Imagine local primary school children from different schools coming together every week for their Forest School day; coming together to do maths, literacy, science through playing and moving, in the environment, history and heritage, of Garvagh Forest.
They would put on their wet weather gear, their wellington boots in their Forest School Den occupying two redesigned classrooms in the former Garvagh High school site.
On the walls would be the displays of their work, their learnings, their creations.
Outside would be their demonstration community gardens full of vegetables and flowers.
In another unit would be the Forest School Workshop with young people learning woodland management, trail management, chainsaw and wood craft.
In the Forest a Boar Hunt is in full flow being organised by the Pyramid Bushcraft Centre led by Maurice Todd with a group of managers who are on team building day.
They are busy tracking the footprints of boars, having made their bows and arrows. Once they find the ‘boar’ they will have to shoot their arrows to find their packed lunch and a bottle of wine in its belly!
Deep in the forest a family have just arrived to stay for their glamping weekend in their yurt. Another has arrived in their mobile home and are setting up at the Aire de Service.
Garvagh Enterprise Trust is curently working to bring this vision into being.
Garvagh MLA Adrian McQuillan has said that the project offers something ‘unique’.
“This is a great way of opening up the forest and using the school as both an educational and tourist facility.
“The school is lying vacant so it’s a good way of using the building.
“Garvagh has so much to offer.
“We are the gateway from the mid Ulster area to the Causeway Coast and the bigger tourism facilities like the Causeway and Dunluce Castle, I just think that something like this offers something unique.”
The MLA went on to say that he hopes that in the near future forest educational walks will be available.
“Garvagh forest is a great spot - the pyramid is there, and so many people don’t even know it exists. There is a lot of history in Garvagh and indeed the rural area around it, and I think we need to be using stories like this to encourage tourists into the area.”