We (5 children, 6 adults) went along to the Forestry Commission run Stick Man Trail at Birches Valley, Cannock Chase this weekend. They exist all over the country; a short trail of around 1 - 1.5 miles with Stick-Man related activities along the way to keep little people engaged throughout. In contrast to last time when we went to the Cannock Chase trail, it wasn't pouring with rain, and this time we knew what to expect, so we'd packed supplies to keep the kids going, and were all set for the few hours we were planning on spending there. The children were between 3 and 9 and all of them enthusiastically embraced the idea of building the best den ever!!
Cannock Chase's Birches Valley is a mecca for walkers, mountain-bikers, budding Apes! and energetic children. Along it's Stick Man Trail, there are, amongst other things, a huge set of drums, a fairy tree complete with stairs and miniature doors, a climbing frame, a real Stick Man Tree, amazing "Goldilocks-style" chairs and, importantly for us, a forest area with all the logs, branches and twigs you could possibly need for even the most palatial of dens!
The dads got to work in building an impressive frame, and every one began to add their own bits. The children even busied themselves finding benches, coat-hooks, a camp fire (not a real one in case any Health & Safety people are reading this!), a broom, a fire alarm??! and plates, all made of branches, twigs and other natural materials scattered around. Once it was finished, with a roof, front door and fire exit! we just about managed to fit all 11 of us inside and the children were actually hoping for rain just to prove it's worth :-)
You can buy a Stick Man activity pack for £3 if you want to, although we didn't and don't feel as though we missed out. The pack includes a trail leaflet, activity sheets, pencil, crayon and pipe cleaners to make your Stick Man and can be bought from the Birches Valley Café, Swinnerton Cycles and Go Ape reception. Car parking costs £1.50 for an hour or £4 for the day.
All in all, a fantastic group activity, lovely fresh air, beautiful surroundings and at minimal cost.
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