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About us

Hugh Ross and Carolyn Church

In 1995 we sold our house and left the urban comforts of Milton Keynes to go and live in 30 acres of ancient woodland in Northamptonshire. We moved into a caravan along with our seven year old son, Kier, and our dog. We had no mains services, water came form a standpipe, we used calor gas for cooking and lighting the caravan. Quite a scary move at the time.

Our early priorities were building a composting toilet and establishing a surfaced entrance and working within the wood, it’s amazing how quickly gateways get muddy.

We have since changed our home to a larger model to accommodate a growing son and his books, and we also now have an electricity supply. The composting toilet works brilliantly and produces the compost to raise our young hazel seedlings.

For the first eight years, we were living on temporary planning consents, but two years ago we were granted planning permission to build an Oak timber framed house, which is our current DIY project.

The frame was constructed by ‘Traditional Oak Carpentry’, using traditional building techniques, and incorporating some timber that came from our woods. The frame is a work of art in itself. The roof went on last Autumn and it’s now up to us to finish the building ourselves.

Looking back over the last ten years we’ve spent in the woods it is fair to say that we’ve enjoyed most aspects of our life here. The coppicing and restoration work we have been doing in the wood can be very physically demanding, but also very fulfilling. We have now completed our first 10 year cycle and the wood s flourishing, it no longer looks neglected, the rides have been cleared and opened, and several thousand new trees have been planted, as well as restoring the wood to a viable working coppice.

Our labours have been recognised with awards from both The Royal Forestry Society and English Nature for our woodland management and conservation, the most recent in 2011 being winner of the small woods section of the RFS Excellence in Woodlands Competition.

We enjoy living here despite the long muddy winters, there’s always something new to see and you never stop learning. If we have any regrets at all it is that we should have made the move when we were twenty years younger.

We have now been living in our house for 3 years and enjoying the comforts of waking up in the winter and not seeing breath in the air and having to put on damp, mildewed clothing.