High Weald
naonb_conference_bushcraftThe 12th National Association for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty Annual Conference was organised by the Kent Downs, High Weald and Surrey Hills Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Parc Naturel Regional des Caps et Marais d'Opale.

The conference, which was held in Hythe in Kent, brought together representatives from the AONBs of England, Wales and Northern Ireland under the theme of "Landscape and Nature for All" and gave the delegates an opportunity to hear presentations from a variety of guest speakers and see a wide range of initiatives and projects in the four designated landscapes and encouraged a lively debate and an exchange of views.

The High Weald AONB Unit hosted a field trip that illustrated how successive generations of people have collaborated with nature to create the distinctive High Weald landscape, changing it from the unpopulated area it was 10,000 years ago to the very human and cultural landscape we see today.

Delegates  were taken through the High Weald history from the Historic Routeways in Rolvenden to the stunning scenery of Rolf's Farm woodland and meadow.  They had a leisurely lunch set in a newly created wildflower meadow, whilst Tom Forward from Forest Schools showed the group how to start fires and make Elder whistles from natural materials around us.

This was followed up by a guided tour of Bodiam Castle which took delegates round the ruins of the stately castle surrounded by a grand moat with carp.  The guide imparted knowledge of the life in the castle and where many of our everyday sayings have originated such as 'straight laced' and 'put it on the back burner'.

A most enjoyable day had by all!