Let’s learn moor
This week more than 1,400 school children will take part in a BASC led project across Yorkshire, Lancashire, the Peak District and the northern Pennines.
The aim of each day is to showcase the habitats, species, communities and organisations that live and work in, and help to protect, the uplands.
BASC regional officer Gareth Dockerty gives us the latest on what has been happening:
Monday - Click to read
After months of planning and hard work from lots of people #LetsLearnMoor19 began today, with events in the Peak District, North York Moors, Forest of Bowland and Nidderdale.
I am starting my week in a blustery North York Moors, with BASC colleagues covering the Peak District and Forest of Bowland events also.
Today we welcome 150 children from 5 local primary schools with the rural police, mountain rescue, North York Moors National Park, local conservation charity, farmers and of course gamekeepers.
With lots of excited children it is very much organised chaos. They have got to meet sheep, friendly dogs, and gamekeepers.
The children are learning from personalities who help protect and enhance this wonderful place. Through demonstrations, games, walks and activities they learn what the moors are all about and find out…
- How do the mountain rescue team find and help people?
- How do the police protect wildlife and prevent thefts?
- Why do Curlew have such strange bent beaks and long legs?
- How do dogs learn to retrieve?
- Why do Gamekeepers control predators?
All these questions and many more are answered by the experts on the moor.
I’m sat in the sunshine watching keepers wave goodbye to the children as they head back onto their busses…after an unforgettable experience.
Day one done…and if the smiles are anything to go by it’s been a huge success.
A huge thank you must go out to Anna from Countryside Learning who brings the vision to life, contacting schools and providing the much need planning and admin support. She really is the glue that holds the project together.
Tuesday - Click to read
Today I’m in Nidderdale, near Ripon in North Yorkshire, visiting the 2nd day of the Let’s Learn Moor activities organised by the Nidderdale Moorland Group.
We have 120 children enjoying this stunning location and it’s all hustle and bustle. As I write this blog I can hear the fire brigade talking about the dangers of unplanned fires, and how the local gamekeepers help support them with their specialist kit and expertise.
At the next station Yorkshire Water are filtering water through sphagnum mosses to show the children how the uplands are a vital source of their drinking water.
To my right there is a beautiful barn owl being stroked as children learn how they hunt for voles along the moorland edges, and in the far distance gamekeepers are showing children how the sundew plant traps insects on boggy sections of the moor.
The mountain rescue team have seconded another class of kids who are carrying their “injured” head teacher on a stretcher. Whilst eager children peer through a pair of binoculars watching a lapwing displaying in the distance, via Nidderdale bird watching club.
Meanwhile in the Forest of Bowland…Radio Lancashire are learning about the Bowland version of Let’s Learn Moor. A group of older secondary school children are meeting the keepers, emergency services and even trying some tasty grouse provided via Dents game dealers.
In short, the day is delivering exactly what the project was setup for. As the second day draws to a close, I have discussed the impact of the project with the partner organisations and the need for all involved in the uplands to keep communicating with each other. Fingers crossed they see the value and are onboard to deliver the project again next year.
Wednesday - Click to read
Can you believe we are half way through the Let’s Learn Moor 2019 week already?
Today in the North York Moors a local primary school has just watched in amazement as one of the local gamekeepers whistled in a grouse cock and hen with five chicks. Shortly after, they were treated to a lapwing displaying overhead. This was an unforgettable wildlife experience provided by a local keeper passionate about his moor and wildlife.
— BASC North (@BASCNorth) July 3, 2019
The gamekeepers here have really bought into the idea of Let’s Learn Moor and are a credit to their profession and shooting in general. Over 500 children have been at this venue in the last three days, and the National Park have confirmed they are keen to be part of the event in 2020 again, plus help fund us!!!
Talk is already underway about how we can improve the event for next year, and during the debrief with the keepers, it’s obvious they see the benefits of the project.
Roll on the Dales tomorrow.
Thursday - Click to read
Today I’m at a beautiful location in the Yorkshire Dales, on the final Let’s Learn Moor day coordinated by the Yorkshire Dales Moorland Group.
Again the gamekeepers are keen to show children what they do and the many benefits of their work. I had chance to chat to a number of teachers today who have been very impressed with the day. Although most of the schools are from the local area, the majority of children have never visited a moor. In fact, most of the teachers have never visited or even considered what lives or who works here.
Today featured a local bee keeper showcasing his beautiful heather honey. My knowledge of bee keeping was very limited but listening to him describing the bees, their honey and the importance of domesticated bees for the overall ecosystem was fascinating.
The location, amongst an old lead mine, highlights how the landscape has been managed by man for hundreds if not thousands of years.
As usual the gundogs were a huge hit with the children, along with the falconry group who showed the kids a selection of native raptors from kestrel and peregrine to a barn and tawny owl.
It’s a wrap on Let’s Learn Moor 2019 with two events today in Northumberland and Cumbria coordinated by the Northern Pennines Moorland Group.
I am at the Cumbria event on a stunning moor with the keepers, farmers and local AONB organisation.
The children have been driven up to a grouse lunch hut, with what must be one of the best upland views in England across the fells. Then treated to a guided walk ticking off species in their adventure packs…from cotton grass to sphagnum mosses to lapwing and sky larks. Followed by a master class of budding scientists taking peat depth readings with the Northern Pennines AONB.
So it’s all over now for 2019, there are genuinely so many people and organisations to thank that this final blog is at risk of turning into a bad Oscar speech. But I must thank the six regional moorland groups in the Peak District, Dales, Nidderdale, North York Moors, Forest of Bowland and Northern Pennines who coordinated each event and all the 30 partners involved. Plus, The Moorland Association and Moorland Communities Trust who helped fund us.
Let’s not forget the 50 plus schools and over 1400 children who came open minded and keen to learn and enjoy a day in our magnificent uplands.
I’m not going to pretend that this project fixes the multiple challenges the shooting community face, but it shows we are willing to work with others and are a vital voice in conservation and land management.
Planning for Let’s Learn Moor 2020 starts now. Let’s aim to have multiple events in Scotland, Northern Ireland and North Wales.
The Let’s Learn Moor initiative stemmed from a concern of a missing gap within our education system of a simple understanding of those that live, work and enjoy our beautiful uplands. The history and importance of some of Britain’s most stunning and iconic landscapes, on the doorstep of millions of children, is being slowly lost.
Events being held across the north of England to offer an outdoor experience for children.