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NEWS RELEASE No: 1392212 AUGUST 2010

Let the kids run wild in the forest this summer

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cyclist going down a hill

With the London Olympic and Paralympic Games now less than two years away the Forestry Commission is encouraging kids to make regular exercise in the fresh woodland air of Cannock Forest their own Olympic legacy.

The Cannock Forest Visitor Centre has an adventure play area for children aged 4 to 13 years, including swings, scramble nets, tyre tower, slides, play fortress, and an adventure trail.

There are also four main walking trails, which cater for a range of ages and fitness levels; from the 12km Sherbrook Trail, to the 1.6km Route to Health sculpture trail - which was created by local artists, students, schools and community groups.

For those who like a green adventure on two wheels, Cannock has miles of cycling trails to navigate, plus the combined 24km of the Monkey and Follow the Dog trails, for more experienced mountain bikers.

The Forestry Commission, which manages Cannock Chase, is urging kids and parents to ditch their virtual exercises and games machines and instead take advantage of the natural environment on their doorstep.

Research has shown that outdoor physical activity is integral to an all round healthy lifestyle for children, helping to build overall strength, bone density and healthy joints and muscles.

Healthy outdoor exercise is also known to reduce health risks and stress levels and can lead to children sleeping better.

The Forestry Commission’s Andy Coggins, recreational manager at Cannock Chase, said:

“There is no substitute for healthy outdoor exercise in the fresh air, something which Cannock is perfect for.

“We have got a great variety of recreational facilities here – the forest is like one big adventure playground.

”There is so much green space for kids to run wild during the summer holidays, and best of all it’s a cheap as well as healthy way to spend a day away from the TV or computer screen.”

Getting lost with the kids in Cannock is now not an option, as two handy pocket sized maps are available, one aimed at novice cyclists, families and walkers, and the other for more adventurous mountain bikers. They are available from the visitor centre for 1.50.

The Forestry Commission has new Discovery Passes available, which reward frequent visits by offering free parking at Cannock for a year and also offer additional benefits including discounts off Go Ape high wire adventure course and seasonal newsletters. The 12 month passes cost 36.

The Centre is open every day except Christmas Day. Usual daily opening times are 10am to 5pm.

For further information visit:

1. How to get there: From Rugeley head towards Penkridge along Hagley Road. The road changes into Penkridge Bank road as it enters Cannock Chase AONB. The Forest Centre is signposted on your left. From Stafford head towards Cannock on the A34. Follow the signs for Pye Green or Rugeley. Once on Cannock Chase continue to head for Rugeley until signs for the centre on your right. OS Grid Reference: SK018170
2. The Forestry Commission is the largest provider of countryside recreation in Britain with responsibility for over one million hectares (2.4 million acres) of forest, woodlands and open countryside. The West Midlands region covers the counties of Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, the West Midlands and parts of Derbyshire and Leicestershire.

Jason Maclean (Environment Manager) or Andy Coggins (Recreation Officer) at the Forestry Commission’s Birches Valley Forest Centre at Cannock Chase on 01889 586593 or email or