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.
Thank you so much to New Forest National Park Authority for supporting the collaboration between ourselves and RSPB to create Cameron’s Cottage in the heart of the RSPB reserve Franchises Lodge.
Alison Barnes, CEO of the New Forest NPA was there to celebrate the opening of the cottage
"Celebrating the opening of Cameron's Cottage with the RSPB and the Cameron Bespolka Trust at their residential retreat based within Franchises Lodge nature reserve. It's a dramatic and ‘secret forest’ in the north of the New Forest now saved by the RSPB and the Trust with our help "
Staff and first-year students from the UoW Nutrition and Dietetics Course were at Cameron’s Cottage earlier this month for a very special away day.
The students, who were on placement at the Cottage, made fine use of its facilities to whip up a first rate meal for the Team. What better way to discuss curriculum development than in the great outdoors eating delicious food.
We had a brilliant team away day today in a very special location, talking about RD curriculum development! A big thank you to our 1st year students for our fab lunch!
We were thrilled to sponsor Romsey Young Carers to spend a magical day at Cameron‘s Cottage for a Family Fun day.
The day was expertly guided by a lovely group of RSPB volunteers and staff. 10 families with a total of 25 children took part in outdoor activities. A wide range of activities were on offer suitable for all ages and two new activities we’re particularly popular: playing in a drum circle and taking part in a nature escape room.
Young Carers are children and young people whose lives are affected by caring for a family member who has a long term illness or disability, mental health problems or issues with drugs and alcohol. Romsey Young Carers provide a safe space for their young carers and their families.
It’s wonderful to see them outside, enjoying carefree nature rich activities, together with their families.
Cameron’s Cottage continues to be a hub for many educational and vocational opportunities for young people from all walks of life.
Thank you to RSPB team at Cameron’s Cottage for supporting Josh from the Minstead Trust and allowing him to develop skills to enable him to apply for jobs in conservation.
Minstead Trust is a charity who nurtures the unique potential of people with learning disabilities and their ‘Step Up for Work’ programme offers work and training opportunities. Please have a look at their website if you might help host and train someone.
We are thrilled to sponsor the Winchester Youth Counselling. This wonderful charity provides free, confidential counselling for young people aged 11 to 25 who are based in the district of Winchester.
During the Easter holidays their nature therapy group enjoyed a visit to Cameron’s Cottage. The group took part in a range of nature based activities led by the RSPB team. The activities included team games, bug hunting and making bird boxes.
"Thank you to the team at Cameron’s Cottage for such a fantastic day. The young people really enjoyed making the bird boxes and doing the teambuilding games. The day was really helpful for young people and was enjoyed by all who attended."
The WYC nature therapy group recognises that spending time connecting with nature is proven to reduce stress and anxiety and improve emotional health and well-being.
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.
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.
"Cameron’s Cottage is completely off-grid with heating and electricity provided by solar power, so it really is the ultimate nature experience"
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.