Ecotherapy & Tree Climbing at Woodsmoke with Piri Allergy

This is the second post in a series about our big adventure in the Lake District with Wild Living Expert, Ben McNutt – you can read the first instalment here

By Monday morning we were really starting to get into the groove of our Wild Living experience and were looking forward to spending the morning with eco-therapist Beth Collier.  Under normal circumstances Beth uses the outdoors as her therapy room, specialising in helping people to build and develop relationships in nature.  I had chatted to Beth a bit before our trip so that she had an idea of what we were like as a family and how used to being outdoors we already were.

We started our session with Beth by setting up a “holiday camp” – moving away from our base to another area of woodland to mark the experience out as being a bit different.  This meant that different rules or expectations could be set if necessary as everything would be new again.

Beth encouraged the kids to take ownership of their holiday camp, to decide how it should be set up, what we needed to do to make it comfortable and so forth.  Whilst Dave and I held back, she gently coaxed them to listen to each other’s ideas.  I found this fascinating.  Watching the dynamic between Ben and Chloe in particular as Ben attempted to plough ahead with his own ideas whilst not necessarily taking on board Chloe’s opinions.  I noticed that Chloe was telling Ben what she wanted to do but not being able to explain her reasons, just that she wanted it to be that way which of course left him unconvinced that her ideas were any better than his own!

Setting up camp with ecotherapist Beth Collier at Woodsmoke

Making a new camp with Beth Collier

Moving logs around to make seats

Log stools at Woodsmoke

After some healthy debate we managed to organise our new holiday camp with logs for seating and then set about lighting the obligatory campfire.  Ben and Chloe had used a flint & steel tool at camp the night before and Ben had mastered it fairly quickly so was able to light his cotton wool without too much difficulty.  Chloe however found it really difficult to raise a spark from her flint & steel and was really frustrated.  Under normal circumstances Chloe has a tendency to give up quite quickly if she can’t do something straight away.  But she stuck at her flint & steel, she tried so hard.  She managed to get it to spark but just couldn’t get the cotton wool to light and you could really see the frustration.  In the end, with a bit of help from Beth, Chloe managed to lit the fire but she’d already got quite cross with herself to it took her a little while to come round again!

Chloe having a go at lighting the fire with a flint & steel

Dave making the sparks fly

Campfire lit with Beth Collier

With a healthy campfire on the go, we sat and whittled sticks whilst chatting about mine and Dave’s experiences of being outdoors as children.  I talked about how Aunty Nic and I used to play on this massive broken tree branch in a field behind the house and pretend it was a dinosaur, or how we would make dens in a hollow tree or paddle in the beck.  I could totally see how sitting around a campfire with the distraction of a little whittling would allow for some great conversation to develop and allow people to open up.

Warming up with hot chocolate

Having warmed up with an entirely necessary hot chocolate, we set off to explore our surroundings.  We found a little stream with tadpoles in and learned to identify some different plants and trees before collecting some leaves for an art activity.

Exploring the woods with Beth Collier

Finding a stream in the woods with Beth Collier

Beth showed the children how to create some natural art by placing leaves between folds of fabric and then bashing them with a stone to release the juices.  Chloe in particular really enjoyed this activity, Ben lacked patience which I can’t say surprised me.

Natural art with ecotherapist Beth Collier

Leaf art

Natural art with leaves

We returned to base camp with hungry tummies and full of stories for Boss Ben about what we’d been up to while we’d been away.  We cooked pizza on the campfire (who knew?) before making the most of the calm day to have a little trip out on the tarn in a canoe!  I may have struggled to get out again . . . I can’t deny being glad that Dave wasn’t filming that!

A canoe on the tarn

Canoe on the tarn

We spent the afternoon at Boss Ben’s favourite climbing tree where I came to the conclusion that Boss Ben is actually part mountain goat! Watching him walking along branches and jumping between them was an impressive sight and Ben was in awe.  Much like his Daddy, Ben has been a keen tree climber for quite some time now so was in his element being allowed to clamber around the old oak tree.  Boss Ben taught him how to move between two branches and the safest way to jump off.

Tree climbing with Ben McNutt

Crawling along tree branches

Tree climbing at Woodsmoke

A pair of Bens!

The following morning was super cold and meant none of us were feeling particularly motivated, we had a fairly lazy morning at camp making the most delicious pizza breads served with super crispy bacon for breakfast which warmed our tummies nicely.

Washing up in the woods

Outdoor cooking with Ben McNutt at Woodsmoke

Making pizza breads for the campfire

Covered in flour

Campfire breakfast - pizza breads and crispy bacon

Ben tucking into his campfire pizza bread

Ben, still buzzing from his tree climbing expedition the day before, set himself the challenge of travelling to the midway point along a rope which was holding up the tarp over the kitchen.  I loved watching him develop his skills to a point where he could get up onto the rope and pull himself along at a reasonable pace – he was so determined to succeed and just kept going back to it until he got it right.  The sense of achievement the first time he reached the middle of the rope was huge!  (And the bruise he got on his thigh from falling off was pretty impressive too!)

Part Ben, part monkey at Woodsmoke!

After breakfast Boss Ben put up a special tree tent to entertain the kids – it is essentially a three person hammock but what a den it makes when you’re little!  They were so happy to play about in their tent whilst we sat round the campfire chatting and keeping warm!

tree tent at Woodsmoke

After lunch Boss Ben dropped us off at our hotel in Grange over Sands where we were going to be staying for a bit of a comfort break – to allow everyone to get properly clean and warm, to use an actual toilet, access the WiFi and to be able to charge up my cameras and battery packs etc.  The following day was to be a “day off” before we met up with Boss Ben again on Thursday morning.

I will be writing more about our adventures at Woodsmoke with Piri Allergy but in the meantime keep an eye on the Piri Hub, my instagram and youtube for more updates!

Getting outdoors with Piri Allergy this summer

* Wild Living with Piri Allergy at Woodsmoke

*This post forms part of a paid collaboration with Piri Allergy* 



  1. May 14, 2017 / 8:39 am

    Wow, this sounds like such an incredible trip. Pizza on a camp fire, I had no idea? I love all of the activities the children got up to as well. My daughter would have absolutely loved it!

  2. May 14, 2017 / 9:01 am

    I think I may NEED that tree tent in my lofe, how amazing is that. What an incredible adventure you had!

    • Colette
      May 14, 2017 / 9:12 am

      The kids thought it was epic! It made such a great den.

  3. May 14, 2017 / 10:56 am

    What a unique and wonderful family experience it looks like you’ve had. I loved watching your first video and your pictures are gorgeous

    Cat x

  4. May 14, 2017 / 11:49 am

    Looks like such a fun trip out, glad you had a good time x

  5. May 14, 2017 / 2:59 pm

    This sounds like an amazing trip , I love the idea of getting everyones viewpoint and participation to create the camp place.

  6. May 14, 2017 / 9:25 pm

    I love the sound of cooking pizza like this – and having it for breakfast!

  7. May 15, 2017 / 3:36 pm

    It sounds (and looks) like the kids are having a great time! And it’s fantastic that they’re all outdoors and getting fresh air x

  8. May 15, 2017 / 9:26 pm

    What an amazing experience! I am honestly so jealous!!

  9. May 15, 2017 / 9:28 pm

    Ah this sounds incredible, I’d have loved something like this as a child! Your campfire cooking looks and sounds delicious! My Nan lives in Grange over Sands ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. May 16, 2017 / 8:06 am

    I can’t wait until my kids are old enough for something like this, it looks amazing! #TriedTested

  11. May 16, 2017 / 8:13 am

    Oh goodness what a wonderful adventure. I love the tree cooking ideas and all in a great experience for the children. This is just the kind of thing my kids take themselves off doing in the woods here, I wonder if yours will grow up carrying on with what they have learned after the holiday? That tree hammock is a fab idea. #TriedTested

  12. May 16, 2017 / 8:13 am

    My kids would absolutley adore this, they love bushcraft sessions and Isaac is a dab hand at lighting a fire these days. I want that hammock

  13. May 16, 2017 / 8:45 am

    Where can I get myself a tree tent?! It looks amazing! I love that you got to see your kids interact and explore in such different environments. What an amazing adventure for you all!

  14. May 16, 2017 / 9:58 am

    What a fantastic outdoor adventure. This looks fantastic and so much fun. I love all the photos xx

  15. May 16, 2017 / 9:58 am

    What a fantastic outdoor adventure. This looks fantastic and so much fun. I love all the photos xx

  16. May 16, 2017 / 10:53 am

    I was a Girl Guide and loved the camping and outdoors part. It’s great that your family have had the chance to have such a wonderful experience ๐Ÿ™‚


  17. May 16, 2017 / 10:54 am

    Wow this sounds amazing, would love to take the boys to something like this when theyโ€™re olderโ€ฆ talk about making memories!

  18. May 16, 2017 / 10:59 am

    What a great adventure and lovely to see the kids playing such a big role in setting up camp, that tree looks amazing, I would love to climb that myself! #triedtested

  19. May 16, 2017 / 11:02 am

    This looks absolutely fantastic. I am so taken with this idea and my son who is 6 would gain so much from it. I am going to look at booking once we are back in the UK. Terrific stuff.

  20. May 16, 2017 / 11:59 am

    That looks like an amazing experience! We as a family love things like that.

  21. Jodie Melling
    May 16, 2017 / 12:23 pm

    Wow this sounds like a amazing experience, it sounds like a great bonding activity for everyone. It makes me feel like I want to go camping hehe even though my hubby would never agree to it because there’s no WiFi. It would be so nice to switch off from the world and explore the outdoors as a family.

    Jodie x

  22. Lisa (mumdadplus4)
    May 16, 2017 / 2:28 pm

    Wow this looks totally awesome and like you had a fabulous time. My kids would love this, especially Jack he is such and outdoors tree climbing exploring person. Cant wait to read more.

  23. Ashleigh Dougherty
    May 16, 2017 / 3:03 pm

    Looks and sounds like such a fab trip away with kids and family. I love the look of the boat rides, although I’d be quite scared haha!

  24. May 16, 2017 / 6:17 pm

    Part mountain goat! ? This looks like such an amazing adventure. What a great idea! Love everything about it from having to build the camp to making the natural art. Perfect! x

  25. May 16, 2017 / 8:29 pm

    wow this looks excellent! My girls would love all of this but particularly the campfire (they are obsessed with toasting marshmallows) the canoe and the tree climbing! fab photos too ๐Ÿ™‚

  26. May 16, 2017 / 9:01 pm

    My two boys would love something like this! Me….I’m not so sure! Little monkey has Forest School sessions at school and loves them too! You’ve some fabulous photo’s here Colette!

  27. May 16, 2017 / 9:29 pm

    This looks like brilliant fun, what a great way to get children active!

  28. May 16, 2017 / 9:43 pm

    What an amazing trip! My little ones would love an adventure like this, especially the camp fire! I look forward to reading more about your time in the woods! #TriedTested

  29. May 16, 2017 / 9:56 pm

    Matthew’s Beavers introduced us to pitta bread pizza on the camp fire for Mother’s Day and it was fab! Looks like you all had lots of fun in the big outdoors #triedtested

  30. May 17, 2017 / 5:19 pm

    Ben looks so at home and as if he had a great role model in Boss Ben, teaching him all the things that he loves to know and learn. This looks like proper adventures and the food looks fantastic too! x

  31. Maria Hughes (Happy Mummy)
    May 18, 2017 / 7:20 am

    That looks like an amazing trip! I love camping ? Amazing to have an expert on hand! x

  32. May 18, 2017 / 1:16 pm

    This just sounds incredible. I love how the kids got to set up their own camp space. Also – pizza on a camp fire?! Amazing! #TriedTested

  33. May 22, 2017 / 7:13 pm

    That tree tent is amazing! I definitely agree that something about sitting around a fire gets you really talking. One Halloween we were glamping and spent the evening up in a field sat around the fire as a family looking at the stars – whilst eating sweets obviously since it was Halloween ๐Ÿ˜‰ Love making memories like that with the boys.

    It sounds like you had such a fun time wild camping.

    Stevie x

  34. May 29, 2017 / 3:54 pm

    What fun! That tree hammock/tent is rather smart too! #TriedTested

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