a photo of moss covered logs in birthday wood

Forest walk in Birthday Wood

This is a route plan for an outdoor activity for children under five years. It is a walk to and in Birthday Wood with climbing, jumping and exploring activities.

Location

Birthday Wood is in Pratts Bottom village which is off the A21 near Orpington. There is parking in the nearby streets including Ringwood Avenue.

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Start

To get to the forest use the footpath between Rushmore House Montessori Preschool and the carpark of the Bulls Head pub.

photo of the footpath to birthday wood pratts bottom village
Start of the route to Birthday Wood

Up the steps

The footpath heads up the hill. There are about fifty steps built into the path. You can make this a counting game with your child. Should you count up to ten, or a different number? Ask your child.

photo of footpath with steps leading to birthday wood in pratts bottom village
Steps on the footpath to Birthday Wood

The top of the hill

At the top of the hill the path turns right next to a field. There are things to see here too. Some goats and horses live here.

photo of four horses near a fence at birthday wood
Horses near the footpath to birthday wood

Climb over the style

Climb over the style. Support your child’s efforts by being ready to stabilise and catch them if they need help. Don’t interfere with their own efforts, but let them do it themselves if they can. The technique is for them to swing their leg over whilst lying along the top of the style. This allows them to hold on with both hands.

  1. Climb on to the step
  2. If their hips are below the level of the top bar they will have to climb up one rung
  3. Lie on the top bar and hold on with both hands
  4. Swing a leg over
  5. Transfer weight on to this leg until it touches the steps on the other side
  6. Pull over the other leg

When getting ready to help or assist your child, Plan about what you will do if they suddenly slip, or begin to fall, so you can react quickly.

a photo of a style near the foot path with stairs on the way to birthday wood
A Style at the top of the footpath stairs

Path alongside the field

Once over the style follow the path alongside the field until you enter Birthday Wood.

the footpath to birthday wood running along side a field
The footpath to birthday wood continues alongside a field

The climbing tree

This is a tree that fell over in a storm. Some of its roots are still attached so it produces leaves in the summer. This is important because deadwood can be brittle and break unexpectedly. It can be difficult to tell which is which so stay close to your child. This is a great low level climbing opportunity where your child will be only 1-1.25 metres off the ground.

At Birthday Wood turn right and go down the step about 50m to the climbing tree.

Now retrace your steps to where you entered the forest and follow the slope down.

a photo of a fallen tree used for climbing in birthday wood
This fallen tree is deal for low level climbing

The jumping logs

At the bottom is a pile of logs. One of the big ones can be used for assisted jumping. The logs are slippery so encourage your child to crawl and not stand up until they reach the big log where you can hold their hand when they jump to the ground. Let your child repeat the activity until they want to move on. 

a photo of moss covered logs in birthday wood
The jumping logs can be used for low level assisted jumping

The clearing path

The big logs and open area beyond can be explored and this area can be a good place for a snack. A few years back this open area was felled as part of forest maintenance. Whilst it looked grim to start, bushes and small trees have soon grown back.

a fallen tree propped up by another in birthday wood
This is a fallen tree propped up by another tree

Back to the field

Now it’s time to go back. Head towards the path that leads to the jumping logs. Take the right fork and go up to a wooden fence with a style.

a photo of a style in a fence leading to a field near birthday wood
This style leads to the field back to the footpath with steps

Across the field

Head diagonally across the field to another style following a faint foot path in the grass. Some of the horses may come over to say hello. You can feed the horses. There is a notice that says do not give them potatoes because it makes them ill. Climb the style that is in the left hand fence at the end of the faint path.

photo of a field near to birthday wood
Follow the faint path across the field to the style

Back to the beginning

Go over the style and then over the next style you crossed at the beginning or use the gate. Ask your child which way to go. Walk down the fifty steps, counting with your child. 

a photo of steps leading down the path to pratts bottom village
The steps on the path back to pratts bottom village

The end

Your forest walk in Birthday Wood is over for today, come again soon.

photo of pratts bottom village showing rushmore house montessori preschool the bulls head carpark and the footpath to birthday wood
The footpath at the start and end to Birthday Wood

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