Into the woods: a forest cabin in East Sussex where guests contribute to their stay

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Buildings on this site at the foot of the North Downs were created from timber grown here, and visitors get to chop their own logs or learn a woodcraft

Don’t come to Wilderness Wood and expect to lounge around in your lovely cabin all weekend. Lounging was certainly at the top of this townie’s list, until I was informed that guests on the 62-acre site in East Sussex are asked to contribute towards the maintenance and understanding of the woodland by joining a woodworking, woodblock printing or carving session, a tree walk or an outdoor qigong lesson.

I had George, my slightly reluctant 14-year-old son, in tow, so the idea of six hours patiently carving a spoon was never going to, erm, cut it. How about chopping logs into firewood with a bloody great axe? That sounded more like it, so we signed up for a 30-minute taster session. Two hours and buckets of sweat later, we had run out of logs. It was brilliant fun – the silent fall of the axe before the satisfying thwack as it meets the wood is at once exhilarating and meditative. (George loved it so much he’d reduced the pile of firewood logs in our cabin to kindling by the end of the weekend.)

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