Forest School comes to Rowntree Park

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We are excited to announce that Forest School sessions for children are coming to Rowntree Park this Autumn, starting on Friday 13th of September. Places are strictly limited and must be booked in advance.

Magical moments being nurtured in nature

It is so important for children, and adults, to spend time outdoors in nature. Forest school is more than just sessions outdoors.  It is a specialised approach that is learner centred and aims to promote the holistic development of the child.  Through hands-on practical learning, Forest school fosters resilience, confidence, self-esteem, independence and creativity and encourages children to take risks within a supportive learning environment set within nature.

Sessions will include: Den building, foraging, campfire cooking, mini-beast hunts, fire lighting, woodland crafts, storytelling and natural paint making and more – all run by  Christine, our Very Young Friends group leader, who has taken her official training to be able to offer these amazing sessions that are exceptional value for money.

Rowntree Park Forest School will be themed around a nature topic but essentially child-led so they will evolve naturally according to individual children’s interests and abilities.  There will be lots of time for free play and exploration of the individual’s interests as well as focused activities.

Time to develop, connect and grow

Forest School’s ethos recommends a range of continuous sessions rather than one-off ad hoc sessions, therefore we are offering a six-week course aimed at preschoolers (2-5 year olds).  Homeschoolers are also welcome.  The six-week block begins on Friday 13th of September and lasts session is Friday 25th of October (see note below). Each session runs from 10am-12pm.

Due to the nature of the activities, places are strictly limited and must be booked in advance. Parents stay and engage with their children and learning at the sessions – fun, relaxing, mindfulness for all!

UPDATE – this first set of sessions sold out in just a week.  Therefore if you are interested in hearing about future sessions, please email us and you will be the first to hear about any future dates.  Contact our volunteer abigail at  who handles admin/bookings.

Members – £36 Non Members – £42
Forest School 6 week sessions – 13/9, 20/9, 4/10,11/10, 18/10, 25/10

(note no session on 27/9)


Save money on the sessions AND help your local park?

You can become a member of Friends of Rowntree Park for just £5 a year per household.  For this, you get discounts at our events, monthly newsletters, 10% off in the cafe for the year whilst helping support our volunteer work in maintaining and improving Rowntree Park.  You can join here:

If you would like further details about membership or Forest School sessions then please get in contact with Abigail at






Wild Life Day

We care about our local wildlife and know you do too!  The park has a vibrant mix of birds, animals and insects and we love them all!  Come along to our Wild Life Day in Rowntree Park to find out more about the types of wildlife we have in the park and engage with our range of family-friendly activities.

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The event will run between 12-3pm on Sunday 9th of June and is free to attend.  We have a range of groups coming with information and activities including:

  • Owl adventures who will run some displays
  • Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
  • Butterfly conservation trust 
  • St Nicks 
  • Bumblebee conservation trust
  • The conservation volunteers [TCV]
  • RSPB
  • East Yorkshire Bat Group 
  • Askham Bryan wildlife and conservation park
  • Hedgehog group
  • King of the Birds Trail
  • More TBC

There will be a range of ‘drop-in’ children’s activities including (minimal charges may apply):

  • Wild Art
  • Bee finger puppets
  • Bee walk
  • Bird feeder making
  • More TBC

In addition, we are running Pond Dipping sessions*.  The Pond Dipping sessions need booking in advance as numbers are strictly limited for this popular event:


Members Ticket – £2 Non Members ticket – £3
12pm-12.45pm SOLD OUT SOLD OUT
1pm-1.45pm SOLD OUT BUY

*Parents/careers are expected to stay with their children at all times, but tickets are only needed for the children involved in the event.  Most suited to 2-13-year-olds (approx)

There is no physical ticket.  You have your Paypal receipt and we have a list of names.  We will email you a few days before the event with details on where and when to meet.

The main event will take place on the large field near the playparks.   This event has been organised by Friend of Rowntree Park.  We are a group of volunteers who care about the park and community.  The event is non-profit making and any money made/donated goes back into the park.  We appreciate your support and know you share our love of the park and its wildlife.

Please see our Facebook events page for updates.

Important information

Park location – YO23 1JQ

There is a cafe on site run by York Explore (with toilets) and also a toilet block near our location.  It is advised to bring a picnic as the cafe may be very busy.  Alternatively, Bishopthorpe Rd shops are nearby for food and Cycle Heaven cafe (across the Millenium Bridge) – all within 5 mins walk.

The carpark at the park is small and there are council parking charges.  You can walk to the park from town (15 mins) or get a Bus to Bishopthorpe Rd.  You can access the park from Bishopthorpe road via Clementhorpe, Vine Street, Charlton Street, Richardson Street, Cameron Grove, and Butcher Terrace.  In addition, across the Millennium Bridge from Fulford.

If any other wildlife-related groups are interested in being involved, or you require further information – contact Ruth:


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Spooky Saturday!

Join the Young Friends for a very Spooky Saturday on October 27th 2018 1-3pm in Rowntree Park.  There will be potion making, broomstick creating, a terrifying trail (actually not really terrifying in case you are worried about your little ones!) and some Halloween crafts.


This event was very popular last year, therefore we are selling tickets in advance so we can know the numbers and make sure we have enough resources for everyone that wants to come.

It is £3 per child for non-members and £2 for Friends of Rowntree Park members.  You can join the Friends of Rowntree Park for only £5 a year.  Not only does this give you discount/free entry/priority booking to our events – you also get 10% off in the cafe for the year, monthly newsletters and a warm fuzzy feeling that you are helping support our volunteer work in maintaining and improving the park we all love! You can join online by clicking here or pick up a form in the cafe.  Join before buying your tickets and select ‘members tickets’ and save money.

No ticket is needed for children under 1-year-old who won’t be involved in the activities.  Parents don’ need tickets.  you can bring as many adults as you like – more hands to help, the better!

Dress up, dress down, but do dress for the weather as some activities will take place outside!  Meet outside the Young friends Club House under Rowntree Park Reading Cafe.

Spooky Saturday 27th Oct 1-3pm Members SOLD OUT
Spooky Saturday 27th Oct 1-3pm Non Members SOLD OUT

All events are run by volunteers and children remain the responsibility of their parents/careers at all times.  The Friends of Rowntree Park are a non-profit organisation, all money raised from the even goes to cover the resources and the rest goes to help out work in maintaining and improving the park.

Events will take place in whatever the weather.  No refunds can be issued but you are welcome to sell your tickets on, just make sure we know the names of the new owners!

Any questions or queries then email abigail at

Who’s the King of the Birds?


noah looking in a bird box

Look inside the bird box to see the clue

The little explorers and I are always keen to tackle a new adventure so we were very excited to test out the new park trail.  We love birds, we love stories and we love looking for hidden things so it seemed like a perfect afternoon adventure.  The trail map from the park café (suggested donation £1) only added to the excitement with its beautiful illustrations by Gerard Hobson.

The trail takes you on an imaginative adventure, following the story of the little sparrow who wanted to find out who should be king.  We followed the sparrow on his journey to meet all the different birds in the park, each telling him about their special quality which would make them the best king.  We loved spotting and identifying the wooden birds in the trees and the littlest explorer had a great time peeking in the bird boxes to find the clues.

There are some steps on the trail so it’s not ideal for pushchairs (though you can avoid that part of the route) but even my little 2 year old managed the walk without any problems – in fact most of the time he was running to get to the bird box before his older brother!  The paths are good and the trail takes you through some of the lesser visited areas of the park which only adds to the fun.

Trail complete, we headed back to the café where the lovely staff gave both children a beautiful bird badge (which they are still wearing proudly) and a colouring sheet.

Who was king of the birds?  You’ll have to try it out for yourself to find out!

Guest post by Christine, and the little explorers



Crowning Autumn

We had a lovely time at our October meet up for Very Young Friends playing with leaves.  Sadly not enough leaves had fallen for us to make a giant leaf pile for jumping in but we still had fun looking for leaves and autumn colours on our leaf treasure hunt.  We also really enjoyed making autumn crowns by weaving willow branches into a ring and tucking leaves and other lovely finds into them.


However, some of us – my very own very young friend especially – remembered that willow is good for lots of things and began making new adventures.  Willow lends itself to outdoor play very well because its so flexible and there are usually lots of long lengths of it under the trees (called whips).  You can twist it, wave it, tie it and anything else you can think of.  These are some of our favourite things to play with willow:

  1. Hours have gone by while my little explorers have dipped long lengths of willow in and out of the lake attempting to catch fish.  Unsurprisingly they’ve never caught one but it doesn’t seem to deter them!
  2. Scooter modifications. Take a piece of willow, tie it to a scooter and voila!  A go-faster leaver.  A teddy bear holder.  Use it to tie sticks on for extra features, maybe breaks or booster buttons.  And if you run out of power, a hanging willow branch makes for a excellent petrol pump.
  3. Weave more crowns like we did, or bracelets, or mini Christmas wreaths.  Make a stick frame and weave a picture.  Use other nature treasures to decorate them, maybe some coloured leaves or pine cones.
  4. Some of those willow whips are really long.  If you find a nice flexible one (and you’re not very big!)  you can use it as a skipping rope.
  5. Waving.  The ultimate in entertainment if you’re a toddler.  Grab a willow whip.  Wave it about. Job done


Have a go next time you’re in the park.  Remember to only take willow from the ground and keep the trees healthy.

Next month we’ll be thinking about hibernation and getting ready for winter. Come along to find out about the sleepy animals in the park and make some lovely hedgehogs to take home. Join us on 3rd November at 11.30 by the log circle in the woods.

Christine Potter and the Very Young Friends

Pssssst.  If you like making things with willow look out for a special December event for all ages where you can make your own Christmas wreaths.  Saturday 3rd Dec, 10-12. £5 per wreath.


Very Young Friends in 2013

very young friends 2013

The Very Young Friends have been out and about! Each meeting has a different theme and the theme in June was ‘finding fairies’ – I’m not sure how many were found, but much fun was had with ribbons in the sunshine, as you can see.

Young ones and their parents/carers are very welcome to join in, for as little or as much as seems good at the time – this is an easy-going session for all! The Very Young Friends can’t guarantee the weather, but they’ll be there to greet you, at the little bridge by the cafe, at 11am on the first Monday of the month.

Next month (Monday July 1st), the theme is ‘All the busy insects’, so everyone will be creeping and crawling and buzzing about like bees … bzzzz!!!

Francesca leads the Very Young Friends, and she can be contacted on 07533 475 929.

March’s Story – Squirrelled Away

I think it’s safe to say that Spring has arrived in Rowntree Park. There is birdsong to be heard and the sun is shining onto the waters of the lake that were solid ice only two short weeks ago. Everything looks very fresh and green, and the air is noticeably warmer. There are buds on the trees, but still only very wee ones. This means that if you stand still under one of the very tall trees along the Ten Tree Trail and lean your head back as far as you can and peer up to the very tip top of that very tall tree, you can still see the squirrels running about up there. It’s worth a try – your neck might ache after a while but you’ll be rewarded with the sight of some pretty amazing furry-tailed acrobatics that will be hidden later in the season by a thick screen of leaves.

 I did this the other day with my four-year-old son, and we saw a couple of the squirrels scampering about up there, seeming to defy gravity with their crazy leaps, never falling although the skinny branches they chose to dangle from bent and swayed dramatically. They criss-crossed back and forth between two trees, having a shouted conversation as they flew past each other in the air. We stood still and craned our necks as far as we possibly could, and listened in. This is the gist of what they were on about.

‘Cyril! Look out below – there are some people watching us!’

‘Never mind, Beryl – they’re too far down below to hear us. And they probably don’t understand Squirrel-ish anyway.’

(Ah, but the wind was blowing at just the right angle to carry their words down to us – and we do understand a fair bit of Squirrel-ish. It’s not unlike Weasel-ish if you want to know the truth, though it sounds quite a lot furrier.)

‘Where have you hidden the last of those acorns?’

‘Well if I knew that I wouldn’t be leaping about between these two trees trying to find them, would I? I know it was somewhere near here. Now keep looking please, I don’t want Errol and Daryl scoffing them all.’

And the two squirrels kept jumping around between the two trees in search of their hidden store – too well hidden! We kept looking up and listening in although our necks were pretty stiff by now.

‘Oh Beryl, I nearly forgot!’ said one little furry voice from above. ‘I did dig a bit at the bottom of the tree like you suggested.’

‘Well then?!’ shrieked Beryl. ‘Did you find any nuts down there?’

‘Not nuts’, replied Cyril coyly. ‘But I did find – this…’ and he produced a lumpy brown thing from a hole in the tree trunk and threw it to his companion in passing. ‘Do you think it’s edible?’

‘Hmm, no, I don’t think so’ – and she gave it a little chew to make sure – ‘No, definitely not. Yuk! It tastes like it’s been buried for a hundred years!’

‘Ok then, chuck it away,’ said Cyril. ‘Better keep searching for the acorns.’

And with that, he scampered away, making a daring leap to a further-off tree top which swayed wildly as he landed.

There was a thud as Beryl dropped the lumpy brown thing onto the ground at the foot of the tree, where it landed right next to my boot! My son picked it up immediately before I had a chance to wonder if small boys should handle things that squirrels have chewed recently.

And what was that object? Well, here are some photographs of it – what do you think it is?

Beryl thought it tasted like it had been buried for a hundred years, and in fact it really might have been. The land where Rowntree Park now stands was a dump in Victorian times, and many small objects have been dug up in the park that were indeed buried in that dump a hundred years ago or even more than that!

If you’d like to see the object that Cyril and Beryl dug up and threw down at my feet – and also get ready for Spring and welcome the new season to the park officially – then come along to the next meeting of the Very Young Friends of Rowntree Park on 6th March ! We meet at 12:30pm on the first Tuesday of every month at the pavilion [to the left if you come into the park through the big gates on Terry Avenue, just behind the tennis courts]. We have themed woodland trails and a picnic with songs, stories and arty activities. For under fives and their parents/carers. Bring your lunch! More info from Lara on 07941 448594.