Nearly 500 children visited Swaledale for an outdoor lesson on the moors of the Yorkshire Dales.
The children had the chance to find a missing person with Swaledale Mountain Rescue, watch a gundog demonstration, and meet some ferrets as part of Let’s Learn Moor 2023 on moorland near Grinton.
The children met people and organisations who work on the moors, learning lessons such as the importance of sphagnum moss; the dangers of wildfires and how to prevent them; river ecology and rural crime and the countryside code.
The children visited nine separate stands where they spoke to moorland gamekeepers, the Swaledale Bird Ringers, hill farmers, and a gundog trainer.
They also had a chance to taste some game.
Almost 12,000 children have now attended Let’s Learn Moor events since the project was launched in 2017 – and more than 2,000 of them attended events across the north of England this week alone.
The events are coordinated by Countryside Learning, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) and the Regional Moorland Groups and involve more than 50 partner organisations.
The Yorkshire Dales event was organised by the Yorkshire Dales Moorland Group https://www.facebook.com/yorkshiredalesmoorlandgroup
Darren Chadwick from the Yorkshire Dales Moorland Group said: “Coordinating Let’s Learn Moor with the moorland group team is a real privilege for me. When a child comes up to you at the end of the day telling you they’ve had their best day of their life – followed by a high five – it truly is an emotional moment.
“Seeing so many kids engaging with our brilliant partners, learning about carbon, food chains, wildlife and farming is the most rewarding feeling. These children take so much away with them and they will probably never forget their day at Let’s Learn Moor. It’s such a positive experience for everyone involved.”
BASC’s Gareth Dockerty said: “Gamekeepers and partner organisations have now hosted thousands of children for Let’s Learn Moor events. It was great to welcome some new schools from further afield this year and to see the pupils’ excitement as many of them had never visited these beautiful landscapes before.”
Richard Baker from Merlin Gundogs said: “When I was offered the opportunity to get involved with Let’s Learn Moor I jumped at the chance. Children love dogs and this project is a brilliant way to teach them about being responsible dog owners.
“It’s more than that of course. It’s about showing them how rewarding canine and human relationship can be. Kids need to learn about things like this, especially as they get older and visit the moors with their pets or with working dogs.
“Let’s Learn Moor is also about fun too. The children love it if one of the cockers is mischievous: it’s all part of the entertainment of the day, and we have a lot of laughs.”
Emily Cowper-Coles, an outdoor educator and hill shepherd from Emily’s Mobile Farm School, said: “Let’s Learn Moor is a fun, engaging, interactive experience for children that enhances the school curriculum. Learning outdoors gives children vital life skills and the chance to release anxieties that may be present indoors.”
“Planting seeds in young peoples’ heads about how vital nature is to the wellbeing of ourselves and Planet Earth could empower them in the future to help tackle climate change.”
A local teacher whose pupils attended said: “This event is such a magical experience for the children. Seeing and hearing about rural ways from those involved with countryside jobs is not something you can replicate in a classroom session.”
Another added: “Today’s experience was great for the kids. The demonstrations give them an insight into rural career paths and give them a taste of working outdoors. It’s unique.”
Part-funded by BASC legacy funding, the events were free to all schools involved, ensuring that there were no financial barriers to participation.
During the day a cheque for £380 was handed over to Swaledale Mountain Rescue as gratitude for the hard work they do across the Dales.
The money came from curlew and moorland bird safaris run by the Yorkshire Dales Moorland Group in the spring.