Visit to the National Forest Visitors Centre

The evening of the 13th of June was not an unlucky one for the Society, when over 30 of its members chose a wonderful summer's evening for a visit to the Heart of the National Forest Visitor Centre at Moira in Leicestershire.

Following Chief Executive Susan Bell's informative talk to the Society some time ago on a wet winter's evening, sufficient enthusiasm for the National Forest project was sparked to instruct our Programme Officer to arrange a summer's evening visit to the Visitor Centre. Situated just over the Staffordshire border at Moira, the Centre is at the very heart of the new National Forest.

Greeted by the Visitors Centre Education Officer, Helen Fenby, we found that there was plenty to see both indoors and out. A vast amphitheatre has been created alongside the lake, providing an ideal setting for performing arts, music and theatre. We strolled down the willow-walled walk to the memorial 'A Flame for Dunblane' and looked at the recreated woodland garden transported and replanted from the Chelsea Flower Show.

Helen was a mine of interesting information as we strolled round the extensive grounds looking at the new woodlands, the wild flowers of the woodland garden and strolling down the Canopy Walk which takes you around the very tops of the trees.

Before the outdoor walk, the Visitors Centre's shop "Once a Tree" was specially opened for us and members of the Society had an opportunity to browse over the extensive shelves displaying work from specialist wood-craftsmen from all over the country. An added treat was a cream tea on the board-walk overlooking the lake - in the sunshine!

Helen's enthusiasm was certainly reflected in the level of interest expressed by many members who promised to return for another look at the site and, later next year, the neighbouring Discovery Centre will be established and so there will be an added attraction to that of the already popular Visitors Centre.

For those members who have not been to the Visitors Centre at Moira, it is open seven days a week and is complemented by the excellent Lakeside Restaurant. There is also a special events programme of outdoor theatre performances, concerts and fireworks in the summer months.

Roger Hockney
June 2000