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Children at Whistlewood

Whistlewood is open to families every day of the year.  We have a natural childrens play area, including our fantastic willow dragon.

But most of all we find that children love running through the long grass, looking at bugs in our bug hotel and searching for creatures in the ponds.

And we have activities and events throughout the year especially for kids – the Easter Egg Hunt, Halloween around the campfire and the creative fun we have at our midsummer festival in June.

Families are also welcome to working Saturdays and other volunteer events.

Wildlife at Whistlewood

We’re doing all we can to make sure our ten-acre site can be enjoyed by a wide variety of furry, feathered and scaley friends, as well as human ones.   We believe it’s possible to create a productive space that respects and nurtures wildlife and hope this will be a model for other sites to follow.  That’s why we use permaculture which is a design methodology that comprises a set of ethics (earth care, people care and fair shares) and a set of principles to guide us. We want to show that it is possible to live on this earth without compromising the experience of future generations of humans, and future generations of wildlife species too.

Our baseline surveys have shown that we have a wide diversity of species already sharing the site with us – everything from herons, sky larks, willow warblers and red kites, to tiny harvest mice (a rarity in Derbyshire).  And because when we bought our site it was a ten acre arable field, the diverse habitats we are adding will only increase the diversity, which we are thrilled about.

We are very pleased to be supported by local wildlife-friendly organisations such as the National Forest Company, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, DANES and Derbyshire Mammal Group as well as local ecologists who have offered advice on pond and habitat creation.

We would love you to get involved to help make Whistlewood the best place around for learning about and observing native wildlife.

Supporting local enterprise

IMG_0539Do you have a business idea that you would like to trial in partnership with Whistlewood?

Our aim is to support local businesses and help people to get new sustainable enterprise ideas off the ground within our community.

We may be able to help if you have a germ of an idea, for example:

  • Growing and processing food
  • Running courses and workshops
  • Hosting events
  • Running childrens’ activities

We have already been working in partnership with local businesses but there is lots more to come – get in touch.

We have a ten acre site that has acres of possibilities!





Members worked hard with the assistance of our talented architect Peter Ashford of GreenSeed Design, to come up with designs for the site and we are thrilled that our planning application has been approved.  Details of the application are here:


The project group have brainstormed, looked at other projects and asked society members and members of the public at the carnival and festival what they would like to see on such a site and have come up with the following:

  • orchards
  • cider apples
  • fruit-growing
  • forest gardens (multi-layer food gardens which mimic natural woodland)
  • trees of use to the community (timber, biomass, craft resources etc)
  • ponds
  • celebration spaces
  • training and education in food-growing and sustainable lifestyles

And all this needs to be sustainable (financially and environmentally) in the long-run and provide employment and livelihoods for local people.

And, if you’re interested, then your idea could be added to that list – maybe you’ve always fancied growing watercress?  or wanted to celebrate your child’s birth in a sustainable way? or want to grow a local apple variety but don’t have the space?  or you want to grow enough raspberries to make your own jam? Now is the time to get involved and get your ideas off the ground, supported by a dynamic local group with a proven track record.

About us

What is Whistlewood all about?

Whistlewood is ten acres of community-owned land in Melbourne, South Derbyshire.

The site is designed along permaculture principles (a sustainable design framework) so that it will work for people, for wildlife and be a welcoming space for people of all ages and backgrounds.

We hold events and run workshops and provide educational opportunities that help people understand how to live more sustainably.  Our rural ten acre site encourages an appreciation of nature and the outdoors, by being part of it, not just an outside observer.  The site also hosts events that bring our community closer to make it a better place to live and help us face future challenges.

How did it come about? 

In 2013 ten acres of land came up for sale in Melbourne in South Derbyshire.  Members of the local Transition group wondered if it would be possible to do something really exciting with it.  What if we could create a community woodland where everything was edible or otherwise useful for our community?  And in the same space help people understand how to live more sustainably, appreciate nature and the outdoors, and hold events that would bring our community closer to face future challenges.

So, with the support of the National Forest Company, a co-operative society was formed and shares were sold to enable the land purchase to become a reality.  Shares, from £50 upwards were sold to local people, but word spread and we gained supporters all around the world who were inspired by what we were doing.

Since purchasing the land we’ve gained planning permission for a range of structures, have formed working groups, planted trees, built structures, held events, welcomed children, and much more…

A solid business plan is behind everything we do and the project will be sustainable long-term, financially as well as environmentally.

People young and old love the site as somewhere they can feel relaxed and close to nature, and can be part of the solution, not the problem.

We welcome everyone to come and get involved.  14167970895_1b390e3e81_o

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Fitness Trail and woodland walk- open to the public

Our fitness trail is suitable for adults and older children.   It has five elements in a beautiful woodland setting.  There are great opportunites to combine the trail with a run from Melbourne or Ticknall,   It  is easy to access from The Common or via the Riding Bank at the top of Robinson’s Hill, and across Stafford’s Wood. We are very close to the Recreation Ground in Melbourne with its fantastic new facilities.  We are also just a few minutes from the National Forest Way.  Please note we do not allow dogs on the site.

Site hire, including camping

Want a unique venue for an event, family gathering or simply want to cook your dinner on a campfire and watch the sunset?  Whistlewood offers many unique opportunities, so please get in touch.

Hire our beautiful yurt at Whistlewood:

The Whistlewood yurt is available for hire during the summer months on Whistlewood Common between Melbourne and Ticknall.  It can be hired for overnight or daytime use.  Additional facilities include the woodburning stove, outdoor campfire, composting toilet, and the enjoyment of ten acres of beautiful Derbyshire countryside.

 Ideas for using the yurt ?

  • A family “glamping” night in the wild (but close to home!)…
  • A romantic night under the stars in a cosy yurt with a wood-burning stove…
  • A great venue for a coffee morning, afternoon tea, barbecue or dinner…
  • A unique sleep-over venue for a party of children (with appropriate supervision!)…
  • Healthy relevant exclusive venue for a special interest group – such as yoga, therapy or mindfulness class…
  • Away-day venue for a business seeking new creativity and insight from fresh surroundings…

Enterprising Whistlewood members can provide support to ensure that you have the experience that you want. This might include furnishing the yurt to your requirements, providing site-based nature trails and activities for young and old, or very reasonably priced meals and refreshments…

Please talk to us about when and what you would like – and Whistlewood entrepreneurs will find a way of making it happen, at a price you can afford.



Thank you to our supporters

2_Supported by_The National Forest_green (3) The Big Tree Plant skipton The-Tree-Council woodland trust

making local woods work

awards for all

A big thank you to everyone who has supported us financially so far:

If you are a Company and would like to support us with a specific project please get in touch.

We also offer Corporate Volunteering and Team-Building Opportunities.

Thanks to:

The National Forest Company

The Woodland Trust

Million Trees Derbyshire and The Big Tree Plant

Orchard Windfalls (The Tree Council)

Skipton Building Society (Grassroots Giving)

East Midlands Airport

South Derbyshire District Council

Denios UK

Making Local Woods Work

Awards for All

And all our other supporters: individuals, companies and voluntary organisations.  We couldn’t do it without you.



Whistlewood is only possible because of the great volunteers that support the project.

Ways you can volunteer include:

  • Whistlewood Saturdays.  We run regular Saturday morning volunteering from 10am to 1pm.  Contact us to let us know you would like to come or contact us via Facebook.
  • Orchard maintenance
  • Green woodworking
  • Creating infrastructure
  • Gardening and food growing
  • Helping with childrens activities/gardening/crafts
  • Be on a working group – such as a site working group/wildlife/Education/Events etc
  • Supporting an event
  • Work with local schools
  • Corporate volunteering opportunities are available – please contact us to discuss your requirements

In return for volunteering we offer:

√  The chance to meet other like-minded people and share ideas and enthusiasm

√  Learn more about permaculture and get some practical experience putting permaculture into action

√  Catch up with people you have met on courses and at events

√  Have fun and feel great that you are helping to make the world more sustainable

Want to bring children?

Children are welcome at almost all of our events.  Children under 18 and vulnerable adults must be accompanied by an adult who is responsible for their supervision, discipline and any medication.  We may be able to accommodate work experience/volunteers under 18 years by prior arrangement.

Sign up today

Email us via our contact page to give us your details and let us know what type of volunteering you are interested in.

Don’t forget to signup to our mailing list so you always know what’s going on.