Conkers is the visitor centre and outdoor attraction that forms a key part of the National Forest. The National Forest was set up on land that had been part of the East Midlands coalfield. The area had a very low woodland coverage, just 6% and now it is 19.5% within the area. Don’t get the idea that it’s a big forestry plantation, it’s not that. There are numerous wooded areas, but they aren’t all in one large planted area. Most of the trees were planted in the 1990s so whilst they aren’t at maturity yet, they are certainly getting bigger and are beyond the sapling stage. Conkers is all about getting people outdoors, enjoying the space and learning a little about the forest along the way. Conkers is somewhere H has been to a few times now as it’s within easy reach of his grandparents’ house. He’s been with them on his own and we have all been together too. Having been to visit over a number of years we’ve been able to see how the site lends itself to lots of different age groups. For example, he used to be very excited about going on the train in his Thomas the Tank Engine days, but now it’s more of a fun way to get from A to B.
This time he really enjoyed the organised activities for the event that the ranger’s organised for us. He loved following a map doing a little orienteering to find the letters and solve the clues to work out the missing word. This gave us a chance to explore the site a little and get to see some of the many features of the attraction.
Next we tried our hand at den building and lighting a campfire. We had a lovely day for our adventure, but it had rained a lot in recent days, so it was difficult to find much dry wood for our fire, but we eventually managed to successfully cook our marshmallows.
Next up was the barefoot walk. Now H and I had done this before and H wasn’t very keen on the idea with his verruca (it’s quite big and can be painful), so it was Daddy that got nominated to do it. H followed Dad round alternatively encouraging and putting him off.
After lunch we were free to explore on our own and us parents did the Activity Trail (for 13+ years) which was quite tough. I couldn’t manage everything as some stuff needed a bit more upper body strength than I have. H insisted we explore the Fairy Labyrinth – he loves anything maze-like. There’s certainly plenty to do including the new High and Low Ropes. I don’t think it will be too long before we are back at Conkers again.