Cameron's Cottage is a non-profit venture in memory of Cameron to make nature more accessible to young people. 

Cameron’s Cottage is nestled in the heart of RSPB Franchises Lodge nature reserve in the New Forest and sleeps up to nineteen people. It has been renovated to create a sustainable place where groups of young people can experience and learn about the natural world. 

Booking Cameron's Cottage

For more information about booking Cameron's Cottage including pricing and availability please email the RSPB: cameronscottage@rspb.org.uk

The Cottage can accommodate up to 19 people, including leaders in 5 bedrooms. Additional discounts are available for groups who meet certain financial requirements.

Activities include:

  • nature: bioblitz, bat detecting moth trapping, wildlife walk
  • team building: slacklining, blind fold trail, team all maze, wild art
  • survival skills: outdoor cooking, kelly kettles, shelter building, pioneering, navigation

Outdoor Classroom

The outdoor classroom in use at the recent Wildlife Camp

Latest news:

 

Leaside Trust's Four-Day Adventure

15 December 2023

14 children between the ages of 9 and 15 from the Leaside Trust checked in to Cameron’s Cottage recently for four days of activities and adventures in the New Forest.

The Trust, based in Hackney, is an organisation dedicated to delivering inspiring and engaging outdoor activities to young people. Their aim is to encourage children to stay in education, develop their confidence and build leadership skills. This was the Leaside Trust’s first every dry land residential outing all made possible for sponsorship from The Cameron Bespolka Trust.

Over the course of the four days the young members of the trust took part in a range of activities in the Forest designed to enhance their social and team building skills. The group arrived around lunch time on day one leaving enough time to unpack, sort out the cooking and cleaning roster before heading out into the forest for some blindfold teambuilding games, slackline walking and wood chopping. After dinner the group gathered round the open fire to toast marshmallows and boil water for hot chocolate in ghillie kettles.

A massive thank you to Corinne, the Cameron Bespolka Trust and the RSPB for hosting us and making the trip so memorable.

Day two saw the group clearing growth of invasive rhododendrons before building natural shelters from the branches. Next they learned how to make cordage from nettles and rushes followed by a short scavenge through the woods to collect material for making mobiles. After dinner they learned how to make bannock bread, baking it on an open fire they built in the woods.

The group spent time working in teams, working independently, doing solution focused activities ... we saw huge progression through the 4 days in all our young people

On day three the group spent the morning map reading and learning how to use a compass. Splitting into the groups, they headed out into the forest tasked with navigating their way to set points on the map. It proved a tough challenge crossing boggy ground, through thick woods and over fences to reach their goals. The afternoon was spent whittling wooden owls under the expert guidance of instructors Simon and Amanda.

All too soon it was the final day of the trip. The children packed, loaded the bus and cleaned the cottage before heading outside to finish up their wooden owls, split more wood and explore the forest for one last time. In all it was a great experience for the children.  They had very limited access to their mobile phones and social media so had to find other ways to amuse themselves during their free time.

 

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Building shelters from branches

Building shelters from branches

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Building shelters from branches

Making cordage

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Building shelters from branches

Making Bannock Bread

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Building shelters from branches

Toasting marshmallows


The Kilner Path

07 September 2023

At Cameron’s Cottage there is a path dedicated to the memory of Jim Kilner who died recently at the age of 83. Jim spent much of his later years quietly raising money for the RSPB and the Kilner Path has been named in his honour to celebrate his tireless efforts.

Jim was a very proud engineer by profession and still kept the tools he made when he was an apprentice in his extensive engineering workshop. From this workshop he made bird nest boxes out of felled trees to his own very specific design.  The proceeds from the sale of these lovingly-crafted boxes went to the RSPB and that money was used to purchase tools for the Lodge Garden and the benches under the shelter.

Jim was invited down to Franchises Lodge by the RSPB to see what had been bought with his money. On the visit he spotted a neglected tricycle chassis and asked if he could buy it from the RSPB. Within two months he had renovated the chassis and turned it into a cargo carrying bike. It was sold to a young fisherman to carry his gear to fishing spots. The £400 of profit went to buying the trees at Cameroons Cottage and the residual used towards the costs of the Kilner Path.

Three months before died he travelled down to the cottage and took a ride in his off road tramper around the path. Jim spoke of how wonderful it was to have been a small part of the Cameron’s Cottage story and how proud he was that the RSPB had named the path after him.

Jim Kilner was tireless in his fundraising efforts

Jim Kilner was tireless in his fundraising efforts


Winnall Primary School's Day Out

28 July 2023

Sponsorship from the Trust enabled a group of children from Winnall Primary School in Winchester to travel down to Cameron’s Cottage and enjoy a jam-packed day of activities.

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BBC Radio Solent

20 July 2023

Thank you BBC Radio Solent and BBC News for sharing our story.

Inspired by Cameron, Cameron’s Cottage in a RSPB reserve is a place for groups of young people to be immersed in nature. Run and operated by RSPB, this place connects young people and nature where all activities are led by RSPB wildlife experts.

Listen on BBC Sounds

Read BBC Article

Cameron had a passion for birds and wildlife

Cameron had a passion for birds and wildlife


BBC South Today Features Cameron's Cottage

06 July 2023

Thank you BBC South Today for the coverage on Cameron’s Cottage and for telling our story.

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Open Days

We would love you to come and visit Cameron’s Cottage and see for yourself. If you are a school, college, university or an organisation who is thinking of taking a group of young people for a day or overnight stay, please email date you can join us to: cameronscottage@rspb.org.uk

 

 

 


Cameron's Legacy

To celebrate the official opening week at Cameron’s Cottage, we are very proud to share this video which shows the result of many years of collaboration between the Trust and the RSPB.    

View video »

 

 

2 Minute Introduction to Cameron's Cottage:
solar powered and low-impact

 

Cameron’s Cottage offers an immersive outdoor experience for 15 – 25 year olds in a stunning woodland packed full of wildlife, including many rarities.

Whether it’s getting creative through outdoor cooking and wild art, tackling the grittier side of nature with survival skills and conducting research or learning conservation skills, those coming to stay at Cameron’s Cottage will have the experience of a lifetime.

Franchises Lodge is a haven for wildlife, from birds of prey to unusual fungi, orchids and loads more. In this idyllic setting, young people can come together to take part in activities ranging from shelter building to conservation skills, plus much, much more.

The newly refurhbished Cameron's Cottage will be a wonderful base fromm which to be immersed in nature

The fully-equipped kitchen

The living area where many stories will be shared

Bunk room with a view - nature is right on your doorsteps

Outdoor Classroom
Next to Cameron’s Cottage there is an open-sided wooden outdoor classroom which can be booked for day visits from schools.  These day trips will include nature activities provided and led by RSPB.  

The  outdoor classroom will bring the guests closer to nature

"Cameron’s Cottage is completely off-grid with heating and electricity provided by solar power, so it really is the ultimate nature experience"

Beth Markey, RSPB

Sustainability
We are proud of the fact that Cameron’s Cottage is off-grid, relies on solar power and is wildlife friendly. All the timber used to renovate the Cottage has come from the site.  The douglas fir trees needed to be thinned by a third to allow light to reach the ground and to increase biodiversity. Solar panels are located on the study centre and extension roof producing 10KW power per hour with battery storage.Groups can monitor their power use and adapt according to the amount being generated or stored. This is a fantastic learning resource for how we need to think carefully and consider the impacts of how we use resources. A firepit and equipment has been provided to encourage outdoor living.

 

The water is heated by solar heating in the warmer months but switches to solar power for the winter. Inside, all appliances have been planned to have a low energy use. There are wood burners inside the kitchen and study centre to provide additional heat but can also be used to cook indoors and has an additional hob. A heat source pump supports the low carbon heating arrangement by drawing heat from the outside air and transferring to the underfloor heating system to warm the building.

Outside, wildlife friendly features have been built into the design including swift bricks, house martin cups, greater horseshoe bat entrance and bat entrances included in the roof slates. There is an old well which supplies water to outside taps to wash boots, whilst inside the water does come from a mains supply. The property has its own sewage treatment plant to treat sewage safely and with no negative impact on the environment. This is fenced in the garden and will eventually be hidden by a native hedge that will provide a nectar source for butterflies, moths and bees to support the ecosystem.

To find out more about how sustainable and environmentally friendly this Cottage is, please have a listen to Joe Moorhouse, the Architect who worked on the whole renovation project. He explains the care and attention taken to make sure this off-grid Cottage is low-impact as well as being a home for lots of wildlife all around.

The video from Moorhouse Architecture shows the work that went into transforming the derelict cottage

 

Cameron's Cottage Newsletter from the RSPB

Read the RSPB's update from Cameron's Cottage

March 2023

Generous Support

Thank you to Garfield Weston and the National Lottery Heritage fund for their generous support.

Garfield Weston Foundation

   

Cameron's Cottage

Read all about how we came to be partnering with the RSPB to create this wonderful retreat and learning centre deep in the New Forest.

Read more »

Cameron's Cottage Video

Young Ambassador Amy Hall has produced a great video of Cameron’s Cottage before the work begins. Take a look at this magical place, immersed in nature and nestled in the woodlands of RSPB Franchises Lodge in the New Forest.    

View video »

Birds Eye View

Take an aerial tour around Cameron's Cottage and the surrounding forest: