Jessica lives in the middle of a wood in Kent with her husband, Paul, an oak framer, and her daughter. Previously a graphic designer, Jessica now chronicles her outdoor life spent living slowly with her family, and in tune with nature and the seasons, on her blog, thewoodlandwife.co.uk.
Turn to page 106 of the March issue for more about the joys and the hard work of life beneath the boughs.
What it’s really like to live in the woods
- You never get bored
There’s always something to do, whether for pleasure or out of necessity.
- Woods are a daily inspiration
Nothing inspires me more than the smallest things I see here; from morning birdsong to the gentle rustle of the trees.
- Daily routines have built-in health benefits
Pushing wheelbarrows, shifting timber, running chainsaws and swinging the odd axe involves a lot of physical labour. While the monotony of the work can get testing, it has a great pace which does its part in keeping us all fit.
- We live simply
We also live with a lot less than others – owning somewhere like this in the South East of England comes at a price. But we are more than happy, as this gives us more freedom.
Buying woodland is a dream held by many, with numbers of private owners growing year by year. According to the Forestry Commission, there are more than 40,000 small woods of less than ten hectares in England, and these make up 17% of England’s woodlands.
Once you have decided on the area and what acreage you can afford, it is relatively easy to buy woodland as there is no chain and most are freehold.
Run by small woodland ownership evangelist Angus Hanton, woodlands.co.uk is a good place to find one.
Managing woodland is less simple, as Jessica points out. The Forestry Commission’s Land Information Search (forestry.gov.uk) produces a useful free booklet, ‘So You Own a Woodland’, which has advice.
Small Woods Association (smallwoods.org.uk) offers courses on managing a woodland and is a generally useful resource.