News

Currently Suntrap Forest Centre is closed for major refurbishment work, funded by the London Borough of Waltham Forest, reopening April 2021. 

We're still supporting our community so watch this space and keep up-to-date with our building plans, upcoming news and activities.

Interested to read more about environmental news?  Then catch up on our wide-ranging topical posts here

  • Keeping your visit safe

    Guidance coming out in February 2021

    Guidance coming out in February 2021 from the Department for Education jointly with Public Health England on restarting residential school travel sector in Easter 2021. New protocols to show we’re safe to operate. Development of a bespoke school cancellation insurance scheme to allow schools to book with confidence.

    Read more about school trips
  • Squirrels Forest School

    Reopening Monday 26 April 2021

    Book your space now! Come and join us every other Monday during term time, from 10am-12 noon, for fun and adventure in Epping Forest. Squirrels Forest School is for children from 18 months (who are walking confidently) up to school-age, along with their carer. Explore, play and make friends and best of all you get to encourage your children early to have a lot of nature. 

    Read more about Squirrels CLub
  • Be Wild Saturday club

    Reopening 17 April 2021

    Book your space now! Discover family forest fun and be inspired at our Be Wild Club. A wild adventure on the first and third Saturday of each month, for children aged 4-11 years old and their carers. Have fun exploring Epping Forest come rain or shine! Join us to discover more about this amazing wild space on the edge of East London.

    Read more about our Be Wild club
  • Guardians of the Forest

    On-line in January, the Suntrap team met young people from the Waltham Forest Young Advisors and the Youth Independent Advisors Groups.

    Plans for the future include:  Guided walks in Epping Forest Setting up a Youth Group Support in eco-activism.

    Our offer for young people
  • Raising the roof

    A sedum garden roof has been used for our recycling store. A living green roof that'll improve air quality and provide a fabulous habitat for wildlife. One of the many ways Suntrap will be tackling the effects of climate change.

    Read more about our eco changes
  • RSPB Big Bird Watch

    Monday 1at - Monday 22nd February 2021

    In JFebruary the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch is happening.  Join in and contribute to an impressive amount of comparative data., the findings provide an important insight into how our wildlife is faring. Click to read top birdwatching tips from our patron, David Lindo, 'The Urban Birder'

    Read top birdwatching tips
  • Waltham Forest Climate Emergency Commission:

    A Call to Action

    One of the recommendations is to educate young people about the Climate Emergency and empower them to take action by embedding it within the school curriculum and providing them with a platform to lead the borough. Suntrap wholeheartedly supports this recommendation and will aim to play a a pivotal role in 2021.

    Read more about our commitment to the environment
  • Generation Tree: How young people can plant, protect and promote urban trees.

    At Suntrap we’re always looking at new ways to encourage young people to get involved with the natural world. We’ve got lots of plans in 2021 to make this happen but in the meantime sign up to the Trees for Cities London Youth Panel. You’ll get the chance to share your ideas and feelings about climate change, nature and making cities greener.

    Sign up to panel
  • World Nursey Rhyme Week

    16 - 20 November 2020

    Here at Suntrap we love using nursery rhymes when out in Epping Forest with younger groups.  They help develop an interest in the natural world and encourage a familiarity to things that might be perceived as scary such as spiders, birds, frogs, ants and bees.  

    Activity ideas
  • Top outdoor locations for UK cities

    Google maps has revealed the most popular outdoor locations for a stretch of the legs for residents in the UK's major cities, based on what people search for using the tool from February 1 to October 20 2020. In London the No 1 spot is Richmond Park  and our Epping Forest cam in 5th.  Visitors to Epping Forest have increased by 10 million now up to 14 million.

    More info on Epping Forest
  • Show your love for Epping Forest

    Has Epping Forest helped to get you through the lockdown this year?

    If so take a moment of your time to give something back to this ancient woodland and vote for our special forest in the Green Flag Award People's Choice Awards. Deadline Wednesday 25 November 2020

    Vote here
  • Poorer kids' development hit by lack of outdoor space in lockdown

    Recent research has shown that lack of access to outdoor space during lockdown has caused disadvantaged young children to miss out on activities which play a vital part in child development.  In particular anything requiring outdoor space and access to books.

    Help us to share our activities within your local community. 

    Nature activity ideas
  • More dirt please!

    A small study in Finland has found that children whose outdoor play areas were transformed from gravel yards to min-forests showed improved immune systems within a month.  Scientists believe the improvement is related to the diversity of microbes that the children are exposed to in the natural environment.

    More on outdoor learning
  • Look up!

    David Lindo, President of Friends of Suntrap, broadcaster, author aka The Urban Birder advises us to 'look up'.

    Read a thought-provoking article about breaking down the stereotypes in birdwatching featured in the November 2020 issue of the Waltham Forest Echo

    Read the article on page 4
  • Outdoor Classroom Day Thursday 5 November

    Great opportunity to take learning outside.

    Visit the Suntrap Youtube channel; be inspired by demonstrations of resource-minimal activities, which can be used in most outdoor spaces with very little planning. Explore some practical steps to make the transition to outdoor learning simple and enjoyable for children and staff/carers. For everyone, Outdoor Classroom Day will act as a catalyst for more time outdoors every day. 

    Watch Suntrap YouTube channel
  • Walk in Epping Forest

    Find our where you can spot the iconic red and white spotted mushrooms (Fly Agrics), what jays and squirrels have in common and why beef steaks aren't just found on the grill!

    Watch our YouTube video on an autumnal walk in Epping Forest with top tips on what to look out for.

     

     

    More nature activities
  • Out of the blue came Suntrap!

    Suntrap's aim is to encourage our visitors to develop a strong sense of guardianship for Epping Forest, with an understanding, love and respect for the natural world.

    For some this has developed into a lifelong legacy and for others fond school life memories.  To share these stories we've created a space on our website.

    Read our shared stories
  • Institute for Outdoor Learning, Horizon magazine Autumn 2020

    Horizons is a quarterly publication published by the Institute for Outdoor Learning.

    In Autumn 2020 issue Head of Suntrap, Kerry Rolison  shared her learning experiences during lockdown including filmmaking, bug hotels, naturel dyes and much more. 

    Photo: Kerry Rolison and David Lindo, President of Friends of Suntrap

    Ideas in Lockdown
  • Youth Climate Summit

    Time is already running out to tackle the climate and ecological emergency, young people are refusing to let it drop off their agenda.

    Youth Climate Summit is a week-long virtual festival (Monday 9 November - Friday 13 November 2020) of days of themed discussions and activities.

    Suntrap is running a session ‘Street trees: a breath of fresh air‘ on Tuesday 10th November at 12.40pm. 

    Find out more about the summit
  • Coming Spring 2021 nature themed family camping weekends!

    Make some great family memories at one of our nature themed overnight stays in our truly unique sustainably heated wooden camping pods.

    Enjoy new experiences and learn together in the beautiful setting of Epping Forest.

    Explore the flora and fauna in the forest and learn new outdoor skills, at our family friendly camp.  

    Sign up to our newsletter to keep up to date with info on our Forest Explorer Camps. 

    Sign up to our newsletter
  • The Promise

    Launching on Friday 16 October 2020  The Promise is a new BBC film based on the children’s picture book by Nicola Davies and Laura Carlin. If you’re a primary school that wants to get involved register your interest to be gifted books of The Promise and an exclusive film screening toolkit creating a whole morning of nature connection activities and actions. Deadline for nominations is Friday 2 October 2020.

    Register interest here.
  • Black History Month

    October is Black History month, and we take the opportunity to acknowledging our inspirational Friends of Suntrap President, broadcaster and author David Lindo, aka the Urban Birder.

    As David has explained ‘Nature is for everyone and it starts at all our doorsteps. We should all be encouraged to appreciate nature - especially those who live in urban areas. We can all help to engender change that leads to a greater appreciation and understanding of our world. Indeed, it is our responsibility to do so.’

    Birdwatching tips
  • Lights, camera, action!

    To support schools with their outdoor learning skills we're producing films for the EYFS, KS1 and KS2 stages.

    Each film will feature different outdoor activities and information on how to further develop these ideas.

    The films will then be put up on the Waltham Forest education support website page, The Hub and also on the Suntrap Youtube channel.

    Support for schools
  • George Tomlinson Primary School

    No such thing as bad weather just the wrong clothing!

    Recently the Suntrap team ran a free outdoor learning training session for staff at George Tomlinson Primary School in Leytonstone.

    The hardy bunch braced the wet weather and feedback included: 'The children will love doing this' 'You've given us so many ideas we wouldn't have thought of. Thank you.'

    Outdoor learning for schools
  • Sneak peak of classroom

    Here's a sneak peak of the inside one of the classrooms in our main building.

    There's still work to do, but the new windows look very impressive and will keep out the draughts. New lighting, cupboards and workbenches are all being currently installed.

    Our newsletter has all the latest refurbishment news. 

    Subscribe to our newsletter
  • National Fungi Day Saturday 3 October

    Did you know mushrooms that are in a close group but not close enough to be called a cluster are said to be in a troop? Mushrooms in a group that is a bit more scattered and irregular are said to be gregarious.

    Autumn is the perfect time of the year to get out into the forest to do one of our favourite activities... fungi spotting. Take a photo but don't pick a mushroom, it's against Epping Forest byelaws and you're stopping the important role mushrooms play in the sustainability of our local nature.

    More nature activities
  • Raising the next generation of Eco-Warriors to change the world.

    Eco-Schools and Frugi clothing company have produced the Frugi Challenge, 10 days of eco-activities – differentiated for early years, primary and secondary schools. The challenges can be completed in school or at home. Also 150 schools applying for the first Eco-Schools Green flag are eligible for their accreditation fee to be paid. Funding applications close on Friday 18 December 2020 and schools must submit a successful first Green Flag application before Friday 26 February 2021. 

    Funding support
  • Sir David Attenborough joins Instagram!

    Did you know we have an instagram account - @suntrapforestcentre?

    Recently we were pleased to welcome long time supporter of Suntrap, Sir David Attenborough to the Instagram community.  We look forward to sharing our nature photographs with him!   

    Our history
  • Outdoor classroom update

    In September 2020 the foundations for our new outdoor classroom have been completed.

    Visitors will be able to use this outdoor covered space when using the back garden, including exploring the creatures they find in our raised pond.

    Our newsletter has all the latest refurbishment news.

    Subscribe to our newsletter
  • Exciting refurbishment news!

    Refurbishment update. The new schools' entrance and corridor at the back of the building is taking shape. The glass fronted foyer will have great views across our new terraced garden and there will be new toilets along the corridor. We think the new roof looks really smart, let us know what you think via our social media! want to keep up to date, then subscribe to our newsletter.

    Subscribe
  • Epping Forest Centre reopening

    Epping Forest Visitor Centre in High Beach is reopening on Friday 2nd October.  Opening hours Friday to Sunday 10.00am-4.00pm.

    On display are our beautiful illustrations of Suntrap drawn by artist in residence Emma Bond before the refurbishment closure.

    Order prints
  • Packs full of fun!

    During the summer Suntrap produced nature activity packs for 19 schools in Waltham Forest.  'This looks very exciting. Thank you for the huge effort to make this happen for our children!' Maretha Cilliers Deputy Headteacher Thomas Gamuel Primary School

    Photo: Children from Coppermill Primary School

    Support for schools
  • Glamping camping

    Our new Ken Hoy Lodge in the wild meadow is starting to take shape!

    Installation of toilets and showers - no more toilet tent at night!

    The weather-proof Ken Hoy Lodge with sliding doors will be fit for up to 80 people to eat indoors or al fresco! 

    Camping info
  • Why we're called Suntrap

    We're called "Suntrap" as no matter time of day or year, our south facing building gets a lot of sun. To minimise our carbon footprint we've had installed two huge sets of photovoltaic (solar) panels. This renewable source means we can produce much of our own electricity.

    Keep uo-to-date on refurbishment
  • Sasha wins the race!

    There are many ways to teach children to take care of the natural world, and one simple yet powerful approach is through books.

    We've put together our favourite inspirational children's books that offer meaningful messages about nature and the environment.

    Happy reading!

     

    Suntrap Book Club
  • Centre accessible for all!

    Remember the Green Hut and animals cages?  These have been removed for much needed landscaping work. 

    Our new terraces will make the whole site accessible for all our visitors plus we get so much more space to use!  

    Outdoor learning
  • Frederick Bremer Community School

    In August 2020 we supported Frederick Bremer community school in Walthamstow with their forest school outdoor learning.

    They're running this during the holidays, exploring habitats and developing team work through den building.

    Find out more
  • Keeping our wet meadow rich in biodiversity

    Drainage in our camping field has been a challenge for our landscape architects. As a preventive measure the kidney shaped excavation gives a natural low point for water to collect during wetter weather.  In a few years we'll have a wet meadow rich in biodiversity and a much drier field!

    Camping info
  • WF Summer Holiday Activity Programme

    Suntrap is part of the Waltham Forest Summer Holiday Activity programme.

    This year we went virtual and ran lots of fun online indoor and outdoor nature activities for children and young people. 

    Activities
  • Sneak peak at camping pods

    Close up shot of one of the new cedar-clad camping pods. Currently twenty pods each sleeping four people are being built off site.

    Soon to be moved to their new homes in our Wild Wood and Wildflower Meadow. 

     

    Camping info
  • Walthamstow Garden Party

    The Walthamstow Garden Party is a virtual event this year, in the spirit of the festival we've put together projects about some of our animals. For each there's a film, fact sheet, a craft or art activity and a test your knowledge quiz. 

    Which animals did we choose? There's a clue for one in the photo!

    Were you right?
  • Chit-Chat Pitter-Pat

    During the summer to support families with children under five we're working in partnership with Chit-Chat Pitter-Pat a home learning project. Each week on Sharing Saturday on their Facebook page we'll be posting a one-minute nature activity video.  

     

    Watch videos
  • No more drafts!

    Foundation for the camping Meadow Lodge is completed and steels have arrived for the walls. The windows in the main building have been replaced with draft free well fitted double glazed units. Not only will they help to keep the building warm but they look really smart!

    Contact us
  • National Meadows Day

    Saturday 4th July is not only about lockdown restrictions being lifted but also National Meadows Day.  In 2017 Tesco Bags of Help scheme funded Friends of Suntrap a grant to develop our stunning Wildflower Meadow Walk. This haven has provided tranquility, peace and quiet and sense of mental well-being for us all.

    Friends of Suntrap
  • The Great Outdoors

    Waltham Forest Echo July 2020

    Kerry Rolison, Head of Suntrap featured in article about benefits of outdoor learning. ‘Thanks to funding from Waltham Forest council, we’ll be able to support schools across the borough with free training, consultancy and ideas to provide curriculum based outdoor learning in school grounds.’

    Photo credit:@yiodawoo

    Read article
  • Nature Photography Day

    Monday 15 June 11.00am

    To celebrate Nature Photography Day on Monday 15 June at 11.00am join us with Friend of Suntrap wildlife photographer Gary Schwartz for top photography tips and techniques.

    Find out more
  • At Home Safari Film Challenge - Winners revealed!

    Let's take a look at who has won.

    Find out more
  • Free school consultancy and training!

    As part of the borough’s support for schools reopening, Suntrap Forest Centre is offering teaching staff free consultancy and training to move learning into the fresh air.

    This is in line with the Department of Education’s returning-to-school guidance to 'Consider which lessons or classroom activities could take place outdoors’ and 'Schools should also make use of outdoor space in the local area to support the curriculum'.

    Read more
  • Outdoor Learning Day

    Outdoor Classroom Day a global movement to inspire and celebrate outdoor play and learning at home and at school is celebrated on 23 May. 

    Now more than ever we need to promote the many benefits of getting children learning outdoors!

    Outdoor learning
  • World Bee Day

    May 20 is the international day to acknowledge the role of bees and other pollinators for the ecosystem.

    Every year on this day, the global public focuses on the importance of preserving honey bees and all other pollinators. 

    We'd bee lost without our hardworking bees!

     

    Our Bees!
  • Butterfly Conservation

    Have you noticed more butterflies in your garden this spring?

    Due to climate change butterflies are emerging earlier and in different parts of the UK.

    You can take part in this citizen science project by Butterfly Conservation and spot butterflies in your garden and record them on an app. Sign up on their website.

    More actvities
  • Editing made easy

    On Wednesday 20 May 11.00am on the Suntrap YouTube channel we hosted a 30 minute live photography workshop with expert wildlife photographer Gary Schwartz.

    It gave budding documentary makers a chance to ask questions and learn some handy film editing techniques. 

    Deadline for At Home Safari Film Challenge Sunday 31 May 2020.

    Competition info
  • Top tips and tricks for filming documentary

    On Wednesday 6 May 11.00am on the Suntrap YouTube Channel we'll be running a 30 minute live photography workshop with expert wildlife photographer Gary Schwartz.  Chance to ask questions and learn some handy filming techniques.  Deadline for At Home Safari Film Challenge Sunday 31 May 2020.

    At home safari film challenge
  • No Mow May

    Are you taking part in Plantlife's #nomowmay? After a few weeks our gardens are full of a variety of flowers creating lots of nectar for our pollinators. 

    Dave Goulson in his book 'The Garden Jungle' tells us that we can remove weeds from our garden by simply rebranding them as wildflowers. If you're taking part too, we would love to see pictures of the wildflowers now growing in your garden,

    More activities
  • Earth Day 2020

    On Wednesday 22 April we celebrated Earth Day 2020.  The theme of climate action is very close to our hearts.  Education is essential for the global response needed to address climate change. Through education children and young people can understand the impact of global warming, with this knowledge they’re then able to make changes in their attitudes and behaviour.

    Nature activities
  • Virtual Culture Programme

    On April 20th we joined the Waltham Forest Council's Virtual Culture programme, that build on the success of being the Mayor's first London Borough of Culture in 2019. 

    We're excited to launch the At Home Safari Film Challenge deadline for entries Sunday 31 May 2020.

    Read more
  • Suntrap at home

    During the COVID-19 lockdown Suntrap is here to help. On our Suntrap at Home page you'll find a whole range of fun, educational projects you can do with your children safely indoors and outdoors at home. All with a focus on nature and the environment. 

    New activities will be added regularly so keep visiting this page for ideas of how to Bring Nature Nearer.

    Read more
  • Suntrap Book Club

    Visit our Book club page to find our recommendations for books to inspire children and young people to a love of nature. During the COVID-19 lockdown take advantage of Amazon. They've cancelled the subscription of books and audio stories for children and students of all ages as long as schools are closed, kids everywhere can instantly stream an incredible collection for free! 

    Read more!
  • Out and about in schools

    In March we're out and about round the forest; being 'Plant Explorers' with Greenleaf Primary School and 'Discovering Habitats' with George Mitchell and Edinburgh Primary Schools.

    We're sharing our knowledge of 'Treemedous trees' with George Tomlinson Primary School and at Chapel End Infant School we're going deep into the 'Wild Wood'.

     

    Events and activities
  • Visit to Waltham Forest Conservation Volunteers

    In March Waltham Forest Conservation Volunteers (TCV) invited us to join them at two of their regular sessions run in Lloyd Park, Walthamstow.

    We brought some of our animals to meet The Sharing Heritage over 50's group tea and chat session while the under 5s Nature Explorers met some very unusual animals while exploring the park! 

    Events and activities
  • Love Your Pet Day

    Thursday 20 February

    Love Your Pet Day is a great day to show your love for your pets. We provide opportunities for children to get up close to animals to learn more about looking after them and the importance to respect them. If you don't have any yourself, get involved by calling your local RSPCA or pet rescue centre and make a donation of food or treats or volunteer. 

    Meet our animals
  • Reconnecting with nature supports the world

    Environmental research February 2020

    At Suntrap we’ve always known that being outdoors can be good for your mental health, but that’s only one reason to visit our local green spaces. A study published in 'Environment International' shows that people who have access to nature or urban green spaces are much more likely to behave in environmentally friendly ways. The findings also identified that people who were not exposed to green spaces were less likely to adopt eco-friendly behaviours, such as recycling.

    Read more
  • Suntrap on tour

    February 2020

    In February through Great Place: Connecting Communities the team continues to deliver free programmes with local schools including Roger Ascham primary school in Walthamstow and Yardley primary school in Chingford.

    Bookings available for a range of outdoor learning experiences in school grounds or in local green spaces

    School offer
  • Stargazing in RHS Hyde Hall

     In January we attended an Essex Learning Outside the Classroom Providers group meeting at RHS Hyde Hall. On a beautifully clear, but cold evening, we explored the night sky using binoculars and telescope, learning to identify star constellations and naming some of the craters on the moon. The evening gave us lots of stargazing ideas for our residentials under the dark skies in winter. Warm clothes and binoculars are all you need!

    Residentials
  • School visits in January

    At a school near you!

    The Suntrap team including some of our animals are visiting primary schools including Yardley and C of E in Chingford and Edinburgh in Walthamstow. We're also looking forward to working with students from Waltham Forest College. Bookings available for a range of outdoor learning experiences in school grounds or in local green spaces

    Contact us
  • RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch

    Saturday 25 - Monday 27 January

    In January the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch is happening.  Join in and contribute to an impressive amount of comparative data., the findings provide an important insight into how our wildlife is faring. Click to read top birdwatching tips from our patron, David Lindo, 'The Urban Birder'.

    Birdwatching tips
  • Plugging the gap!

    We’re making good use of some of our fallen logs that by inserting ‘mushroom plugs’. These are small wooden dowels that have been inoculated with mycelium of edible fungi. To harvest will typically take  12 months so we’re looking forward to watching mushrooms emerge when we're reopened.

    Read more
  • Why the outdoors is great

    November 2019
    Waltham Forest Echo

    Helen Bigham urges children and young people get out and about for Outdoor Classroom Day on Thursday 7 November 2019.

    Read more
  • Support the environment!

    November 2019

    The Office for National Statistics (ONS) is collating data on Outdoor Education visits to natural environment sites for their work on Natural Capital.  Recording this information is important for environmental decision making. 

    Read more on how you can help.
  • Prints available!

    www.allcoloursonly.co.uk/suntrap

    Our commissioned illustrations produced by Emma Smith have been so popular we've joined with All Colours Only a specialist art print company to enable fans of Suntrap to buy prints in a variety of sizes.

    Order here