Barn Dances and Bee Walks at Woodlands Farm

Woodlands Farm Barn Dances Poster 2017

There’s a chance to don your gingham, denim and Stetsons, grab your partner and dosey-doe at  Woodlands Farm Barn Dances on Saturday 3rd June and Saturday 8th July.  No skill or experience in barn dancing is required, and usually little is demonstrated at the dance: the steps and sequences are all called out by the band, the excellent Skinner’s Rats.  Hannah from the farm e-mailed the details:

Woodlands Farm Barn Dances
Come along to one of the Woodlands Farm Summer barn dances, taking place in a real farm barn!  With music and calling provided by Skinners Rats the barn dance is guaranteed to be a fun evening.   Bring along your own food, drink and glasses and dine on hay bales to complete the rustic evening.  The barn dances are taking place on Saturday 3rd June and Saturday 8th July from 7.30pm – 11pm.  Tickets are £14.  To book visit our website
For more information, see our website or contact The Woodlands Farm office on 020 8319 8900.

Barn dance at Woodlands Farm
Barn dance at Woodlands Farm

The ecological surveys at the farm continue this week with May’s monthly bee walk this Thursday, 18th May, meeting at 2pm at the farm office near the scarecrows. At least seven different types of bee were spotted on last month’s walk: a white tailed bumblebee; garden bumblebee; field cuckoo bumblebee; common carder bee; honey bee; buff tailed bumblebee and a hairy footed flower bee, plus some others that were too quick to accurately identify. Contact Hannah on for more details.

Common Carder Bee at Woodlands Farm
Common Carder Bee at Woodlands Farm
Buff-tailed Bumble bee at Woodlands Farm
Buff-tailed Bumble bee at Woodlands Farm
Bee at Woodlands Farm
Bee at Woodlands Farm

Woodlands Farm Lambing Day, Easter activities and ecological surveys

Woodlands Farm Lambing Day 2017

It’s a busy time at Woodlands Farm, with the lambing season in full swing and the lambing trained volunteers on a rota to support the ewes. This leads up to the Lambing Day fair on 9th April, Easter Holiday children’s activities and the start of the surveys of the farm’s flora and fauna.

Some 38 of the farm’s 70 pregnant ewes have given birth so far, and there seem to be more triplets this year. The first to lamb were the recently arrived, rare breed Manx Loaghtan which have striking black lambs, now old enough to be gambolling in the fields. The newly born lambs will be on display at the farm’s annual Lambing Day fair on Sunday 9th April from 11am to 4pm, entrance price £2 for adults £1 for children.  The fair will also have the usual stalls, country crafts, children’s activities and café and barbecue.

New lamb at Woodlands Farm
New lamb at Woodlands Farm
New lamb at Woodlands Farm
New lamb at Woodlands Farm

The week after Lambing Day the farm will host its Easter Holiday events for children. Hannah, the Education Officer, wrote with details:

Easter Holiday Events
Tuesday 11th April  Mad Hatters Tea Party  10.30am-12.30pm and 2pm – 4pm
The second in our series of events to celebrate 20 years of the Woodlands Farm Trust.  Come along to our Mad Hatters Tea Party, dress up and join our celebrations as we make fun hats and prepare some food to start the party!  £4 per child.  Booking is essential, to book call 0208 319 8900.  Don’t be late for a very important date!
Wednesday 12th April    Marvellous Minibeasts 10am-12noon or 1pm-3pm
Do you love creepy crawlies and bugs?  Join us as we find out all about minibeasts.  We will be doing a craft as well as using magnifying glasses to see what we can find in the woods.   £4 per child.  Booking is essential, to book call 020 8319 8900.  This walk is not suitable for buggies.
Thursday 13th April   Egg-cellent Easter Trail    Any time between 10am and 2pm
Join us for our annual Easter Trail.  Can you find all the different Easter Eggs and Spring Animals hidden around the farmyard? Find them all and you will get your own Chocolate Easter egg to take home.  Drop in any time between 10am and 2pm.  £2 per child
For more information, see our website or contact Hannah Ricketts on

Hannah is also the person to contact if you are interested in helping with the comprehensive set of surveys of the wildlife and plants at the farm. They start with the monthly bee walks to record the numbers and types of bumble bees, the next one of which is on Wednesday 19th April, then there is the first of the pond surveys, mainly looking for amphibians, on Thursday 27th April. Later surveys will include wild flowers, hedgerows, butterflies, moths, mammals and bats.

With luck, there’ll be some corky fruited water dropworts again.

New lamb at Woodlands Farm
New lamb at Woodlands Farm
New lambs at Woodlands Farm
New lambs at Woodlands Farm

February half term activities at Woodlands Farm

Goldfinch at Woodlands Farm
Goldfinch at Woodlands Farm

It’s half term next week, and as usual Woodlands Farm have laid on some interesting and educational activities for children. Hannah, the Education Officer, wrote with the details:

February Half Term Events
Wednesday 15th February. Print yourself a picture    1pm-3pm
Come along for our afternoon of printing.  Come up with your own pattern or design and then using special paint and rollers you can print this picture onto paper to take home with you.  £3 per child.  Just drop in to make your own print.
Thursday 16th February Woodlands Farm Trail – Then and now    10am – 1pm
The Woodlands Farm Trust is 20 years old!  This trail is the first in a series of events celebrating the history of the farm.  Can you follow our photo trail and recognise the different places on the farm and how they have changed in the last 20 years.  £2 per child.
Friday 17th February Get Wild in the Woods 11am – 1pm and 2pm-4pm
Come and join us in the woods as we learn how to survive in the wild. Have a go at shelter building, wild cooking over a fire and learn what animals need to survive. £4 per child
Age 7+  Booking essential, to book call 020 8319 8900

For more information, see our website or contact Hannah Ricketts on

It’s the farm’s 20th anniversary this year – 20 years since it was established as a charitable trust with the aim of “promoting conservation, sustainable farming and education for the benefit of the community” – following People Against the River Crossing‘s successful campaign to prevent a motorway being built through  the farm and Oxleas Wood. Every time I visit makes me more aware of what a loss that would have been.

Curious sheep at Woodlands Farm
Curious sheep at Woodlands Farm
Goldfinch at Woodlands Farm
Goldfinch at Woodlands Farm

Christmas Fairs at Christ Church and Woodlands Farm

Woodlands Farm Christmas fair poster 2016

Father Christmas has a busy weekend coming up in Shooters Hill: he’s visiting St Nic’s Fête at Christ Church on Saturday and Woodlands Farm Christmas Fair on Sunday.

St Nic’s Fête runs from 4 to 6 pm on Saturday, 3rd December. There will be a visit from St Nicholas who will bring a gift for all the children present. There will also be Mulled wine, mince pies, homemade cake, crêpes, biscuit decorating, tombola, a treasure hunt, children’s activities, a Christmas gift stall, and local craft stalls. Then there is a children’s disco from 5.00pm. Entrance costs £3.00 per child with a £5.00 cap per family.

Christ Church St Nic's Fair poster

Maureen sent me details of Woodlands Farm‘s annual Christmas Fair on Sunday 4th December from 11.00am to 3.00pm:

All are welcome at the Woodlands Farm Trust Christmas Fair.  Come and meet Father Christmas, sip mulled wine whilst browsing stalls of local produce and crafts for early Christmas present ideas, or relax in our café while the kids enjoy crafts and games.  A great festive day out for all the family.  Entry is free, but donations are welcome – all money raised helps us to care for our animals. A great family day out!

No parking on site – please use public transport.

While at the farm there may be a chance to see some of the farm’s new arrivals: British White cow Clover’s new calf and two other recent additions to the farm’s herd.

Father Christmas arriving at Woodlands Farm drawn by Bob the pony
Father Christmas arriving at Woodlands Farm drawn by Bob the pony
Clover and her new calf
Clover and her new calf
Woodlands Farm's new calves
Woodlands Farm’s new calves

Apple Day and October events at Woodlands Farm

Apple Day 2016 Poster

Apple Day, mammal surveys, bumble bee walks, new rare breed sheep and half term activities for children: busy times as usual at Woodlands Farm. The farm’s annual celebration of autumn fruitfulness, Apple Day, is next weekend on Sunday 16th October between 11am and 4pm. Maureen from the farm wrote with details:

Apple Day
Join us for a celebration of traditional British apples at Woodlands Farm, 331 Shooters Hill, DA16 3RP, on Sunday 16th October 2016, from 11am-4pm. Discover and buy many different types of traditional British apples. There will be a variety of activities including a treasure hunt, apple pressing to make delicious juice, stalls selling local produce, including our own honey and home-made jams, cakes and try some Kentish Cider. A great day out for all the family. Entry is free, but donations are welcome and go towards the running of the Farm. No parking on site. Please use public transport.

I’m looking forward to trying some of the less common English apple varieties, such as Pitmaston Pineapples perhaps, and to stocking up on my favourite Egremont Russets. Maureen also sent me the photo below from a previous Apple Day.

Apple Day at Woodlands Farm
Apple Day at Woodlands Farm

The farm has continued its surveys of the local flora and fauna through the summer, including bat surveys, wild flower surveys, bumble bee surveys and mammal surveys. The next mammal survey is this week: the Longworth traps will be set out on Tuesday afternoon, starting at 3pm, and collected the following morning, Wednesday 12th October,  at 9am. This year’s mammal surveys have been pretty fruitful, with wood mice, bank voles and common shrew found. On the most productive survey 10 out of the 15 traps deployed had something in.

The bumble bee walk is held each month, the next one is this Thursday, 13th October starting at 2.00pm. Anyone interested in helping out with these surveys should contact Hannah Ricketts, the Farm’s Education Officer on


Wood Mouse caught in Woodlands Farm's Mammal Survey
Wood Mouse caught in Woodlands Farm’s Mammal Survey

Hannah also runs the half term activities for children at the farm, and sent me details of those running this month:

October Half term activities for children
Wednesday 26th October – Make an insect hotel
1pm, 1.30pm, 2pm, 2.30pm.  £4 per child
Come along and make an insect hotel for your garden.  This will be a fabulous place for the insects to hibernate during the winter.  Booking is essential, to book call 020 8319 8900
Thursday 27th October- Autumn Art Day
1-3pm, £2 per child
Drop in for a fun afternoon of autumnal art!  Get crafty with leaves, paint or whatever you fancy!  As well as the rest of the art activities, there will also be a limited number of items to decorate for an additional £2.  No need to book, just drop in.
Friday 28th October – Halloween trail and craft
11am-3pm  £3 per child
Drop in to join the fun as you go on a Halloween trail round the farmyard as well as having the chance to make your own spooky craft to take home.  Why not dress up as well to make the day an even creepier day out!  No need to book, just drop in.

The farm’s new sheep are from a rare breed called Manx Loaghtan, which originate in the Isle of Man. They are characterised by brown wool and can have up to six horns, though the ewes at the farm only have two each.

Manx Loaghtan at Woodlands Farm
Manx Loaghtan sheep at Woodlands Farm
Manx Loaghtan sheep at Woodlands Farm
Manx Loaghtan sheep at Woodlands Farm

Bat Walks at Woodlands Farm and Shrewsbury Park

Brown Long Eared bat from Jenny Clark’s education team at Batfest 2015
Brown long-eared bat at Bat Fest

Next weekend, 27/28 August, is International Bat Weekend, which is marked by batty events across the world. Locally both Woodlands Farm and the Friends of Shrewsbury Park are holding bat walks in the coming weeks, and London’s Bat Fest is being held over the weekend at Woodberry Wetlands in Hackney.

There seem to be plenty of bats around this year. The NBMP field survey at Woodlands Farm in July detected quite a few pipistrelles and some noctules. Pipistrelles have also been detected at the Wide Horizons Constitution Rise woodland, Manor House Gardens, Hall Place and Hervey Road sports field. Even normally sterile Canning Town had more than its usual solitary pip in this year’s NBMP survey. However the waterways survey along the River Cray at Hall Place once again found no Daubenton’s bats.

Woodlands Farm BatWalks 2016

Woodlands Farm’s bat walks will be held on Wednesday 24th August and Thursday 1st September. Maureen from the farm wrote with details:

Join us for our annual bat walks. Starting with a brief introduction to bats we will then go on a walk round the farm trying to see and hear bats using bat detectors. You will need sturdy footwear, suitable outdoor clothing and a torch. Children must be accompanied by an adult (not recommended for children under 6 years). £6 per adult, £4 per child (under 16 years). To book go to

The Friends of Shrewsbury Park bat walk is on Friday 2nd September at 8.00pm. Kris sent me details:

Meet in the car park for an introduction from bat-wise FSP members who will lead this adventure through the Park using our eyes, ears and bat detectors!
The walk is free to members and £2 for non-members (but you can join on the night). Please wear appropriate shoes and clothing for the weather and paths. Children must be accompanied by an adult. And dogs must be kept on a lead.
The walk lasts about 1 1/2 hours and a torch is useful.
The car park may still be open but not at the end of the walk so remember to leave cars outside of the Park. If you have any mobility queries please contact us on and we will help you participate.
If it rains neither the bats nor us will be coming out!

Let’s hope it stays dry for all the bat walks!

Shrewsbury Park Bat walk poster 2016

National Meadows Day at Woodlands Farm

National Meadows Day at Woodlands Farm

There’s another chance to take a guided tour of Woodlands Farm‘s hay meadows this Saturday, 2nd July, when the farm are taking part in National Meadows Day. Maureen from the farm wrote with details:

As part of National Meadows Day there will be a guided tour of the stunning hay meadows at Woodlands Farm. The farm has almost 30 acres of traditionally managed hay meadows bursting with wild flowers, bees, butterflies, dragonflies and other wildlife at this time of year.
The meadows are managed as part of Natural England’s Higher Level Stewardship Scheme.
The walk will be for about 2 hours on Saturday 2nd July 2016 and will start in the farmyard at Woodlands Farm at 1.30pm. If you like meadows and flowers this is the walk for you.

This is the second year that National Meadows Day has taken place: it is planned  to hold it each year on the first Saturday in July, when the country’s wildflower meadows are at their best. It is organised by a number of organisations led by Plantlife, a wild plant conservation charity. There are about 100 events taking place across the UK including guided walks, open days with family activities, kids craft days, scything activities and photography walks. They are also holding a National Meadows Photography Competition with a deadline for entries of 31st August 2016.

Ragwort at Woodlands Farm
Ragwort at Woodlands Farm
Teasel at Woodlands Farm
Teasel at Woodlands Farm

Mid-summer hay meadow walk at Woodlands Farm

Midsummer hay meadow walk poster

The traditional hay meadows, with their many and varied wild flowers, are one of the wonders of Woodlands Farm and there’s an opportunity to see them at their best on Sunday (19th June) when the farm hold the latest of their monthly walks. Maureen from the farm wrote with details of the mid-summer hay meadow walk which starts at 10.00am:

Join us at Woodlands Farm for a two-hour leisurely stroll around our traditional hay meadows. The meadows are at their best at this time of the year, bursting with wild flowers, bees, butterflies and all manner of wildlife. The walk will be led by a Woodlands Farm volunteer pointing out many of the interesting plants and animals in these traditionally managed hay fields. The walk includes climbing a small stile and is not suitable for buggies. Meet in the green Education Building at 10am.
So pull on those boots and come along with us on this unmissable walk.
Free activity – donations welcome!

For an even closer view of the meadows join the farm’s enthusiastic conservation volunteers on Thursday 30th June at 2 o’clock for the meadow plant survey, when you’ll find them in the meadows surrounded by plant guides examining the wild flowers and grasses. This is one of a series of surveys in the next couple of months, Hannah recently sent round the full  list:

Wednesday 15th June, 3pm –  Survey of the wildlife pond
Wednesday 22nd June, 2.30pm – Bumblebee Walk
Thursday 30th June, 2pm – Meadow plants survey
Friday 1st July, time to be confirmed – Bat survey
Monday 18th July, time to be confirmed – Bat Survey
Wednesday 20th July, 10.30am – Butterfly survey
Wednesday 27th July, 2pm – Bumblebee walk

The weather forecast for Sunday is currently “dry with sunny spells” – perfect for a wildflower meadow walk.

Wild flower meadow at Woodlands Farm, looking towards the golf course and water tower
Wild flower meadow at Woodlands Farm


Wild flower meadows at Woodlands Farm
Wild flower meadows at Woodlands Farm

Woodlands Farm Summer Show and half-term activities for children

Woodlands Farm Summer Show 2016 poster


Woodlands Farm‘s Summer Show is combined with Open Farm Sunday again this year, so it will include farming related demonstrations such as sheep shearing, hedge-laying tools and a bodger as well as the usual stalls and children’s activities. It takes place on Sunday 5th June between 11.00am and 4.30pm. Maureen from the farm wrote with details:

All are welcome at the Woodlands Farm Trust Summer Show on Sunday 5 June 2016, 11am-4.30pm. Come and meet our animals, and enjoy the chance to buy quality local produce at reasonable prices, including home-made preserves, cakes and honey.  Relax in our café, get involved in craft activities and games, and enjoy displays of country crafts.  Entry is free but donations are always welcome.  All proceeds go towards caring for our animals.  A great family day out!

Open Farm Sunday is the farming industry’s annual open day, and hundreds of farms across the country will be open to the public. Open farms are listed on  Open Farm Sunday‘s website. The event is organised by the LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) charity.


Sheep Shearing at Woodlands Farm
Sheep Shearing at Woodlands Farm

In the week before the Summer Show, the farm have their half term activities for children. Hannah, the farm’s Education Officer, sent details of these:

Half Term Activities
Wednesday 1st June — Dream Catchers £2 per child
Do you love having a good dream? Traditionally dreamcatchers were believed to trap your bad dreams but allow your good dreams through. So come and join us at Woodlands Farm as we make dream catchers using willow and other natural materials.  This is a drop in session. No need to book.
Thursday 2nd June — Pond Dipping
What is hiding beneath the surface of the pond, join us to find out.  All equipment provided.  Sessions at 10am, 11am, 1pm and 2pm
£1 per child    Booking essential, call 020 8319 8900
Friday 3rd June — Brilliant Bees 11am-3pm    £2 per child
Join us for a day of bee-related fun and activities. Go on our ‘Bee-scene’ trail to see if you can spot bees and the plants which are so important for their survival. Learn about the Farm’s own  honey bee hives and do a craft to take home.
Have a go at candle rolling (£1.50 extra).  No need to book just drop in.

There may also be a chance to see the new piglets recently born to the farm’s Gloucester Old Spot pig, Rosie. They are a cross between Rosie and a Saddleback pig and have an interesting mix of markings.

Rosie, the Gloucester Old Spot pig, at Woodlands Farm
Rosie, the Gloucester Old Spot pig, at Woodlands Farm
Rosie's new litter
Rosie’s new litter

Bluebell Walk on Sunday May 1st

Bluebell Walk Poster 2016

Our local woodlands are awash with bluebells and other wild flowers: it’s the perfect time for a walk in the woods, and there’s a great opportunity this Sunday, 1st May, when Woodlands Farm have organised a guided walk through the woods from Severndroog Castle to Woodlands Farm starting at 2.00pm.

Hannah Ricketts, the farm’s education officer, wrote with details:

Bluebell Walk
View the delights of springtime bluebells with this guided walk through Oxleas Wood and Woodlands Farm. Starting at Severndroog castle this walk will meander through Oxleas Wood taking in the signs of spring as well as a chance to find out more about the history of the woodland, it will end at Woodlands Farm with a trip up to Clothworkers Wood if you still have the energy to enjoy the farm’s display of bluebells. This walk is free, donations are welcome. For more information call 020 8319 8900.

This is more than just a chance to admire Oxleas’ and Woodlands’ bluebells. Previous bluebell walks have revealed some of the woods’ hidden treasures, such as the Redwood trees planted by the London County Council  in the middle of our native woodlands, not to mention native plants that are indicators of ancient woodland, such as the Wild Service Tree and  Butchers Broom – species that would be threatened if a road was ever built through the woods.  One year we heard about the historic cants of coppiced Hazels and Chestnuts deep in the wood and their place in medieval life. This walk is very educational and very highly recommended.

You can see photographs of the plants and wild flowers of Oxleas Woods in a Flickr album here.

Bluebells in Oxleas Wood
Bluebells in Oxleas Wood
Bluebells and Wood Anemones in Lesness Abbey Woods
Bluebells and Wood Anemones in Lesness Abbey Woods