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.
Birthday Wood is in Pratts Bottom village which is off the A21 near Orpington. There is parking in the nearby streets including Ringwood Avenue.
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.
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.
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.
- Climb on to the step
- If their hips are below the level of the top bar they will have to climb up one rung
- Lie on the top bar and hold on with both hands
- Swing a leg over
- Transfer weight on to this leg until it touches the steps on the other side
- 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.
Path alongside the field
Once over the style follow the path alongside the field until you enter Birthday Wood.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Your forest walk in Birthday Wood is over for today, come again soon.