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Take a snooze in the wild woods

Last modified: 12 July 2013

Feet sticking out of tent

Image: Frank and Helena/Imagesource

On  August 10, the RSPB and Oxford University will be welcoming families to camp under the stars and discover what really goes bump in the night in Oxford University’s famous wild woods. The woods are normally only open to those with special permits.

Wild campers are invited to come and pitch their tents at 4pm on Saturday 10 August and de-camp at 10.30 – 11.00 am Sunday 11 August.

If wild campers do not have their own tents, they can make a natural shelter with the help of the Wilderness Pioneers, getting even closer to nature’s home!

For RSPB Members, the cost of the Big Wild Sleepout is £30 for an adult, £18 for a child, for non-RSPB members it will cost £38 for an adult and £22 for a child.  The price includes a hearty BBQ from 6pm with an optional cooked breakfast and wild activities.

Wytham Woods is Oxford University’s famous research woodlands, and is the home to some of our favourite nocturnal creatures.

Nigel Fisher, Conservator of Wytham Woods said: "Wytham Woods are not only one of the most researched areas of woodland in the world but also a site where people can enjoy the wild sights and sounds of a thousand acre woodland.

“We do not often open the doors to the public – so this is a very special opportunity to experience the wild activities that take place when the gates are closed!"

Rachel Wheeler, the RSPB’s Big Wild Sleepout organiser, says: “I can’t wait to welcome families to our Big Wild Sleepout this summer. 

“Imagine if you settled down and heard an owl calling, a badger snuffling or peaked out of your tent and saw a bat feeding overhead. We’ve got some brilliant activities on offer too!”

Activities will include an evening badger watch and night time walk with bat detectors.  Experts from the University will share their knowledge of the secret lives of the bats and badgers.

There will be moth traps to find who else is flying around the woods, a woodland trail and activities to give families ideas about how to bring wildlife into their own garden. There will also be a campfire will give campers the opportunity to share wildlife stories and toast marshmallows!

To help encourage even more people to sleep out, the RSPB has joined forces with Blacks, the outdoor retailer.

Ken Reeve, CEO of Blacks, says: “Blacks is extremely proud to be part of this tremendous initiative. We are wholly supportive of any campaign that encourages more people to engage with nature and we see the Big Wild Sleepout as an ideal platform to encourage families to experience the outdoors together.”

The Big Wild Sleepout is part of the RSPB’s new Giving Nature a Home campaign which is aimed at inspiring everyone to provide a place for wildlife wherever they live and however big their outside space is.

Participants will need to bring their own camping equipment (tent, sleeping bag, pegs, mallet, torch, sleeping mat, warm clothes, waterproofs) along with tea and coffee, mugs, plates and cutlery. Water and milk will be provided for drinks. Wild campers are asked not to bring camping stoves.

NO DOGS are allowed at this event. Booking is essential and is taken through the RSPB’s Midlands Regional Office , Lucy Brown Tel: 01295 676443 or

To find out more about Wytham Woods watch The Laboratory With Leaves video on Youtube. 

How you can help

Nature in the UK is in trouble and some of our more familiar garden species are amongst those suffering serious declines. We can all help by giving nature a home where we live.

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