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Oh, how blessed we have been to have our forest nearby to spend our lockdown days in amongst the trees, nature and wildlife.

I am the father of Scarlett, a 15-year-old girl with a learning disability and mobility challenges. As school closed and lockdown kicked in Scarlett, and I headed to the forest to find safe sanctuary as COVID-19 raged amongst us.

As a massive fan of the power of nature with all my Executive Coaching business outside, I decided on day one to self isolate in the forest. Scarlett does not understand social distancing or why we would walk around our local area and not visit our usual cafes and parks, so local Walthamstow walks we not possible. To stay inside would have had a significant impact on the health and welling of Scarlett. We headed to the 175 acres of Barn Hoppitt opposite Butler’s Retreat and started our lockdown journey meandering through the paths and deer tracks of the forest, finding snack and lunch spots and ideal camping spots for forest schooling off the beaten track. While mobility is a challenge for Scarlett, we found that we walked about 4 miles a day exploring the age of trees, different fungi appearing on the oaks and butterflies dancing in the glades.

We’ve seen the green tide envelope the forest from late March to summer. Trees have fallen in front of us and flowers have come and go in the various glades. Most days we wouldn’t see another soul, just the sounds of the odd dog walker or cyclist in the distance. Muntjac and fallow deer occasionally showed their faces through the young beech trees or bracken and magpies hover for snacks when we stop for lunch.

We carried a tarp for the rainy days and have managed to keep each day fresh with new nature finds, games amongst the trees and making music with the bag full of instruments we carry into the woods.

We entered the wood by 10 am and exit around 5 pm, usually with a bag full of litter we picked up on our meanderings.

I can’t believe we were in lockdown for well over 5 months and that we were in the forest for over 150 successive days. Reentry into ‘normal’ world is tough for us as schools start and Scarlett’s usual carers come back to work.

"The confidence I have right now is really valuable; it's a great feeling the sense of direction and purpose I have right now."

Director, Law Practice