Imagine learning about leadership in the beautiful surroundings of our 250acre ancient woodland – a designated wildlife site with glimpsed views over the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Finish up a day of team-building or strategic business planning by chatting around the campfire – and be back in London an hour later or stay overnight with us for the full experience!

We offer you the opportunity to approach your challenges from a different perspective. Using nature as a backdrop and an inspiration. An antidote to the usual corporate away days.

‘To enter into a wood is to pass into a different world in which we ourselves are transformed. It is no accident that in the comedies of Shakespeare, people go into the greenwood to grow, learn and change. It is where you travel to find yourself, often, paradoxically, by getting lost.’ – Roger Deakin, Wildwood, A journey through trees

preparing our leaders

‘Hawsdown’ is an area of ancient woodland that during WWII was part of the British Army pre-officer cadet training camp. Between 1942 and 1946, up to 80,000 cadets would have passed through the camp destined for commission in the British Army. Learning skills such as field craft, battle drills, map reading and vehicle driving & maintenance. Our campsite 1/2mile away at Badgells Wood was home to the Field Ambulance Wing.

Remnants of the camp can be seen when exploring, in addition to the remains of a 1km stretch of WWI trench, dug as a stop-line along the top of the downs.

Whilst we are developing Hawsdown Wood as the base for our training facilities, the rest of Birling Estate is available to explore. The surrounding woodland has been mapped out for orienteering and is regularly used by Kent Search & Rescue.

Hawsdown Training – once again preparing our leaders for future challenges.


Journeys and adventures in the great outdoors are often described as ‘escapes’. Escapes from our work life, escapes from our home life, escapes from the stresses and strains of the day-to-day. If you spend the majority of your time in an urban area, a trip to the countryside can be a bit of a shock to the system, leaving you feeling somewhat disconnected. But the benefits of spending time outdoors can be hugely therapeutic and provide a fresh perspective:

  • We all know a walk in the woods improves our mood and helps to reduce stress levels. In fact our bio-chemistry actually changes in the woods, affecting us both physically and psychologically. This has been extensively researched in Japan and is known as shinrin-yoku or ‘forest bathing’.
  • Stimuli-rich natural environments, away from the normal distractions such as phones allow our minds to wander. The brain can relax and contemplate problems better – often referred to as Attention Restoration Theory.
  • The natural heritage provides rich opportunity for stories and the unusual shared experiences can create lasting memories.
  • The woodland surroundings free the mind to approach problems creatively. One study, published by the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin (2012) notes the colour green as one of the most important factors in creativity.

‘In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.’ – John Muir

rising to the challenge

There are no shortage or ways in which you can use the woods and surrounding countryside. Here’s a few we’ve thought of – feel free to outdo us with some of your own.

  • Strategic business planning
  • Using nature and resilience as a business model
  • Survival based team-building
  • Hostile environment training
  • Outdoor conference/lectures & talks
  • Skills training for start-ups & entrepreneurs
  • Leadership in sustainability
  • Development skills for disadvantaged young adults

working with us

Whilst we focus on providing the back-drop for your training needs, we can put you in touch with appropriate specialist training providers. These are people we have worked with who know how to use the assets of both the woodland and the wider Estate. Our collaborating network of independent facilitators, consultants, trainers and coaches are listed below.

If you are a training provider and would like to use our site, please do get in touch to discuss how we could work together.

Survival and bushcraft training

Black Wolf Survival

Specialists in Survival, Bushcraft and Archery – approved by the Institute of Outdoor Learning. They run day courses and residential courses up to 5 days for both adults and children, including a range of corporate options. They also provide staff training to organisations such as the Scout Association and the National Citizen Service. Black Wolf are also our resident bushcraft providers at Badgells Wood Camping.



Motivational speaker and leadership training

Andy Cave

A world class mountaineer with a PhD and two award winning books to his name, Andy Cave started out as a Yorkshire coalminer. He delivers speeches and courses packed with humour and drama that capture the drive and spirit necessary to succeed when the stakes are high. He ensures that each addresses the issues faced by the clients and contributes to change.



Chainsaw and Safety Training

Marks Plants

Mark is a highly qualified woodsman with a passion for trees. He provides courses in forestry skills, covering everything from basic chainsaw training to working at height and use of rope and harness – and also works closely with the HSE. He also delivers woodland management and conservation work for the Estate and is based here.



Safety, medical and complex environment training


Skilled communicators and recognised experts in their field who will tailor course content to suit your needs. They have recent operational experience, often gained living and working in hostile environments. Their instructors will make sure your training is relevant and engaging.