New art trail launched at Cary's Meadow

An interactive art installation of fairy doors and children’s writing is featured in a new guided trail at Cary’s Meadow in Norwich. The Christmas holidays are the perfect time to visit the trail with the kids and inspire them to connect with the magical world of nature.

The Fairy Doors trail

A new trail of fairy doors at Thorpe St Andrew’s Cary’s Meadow has opened to the public and runs from 16 December until summer 2022. Visitors can follow a beautifully illustrated map of the meadow and each magical door unlocks a poem or story inspired by the natural world. The project is the creative work of children from Norwich, Thorpe St Andrew and across Norfolk, with writer Ruthie Collins working in collaboration with local artists, Norwich Men’s Shed and the Broads Authority.

The writing features wildlife from all over the world and many animals from Norfolk, from otters to water voles. The trail was inspired by a local mum from Thorpe St Andrew, Shazia Miza Rochford, as a way to lift the spirits and inspire children in the local area. Download the map at: The Fairy Doors Trail – Natural Wonder ( or scan the QR code at the gates when you enter the meadow.

The doors were created by members at social enterprise Norwich Men’s Shed, with funding from National Lottery Local Connections Fund.

The illustrated map, created by Norfolk illustrator Joe Fear, was commissioned by Natural Wonder and features some of the wildlife, flora and fauna you can find on the meadow. The map has been made into an interactive gallery for the children’s stories and poems, with web design from Norwich-based business Elementary Creative. Children from Year 4 at Henderson Green Primary School have also written stories and poems for the trail and their work will appear in 2022.

The trail also features a new poem by Ruthie Collins inspired by the bats that roost at Cary’s Meadow behind door number 10 called Bats about Bats! Children from Henderson Green Primary School performed the poem with Ruthie Collins for National Poetry Day this year, supported by Arts Council England.

The Fairy Doors trail

Writer and curator at Natural Wonder, Ruthie Collins said:

“I started running outdoor learning sessions on Cary’s Meadow in the pandemic to support education and wellbeing. It’s helped me find a fresh way to make things like literature and learning, including the National Curriculum, more fun and nature-based for children. Many children are just happier outdoors and this has been a great way to help children get closer to nature and to science, geography and writing, too.

“You can read many of the pieces while walking around, with the longer ones perfect to snuggle up to when you get home.”

Broads Authority, Education Officer, Nick Sanderson, said of the project:

“Norfolk is home to a quarter of the UK’s rarest species of plants and animals and is a real hotbed of biodiversity.

“It’s role in ecological education is world class, so it’s great to help people learn about its natural history and heritage through getting outdoors and also learning through literature, creativity and having fun.”

Roberta Wood, Norwich Men’s Shed Coordinator, said:

“Social distancing has really changed the way members access the workshops at Norwich Men's Shed as physical making is key to our offer, but Covid regulations make any group projects difficult.

“Making the fairy doors provided the opportunity for members to be part of a community project while working individually and safely. Our members really engaged with this project and created a fantastic collection of fairy doors that reflect the skills and interests of our varied membership.”

The Fairy Doors trail

The Natural Wonder project was inspired by a public poem, ‘Dreaming of Albion, Sailing With Maud’, commissioned by Norfolk County Council, by Ruthie Collins, to appear as part of the wherry garden developments near Great Yarmouth train station concourse. Ruthie is writing a series of poems inspiring connection to the natural world inspired by the landscape of Norfolk, while running educational activities and practical actions to help conserve nature in the community, supported by Arts Council England.

The project has also taken activities to Strumpshaw Tree Fair, from peat-free compost flower-planting activities to creative writing and arts activities. It’s supported nature learning, poetry writing and a trail in North Norfolk, sound art at YARMONICS sonic art festival in Great Yarmouth, plus a podcast and workshop with Waveney and Blyth Arts Two Rivers Book Festival. Families all over Norfolk are gaining a John Muir Family Award to help them connect to wild places and to take action to conserve and protect nature. Participating children can also gain an Arts Award through the project thanks to support from Arts Council England.

The project is funded by Arts Council England. The funding supported children to work with Ruthie to explore nature inspired story-telling, plus take part in outdoor learning on Cary’s Meadow and research its biodiversity. It’s also helping to create resources to help children, families and educators learn remotely and outdoors, in response to the pandemic.

The free trail runs until summer 2022, alongside a programme of Fairy Doors events and writing by children from all over Norfolk who have loved writing and learning about nature as part of this project.

For more information about events and to download the map visit: The Fairy Doors Trail – Natural Wonder ( or scan the QR code at the gates when you enter Cary’s Meadow.

Wednesday 22 December 2021