those days exotic plants were
collected from abroad by intrepid employees of aristocratic families and
plant nurseries. All these new plants were widely grown throughout England,
reflecting affluence and power, rhododendrons, in particular, becoming
popular - and these are still growing at Offwell.