This was our second year at Into The Trees. It is such a gorgeous event. This mini festival is the younger sister of the very popular Elderflower Fields, which takes place in May at the same idyllic location. Into The Trees offers a glorious escape from the pressures of our fast paced lives in our everyday world. There are so many opportunities for children to explore and create and run freely. I had already started to feel run down with the start of the academic year, but Into the Trees was a perfect way to refresh and find our energy again. The whole family had an absolutely wonderful time.
Camping at Into The Trees
Into The Trees introduced a camping option for the first time this year. As we are local, and were nearly “all festivalled out” (according to my son) after a busy summer, we chose not to camp. This was also as last year had been wet, and we rushed around getting everything done in a day. It is such a beautiful location, and so chilled out, that we may well take the tent next year. It would also have been nice to have more time to explore and get creative.
I went to have a look at the camping area. It was right next to the weekend camping car park. As it is such a small festival, no one would have had to carry their gear for more than about a minute to get to a pitch. There was ample space for everyone, and enough showers and toilets.
There was an accessible toilet but no accessible camping as such. This was purely as it had not been requested. I spoke with one of the site managers, who assured me that there would have been arrangements made, had the need arisen. This made perfect sense and an accessible campsite could have easily been tacked onto the campervan area. They did appear to have thought of everything.
Those that did stay got to enjoy an hour or so of storytelling by a campfire, early in the evening. On the Saturday night local astronomer Steve Pond brought his telescopes for a fun star gazing session.
We were very impressed with the range and amount on offer here. Our children are 14 and 10 years old, and were mostly keen on taking part in the more physical activities.
We had a couple of rounds of disc golf, which is an unusual but excellent idea for any festival. This was provided by Sussex Disc Golf, and they only asked for a donation if we enjoyed it. We loved it and found we were a lot less competitive than we are with regular crazy golf. I think the competitiveness could come though if we were to play it more often.
Knockhill Mountain Boarding returned to Into The Trees and was very popular. We love this as the team that run it have such a wonderful can-do attitude to everything. They are also extremely safety conscious, and all participants are full kitted out in all the safety gear, with a great deal of attention going into making sure everything fits perfectly. It was open to all ages and abilities.
My husband and daughter had both signed up. My son wanted to, but I wasn’t convinced he would be up to it. However, instead of letting him sit on the sidelines, the couple in charge found a helmet and pads to fit him, and got one of their team to keep taking a board up to the top of the hill for him to use as a sledge – fantastic!
Woodland Tribe are a simple yet brilliant group. They go to several festivals. Basically, for a couple of quid, you are given a load of wood, nails and tools, and allowed to go and build a play area in the woods, with as much supervision as needed. By Sunday afternoon, the area looked absolutely magnificent, and was still a hive of activity. It is such a rare treat for nearly all the children there, and offers such a wonderful feeling of accomplishment.
We first discovered climbing with The Great Big Tree Climbing Company at another festival, and have since tracked them down as they travel around the country providing this opportunity. We were delighted that the kids would be able to climb with them again at Into Three Trees.
It’s hard work but so hugely satisfying and fun for the children to do this. They go up a rope, in turn raising the foot loop, then the knot attached to their harness once they have straightened up. As soon as they get the hang of this they are away and almost out of sight through the branches.
The instructors are superb. Along with all their experience they also have such a wonderful way with the children. There is so much encouragement, but they also seem to give the least amount of help that each child requires, as it is so much more fulfilling for the children to do as much for themselves as possible. One even took my phone up the tree to take close up photos of my son for me. There are a few more dates in their diary on their website and we are hoping to climb with them again before the end of the year.
We always love finding medieval type games when we go out. At Into The Trees we all enjoyed the Axe throwing, even me – and I was terrible at it! Archery is always a favourite for us. The archery team were a bit more relaxed than others we have come across, and made it really good fun, whilst still keeping it safe. I think this was the first time we have seen fencing at a festival. My two children were both very eager to sign up for this, and one of them (the winner) loved it!
Getting Involved With Nature
This was one of the main focus points of the festival. There were various trails around the woods, looking for bugs, different trees, birds, and even bats (for those who were camping). So Sussex Schools Without Walls organised numerous activities, on of the most popular being the pond dipping. Pond dipping sessions ran several times over the weekend. Children found raft spiders, dragonfly nymphs, water stick insects, greater water boatmen and even a water scorpion (they are very rare.)
So Sussex also creative a beautiful Art Trail through the woods. Here children could create so many different types of artwork. Some of the examples included leaf printing, sun catcher designing, flag making, string art, weaving, carving, felting and even more. It was such a stunning and calm area for the children to fully explore their creative sides. I went back a few times just to take in the relaxing atmosphere and to admire all the wondrous creations that were on display.
Away from the Art Trail, there was a main walkway with stalls on either side. Amongst the activities and attractions offered here were lathe demonstrations, wooden ball run creating, and so much more. One stall that I wish we’d had more time for offered pewter pendant making. Children were given cuttlefish and tools to carve out their own design. Molten pewter was then poured in, which dried quickly, forming a beautiful and unique piece of jewellery.
There was also kayaking, fire lighting workshops, mud kitchens, slacklining, yoga (separate sessions for adults and children), a junkyard orchestra – the list goes on! I loved that the story telling was located in the bar. I thought this was a great way to combine an opportunity for adults to relax whilst their children were entertained. There was also a brilliant barefoot walk with various textures to experience beneath your feet, such as logs, grass, sand and soil.
There was ample choice for all diets. Unfortunately the burgers had run out by Sunday lunchtime. I had masala wrap from the vegan Manjula Indian food stall. My daughter enjoyed a crepe, and the pizzas looked delicious.
The toilets were kept clean and well stocked. I thought they could have done with providing an accessible toilet by the main activity area, but other than that we had no complaints.
Into The Trees is a gorgeous chilled out way to end the festival season. I would say that it is possible to do enough in one day, if you like a jam packed day, crammed full of fun (which is what my family love!)
The setting is so beautiful and tranquil that it also makes for a perfect weekend of camping, and just taking it easy, and spreading the activities out. We would have been happy to return to the axe throwing and archery several times if we had stayed, and we would have spent more time getting creative.
Most of the ideas involved are simple and yet so effective, adding to the general feeling of getting back to basics. We definitely plan on returning to Into The Trees every year.
Please see our Into The Trees fact sheet here.