Hicks Lodge: A Forestry Fun Day

On the Hicks Lodge trail

Picture by Oliver’s Madhouse

Since last October I’ve been working with the Forestry Commission.  H and I have a Discovery Pass so that we can visit our local site: Wyre Forest. Visiting woods was an important part of my childhood and I’m keen for H to have the same opportunity. So when we were invited to a day at Hicks Lodge, The National Forest Cycle Centre, I jumped at the chance.  Fellow bloggers were invited too including MummyPinkWellies, Oliver’s Madhouse and Mummy Beadzoid. Together we had a nice mix of age groups from 2 to 6 years of age.  Hicks Lodge is very accessible from Birmingham, where we live, and it takes about 45 minutes (outside of rush hour) to get there.

with the ranger at Hicks Lodge

Picture by Oliver’s Madhouse

We have family in the area, so we already knew a lot about The National Forest.  Hicks Lodge is typical of National Forest sites in that it’s the site of a former open cast coal mine.  It’s very difficult to imagine that it was ever a place where noisy, industrial machines extracted coal when you are actually at Hicks Lodge.  It’s a real haven for wildlife and a haven for us humans too giving loads of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors.

Barely were we out of the car and H was in the playground.  It’s been designed to suit a range of age groups with the tunnels and slide being suitable from quite a young age to a more complex, challenging climbing frame to take in the tweens.

butterflies at Hicks LodgeOur first activity was a quiz trail where you had to follow the clues to collect letters, these letters needed to be rearranged into the name of a bird.  This sort of activity is very much H’s thing and within a few minutes he’d found the clues and solved the puzzle.

Next up was a walk around the 2km Hicks Lodge Trail.  This is a mixed use trail for walkers, bikes and horseriders, which seems popular amongst dog walkers.  We had the benefit of having a ranger led walk around the lovely lake and I think we all learnt loads about the wildlife on site.  I was amazed at the variety of plants and animals Hicks Lodge supports.  H really liked the fact that he had a ranger to talk as we walked around available to answer all his questions: he’s very curious about the natural world and is ever eager to add to his factual knowledge.  Like a nature detective he was looking for signs of the animals that live there and wanted to identify everything he saw: the birds on the lake (swans, moorhens and ducks), the saplings (quite a range, we saw oak, birch, beech amongst others) that had been planted and the wild flowers on the ground.  H and the other children were encouraged to look for natural items from a list, like something they found beautiful (a flower) or something that showed birds lived at Hicks Lodge (a feather).

bug huntingPart way round the walk, we stopped to do some bug hunting.  We found quite a few things including spiders, shield beetles and Cinnabar Moth caterpillars.  Badger poo was discovered too which clearly revealed how much they like eating berries.

Our nature explorers, even the youngest, managed the 2 km walk very well, in part I think because they were so interested in the world around them and the rangers really helped us see and understand the plants and animals that were there.

Back to the cafe, with its handy free wi-fi and nice range of snacks and drinks, for our lunch.  After a tasty lunch and a rather nice slice of cake, we were ready for another adventure.  This time we were exploring the other half of the site by bike.

mountain biking at Hicks LodgeFirst we were kitted out with helmets and bikes.  Hicks Lodge had a good selection available and were able to accommodate our differing needs.  H can’t ride independently yet, so we opted for a tag along bike attached to the adult bike that I was riding.  H has used these before when we’ve hired bikes and thoroughly enjoys it. He provides some of the leg power too as the tag along has its own pedals.   As a parent you have to watch out for sneaky breaks from the child behind when pedalling when going up hills.  The bikes were adjusted to the right size as us and a quick guide to gears, etc.  provided if required.

marker postsWe explored the Family Forest Trail and the Wood Farm Trail both of which are easy to use.  There are no steep hills, but there are some long, gentle inclines which can sap energy from legs not used to cycling regularly.  There’s also the Shell Brook Trail which is a bit more advanced and for mountain bikes only.   You do need to cross a road to get to these trails, but the crossing point has good sight lines and is clearly marked.  It’s virtually impossible to get lost too as there are timber posts markers dotted around the trails, which relate clearly to marked points on the map.  Signposting is good and details of the trail conditions are given at the start of each just in case you don’t have a map.  Having a picnic along the way is easy because there are plenty of picnic tables.

We had a wonderful time at Hicks Lodge and we will definitely be back soon.

We were provided with free parking, drinks, lunch, bike hire and a ranger for the guided walk for the purposes of this review.
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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12 Responses to Hicks Lodge: A Forestry Fun Day

  1. Honey what a fab day it was! we will certainly be going back. It was also so lovely to see you both again xx
    Jaime Oliver recently posted..Review: Walkers Mighty Lights CrispsMy Profile

  2. Brilliant review about a brilliant day. We’re hooked :) x
    Mummypinkwellies recently posted..Hicks Lodge in The National Forest: ReviewMy Profile

  3. Pinkoddy says:

    Oh it sounds brilliant, so much fun with the hunts, and magic words free wifi – love it.
    Pinkoddy recently posted..This is my Child – UndiagnosedMy Profile

  4. It looks so much fun. I’d love to do something like this with a one day. Think he’s a bit on the young side still but he loves outdoorsy things so think he’d love a forest trail!

  5. Anne Wallwin says:

    that sounds great! L will be studying bugs and insects in year 2 so Hicks Lodge sounds like a good place to visit. I’ve not heard of it before so it would be nice to go somewhere different for a change.

  6. Alison says:

    Looks great fun
    Alison recently posted..Prezzybox PunditsMy Profile

  7. Coombemill says:

    I am a real fan of the forestry commision and a blogger too. To be fair I don’t get there very often as we have the same here at Coombe Mill but it is a great resouse which makes a great family day out at very little cost. A perfect place to learn afuel children’s imagination. Looks like your day was no exception. Thank you for sharing on Country Kids.
    Coombemill recently posted..Silent Sunday / Project 52My Profile

  8. Beadzoid says:

    Fantastic review – great how we all had different takes on it but found it a wonderful experience. H was very good at solving the puzzles and he helped us find some of them too :) And gentle inclines… goodness, I was sore for a good couple of days, but it was well worth it. Lovely to meet you! x

  9. anna says:

    this looks like a great day – love outdoor fun!
    anna recently posted..Sunday Photo – Corfe CastleMy Profile

  10. Wow, what a great day out – looks like you all had the best fun! You can’t beat exploring the great outdoors.
    Kate recently posted..River Dart Country Park – reviewMy Profile

  11. I’ve seen some great reviews. Would love to visit sometime.
    Actually Mummy recently posted..We found the Whomping Willow! Geocaching with kidsMy Profile

  12. super review of an amazing day! thanks for linking it up with #ActiveFamily :-)
    Jaime Oliver recently posted..The Joy of PetsMy Profile

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