What an action packed week the Juniors of Ireby C of E School had for their residential inFebruary. There are many benefits in having a school trip early in the year and these children had an incredibly varied programme, including a geography themed day to Watendlath, looking at rivers and doing map work. They made good use of our grounds too with creative time spent on environmental sculptures.
Another day they visited the Lodore Falls to read Southey’s ‘Cataract of Lodore’, and explored the Lake shore, investigating the woodlands and made their own shelters for a picnic stop. In the evenings, their activities ranged from a night walk and games in the dark, a fascinating and informative talk on local birds and mammals, toasting marshmallows around a camp fire, a talent show and an evening at the Theatre by the Lake to enjoy the Local Junior Musicians Concert.
For many of the children, the highlights of the week were the sessions with the Glaramara Centre including climbing, orienteering and the overwhelming favourite ‘ghyll scrambling’. One of Ireby’s leaders told us about their last day ‘We headed up to Honister Beck and began a fantastic ascent of the ghyll and managed some great personal achievements in climbing up waterfalls and over rocks, through tunnels and helping each other as a team to reach the top in very high spirits. The last activities were archery and tree climbing. More personal achievements and limits were pushed and a very rewarding and fun day brought the end of the week long residential to a close.’
Feedback from the children included the following: ‘My favourite day was Friday because we went climbing up waterfalls and we did archery, it was so fun’ Hannah.
Finn told us ‘I loved all of the activities but ghyll scrambling was really fun.’
The children gave the hostel their seal of approval too with Philippa telling us ‘Derwentwater Youth Hostel was amazing, with delicious food and wonderful staff who make you feel at home.’
If you would like to read the full account of this residential, please get in touch and we’ll email you a copy.
Masterclass is a unique event, pioneered by Appleby Grammar School. Each winter a group of year 10 Physics students visit Derwentwater for an intensive two-day course in Space Science. Astronomers Dennis Ashton and Andrew Green, both Fellows of the Royal Astronomical Society, are their guides to the universe. The two astronomers first met when Andrew attended Dennis’s classes in Astronomy as a teenager and years later Andrew took over his tutor’s planetarium business.
Dennis Ashton tells us more about this workshop. 'The focal point of the event is live observation of the night sky, using computer-controlled telescopes. With little light pollution, the Derwentwater skies allow the deep space objects to be seen at their best. Jupiter and its moons, star clusters, nebulae and galaxies have been viewed by a succession of young scientists. Of course the weather is a crucial factor but Masterclass has usually been blessed with clear skies.
During the day, we give presentations on key astronomical topics, followed by short student projects. The most popular activity is a session in Andrew’s StarDome Planetarium, where students can enjoy the night sky indoors.
Masterclass is more than a change of classroom. The residential stay includes a social aspect that is as important as the science. Students, staff and astronomers interact in a way that would not happen in the usual school environment. And Derwentwater Youth Hostel, with its great food and excellent facilities, is a wonderful place to stay.'
The hostel staff can see just how much the students enjoy their 'star sessions'. There was a real buzz in the air during their stay as they work with the inspirational astonomers. One of the students summed up the impact of Masterclass ‘I would like to come back again for longer!’ If any other groups are interested in astronomy workshops please get in touch.
Last month we featured the Search and Rescue Dog Association’s annual January assessment weekend. We asked Freda Hill, one of their many volunteers, to tell us about her role as a 'Dogsbody'.
'I can’t think of a better way to spend my spare time than being a Dogsbody with the Search and Rescue Dog Association (SARDA) England.
I visit some beautiful parts of the country, enjoy the company of friends and most importantly, I am able to play a small part in the training of air scenting search dogs.
The handlers work very hard to train their dogs and it’s fantastic to see their progress from a handler with a new puppy to becoming a graded search dog team ready to help with a search. This transformation is brought about by many people including the dogsbodies (pretend casualties).
As a dogsbody I could be doing anything from running about with the puppies, u201cpopping upu201d for dogs who are getting the hang of working an area or hiding on the hillside for long, quiet hours while a handler and dog search one of their assessment areas. (Editor’s note –they train very regularly throughout the year in all weather.) And when we’ve had a day on the hill it’s great to come back to a hostel like Derwentwater where we are so well looked after.
We’ve used Derwentwater as the base for our January assessment course for the last 10 years and the only thing that worries me is whether the dining room ceiling will hold up against the applause and cheers that threaten to raise the roof during the assessment presentation. But Dave and Kathy seem happy to take the risk, thank goodness!' Rest assured Freda, we’re delighted to be the venue for SARDA’S Annual Assessment weekend and although the cheering might seem to be raising the rafters, they are in good order.
To their surprise, Pez suggested taking a photo of Doreen, our departing volunteer, with Katy, our newest volunteer in the TV lounge. All became clear when we saw their picture, strategically positioned under a poster entitled 'Visions of Loveliness'.
We were all particularly sad when it was time for Doreen to return home to Dresden after helping us at the hostel for over 5 months. Doreen has been our longest serving volunteer, happily undertaking a huge range of jobs from painting bedrooms to translating the website; helping with the catering and cleaning and marketing tasks and making memorable gluwine and traditional Stollen. She was a constant ray of sunshine brightening our winter days and always made the most of her free time with plenty of cycling, mountain walking, climbing and bouldering. Right from the start we thought Doreen’s grasp of English was very good – she could make jokes in English from day one and by the end of her stay, having been a regular visitor to Keswick Film Club, she was confidently tackling several Shakespearean films. She certainly made the most of her time in England and we are sure she will achieve her aim of improving her employment prospects in Germany.
We asked Doreen to share some of the highlights of her stay. 'During my stay I had the chance to discover lots of nice, very challenging trails in the Borrowdale Valley. I had my own bike so spotted a lot of lovely places. The landscape is just perfect for cycling! I hadn’t known before I came that the Lakes District is so beautiful and almost made for going by bike. There are great routes for both racing bikes and mountain bikes. There are steep, tortuous uphills with thrilling descents for your ride back down. A combination of all the local passes - for example Honister Pass, and Whinlatter Pass - make a very strenuous day with 20 percent steep climbs. The delicious and rich flapjacks and chocolate oatcakes from the hostel were just perfect during a big ride.
However, my favorite loop was starting at the bottom of Skiddaw along the valley, passing a few waterfalls and cycling up a couple of steep hills under Lonscale Fell. I always had stunning views, enjoyed the challenge of technical sections and usually met a couple of other riders or walkers.'
Danke Doreen und Auf Wiedersehen.
Our newest volunteer, Katy, joined us in January. Her parents chose a particularly apt present for her. Here’s the story of Katy’s map and a link to the OS blog where you can find out more.
'I felt my face rapidly move through a series of different expressions as I opened the neatly wrapped Christmas present from my parents. I stared and gaped and laughed at the picture of me on the cover of an OS Explorer Map. It was me! On an OS Map! Of the Lake District! Oh, and centred on Derwentwater Youth Hostel, where I was about to start volunteering. I love maps, I love the Lake District, I love Derwentwater Youth Hostel, and I love the memory of the inter-hostel walking holiday that the photograph evokes.
I have been at Derwentwater Youth Hostel since New Year and it has become the centre of my life and my movements. I live in the staff flat on the top floor of the hostel and I spend my free time exploring the surrounding area: I have set off from the hostel in every direction and I have not fallen off the edge of the map yet.'
Follow the link below and read about Katy's excursions from the hostel.