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We look forward to welcoming you to Woodland Skills Centre 

We are excited to announce a collaboration with The Old Mill Holiday Cottages in Nannerch offering Activity Holiday Packages.

Stay at the fantastic 4-star self-catering Old Mill Holiday Cottages in Nannerch, only a few miles from here, where you will receive a warm welcome by proprietor Liz. The cottages are part of an old mill complex and have been beautifully restored to provide cosy and spacious accommodation.
The activities will take place here at the Woodland Skills Centre surrounded by our 50-acre site within the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). There are two timber-framed building with log-burners and fully equipped kitchen, large covered workshops for craft activities as well as our beautiful tranquil woodland, an ideal location for the Bushcraft activities and the Mindfulness sessions.

So far we offer three packages:

Activity Package with The Old Mill Holiday Cottages-Bushcraft & Woodland (28June-1July2019)

Activity Package with The Old Mill Holiday Cottages – Coppice Crafts&Green Woodwork (1-5 July 2019)


Activity Package with The Old Mill Holiday Cottages – Woodlands & Mindfulness(26-29July 2019)

The Old Mill Holiday Cottages and Woodland Skills Centre look forward to welcoming you…


Latest News….

MIND We have just come to the end of another 8 week programme for Flintshire Local Voluntary Council and MIND. This course is funded by Actif Woods Wales with a grant from Natural Resources Wales. We have been working with a group of 11 people who have been referred to MIND for support. During their 8 week course they follow a level 1 OCN course in Coppice Products. There will be funding to run the course again later this year.

FLVC Young Adults with Autism

We are part way through an 8 week course with a group of young adults with autism who have been referred by Flintshire Local Voluntary Council. They are following the same level 1 OCN course in Coppice Products. This programme is also funded by Actif Woods Wales through their grant from Natural Resources Wales.


We have just finished a 6 week course with a group of long-term unemployed adults on behalf of Denbighshire County Council. They all completed a certificated course in Emergency First Aid at Work and also 2 of our own courses – Coppice Crafts and Green Woodwork. DCC would like to us to run further courses with long-term unemployed.

Community Support Services

Our Tuesday and Wednesday groups of adults with complex disabilities, funded by Social Services, continue to be successful with a high attendance rate. Both days are now full as we have taken on 3 young adults with autism who have integrated well into the groups.

Community Support – new group

We have been awarded funding to set up a group on one day a week which will be for young adults with autism and other learning difficulties who have recently left college and who have personal support budgets and are looking for daytime provision. This will help us to explore how adults with complex disabilites can access provision as central commissioning comes to an end.

Nottingham Trent University

In February we ran a 3 day course for mature students from NTU who are middle and senior managers in business doing a part-time degree course. The focus was on Corporate Social Responsibility and we looked at how our Centre was built on sustainability – both in the management of  the land and in our business model – and the interconnectedness of the natural world and how business should respond to their social responsibilities. The course went well and NTU want to use us again.

Ysgol Plas Brondyffryn (the Regional Centre for Autism Education) – Primary Department

We have been concerned for some years that we do not engage enough with children with additional needs and their families. They seldom come to Holiday Club or on Family Events. We have been awarded funding to work with Ysgol Plas Brondyffryn to offer a progression through Forest School to Holiday Club to Family Days. This will both allow us to develop new techniques to provide suitable programmes and also to make families with children with additional needs aware of what we offer.

Ysgol Plas Brondyffryn – Secondary

The pupils in Year 11 will be coming to us for one day a week in the second half of the summer term for an outdoor programme – Forest School, Bushcraft and craftwork.

Pupil Inclusion

We have just started a 10 week course with a group of Year 10 pupils from Flint High which is part of the TRAC programme. We are also taking two year 11 pupils as direct referrals from their school.

Ruthin School

A group of 12 students from Ruthin School are with us for Wednesday afternoons for the whole of this school term, as part of their extra-curricular programmes, doing bushcraft and learning about the woodland.


Courses are going well with many fully booked. We have already had students from Scotland, the east of England and one from the USA. We have several new courses which  are already fully booked : rush hats, knife making, re-handling tools. We are also offering various art classes (screen printing, felt work, water colour painting) and a new course on Make a Deckchair – day one to screen print the canvas and day 2 to assemble the frame and fix the canvas.

Hafod y Green

We will be working with Hafod y Green residential care home again this year with a small group, mostly wheelchair users, coming to us every 2 weeks.


Our Monday Volunteer Group are invaluable. They have been working on refitting the workshops, building in more storage and making them fully wheelchair accessible.

Disabled access

Once the wokshops are fully accessible for wheelchair users we will start to look at how we can develop techniques for wheelchair users to be able to take part in a wide range of craft activities.

Natural Resources Wales

We have been asked by NRW to deliver training for Youth and Community Leaders to help them to deliver activities in the outdoors.

Mindfulness in the Woods

Following on from the success of our Mindfulness in the Woods courses we have extended our programme and offer now one-day retreats ‘A Sense of Place’ – Mindfulness, Art and Poetry.

Live in the Woods

Our popular Live in the Woods events will be back again this year with acoustic live music in the woods and some poetry too…Follow this link for more information:


Newsletter August 2018

Courses Courses have been going well and several of our new courses, such as the Bushcraft courses and Knife forging, have been fully booked.

Stockport Scouts We had an interesting weekend when 8 Scout Leaders came for the Saturday and had an advanced Bushcraft Skills day and then their Cubs came on the Sunday and the Leaders put their new skills into practice.

City Farms and Community Gardens We hosted a regional meeting and Skills Share day earlier in the year and since then have been acting as Mentor for the Garth Hillside Community Garden in Glyn Ceiriog who want to develop programmes like ours.

Liverpool University Department of Architecture We had our second project with the Department in May. The students designed a garden building for a private client in Bodfari and we advised in the design, sourced all the timber and managed the construction over the weekend. The students camped at the Centre and had use of our facilities.

TRAC This is a programme to offer education other than at school for pupils who have been excluded from school, are very disruptive or who refuse to go to school. We have been running 6 programmes all of which have gone very well. They are demanding on our staff and require a high staffing ratio but attendance has been good and we anticipate further programmes from September.

Live in the Woods Our monthly live music events are going well. We are doing this as part of our mission to make the woods a place of enjoyment. We have been pleased to welcome several of our neighbours to the events.

Bee Friendly we have been awarded Bee Friendly status by the Welsh Government. We are developing our apiary with the assistance of two experienced local bee-keepers and hope to develop the apiary into a demonstration site.

Barnardo’s We are collaborating with Barnardo’s to run holiday activities for children with significant special needs.

Prestatyn Town Council During August we will be running 3 days at the Centre, on behalf of the Council, working with families with children with autism and other conditions.

AONB We have hosted 2 meetings for the AONB – one for the staff and one for the panel who deal with applications to the Sustainable Development Fund. They were pleased to see the 2 buildings both of which they gave grants for.

Flintshire Social Services We have run 2 days for the staff. One was craft courses as part of their annual team day and one was at our Centre when we ran a team day in the woods.

Community Support This is the programme for adults with complex disabilities that we deliver for 2 days a week on behalf of Denbighshire Social Services. The current contract runs till 2020 and we have just had our annual review when we were told that SS were very pleased with the programme. The whole area of support for adults with special needs is changing with a move away from central commissioning to giving individuals control over their own budgets and deciding what services they wish to have. This will have implications for us. It is probable that we will have a higher level of demand and we will need to manage this to ensure that the groups we have do not have too wide a range of needs. We are working with Social Services to look at offering an additional day for young adults with autism who have come to the end of supported education and lack further provision. One of the consequences of the changes is that DCC’s central provision of transport is likely to end and individuals will have to make their own arrangements. We need to plan for this and consider whether we provide our own transport.

Rhyl Women’s Centre We are in discussion with the Centre about ways in which we can support their work both with the adults and also with families.

Minister for the Environment Hannah Blyddyn is to visit the Centre. Her primary reason is to look at how the Sustainable Development Fund money has been used but she is also interested to find out about the work of the Centre and it will be an opportunity for us to try to get the Welsh Government to support the establishment of  Centres such as ours throughout Wales.

Wildflower Verges We have been awarded some short-term funding by DCC to play a central role in the new project and DCC is looking for long-term funding. Our role will be to receive seeds collected from sites in the area and grow them for distribution to local groups.

Volunteers We are continuing with our Monday Volunteer Day. We have a small regular group but could do with some more volunteers. The group undertakes work in the woods and around the site which is beyond the capability of our service user groups.

St Kentigern’s We hosted a Family Day in the Woods for St Kentigern’s Hospice.

Mindfulness in the Woods We have been running a series of courses with each session lasting for 3 hours, starting indoors and then moving out into the woods before returning to the Centre for a shared simple meal.

RHS We have attended two RHS shows again this year – Chatsworth and Tatton. These shows involve significant input from our staff but do promote the Centre to a large number of people and result in course bookings and other work.

Visits We continue to visit various local community groups to give a presentation about the work of the Centre and also welcome community groups who visit the Centre.


***** Launch of new course ‘Mindfulness in the Woods *****

There has been a lot of coverage in the press recently about the benefits of Mindfulness on mental health and wellbeing.

A very interesting interview of Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of MBCT (Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy) and MBSR (Mindfulness-based stress reduction) was published in the Guardian:


Woodland Skills Centre has supported health and wellbeing for many years in their provision of Social Forestry Level3 OCN courses but also through the work with the various special needs groups that visit the Centre on a regular basis.

As an extension of our programme we are excited to now run this new course:

Mindfulness in a Woodland Setting course

Come and experience mindfulness in the award-winning 50 acre Warren Woods.

We currently offer sessions as an introduction to Mindfulness in a Woodland Setting that are suitable for anyone over the age of 18 who either already practises mindfulness or wants to explore the benefits of mindfulness in nature.

The aim of the session is to become aware of the small changes in the physical sensations in your body, your thoughts, moods and emotions and what is happening in the world around you.

Some of the benefits of practising mindfulness include:

General happiness and contentment – Greater harmony in relationships – Enhanced insight and clarity – Improved analytical skills – Increased curiosity, openness and acceptance – Reduction in anxiety, depression and stress – Improved memory and concentration – Enhanced ability to deal with illness and to manage pain – Reduced risk of heart problems – Improved immune system responses.

The sessions will take place in the beautiful tranquil woodland where we will experience nature at its best. In case of inclement weather we will have the use of one of the timber-framed Centre buildings heated by a wood-burner stove.

The sessions will be led by Sabine Soosten, a Level 3 qualified ‘Mindfulness in Woodland’ practitioner.

Cost £15 including a simple vegetarian meal

For further information please email enquiries@woodlandskillscentre.co.uk or phone the session leader, Sabine Soosten, on 01745 710626


Volunteer Programme

The regular Volunteer day takes place every Monday from 10.00 till 3.00 to look after our 50 acre site – woodlands, tree nursery, arboretum, heritage orchard, wildflower meadow, vineyard, Forest School sites.

Volunteers work with one of our staff who ensures that full training is given. You will learn about our woodlands and what lives in them, a range of woodland management skills, habitat creation and wildlife monitoring.

If the weather is bad we have the use of our large workshops and make products from material we harvest from the woods.

We provide tea, coffee and biscuits and we have the use of one of our heated timber frame buildings. Just bring a packed lunch and suitable outdoor clothing and we will take care of the rest.

If you are interested in this opportunity please contact us by email enquiries@woodlandskillscentre.co.uk or phone 01745 710626.



Mindfulness in the Woods course
I have attended two Mindfulness courses at the centre and absolutely loved them both. I was a little nervous at first but was made to feel extremely welcome. The courses were fantastic and I loved every minute of them. Being quite a anxious person the course has provided me with the skills, knowledge and the desire to practice mindfulness daily and it is now part of my life. I would go as far as to say that the course is life-changing and extremely beneficial to my wellbeing. The surroundings are beautiful and I am looking forward to attending again soon to further develop my skills and practice. That you so much Sabine for sharing your knowledge with me, the impact has been profound. If you are interested in the mindfulness course, I would advise you to take the leap of faith and book, you won’t regret it!
Rebecca, July 2018
Live in the Woods
‘what a wonderful night on Friday at Garry’s concert, I loved every minute of it, such a beautiful way of combining music in a natural setting well done.’  (Live in the Woods – Gary Edward Jones)
John, April 2018


‘Just a note to say a big Thankyou for a great evening last Friday. Phil and I and friends Kathy and John really enjoyed it and hope to be able to come to the next one! Weren’t we lucky with the weather too! You must be very pleased that it was such a success……..worth all the hard work getting ready.’  (Live in the Woods – Gary Edward Jones)
Mel & Phil, April 2018


Kids Holiday Club
My girls Sofia and freya would like to thank you after an amazing two days with you . They are genuinely sad it’s come to an end and I would highly recommend you to any parents wanting to encourage kids off gagets and engage with nature.
Diana, February 2018
Bowl Turning on a Pole-lathe course
Just wanted to say thanks again for another superb course at the WSC. Really enjoyable and a great learning environment. Thanks also to you and the team for making me feel welcome. Hope to see you soon.
Martin, October 2017
Tool Sharpening Course
I did a tool sharpening course, one day, with Doug. I found it extremely helpful. Obviously you’re not going to become an expert in a day, but you can bring your own tools and the course is designed to help you learn what sharpening skills are most useful for you. By the end of the day I felt much more competent and had a clearer idea how to look after my wood carving tools. Doug was a patient and well informed instructor and there was only four of us in the group so you get plenty of one on one time. Sharpening is crucial for anyone learning to carve so I’d definitely recommend this.
Eadon, May 2017
Review from a regular visitor
Superbly well kitted out centre with campsite, green woodworking centre, examples of carbon neutral building and well managed diverse woodland. A well curated set of courses and workshops keep our family coming back for more!
David, May 2017

Traditional crafts

I just wanted to thank you once more for a fantastic day yesterday. Everyone on the course enjoyed themselves, and really appreciated every aspect of the course.

Llangollen Community Garden – September 2014

Bushcraft course

I just wanted to send you a quick email to say Thank You. We has a wonderful time at the Bushcraft Course and I just wanted to say thanks for running a great centre and doing a great course!

Victoria – August 2014

Family Day in the Woods …

Message from a parent who came

We all had a great time yesterday so thank you for making it so engaging and interesting. Please also pass on our thanks to Alan and Helen who were brilliant. We will definitely book another course and will have a browse of the brochure and website.

Kind Regards, Lisa Williams

Message from Scotland

Just dropping you a line to say thanks for your hospitality and the Willow Course with Caroline was great she’s a lovely lady. I thoroughly enjoyed the weekend and it was well worth the trip. All the best with the new build and everything else you folk do it’s a great place you run.

Kind regards, Nikki
Nicola Cole, Instructor/Work Preparation Advisor

Birthday Parties in the Woods

We have already run several birthday parties this year. Here is some feed-back

I would like to repeat my thanks for the wonderful setting and facilities which you provided for my birthday party last Saturday.
Everybody had an extremely good time – my 5 year-old grandson is already planning a repeat performance for his birthday. It will be difficult to think of anything as good for future birthdays so I am likely to come again, too.

Best Regards Stella Bennett – April 2013

Newspaper Article

Daily Post – 31 March 2012

Next morning, we set off for the Woodland Craft Centre in Bodfari (woodlandskillscentre.co.uk, adults £35, children £10).

Rod Waterfield manages this beautiful 50 acres of woodland with his two children, Helen and Alan. The woods are open to walkers for free, but they also run a programme of courses in woodland skills and traditional crafts. You can learn to build a coracle, weave a basket or make a rustic stool.

There’s also a school holiday club and adventure days and weekends for families, including free camping. They can even host woodland birthday parties. In our sometimes over-protective culture, giving a child the chance to run wild in the woods is an opportunity not to be missed.

The Woodland Skills Centre has a fantastic approach – they take safety really seriously but don’t wrap children in cotton wool. Our two were thrilled to use proper wood knives with gleaming blades and chunky homemade hammers to split kindling and to be taught how to light fires without matches. All of it was done within framework of very clear, sensible rules. So the way the knife and mallet were held meant accidental slips weren’t possible.

Before learning how to forage for firewood, to lay a fire and use a magnesium fire starter and dried birch bark to coax it to life, the children first learned the important safety rules for treating fire with respect, how to sit and move round a fire and how to make sure it’s properly extinguished. We gathered round the outdoor fire pit for lunch – a pan of sizzling sausages cooked over the open fire with plenty of bread and salad, washed down with hot drinks made using the immense kettle suspended from a tripod above the fire.

We finished off with an American campfire delicacy: marshmallows toasted over the fire and sandwiched between two chocolate digestives. These go by the name of “s’mores”, so the story goes, because that’s how you sound when you inevitably ask for “some more” while your mouth’s still full.

Birthday Parties in the Woods

We have already run several birthday parties this year.

Thank you so much for the Birthday Party for Polly on Saturday. The girls all had a really fantastic time in the woods. All of the feedback I have had has been positive and the parents are all very impressed with the different type of birthday party!!

Janette Nevin – March 2012