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About the Centre

The Wilderness Centre, part of Nature Schools Limited, is situated at the top of Plump Hill in Mitcheldean, Gloucestershire.  The Centre was run by Gloucestershire County Council for many years and was purchased by the current owners, Daniel and Sophie Sturdy in 2014; it has since undergone major refurbishment.

The History of The Wilderness dates back some 2000 years to when Plump Hill was an important Iron ore mine for the Silures tribe based out of the Welshbury Hill Fort. Evidence of the iron ore workings can still be found at the site, the open cast workings are known as Scowles, one of which can be seen in farmer Rugman’s field which borders our wood.  

In 1018 King Canute (King of Denmark and went on to become King of England), designated the Royal Forest of Dean as his hunting forest. It was during this time that the royal surveyors deemed the top of Plump Hill to not be part of this forest due to its old iron ore workings and lack of trees, and named it “Le Wylderne” or Wilderness.

In the 16th and 17th Century, the ownership of the site passed between many families and a house was built upon the hill. The mansion house at it stands was rebuilt in 1824 by the Colchester family and used as a family home until 1884 when it was sold off and used first as a Sanatorium for Women, then as an isolation hospital for children suffering diphtheria or scarlet fever and in 1968 it was bought by Gloucestershire County Council and set up as a residential centre for field studies.

The Centre has now been extensively refurbished and has reopened as a Residential Outdoor Education centre welcoming groups of all ages and interests who wish to experience The Wilderness.

It is set in around 30 acres of beautiful woodland, meadow and pasture land and offers a range of activities from bush craft, climbing and field archery through to camping, crate stack, tunnelling, night walks, foraging and outdoor cookery on site, while activities such as canoeing, kayaking, and mountain biking will be offered off site.  Activities are tailored to the requirements of a particular group.

The Centre welcomes school and community groups, family groups and corporate clients to name but a few.  We offer day and residential amenities, camping and full catering facilities.  A self catered option is also available.  With its stunning location the site is ideal for weddings, celebrations and events.