It’s hard to believe that years ago the Oaks Campsite was nothing but a woodlands with a field to camp on. Today the campsite thrives with campers using our onsite facilities and activities, giving life changing experiences to hundreds of young people each weekend.
This page explains the history of who we are and how we got to where we are today.
History of the Oaks
It is not certain when the first tent was pitched on the fields that are now the Oaks Campsite. The site was called Cat Hill at this time, taking its name from the woods to the west of the site. It all started with Capt. John Leveson Ward MC. Capt. Ward founded the Scout troop in Castle Donington in the early 1920’s and went on to become the Rover Scout Commissioner for Leicestershire towards the end of the decade, however the story of the Oaks begins earlier and in his own words he describes how the site came to be first used.
Captain Ward's Words
His description goes: “The 1914 war was over and I had decided to give up the regular army and go back to H & M [Hanford and Miller], hosiery manufacturers in Loughborough. I was made manager of the Whitwick factory and got a room at the Forest Rock Hotel. Some of the local boys asked me to form at Troop which I did and we went to camp on the high ground (Timberwood) near the Forest Rock. One night I was walking round and I met a gentleman. He stopped me and we passed the usual pleasantries. I said I hoped I should not offend the owner. “You’re speaking to him” said the gentlemen (Shirley Clarke) and this began years of friendship. “My house is down there” said he, “come along down”’. It was in a beautiful position right in the Charnwood Forest. Years later I was skipper of the Scottish Scouts in Leicester and with Shirley Clarke’s help built the hut in the picture.” (Shown Below)
Reconstruction of the Alpine Hut
In 2016 a team of volunteers from the site and Severn Trent came together to reconstruct the Alpine hut.
The site is now a busy District campsite, owned by Loughborough and Charnwood Districts of Leicestershire and is run entirely by volunteer staff who maintain the site, run the activities and act as wardens for the site. The site has a reputation for friendly and helpful staff and you can recognise our staff by the green shirts or fleeces, with the Oaks Staff logo on the back or by or Yellow and Green rugby shirts.