Last weekend we wrapped up warm and headed over to the magical Cornbury Estate for the Wilderness Treasure Hunt. In the lead-up to the Wilderness Festival in August, local residents are invited along to a few special events which are just brilliant for the children – and indeed fun for the grown-ups too. A taste of things to come!

The treasure hunt began with a visit to the fortune teller. She told us how the Nymph, Aurelia, vanished from Cornbury Park in 1675. The fortune teller went on to say, if we can find Aurelia’s golden tiara, and take it to the magical ancient tree, the High Nymph will return to Cornbury Park.

So, off we set in four teams of ten, in search of clues – which we find hanging in envelopes from trees – and also with the various characters dotted around the Estate. We are also looking for a brown suitcase and a vase of flowers, being careful not to trust the evil Hubert River-Pitts and Snarlbury Slickbin as they are racing us for the tiara.

The first clue sends us in the direction of a fox, where we find the vase of flowers – and also a lovely supply of sweets for the children. The fox then points us in the direction of a mermaid who again provides us with our next clue, “I am ancient and I grow in the ground.” The children all guess the answer and off we race up to a giant tree for our next clue. We meet Dr Richard Bulberry who asks the children to name his scientific contraption, and we must take our invented word up to the evil Snarlbury Slickbin and try not to let him trick us into going the wrong way.

After a lovely hour collecting clues – and some lucky ones also find deer antlers to take to Aurelia as a gift – we take our findings back to Fortuna Forfolium to be allowed to take part in the final race for the tiara. Fortuna whispers the very last clue to the children and off they go! It’s the race to solve it and find the tiara.

The teenagers race ahead, and we see them head over to the Fox. And then, from the fox, over they dash to a giant tree!
A girls holds a golden sack up high and a big cheer goes up – another clue drops out and she has to race the others again – back to the fox.

Waiting for her is the beautiful High Nymph Aurelia, shining in a silver splendour. The girl gives Aurelia her golden tiara, and all is well in Cornbury Park again. We all head back to base camp and the children receive a special certificate to take home. The girls had a lovely time and so did we. We met loads of nice people, chatted while the kids raced after the clues (and the sweets) and were very much entertained by the characters and the stories they had to tell.

In such a beautiful setting – down in the valley by the lake, surrounded by trees – we can’t wait for the Wilderness Festival.

www.wildernessfestival.com