Welcome! Moors Wood is a small private woodland owned and managed by Sarah and Ian Blenkinsop as a nature reserve and as a sustainably managed source of various wood products.

Sarah is a freelance Environmental Educator, Lecturer and Forest School Leader. Based at her own site at Moors Wood, Sarah provides fun natural/recycled craft workshops; play or storytelling sessions; eco themed parties; workshops on food preservation, setting up an organic garden, setting up a composting area or keeping chickens; or training courses in various woodcraft and play skills. These services are available for adults and/or children. Sarah is also very happy to come to you and deliver any of the above, or to give talks to groups.

Follow the links to find out more about what is on offer. Please click on the photos if you need to make them larger. Also visit Sarah's other site, The Compost Bin, for more general info and advice on sustainable living.

Moors Wood - Welcome and a brief history

Come and have fun with us in the woods! Moors Wood  is a 3 acre private mixed broadleaf deciduous woodland between Hereford and Ledbury, close to Marcle Ridge, in the county of Herefordshire. It was planted in 1991, with a further phase added in 1992.

Moors Wood is organically managed as a sustainable resource for the benefit of the local flora and fauna and is a private nature reserve.

 As well as lots of trees, Moors Wood has a wetland area,

an open meadow,

a deep dry ditch,

and lots of  shrubby areas and open areas. There are many natural features and natural materials available for play and learning. The site is enclosed, safe, thoroughly risk assessed and managed by a first aid trained, insured, Forest School Leader.

Our house at Moors Wood is powered mostly by renewable energy: we have a 30 tube Solar Thermal installation for hot water, 14, 185 W Photovoltaic panels which produce electricity for our use and to sell back to the national grid, a woodburner which exclusively burns our own wood from Moors Wood. We also have our own water supply and sewerage system. We do use an oil boiler ( mainly in the winter), but our usage is dropping all the time, as we improve insulation and reduce energy loss by various means!
Longer term plans include building a composting toilet in the wood and also a low impact building for use as a classroom and store room.

Moors Wood site was arable farming land before being planted with trees, although an ancient hedgerow runs down the boundary between the first and second area to be planted. Within this hawthorn hedge are several old Oak trees (in excess of 200 years old by the girth of the trunk.) This ancient boundary now lies within the new planting.

The wood was planted by the previous owners of our smallholding, funded by the Forestry Commission English Woodland Grant Scheme. Planting was an intimate mixture of 25% Oak, 25% Sweet Chestnut, 10% Ash, 10% Birch, 10% Small leaved lime, 10% Wild Cherry and 10% a mixture of others. Each whip was protected by a cane and a spiral rabbit guard. The purpose of the planting of Moors Wood in open countryside was to have an important, enhancing visual impact in the landscape, create a host of habitats for wildlife and, in the longer term, produce some wood.

We purchased the property in 1997, mainly because we fell in love with the woodland. As well as the tree planted area itself, there is also a small meadow area and wildlife pool. We manage this land organically, for the benefit of our wildlife visitors as well as ourselves. We carry out traditional woodland management for wood products, such as firewood and beanpoles, we also coppice to ensure a supply of wood products in future years. We harvest nuts and other wild foods as the season allows.We have also used our woodland for education and enjoyment since we moved here in 1997.

Moors Wood had a canopy of Ash, Silver Birch, various Oaks, Wild and Bird Cherry, White Poplar, Sycamore, Sweet Chestnut, with an understorey of Small leaved Lime, Hornbeam, Hazel, Hawthorn, Cherry, Holly and taller coppiced former canopy trees. The shrub layer is mainly Hawthorn, Spindle, Mistletoe, Blackthorn and smaller coppiced stools and growing saplings. The field layer has Nettles, Rose bay willowherb, Ferns, wild Honeysuckle, Brambles, Ivy, wild Rose, wild Daffodils, Bluebells, Dog violets, Primroses, Ransoms, Wood Sorrel, Buttercups, Arum lilies, Cow Parsley, Wood Spurge, Bugle, Cowslips, Dogs Mercury, Early purple orchids, Wood Avens. The ground layer is made up of Celandine, mosses, Ivy, and Lamiastrum. This is by no means a complete list as every year when I record what is there, something else has appeared naturally.

Moors Wood is full of wildlife. We have a huge variety of insects and other invertebrates and the presence of the pool and meadow means we have many dragonflies and damselflies, butterflies and moths. We have newts, frogs and toads as well as slow worms and grass snakes. Moors Wood is home to a huge variety of bird life. We have put up many bird boxes and every year they are filled with nestlings. Barn,Tawny and Little owls hunt in the wood. A buzzard family nests in the big Oak tree part way down the wood and we have several different birds of prey hunting most days. We have several different species of bat, we have seen dormice and the Wood is full of yellow-necked mice, as well as the more usual shrews, wood mice and other small mammals. Badgers use our wood to forage in and to dig latrine pits. We are sited on the boundary between 2 overlapping badger territories so we have no setts in the Wood but occasionally we find a juvenile has had a go digging a hole and we frequently find snuffle pits where the local badgers have been foraging for worms.

We obviously use our wood as a Forest School site and also provide environmentally themed parties and play sessions during the school holidays. Practitioners from Early Years and School settings visit us for training courses as well.

We also work and manage our woodland for timber and other supplies. We coppice trees, particularly Hazel and Sweet Chestnut, although we have found Ash will also coppice. We provide wood from our coppiced hazel for chair and obelisk making and yurt frames and we harvest poles from the wood for use as beanpoles. We fell trees every winter, taking care to select trees which will allow regeneration of the ground layer around them. We use the wood as a source of logs to heat our home in the winter, using a woodburner. The woodland is a major source of leaves for leaf mould making in the autumn, to then be used as a soil improver in our organic garden. The wood provides shelter from the winds for the garden and orchard (permaculture principle) we harvest nuts and berries in the autumn and salad leaves in spring and most of all enjoy our wood as a wildlife haven in an area of intensive agricultural management.

Moors Wood is an example of a small-scale woodland being integrated into a family lifestyle and managed in a Permaculture inspired, Organic, sustainable way. Moors Wood provides us with renewable, sustainable resources for our current needs. Hopefully we are, in return, ensuring Moors Wood has a healthy, long-term future.

Paper making kit.

Recycled paper making is fun, but very messy!

I have built up a list of useful equipment over the years I have been doing this, just to be able to do it in the most easy manner. Remember I am doing this with between 10 and 30 children or adults, so I have extra sets of everything!

Paper making kit

Lidded bucket (to make and transport pulp)
Old laminated floor tiles (useful flat surface to roll out on)
Rolling pins
Jugs (useful to scoop out pulp)
Stick blender or masher
Spoons (for adding/mixing pulp)

Mould and Deckle (you need to make (or buy) a mesh frame (sometimes called a mould) and an outer frame without mesh (called a deckle) Two picture frames and a piece of mesh stapled on to one frame would work.

Sponges (for removing excess water from pulp)
Trays (bigger than the mould and deckle, for the actual paper making part. I use unused plastic cat litter trays)
Plastic tablecloths

My Paper making kit ready to go , all stacked in a big plastic box in the boot of my car, paper pulp in SEALED buckets (formerly had bird food in them, washed and reused for this), standing in the paper making trays. If pulp spills it is VERY hard to clean up!

To make the pulp

Take cut or better still shredded white office paper (printed is fine, but good quality office paper makes the smoothest recycled paper)

Many other types of paper that can be used include: Newspaper (If you want a grayish colored paper), old magazines, old cards (makes heavier paper) tissue paper (for finer paper)

Put a generous quantity of torn or shredded paper into a bucket and add warm water. Leave overnight if possible to let the paper absorb lots of water - this makes the fibres easier to break up. If you need to speed this process up you can add boiling water.

Liquidise or mash the wet paper until it is pulp. I find putting half the pulp in another bucket with some more water is best to liquidise it, if the pulp is too thick it is hard to liquidise.

It will look like porridge when it is ready.

Wash your hands after handling paper pulp as it is alkaline and can leave your hands very dry, and remind the participants to wash their hands as soon as they have finished doing the pulp handling bit.

To make the paper

There are several ways of doing this, I put the mould and deckle in water (frame mesh side up, deckle on top)

and then spoon/pour pulp into the frame until I have enough. This is easier for children to do!

OR you can put some pulp in a bowl (bigger than your frame and deckle) with water.
Take the frame and deckle, hold them firmly together and scoop them under the surface of the pulp mixture until you have picked up enough pulp from the water to make an even layer of pulp on the mesh. This makes finer paper but is hard for children to do!

If you want to colour the paper add food colouring or paint to the water at this stage.

Agitate the frame and deckle in the water to get an even layer of pulp inside the deckle, on the mesh. You can spoon some pulp into the deckle and frame to fill in any holes.

When all of the mesh is evenly coated lift out and allow the frame and deckle to drain, keeping level.

At this point you could add glitter, dried leaves, herbs, flowers, scraps of coloured tissue paper etc. I add some vanilla food flavour for a lovely scent, or a drop of lavender essential oil, or some dried lavender also looks very attractive.

Lift the deckle off, lifting it straight up so as not to smear the pulp,

place a cloth (I use old j cloths, anything absorbent will work) over the paper on the mesh of the frame. Gently dab with a sponge to remove the worst of the water.

Carefully lower the cloth and paper, cloth side down, on to a flat surface (I use an offcut of floor tile) covered with newspaper/cloth to absorb water. There WILL be a lot of water around!

You now have the cloth on the tile, the paper next then the mesh of the frame. This is the back surface of the paper, seen through the mesh.

Press down with sponges on the mesh, so the water is blotted off the paper through the mesh.


Lift off the frame from one corner, pressing gently from the mesh side as you go, leaving the paper behind on the cloth

You now have a cloth with some paper on top of it!

Put another cloth on top and roll with a rolling pin to remove any further water (and flatten the paper a litle.)

Repeat whole paper making process, adding each cloth to the stack.

When you have enough paper sheets, place something flat on top ( I use another laminated floor tile) and weigh it down to flatten the paper stack. Leave for a bit (a few hours if possible but it is not too critical).

Peel apart the cloths and leave each sheet of paper and cloth to dry out a bit more if needed.

Restack and put a weight on the stack to flatten the sheets

Finally peel off the cloths and leave the paper to dry out completely. DO NOT put in too hot a place or the paper will buckle as it dries! If the paper does dry buckled you can carefully iron it flat, using a medium heat iron ( not too hot or the paper will scorch!)

I get the children to work in pairs, each one working on an end of the frame and then the sheet can be cut in half when dry. Odd bits can be re used to decorate other sheets of paper.

Put in a warm dry place to dry and make sure you know who made it!!


And THAT is how we made paper!