The Stomping Grounds Story

Sophie reads an article about Forest School

May, 2015

It is the first she’s ever heard of it but it sounds amazing.


August, 2015

Sophie does an inspiring week of Level 3 Forest School training in Sheffield and meets other practitioners.

Stomping Grounds is born!

October, 2015

The first ever under 5s, Saturday Club and Home Education sessions takes place at Thornley Woods in the Derwent Valley. It rains dramatically and everyone has a great time.

Building A Team

October, 2015

Sophie meets Susan Byrne – an experienced Forest School practitioner who starts helping out at various groups.

Building Partners

November, 2015

Stomping Grounds partners up with Chopwell Community Association and receives a grant to deliver Forest School Youth sessions in Chopwell Community Woodland.

Local School Engaged

January, 2016

Local School Engaged

Stomping Grounds gets its first school contract, working with Mountfield Primary School in Kenton, Newcastle.

Jess Joins the Team

February, 2016

Stomping Grounds starts working with Jessica Lloyd at Chopwell Youth Club

Registration as a Community Interest Company

February, 2017

Stomping Grounds Forest School North East CIC is formed with Sophie, Susan and Jess as Directors. 

Grant Funding Received

February, 2017

Grant funding is received from Tesco, Seedbed, Durham Area Budget Partnership, Land of Oak and Iron, Newcastle City Council, Prudhoe Town Council and the Catherine Cookson Trust

Washingwell Primary Sign-Up

September, 2018

Washingwell Primary Sign-Up

New contract at Washingwell Primary School, Gateshead delivering PPA cover to KS1


January, 2019

Start delivering a year long youth project in Leadgate, County Durham.


April, 2019

Successful crowdfunder campaign raises the additional £5,000 needed to assist with the private purchase of Dukes Hagg Wood in Prudhoe, Northumberland for the exclusive use of Stomping Grounds

Crowdfunder Video


Dukes Hagg Launch

July, 2019

Dukes Hagg Launch

Launch Day for our new home at Dukes Hagg Wood engages local residents, businesses and our supporters to celebrate this exciting stage in our development

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Stomping Grounds Forest School


Bringing Forest School to you. We work with schools & community groups to develop confidence, creativity and communication through woodland adventure

Stomping Grounds Forest School

Stomping Grounds Forest School

3 hours 57 minutes ago

Lani hasn’t been with us for long but has so much to offer Team SG, not least her art! Here are her thoughts and ideas on the current situation and how birds can help her, and hopefully some of you, through. If you fancy sketching some birds then post them here for us to see!

Lani says.....

Like most, I have been struggling to wrap my head around the enormity of the situation we find ourselves in. All plans for the foreseeable future are on hold, leaving the house is a once-a-day activity and I have no work to occupy me, so I’m trying to face each day with gratitude - for the time I now have for myself, and for the comforts of having a stable home and a little garden. Focusing on these things helps fend off the overwhelming feelings of dread - although the anxiety still comes in waves and I am rather prone to the occasional emotional crisis when I think about the bigger picture. I’m sure we’ve all had our fair share of these lately! I wanted to share with you a little morning ritual which is helping to keep me grounded during this troubling time.

Every morning, as soon as I wake up, I open the bedroom curtains and the blinds to let the sunlight pour in, open the window, and I watch the birds in the garden for at least a few minutes - although on occasion I have been known to spend a good hour spying on my feathery friends. I am utterly fascinated by birds and there is something so comforting about watching them busy themselves on the lawn and in the hedges, finding food, collecting twigs and preparing their nests. The world outside continues with or without our participation – it’s business as usual for birds. The pigeons are unaware of the pandemic. The sparrows know nothing of social distancing. The corvids are unfazed by covid-19. Spring has not been postponed.

It is soothing to see how life goes on, the same as always, for these other beings with whom we share our planet, even when our own lives have been so radically altered. So I encourage you, on your daily walk, or whilst sitting in your garden, or just peering through the window – take the time to see what the birds are up to. If you have children, you could make a journal with sketches, notes and even noises (see what interesting spellings they come up with to document the birdsong they hear!), and see what you can learn together about the birds you see. Or just use it as an exercise for a few moments of peaceful observation and mindfulness. I hope you find it as comforting as I do.

Over the next few weeks I am going to be creating a series of drawings celebrating our often underrated garden visitors, starting this week with our clumsy, noisy but somehow charming friend the wood pigeon! Let us know who your favourite garden birds are and what they’ve been up to!

Stomping Grounds Forest School

4 hours 45 minutes ago

Phil has put together this lovely video to help us appreciate the beauty of the native wildflowers we find in our gardens and yards....even in the cracks in the pavement... thanks Phil! Let us know if you’ve got any wild flowers growing near you

Stomping Grounds Forest School

Stomping Grounds Forest School

1 day 26 minutes ago

For fun, and to keep a conversation going (we miss you all!), some close ups of spring from our daily exercise today. What are they? Do you have any memories relating to them? What are they useful for? Post your answers below :)

Stomping Grounds Forest School

1 day 54 minutes ago

Tonight Radio 3’s Slow Radio, 11.30. Available as a podcast if you want to listen with children 🙂
‘If you go down to the woods tonight

Have you ever wondered what goes bump in the woods at night? Hugh Huddy discovers the night-time soundscape of a woodland in Suffolk by placing a recording box in a tree overnight’

Stomping Grounds Forest School

Stomping Grounds Forest School

1 day 6 hours ago

Lovely idea!

Stomping Grounds Forest School

Stomping Grounds Forest School

1 day 8 hours ago

We have had to postpone our Chopwell Women’s lunch club, funded by Well Newcastle Gateshead and in partership with North East Wilds CIC, for obvious reasons.
Proud to share though that to replace our monthly contact we have been able to deliver 27 food bags, with thanks to The Pickle Palace, to women and families who are in vulnerable groups or self isolating in Chopwell. Soon we will also be able to deliver some of these wonderful home growing kits too to the same group, supporting well being and bringing the outdoors in. 💐 ☀️ 💓

Stomping Grounds Forest School

2 days 4 hours ago

My 9 year old has decided to record a daily radio show for children aged 1-10, in her words ‘to help children who might be a bit bored because of, you know, the coronavirus’.

Here’s the first broadcast. She interviews her dad 😂🥰. She’s taking requests, shout outs and ideas via my text 07950118816.

She’d love it if people texted in! Especially if you’ve got some ‘lock down ideas’ to share.


Stomping Grounds Forest School

2 days 22 hours ago

Day 5, a little late! Phil has made a lovely video about native wildflowers we can find in our garden, indeed in the cracks of our paving. Enjoy!

Stomping Grounds Forest School

Stomping Grounds Forest School

3 days 13 minutes ago

We all know the importance of getting outdoors, it’s vital for our physical and mental health. But please follow the guidance issued by the government to minimise the risk of spreading the virus.
It goes without saying that since the clarification on this yesterday, people who live in Prudhoe and can walk to Dukes Hagg are still welcome to take up the opportunity of a private slot there, but please don’t visit if it involves getting in your car.

Stomping Grounds Forest School

Stomping Grounds Forest School

4 days 14 hours ago

Day 4, and Suzanne has these wise words...

Today was all about following the kids' lead. It felt like a cop out at first, particularly as school had lots of subject specific tasks for them to complete, but I needed today to be easy as I try to get my head around this new way of being.
You don't need much to have a fully functioning mud kitchen - some old pans and spoons, soil, water, time - and very little adult input. This small patch has been much loved for the last 6 years - yesterday it was all about digging the deepest hole possible; more of the same today, with the exciting discovery of two holes! We chatted about what might have made them and why. My 7yo and 10yo both got so much out of it - with heavy muscle work from digging; lots of transporting of water and mud; measuring, pouring and mixing mud cakes in their makeshift oven; working together to create their ideas.
I got to do some gardening, stopped feeling guilty about not keeping to the school plan and focused on feeling grateful for the day. So, take home message, forest school style child led play is still what works for us and we should all be more gentle on ourselves right now.