When A+ moved on site in early 2015 we still had 2 years of fund raising left to complete the purchase… and a million pounds to raise!
We are so grateful that, through sacrificial support of many individual supporters and the generous help of a number of grant-making trusts, we were able to complete on the purchase of Windmill Farm, including the conference centre. After months of preparatory work, surveys, professional advice and the further purchase of adjoining Lower Farm with its orchard and 3 additional fields, to secure them from external development, we are now ready to start to create the Adventure Base, which will be so pivotal in the lives of thousands of children and young people for decades to come.
The development will be phased, as finances allow and plans come together:
Phase 1: Yurt Village
Plans are now well under way for our first youth accommodation on site, to enable young people to stay overnight in our unique hempcrete ‘Yurt Village’. Made to our order by UK Hempcrete, the structures are so well insulated they will be suitable for use by youth groups 12 months of the year… and will hardly require any heating to be comfortable!
The plan is to build 5 yurts, each with accommodation for 8, in 4 bunks, and one leaders’ yurt with 2 separate rooms to accommodate leaders from up to 2 groups at a time.
With LED reading lights powered by 12v solar battery chargers (and no charging points for phones!) the yurts are also set to be (at least) carbon neutral, demonstrating good stewardship of our environment and setting the standard for our future developments on site, a real testament to our commitment to conservation & good stewardship and great worked example for our Environmental education programmes for schools.
Yurt Village is well on the way to being fully funded. Please read here (Adventure Base Costs: Make It Real !) for ways to get involved to support the build.
Phase 1A: 4 acre ‘Adventure Lake’
complete with a mega seal launch, islands for bridge building and camping out, beach and beach volleyball, ‘coasteering’ wall…
Numbered 1A because excavation can continue in parallel with, and independent of the other construction phases:
With the River Thames just over a mile away, we are fortunate to have some wonderful river journeys right on our doorstep, but when the Thames is flowing faster in the winter months, it will be great to have a safe venue for canoeing and kayaking right on site.
It will also be fantastic to have our own boating facilities on site, with improved ‘accessibility’ for additional needs groups, and offering on-site fun and games for all… we may be as far from the seaside as it is possible to be in the UK, but we can still offer children the chance to spend a sunny afternoon on the beach!
The spoil from the lake excavation will then be used to create some wonderful landscaping on the rest of the Adventure Base, including a mountain boarding hill, under which we will have laid a unique caving maze, an amphitheatre (facing west to catch the beautiful sunsets) and landscaping around the many activity locations, to provide a sense of privacy and identity from other groups on site.
Quotes for lake excavation and landscaping have been sought. For more details and ideas on specific facilities that you may wish to support or sponsor, please go to our Make it Real page.
Phase 2: Communal Hub
Initially the yurt village will be served by two porta-loo & porta-shower cabins, connected to mains services that are already being put in place for the more substantial ‘Communal Hub’, which is next on the list:
In addition to the necessary WCs, showers and drying room the communal hub will also offer two substantial self-catering kitchen-lounge areas & meeting rooms for groups staying in the Yurt Village.
Attractively appointed with south facing panoramic windows for each s/c kitchen and youth lounge, and a weight bearing green room, to provide a fantastic ‘meeting space with a view’, the Communal Hub will offer all that is needed to offer the a warm welcome to our guests, as part of our ministry of encouragement.
A large south facing solar portico roof and ‘bannister’ at the end of the green roof will continue the theme of responsible, exciting natural stewardship.
The hub design is versatile allowing the eastern face to provide WCs and showers for family groups staying at Windmill Farm in the camping field, eg for a church weekend away.
Phase 3: Adventure Base build and further Adventure facilities
With the initial accommodation in place in our yurt village, the numbers of young people A+ is engaging will already have grown and as demand continues to increase, so will the need for more varied adventure facilities and residential space.
We have planning consent for an Adventure Barn (with high ropes, climbing faces, as well as ‘AstroTurf’ sports surfaces) and for further self-catering facilities and residential space for 50 more children, taking the total on site to 90 available bed spaces.
Whilst we work to make the accommodation as affordable, yet comfortable as possible, the fun can really begin out on the 50 acre site:
Flagship facilities will include:
Urban free sports zone offering skating, BMX and parkour features, to help our city based youth groups to feel at home and to offer these exciting activities on a more regular basis to many visitors from the local area.
High ropes courses, climbing walls, bushcraft zones, mountain bike trails, archery ranges, sports fields, Frisbee golf... are all on the menu too and whilst we already have access to two canoe launch points on the River Thames, just one mile away, we are very excited about plans that are shaping up for our ‘Adventure Lake’ on site, complete with the UK’s first inland (artificial) coasteering facility See 1A above – or get in touch for more details…
We have even come up with a way to offer ‘indoor camp fires’ from our as part of partially-enclosed sports hall.
Meanwhile, we have a number of other lower profile developments ongoing all the time on site:
2,000 trees and shrubs planted, doubling the size of our bushcraft copse and extending hedges;
Conservation areas are being created
Hedges are being laid to improve their health and habitats for wildlife
Mountain bike trails are being laid out
Low ropes courses & team challenge venues are being planned…
Outdoor education is about far more than just adventure activities
Latest technologies are being incorporated in all our buildings to demonstrate the advantages of energy efficiency and insulation. The main Adventure Base building will be a live-in example of this, with visual and practical displays of sustainability and energy conservation. It will also demonstrate ‘outdoor education’ & conservation in its widest sense, as we recognise the importance of being good stewards of the earth’s natural resources.