FORECASTS of afternoon storms failed to deter visitors to the third Otley Chevin Discovery Day, with between 350 and 400 people rewarded for their resilience with a lot of sunshine and an expanded programme of activities and stalls.

Based around the White House and the field to its west, this celebration of the outdoors generally and the Chevin specifically attracted a range of ages.

Ilkley Gazette: Natural artNatural art (Image: submitted)

The natural art workshop is always popular with both youngsters and adults. Sandra Flitcroft, a local artist ran this inspiring workshop this year promoted and assisted by Isabel Ruiz. Their wish is to show the community that beautiful art pieces can be made sustainably. Ivola Bombay and Eliza, a Prince Henry’s art student also contributed to help people with a Tataki Zome activity and drawing with natural inks. People had a lot of fun and created some lovely pieces. The organisers appreciated those who helped resource the workshop: Waitrose and Sainsburys supplied flowers, Sinclair’s the watercolour paper, and the Chevin foresters some beautiful pieces of wood to work on.

Ilkley Gazette: The wildflower walkThe wildflower walk (Image: submitted)

There were four guided walks, all well-received. Botanist Steve Heaton of Wildlife Friendly Otley led one to look at the Chevin’s wildflowers and one on the theme of foraging; whilst a very popular family treasure hunt was put on by the Friends of Chevin Forest as part of the Otley Walking Festival. Forest Ranger Toby from the Woodland Creation team also led a woodland walk.

One of several new activities was Forest Bathing, a fully-booked session led by Susie Wilkinson who is setting up a business on the Chevin. Another was a smartphone photography workshop led by WFO’s Rebecca Mason and Neil Griffin, giving tips and hacks for taking photos and videos with the Chevin and its wildlife as content or background. There is a competition for young people (under 11 and 11-18) for best photo taken on the Chevin (email to by July 9).

Ilkley Gazette: Making a bug hotelMaking a bug hotel (Image: submitted)

Yorkshire Rewilding Festival brought two new activities to the Chevin. One was adding animals and plants to an embroidered piece of art, the other “rewilding” a housing estate of shoeboxes with a mix of natural materials found in the area and junk modelling.

Wildlife Friendly Otley were selling plants and cake, and exhibiting a variety of small creatures. Their release of moths, including a gorgeous Emerald Moth, attracted a lot of attention. They also had a striking “Whose poo?” model, that fascinated young and old. The Friends of Weston Woods and Menston Area Nature Trust had a fun nature quiz, whilst the Extinction Rebellion stall surveyed visitors’ views on a series of pressing issues by asking them to place stickers on a bar chart. The Prickly Pigs hedgehog rescue gazebo seemed always thronged with people, as usual.

Amanda Newham put on one of her Chevin Forest School sessions in the afternoon, and also returning were the Otley branch of the Dry Stone Walling Association. One of the few negatives of the day was the cancellation of the pond-dipping, the recent drought having left the pond in a poor state. However the usual minibeast hunt went ahead led by entomologist and WFO trustee Cathy Burton, and people were encouraged to watch the birds on the feeders to the north of the White House.

Ilkley Gazette: Rewilding RoadRewilding Road (Image: submitted)

Otley 2030 hosted a stall and a popular slack-line, while organisations such as the RSPB, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and Otley Camera Club gained new members through their attractive stalls – for example the latter’s wildlife photos were quite spectacular. People enjoyed live music from Emma and Tim, followed later by Keeper’s Wood. In the Education Hub much-appreciated cakes had been kindly provided by Bondgate Bakery and the Underground Bakery.

Everyone was safely packed away and most visitors home when the heavens finally opened towards 5pm.

Organisers Penny Redwood (FOCF), Isabel Ruiz and Neil Griffin (WFO) were keen to express their thanks for the efforts of the community coming together to put on another successful event.