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Hengistbury Head outdoor discovery den launched to 'boost green economy'

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A DISCOVERY den has been officially opened at Hengistbury Head for children and young people to learn outdoors about nature – whatever the weather.

The timber-clad structure has been created from two shipping containers and will be used as a fieldwork base by pupils from local primary schools and students from Kingston Maurwood College.

The outdoor classroom at the visitor centre is an accessible structure which features a connected deck area providing a secure and sheltered meeting point for student groups.

The discovery den will be used by students from nearby schools and colleges
The discovery den will be used by students from nearby schools and colleges

It is hoped the facility will benefit the public with a programme of lifelong learning and lifestyle activities such as drawing, yoga and group counselling sessions.

The project was initiated by Brian Heppenstall, a former Hengistbury Head ranger and now Kingston Maurward College teacher. He said: “This project is all about getting local children and local people out and interested in nature.

“We hope that by using the Discovery Den, people and especially children will care for nature in their garden, local park or the school playing fields.

“It will be a great space for schools to run teacher-led visits, while families and community groups can run extracurricular activities such as bug-hunting or pond-dipping at weekends or evenings – safe in the knowledge there is a dry space to escape the British weather!”

Kingston Maurward College principal Luke Rake, who is also a board member of the Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership, said the project was part of a county-wide initiative to boost the region's green economy.

He added: “Dorset LEP has allocated approximately £70,000 to a partnership between Kingston Maurward College and BCP Council for this new visitor attraction, which will encourage a huge number of students to visit and gain a greater understanding of nature in the area.”

To find out more about hiring the discovery den, email discovery.den@bcpcouncil.gov.uk

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