Jaine Blackman discovers what’s going on down at the Big Wild Sleepout

If you’re looking for a wild night out this weekend – head to the woods.

On Saturday, the RSPB and Oxford University will be welcoming families to camp under the stars and discover what really goes bump in the night at Oxford University’s Wytham Woods as part of the annual RSPB Big Wild Sleepout.

The research woodlands are normally only open to those with permits and are home to some of the most loved wildlife including badgers, foxes and hedgehogs.

“This will be the most magical night of the school holidays. Wytham Woods have a really special feel, a family will have the chance to spend the night exploring the woods and sharing experiences around the campfire,” said Rachel Wheeler, RSPB Midlands youth and education officer.

Wild campers are invited to pitch tents at 3pm on Saturday and de-camp at 10.30am on Sunday.

There will be plenty of interactive activities on offer during the evening such as badger spotting, a night-time wander with bat detectors, moth trapping to reveal who else is flying round the woods, campfire stories and marshmallow toasting, rising with the sun to enjoy an early morning exploration or a bush craft skills demonstration.

“These woodland are a fantastic place to discover local wildlife” said Ceri Watkins, The Conservation Volunteers natural talent trainee at Oxford University Museum of Natural History.

“It is a Site of Special Scientific Interest with areas that have been continuously wooded for over 500 years. Insects buzz and hum in the woodland glades, birds dart around the trees and badgers frolic during twilight hours.”

Meg Jenner, administrator for Wytham Woods and University Parks, added: “Wytham Woods are probably the most researched area of woodlands in the world. From badgers, bats and blue tits there is an abundance of wildlife here in this 1,000-acre woodland. “The Big Wild Sleepout is a fantastic opportunity for people to get to know what makes the woodland tick and to see the woods come alive at night – something that many of our visitors don’t get to experience!”

The fundraising event will get visitors close to nature and enable the RSPB to raise money in order to help save wildlife.

A barbecue on the Saturday evening (adults £11.40, children under 14 £7.20) and cooked breakfast will be available, or participants can bring their own cold food. There are no cooking facilities available.

Visitors will need their own camping equipment and no dogs are allowed at the event.

Adult tickets are £32; child (over 2, under 16) £18. RSPB members can get 20 per cent discount on their ticket price.

There is also the opportunity to book bushcraft tickets where you can learn how to pitch your own tarp to sleep under the stars (tarp provided with ticket).

For full information and to book a place, visit rspb-bwso-wytham.eventbrite.co.uk.

For more information about Wytham Woods see wytham.ox.ac.uk