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We are inspiring more young people to achieve better life outcomes

Every person should know the feeling of being utterly captivated and intrigued by nature

Over seven decades ago, a remarkable story began when a shy, unassuming man bequeathed his estates to the charity that bears his name - The Ernest Cook Trust.

His generous bequest created an extraordinary legacy that has since benefitted many thousands of children and young people, their families and communities, particularly those who are underserved.

As a UK educational charity, the Trust's important work helps nurture a lifelong journey of learning, appreciation and respect for the countryside through a range of Outdoor Learning experiences.

This remarkable story continues.

Ernest Cook
Our Story

The Importance Of Being Ernest

The roots of The Ernest Cook Trust are deeply embedded in our founder’s love of the countryside.

When Ernest Cook had great wealth thrust upon him, he combined this good fortune with a passion for conserving the countryside, buying several country estates which were eventually bequeathed to The Ernest Cook Trust - the educational charity he established in 1952.

Today, the Trust is one of the UK’s foremost providers and funders of Outdoor Learning.

This important work takes place on and beyond our thriving estates, as we develop partnerships and collaborations with like-minded organisations also seeking to share their passion for Outdoor Learning, particularly with underserved 
children, young people and their communities across the UK.

Just as Ernest Cook shared his own good fortune, so we also share the wealth of our knowledge and experience as influencers in the debate around the environment, farming, sustainability and Outdoor Learning.

We continue the important work that Ernest Cook began
Our Land

Supporting All We Do

across 9 estates
in 6 counties
best-practice, innovative
land management
10+ small enterprises,
100s of allotment tenants
unique outdoor
learning programmes

The Trust cares for 9,000 hectares of land across nine rural land holdings. These authentic, living communities are home to our tenant farmers, residential tenants and small enterprises, while also serving as unique open-air classrooms for our Outdoor Learning programmes.

Together with our own land in Buckinghamshire, Cumbria, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Leicestershire and Oxfordshire, we also work with partner estates in Cumbria, Lancashire and Derbyshire.

As a land-based educational Trust, we are uniquely placed to be a model for innovative, experimental methods of land management. By sharing our land, knowledge and experience, we inspire a greater love and understanding of the natural world, farming and sustainability.

Active management dictates that we are constantly looking for new opportunities and ways to evolve and improve our income stream in support of the Trust's overall charitable object.

Our Impact

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Our Coverage
Our Land
Outdoor Learning Sites
Apprenticeships & Scholarships Awarded
Outdoor Learning Officer Grants Awarded
Influencers Schemes
The OWL Collaboration Outdoor Learning Centres
Where appropriate, we give what3words locators for use with the what3words app.
When you come out here and you see the stuff you can do, it’s actually pretty amazing!

Our Values

Our values guide and shape everything we do.

Emerging from a carefully facilitated process across the whole organisation, they are a distillation of our unique stories, experiences and motivations.

We are immensely proud of our values, they energise us and give purpose to our work, every day.

There is a really creative, empowering, experimental culture that makes exploring new projects and ways of fulfilling our goals so inspiring.

Our Partnerships

The Trust also works with partner estates and host organisations. These carefully selected and nurtured partnerships have resulted in a range of projects and programmes, enabling us to impact more children, young people and their communities, particularly those who are underserved.

Taking our cue from nature, we plant seeds that grow into a more environmentally engaged society.
Our Credibility

Reports & Associations

The Ernest Cook Trust has a highly respected reputation as an educational charity, with seven decades of experience. The pursuit of learning is fundamental to all aspects of our work. Our associations and memberships of several national organisations allow for a mutual sharing of knowledge and experience as we strive for continuous improvement and best practice.

ACF Logo
Charity Commission Logo
Environmental Funders Logo
CLA Logo
National Trusts Logo
Countryside Classroom Logo
Leaf Education Logo
Forest School Logo
Outdoor Learning Logo
Logo - Confor
I will Logo
Game & Wildlife Conservation Logo
Learning Outside Logo
Salmon & Trout Conservation Logo
Farming & Wildlife Advisory Group
Fair Education Alliance

Annual Summary
of Activities

Take a look at our latest Annual Report to see how we have helped children and young people, their families and communities connect with nature.

The Ernest Cook Trust Annual Report 2022/23

Full versions of our Annual Report & Accounts can be found on the Charity Commission website.

Take a look at our activities from previous years:
Annual Report Archive