CHILDREN in Prudhoe could be set to experience forest-based learning if a fund-raising effort to buy a piece of woodland and turn it into a forest school is successful.

Sophie Watkinson, who runs social enterprise company Stomping Grounds Forest School, which is based at several woodland sites in Gateshead, has been raising money to help her buy Dukes Hagg Wood, off Moor Road in Prudhoe.

Having put up the funds to buy the site, Sophie came across an unexpected cost and has launched a fund-raiser for help to secure an extra £5,000 to complete the sale.

Stomping Grounds Forest School connects children to nature through youth clubs, after-school clubs and holiday clubs in a forest environment, with activities such as campfire cooking, den building, green woodworking and natural art.

Sophie said: “Our sessions are becoming increasingly valuable in a world where our children spend more time on screens than they do outside. We’ve worked with more than 1,500 children over the last four years, and the transformation we see in them is amazing. Learning outside in this way has a huge impact on their self-esteem and parents report improved behaviour at home and school too.”

The Woodland Trust is helping to develop a management plan that will include clearing invasive species and replanting native ones to increase the biodiveristy of the woods, and schools and local groups will also be able to use the site.

“I hope we can make the £5,000 target so we can do something amazing for local children, the community, and the woods themselves,” Sophie said. “If we exceed the target, additional funds will be used to further improve the site and subsidise our sessions, so that even more families from different backgrounds can benefit.”

The fund-raising effort ends on Saturday, and people can find out more or donate at: