The Wyre Forest is an ancient forest covering parts of Worcestershire and Shropshire (the majority of it is in Shropshire). It’s about a half an hour’s drive from the west of Birmingham, so it’s not too far for a day out from the city. I’ve been there many times before for country walks and have always loved visiting. Recently the opportunity came up to work with The Forestry Commission and go visit Wyre Forest and review a day out there. It set me thinking and I realised that I hadn’t been there for a long time and that I’d never taken H there. So last weekend we set off to correct this omission by spending the day in the woods.
On arrival at Wyre Forest H made an immediate dash for the playground. There was lots of equipment to play on. Appropriately enough most of the play things were made of wood and there was a woodland theme going on with snails, squirrels and a spider’s web all featuring in the design.After a good play it was time for some lunch.
There are plenty of picnic spots in Wyre Forest, but we hadn’t been organised enough for that, so we decided to hit the cafe. The cafe is conveniently placed by the main car park. You can take away (there’s a service hatch at the side) or you can choose to eat inside. Inside it’s pleasant and warm with some comfy sofas in front of the fire for a cup of tea and a cake, plus a good number of tables to eat a snack or lunch at.
I liked the fact that the cafe tries to use local ingredients wherever possible. Certainly the ingredients used were good quality ones: my burger was very tasty and clearly used superior meat. It’s a bit pricey than ideal perhaps for a cafe: we paid £14.50 for 2 lunches (main course only – 1 adult, 1 child) and drinks for us both. The cakes looked amazing and H had to go back later for a piece of rocky road which was very quickly snaffled up. There are some activity sheets to keep kids occupied while you wait for your food, but the service was prompt and efficient when we were there.
We didn’t have to walk far from the main car park to come across some stunning autumn colours. There are three differently coloured, main trails waymarked from the car park for walkers. They’re of varying distances so there is something to suit all the family. Bike routes are also marked as are bridleways (although understandably bridleways are not marked from the main car park).
Part of the pack that the Forestry Commission sent us included a number of ideas for things to do in the woods. It included information about different types of tree, their seeds, animals that live in woods, etc. I consider myself to be fairly knowledgable about trees, but I still learnt a few things by reading through. These leaflets are free to pick up from visitor centres in Forestry Commission forests. We spent some time looking for leaves of different colours and found most of the tones depicted on the sheet we were given. H liked the idea of building a home for an animal in the forest from leaves, twigs, etc. and leaving it some tasty treats behind like acorns or hazelnuts.
Also available on the site is a Go Ape course which is suitable for those of 10 years of age and older (minimum height 140cm). H was intrigued by this and a bit disappointed that he couldn’t have a go. There are some Go Ape’s that offer a junior course for younger children (from 6 unaccompanied and from 2 with an adult), but currently there are only 2 in the country. One of the members of staff at Wyre told us that they are opening more Tree Top Junior courses next year.
For the purposes of our review we were given a Discovery Pass. Our pass would cost £40 to buy, but the cost varies from site to site. If you visit regularly this will save you money on parking costs. You’ll also get discounts for Go Ape, on Paramo clothing and reduced entry costs to other attractions. I feel it’s a bit of a shame that the pass doesn’t cover car-parking at all forests owned by the Forestry Commission (but, I guess this may be because of the different costs at various sites) as I think it would be nice to encourage people to visit more.
We loved our day out in the forest. As we were driving away, H asked ‘When can we come back Mummy?’.