In a beautiful, secluded woodland, seven miles from Salisbury, there is a unique facility that offers the peace and tranquility of a woodland setting within a selection of environmentally sustainable, off-grid, eco buildings. Hazel Hill Wood is home to the registered charity, the Hazel Wood Trust.
The Trust’s aim is to promote well-being, resilience and sustainability: for individuals, society and the natural world.
To fulfill this aim, the Trust enable people to engage with nature at their facility within the ancient woodland known as Hazel Hill Wood. The sustainable retreat and education centre grants people the opportunity to deepen their connection with nature, and to learn about living renewably through the provision of retreats, conservation, and men’s and women’s groups. The wood currently hosts around 60 events per year, involving around 1000 people. These events range from residential weekends for visitors to the area, to 2-hour groups for locals. They also include well-being days for children from local primary schools, weekends learning resilience skills from nature, training programmes for social entrepreneurs, and conservation days for locals who are experiencing depression or bereavement. Some of these are run by the the Hazel Hill Education team, others by an external organisation, the Wisdom Tree team. The centre is available for group bookings.
Upcoming events at Hazel Hill Wood includes the Forest Roots weekend, on 23rd-25th February, 2018, a chance to find nourishment through and in nature, community and self. Using the power of story, music and dance, visitors can come to understand more deeply their personal thread of life and where it might lead them. Also in February is the residential gathering, Pioneers of Change, which occurs on 28th February – 2nd March, 2018. This is a gathering for ‘change makers, green pioneers, brave dreamers and activists’, during which they’ll be able to incubate their dreams or ideas, and to think deeply about what their own unique part in it will be.
The facilities within Hazel Hill Wood are heated throughout the year by wood burning stoves, all of them fed on fuel gathered from within the woodland. They offer bedrooms and sleeping lofts, an indoor group room, a camping area, outdoor BBQ area, composting toilets, good showers, and a hot tub.
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In addition to being a retreat and education centre, Hazel Hill Wood is also a conservation area. As a highly varied, 70-acre ancient woodland, it offers diverse habitats for abundant wildlife – including some rare butterflies, such as pearl-bordered fritillaries and argent sable moths. The Heartwood is a cathedral-like area of mature beech trees and Scots pines, covered in a mass of bluebells in the Spring. Both young and old hornbeam grow to the east, alongside stands of oak and beech planted within the last 20 years. To the west is an area of oaks nearing a century in age, growing along with areas of birch and hazel. It is within this area that their 12 acre dedicated nature reserve can be found. A 5 acre meadow area can also be found near to the entrance of the woodland.
Regular conservation days and weekends are run throughout the year. Upcoming volunteer conservation days are on 19th November, 2017, 16th December, 2017, and 13th January, 2018. These days help to maintain the diversity and tranquillity of Hazel Hill, whilst also offering volunteers the chance to learn new skills and to enjoy the wood’s beauty through the changing seasons. New participants are welcome. No prior experience is required, just a willingness to muck in.
Video by Hazel Hill Wood.