After glorious sunshine at Nidderdale yesterday, the sound of heavy rain beating on the windows this morning signalled the beginning of a very different day for the first Yorkshire Dales Let’s Learn Moor event of 2021.
Despite the weather, which can only be described as ‘dreich’, groups of school children began to appear on the horizon right on cue in the morning. Although coat hoods were pulled tight, the smiles on their faces were visible for all to see.
The calls of the resident curlew were quickly drowned out by the excitable children.
The noise became audibly louder as the droves of children noticed the tractor and fogging unit parked on the heather. Excitement then reached boiling point when they noticed the tin can range – the dots had been joined and they knew this was an activity waiting for them!
The schools had a fantastic array of activity areas on offer and were moved around to the sound of a beaters’ horn.
A local beekeeper gave a fascinating insight into honey production; the sprawling mass of bees within a purpose-built hive observatory had the children mesmerised.
Hearing comments from the children like “I never realised how cool bees are” and “how can such small things create such complicated structures” served to demonstrate the positive impact such interactive educational experiences have.
The Swaledale Mountain Rescue team reinforced the importance of teamwork amongst the group.
One lad has a fantastic acting career within his grasp; his ‘broken leg’ scene was mightily impressive and required the children to work together to lift him to safety.
The local gamekeepers had two separate activity areas, one focusing on their role in managing the species on the moor, the other, looking a heather burning and fighting wildfires.
The sound of the leaf blower being started coincided with screeches and laughter from the kids.
The persistent driving rain was almost masked by the clouds of mist coming from the fogging unit, with the lance being wielded by girls and boys intent on knocking down all the bean cans.
A firm favourite on the day was the army of dogs which erupted from the back of a local gundog trainer’s pickup for each demonstration. The level of obedience on show were impressive and dummy retrieves were met with rounds of applause.
With lunch time upon us, the impressive Yorkshire Dales Moorland Group venue offered the schools an opportunity to shelter within two huge sheep barns. Undeniably, a welcome break from the elements outside for all concerned.
With tarpaulin squares laid out for each group, the children began the now normal routine of hand sanitising before tucking into their packed lunches. Game tasters were offered and few refused, with the venison sausages proving particularly popular.
Our uplands are complicated places. Let’s Learn Moor offers children, and their teachers, the opportunity to explore our moorlands and the intertwined relationships of those who live, work and enjoy them.
On we roll to the next.