Thursday, 9 March 2017

Group Leading and walking in the Yorkshire Dales!


 Last weekend (the 3rd-5th of March), In-Situ team members Charlotte and Ellie were invited to a training residential packed full of walking, leading and map-reading across various terrain in the beautiful countryside of the Yorkshire Dales. We, along with 13 others, were kindly hosted in the converted bunk barn ‘Broadrake’ which is located at the foot of Whernside in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales 3 Peaks District. 

This rural spot is not one which is easily found, and sat nav’s should be thrown out of the car window when it comes to finding Broadrake, as myself and Ellie realised upon being sent completely the wrong way, down rock-infused narrow and pot-hole pathways unfit for cars. When we arrived, we were greeted by the ever-so-friendly and enthusiastic Judy Rogers and Gail Smith, whom are part of the out-reach team at Yorkshire Dales. They made us feel very at home.  An evening meal was shortly provided; where all the invitees sat together at the dinner table and tucked into a delicious home-made vegetarian chilli concoction. The invitees were mainly devised of a variety of different community group leaders interested in engaging with nature and the environment.  

Following, we did introductions and then an ice-breaker ‘get to know you’ session where we played Bingo, with a twist; instead of numbers you had to find a set list of information such as ‘find someone who has lived abroad’- the only rule, you couldn’t have the same person’s name down more than once- the person to find all the information first won bingo.  After, we got on to improving our map reading skills. We where handed an OS (ordinance survey) map of the Yorkshire Dales; and expectations ran high once it was exposed I am a geographer. We were split into three groups and given the task to find several localities within two and three digit co-ordinates, with the last task to find Broaddrake with no co-ordinates or hints! This activity was a lot of fun and worked really well as a team building exercise. 

The next day, we awoke bright and early and geared up ready to embrace any weather thrown our way.  After breakfast and lots of tea, we made our packed lunches and set off in two groups to explore the Ribblehead Viaduct. 

We took turns in leading the group thinking about potential risks and threats and finding a destination as well as interesting landscape features through map reading. I was in Judy’s group. Judy shared interesting in-depth knowledge and history of the lives of those who built the Viaduct. We then went to visit the Chapel, where Chapel le Dale gets its name, to witness the memorialisation of the lives of those who worked on the Viaduct. Unexpectedly, there was no rain all day, which meant we got to enjoy our picnic outdoors in the sunshine and could spend the day walking. In the afternoon, we explored the open access and the pathways of Carnforth, and its distinctive sinkholes, streams and caves.  


In the evening, we dinned and enjoyed another tasty vegetarian meal; Quorn korma with chickpeas and a well-deserved home-made warming berry crumble.  We learned several activities we could do with groups, which would require barely any equipment. The first was balancing a stack of 2 pence coins between your knees, walking across the room with the coins in place, before releasing the coins from your knee grip into a cup. The second was picking a cereal box up off the ground without your hands- after each round the cereal box was cut to a smaller size. It was enjoyable to watch participants lose their balance and their place in the game. The third was a game called ‘Mafia’ which involved working together as a community in order to find out who the ‘Mafia’ were; this was my particular favourite.  We were also given a presentation of Broadrake’s redevelopment and their tree-planting scheme in the back garden. 

On Sunday, fears over rain took precedence, which meant we were out first thing in the morning. We walked from Broadrake to Ingleton which involved scattering over enormous eroded limestone pavements and climbing down steep cliffs to reach our destination.  
We learned about local fauna and flora and further developed our leadership abilities.  Once we arrived, we were grateful for Judy’s 4 by 4 to drive us back to Broadrake. Here we spent the afternoon willow weaving fences and boundaries, making wreaths and eating lots of cake! To end our action-packed weekend we discussed health and safety and risk assessments, and then we were given certificates for our completion of the course and thank-yous were exchanged. Ellie and I had an amazing weekend and developed our skills, which will hopefully enable others to enjoy the landscape too; the question now is when can we go back!?