Let's Learn Moor - 'the life of a child'

Duncan Thomas

Duncan Thomas

BASC north director. Duncan’s interests include fly fishing, lowland and upland game shooting, deer management and the breeding and training of gundogs. He beats, picks-up and shoots throughout the North West and is a well-known commentator on shooting and conservation matters.

Now, I know I have a good job. Most of the time its immensely enjoyable, but yesterday really put the icing on the cake.

I was at Nidderdale for day two of Let’s Learn Moor. Here I witnessed a hugely commendable all-round team effort in hosting the event, involving the Nidderdale Moorland Group and their gamekeepers, BASC, Countryside Learningthe AONB authority, the Fire Service, Mountain Rescue, Ox Close Fine Foods and Yorkshire Water.

I’m lucky to have been involved in Let’s Learn Moor from the start. Having initially recruited the one-man dynamo that is Gareth Dockerty, I’ve watched him drive the project in his current role as uplands officer, especially in its early stages.

Outdoor learning legacy

Thanks to Let’s Learn Moor, more than 2,000 youngsters will have a positive outdoor learning experience this week. It will be fun, and it will probably rain. The children will learn that the uplands are looked after by a diverse range of people, businesses and groups.  Above all, I think they’ll leave with a sense of the team effort and collaborative working required to successfully manage Britain’s moorland. 

Information and optimism

Yesterday’s event started with a morning briefing from the formidable Tracy, following which the first coaches full of youngsters started to arrive. It was nostalgic, real school trip stuff. 

The children and teachers were given a rota on landing with us and visited the various learning experiences throughout the day.

There was laughter, searching questions, great debate, and the whole event was informative and exuded optimism. 

Some of the gamekeepers in attendance were not used to public speaking or lesson planning. Despite this, they gave first class, down-to-earth explanations of their job and its importance.

One of the schools had sent its headmaster and I managed a few minutes with him. He was visibly elated that his pupils were out and about in the fresh air after more than a year of various lockdowns, Teams-based classrooms and disruption. 

Even with my job I was envious, he was obviously so proud of his school. 

Said headmaster was later “rescued” by his students aided by Mountain Rescue in a mock up of an incident. The sight of him strapped to the stretcher being dragged across the young heather was brilliant. I’m still chuckling now typing this.

Positively beaming

Lunch consisted of an alfresco pheasant burger, and the kids steamed into them asking for more after the first round.

By the end of the day the children were positively beaming. 

They’d learned about the water cycle plus the need to manage heather and reduce the fuel load to avoid wildfires. They’d discussed predator control as part of upland conservation with grouse keepers. They had lessons about not dropping litter or playing with fire, and that barbecues are for home not tinder-dry moorlands. All this and much, much more.

What a job

I was reminded of a quote yesterday: “It doesn’t matter what car you drive, how big your house is or what’s in your bank account, what’s really important is that you’re influential in the life of a child”. 

I can certainly say that all the people involved in Let’s Learn Moor will have achieved that, thousands of times over. Well done all. 

I’m at another venue each this week; what a job.

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See all of the pictures, reports and blogs from Let’s Learn Moor 2021 here.

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