Derwent Hill 2017


A Short Note from Miss Nicholson:

This week has been one of the most fabulous weeks I have ever had at Derwent Hill. The children have been an absolute delight to have here. There have been no fallings out no squabbles or disagreements. The support and encouragement I have witnessed first hand that each and everyone of our children has given to each other has been utterly phenomenal. I am extremely proud of each and everyone of you because what you have achieved this week has been amazing. I have watched each and everyone of you grow in confidence, independence which displaying a superb attitude. The determination on your faces to succeed even when you have found it physically and mentally challenging as been unreal. Thank you to you all for being such tremendous children, I am very fortunate to have the pleasure of teaching you and bringing you to Derwent Hill each year. I need to say a massive thank you to Mrs Brabban, Mr Foster and Mr Millett for coming with me and giving up their own time to come here as without them this residential visit would not be possible. A final thank you goes to everyone of the Derwent Hill Staff – they are just brilliant!

I am signing off now and hope you all have a lovely weekend hearing about all those fantastic achievements. Just so you know we have told them put their clothes in the drying room and pack their clothes neatly but I have been told by some that they have just thrown them in the cases  so I am apologising in advance!

Day 5

It was a cold and dark morning when Miss Nicholson woke us up at 7:20am – 10 minutes earlier because we needed to finish our packing and strip our beds! A sad start to the day as our week of adventure was nearly over but we still had this morning to go so we all leapt out of bed and rushed to get ready. Lots of hustle and bustle occurred on the landing and we tried to work out which bag was for which item of bed clothing.

The large old school bell was rung by Grace this morning and alerted us to the fact breakfast was ready, so we carefully came down the stairs and entered the dining room. Some of us took a little longer to arrive this morning. It was the usual full English this morning as well as cereal and porridge. We all looked somewhat tired as we slowly ate breakfast and were reminded not to use our fork as a lolly pop stick as we ate our food. Instructions were given to collect clothes from the drying room and then pack them away before Derwent Hill Staff arrive in our Dorms.

The morning meeting was held, and various items of clothing were held up with children denying they were theirs despite having their names written in! It was time for group meetings for one last time.

Group 1 in their normal place, the comfy chairs where told they were taking their kit back to the stores and washing it before being harnessed up and going on the big swing.

In group 2 they could get straight on with activities as they had returned most of their kit yesterday after washing it in the Gorge. The aim of the morning was to develop map reading skills, so it was a morning of orienteering around the house and the grounds finding different points.

Finally, group 3 were sorting their kit and returning it before orienteering to develop those map skills. We ran around the groups carefully to warm up as although the sun was out it was very cold. As we looked across to Skiddaw a dusting of snow could be seen on the tops. It is the first time this week that we have seen the top of Skiddaw and sadly our last!

Lunch was served at 12.30pm and we were all feeling a mixture of emotions – excited because we want to get home and see our families and sadness because we have had such an amazing week. After lunch, it was time for one final meeting to say goodbye and thank you before the short walk down the hill with our cases to the bus!

We have learnt so many things and made so many achievements as well as memories that will last us a lifetime. The instructors have been tremendous and supported us so well to make sure that we have achieved something new every day. The staff at Derwent Hill have cared for us so well and we never forget this week so thank you very much.

Day 4

On day four in the Derwent Hill house it was much harder to get up as we are all getting tired plus the wind was howling outside. Sleepy children, got out of bed with some asking for a few more minutes – no can do we had to be down for breakfast for 8am. Once all assembled, the old brass school bell, was rung and it was into the dining room to set the table. Cereal or porridge was offered followed by another full English, with a pot of tea and apple juice.

At around 8:45am, after a second helping of a full English it was time to collect our belongings from the drying room (some kind soul even collected Miss Nicholson’s hat and gloves and left them outside her room) before tidying our bedrooms. Scores on the doors today, in both the bedrooms and cloakrooms were much improved. In the common room, we all gathered for our morning meeting and Mr Wright arrived just in time. No one was out all day and we would all be able to have lunch together to catch up with friends.

Mrs Brabban, spent the day with Group 1 and met in the lounge to find out about the exciting activities in store. Today, was a day of challenge, we needed to wrap up warm with two pairs of trousers on, two jumpers and our tomato suits. We went off to the stores to collect a harness and a helmet to protect our heads – it was time to challenge ourselves by climbing the high challenge. James and Zak explained the safety aspects of the high challenge and then set up the activity. We waited in anticipation and there was a buzz of excitement as well as anxiety as to how we were going to climb up to the top. Some said that they couldn’t do it, but we worked as a team and supported each other. Callum D was an amazing support, he climbed up to the top like a monkey and then moved across to the other side to support one of his team mates. It was then over to the trapeze where we all were coaxed into climbing to the top and leaping across to the bar. Some even managed a one armed pull up. It was then back to the stores to hang up our helmets and return our safety harnesses and have some much-awaited lunch.

After lunch, we got wrapped up again and completed some orienteering around the grounds of Derwent Hill. It was fantastic to have the freedom to explore the grounds again and search for some objects that were hidden away. Once, we had completed this, we were then taught some bush craft skills and learnt to light a campfire. We made some bread and toasted this on our fire then spread honey and jam on top. All tired and exhausted it was time to say goodnight to James and Zak as the day’s activities had come to an end.

It was Mr Foster’s turn to spend the day with Group 2. They met in the common room after the morning meeting and were told about their days activities. It was an adventure down the mine which is situated in the Newlands Valley. The poor farmer, at Low Snab Farm, had to endure us walking through his farmland. The hustle of excitement, was at fever pitch as we climbed up the short hill to the entrance of the mine. Sue told us about the history of the mine and what we would find inside. The mine was wet and cold and some of us were a little scared when we switched our lights out and it was pitch black but never the less we supported each other and got out in the daylight. We ambled back to the mini-bus and headed to Derwent Hill for lunch.

Once, we were thawed out and fed we collected some more warm clothes and put on our waterproofs. It was time for a spot of gorge walking. Mr Wright and Miss Nicholson joined the group and we all headed off to Whinlatter Forest which is England’s only true mountain rainforest. After, a short walk from the mini-bus we arrived at the Gorge. A quick safety talk and we were off climbing the waterfalls and getting wet – such fun! The team work shone a mile off as we helped and supported each other up the Gorge. First, we climbed through the tunnel and then slid back down it into a plunge pool – it was freezing but exhilarating! Quickly, we reached another tunnel, Sue and Mr Foster helped us climb up and we climbed through the tunnel to the other side to Miss Nicholson and Mr Wright. We were all getting cold now and wanted to return to Derwent Hill. Walking back to the bus was harder than climbing the Gorge! It started to snow as we headed back but unfortunately it wasn’t lying on the ground.

Mr Millett had the pleasure of Group 3 today and the chance to swing from the trees again. Today, was the day that Group 3 got to do the big swing. Chris carefully talked us through the swing and what we needed to do. We even pretended to jump from the edge when we were in the pool room. All wrapped up, we headed to the stores to collect our kit for the morning. Chris, set the swing up and first up was Thomas B. He set a president for the rest of the group and every single one of the group achieved and leapt off from the top – excellent effort! We also had a go on the low ropes course where we faced even more challenges. It was freezing standing around so at around 12:30pm we packed up and headed back inside to warm up and have some lunch.

At around 1.30pm it was time to reconvene and water proof up as it was time to head to the Newlands Valley and visit the mine. The wind was blustery, and we battled the elements through the farm and up the side of the hill. We picked up some rocks on the way and Chris explained the history of the mine and what it was used for. It opened in 1564 and closed in 1920. The walk inside was cold and wet. Some of us kept bumping our heads off the top and we even had nose bleed, but all was fine and we walked together because some were a little frightened of the dark. We all decided we wouldn’t like a job down the mine. It was far to dark and wet. We collected some rocks on our way out and headed back to the mini bus passed Newlands Church. After a short journey through the Newlands Valley we were back at Derwent Hill.

All had free time until 5.30pm when the bell was rung, and we were treated to a Christmas Dinner with a cracker. Dinner took slightly longer this evening, but we were all suitably full. Instructions were given to pack and have a shower to freshen ourselves up ready for ‘movie night’. We returned to the lounge at 7:15pm in our PJs ready for the film and a hot chocolate.

Lights out by 9:15pm, all suitably exhausted but very proud of our fantastic achievements today!

Day 3

The morning began with a wake-up call at 7.30pm and reports of someone playing ‘nicky knocky nine doors’ last night. The culprits soon owned up when we said we had video footage of them! Breakfast was served at 8am with a choice of cereals followed by yet another full English breakfast we were all set for an action-packed day! Derwent Hill staff checked the dormitories, and all were spotless this morning however the cloakrooms were a mess with wellington boots and waterproofs all over. Let’s hope tomorrow we can get 10s for both our dorms and our cloakrooms.

A buzz of excitement hummed around the common room as we waited in anticipation as to what the day ahead held for us. A poor weather forecast with a storm expected at lunchtime was certain for all.

Group one met in the lounge James and Zak the trainee to find out what kit they needed for the day. Today was going to be a day of canoeing this morning and gorge walking in the afternoon – so wellington boots were certainly in demand. Mr Foster, enjoyed the journey in a rafted canoe and an upper body work out was certainly the order of the morning with the hash browns and bacon being burnt off. The wind, glided the group across, Derwent Water, to an island in the middle of the lake. James, got a sail out for us to help the wind take us. From the island, we then canoed across to Nickel End Marina, where we had an array of sugary treats and a hot chocolate before heading back in the canoe to Derwent Water Marina. It was a slow walk back to the house, as we were all quite tired at this point. Once back at the house we warmed up and had a choice of sandwiches, crisps, fruit and a traybake to munch on before we headed up the gorge. Much fun, was had as we headed up the Honistor Gorge but the rain began to fall and we had to cut our trek up the Gorge short. We were all suitably wet from sliding down waterfalls and plunging in pools. Soggy and wellingtons full of water, we lumbered back to the minibus. James, decided to take us back to Derwent Water, where we could jump into the freezing cold water.

Sue assembled group two at the back of the common room to explain the plan for the day,, which was to go and explore Gowbarrow Fell along with Mrs Brabban. A 25-minute minibus journey through the valley towards Lake Ullswater would take us to the foot of the mountain. We needed to wrap up warm, as the rain would fall around lunchtime, so extra jumpers were packed in our day bags along with plenty of sandwiches, fruit, juice, crisps and a sweet treat. We began the climb up and some of us found this particularly challenging but we worked as team and encouraged each other along the way to make sure we all achieved and got to the top of Gowbarrow Fell to see the stunning views of Ullswater. This was just before the rain began to pour and we made our way back down the fell. Some of us had a little extra help, as the wind was getting up and it helped us on our way. We arrived back at the house just in time for tea!

A loud bellow was heard at the end of the morning meeting and group 3 were told to convene in the pool room with a chair. The excitement was at fever pitch, as we waited to hear what Chris and Alex had instore for us today. A long t-shirt was needed, two thick jumpers, an extra jumper for our day bag, waterproofs needed to be on and wellington boots. Also, we needed to pack a packed lunch and have a huge drink before we left and then refill our water bottle – it was mountain day for us. Chris, also said we could take some money as we could go to a café after our walk. We were off to climb Barf but would start our climb in Whinlatter Forest and meander around the hill side before climbing too the top. This would give us extra shelter from the storm that was expected. A short minibus journey through Braithwaite saw us arrive around 10.30am. We set off from the car park after Chris has given us all maps of the forest and explained the route we were taking. It was our responsibility to make sure we were going the correct way and using the map correctly. Miss Nicholson was in her element reading the map and looking at the symbols and explaining what the contours of the map meant. As we walked through the forest, we saw a wooden owl sitting by the side of the path – instantly the children recognised as the owl from the Gruffalo – why didn’t you know? Further up the path, we saw the snake from the story again carved from wood. It was intriguing to talk about how it had been made. As we stood, in awe of how tall the trees were and how huge the forest was we noticed something running on the dense forest floor – it was a rare red squirrel. Quietly, we walked passed it, as we didn’t want to scare it and continued on our journey towards Barf! Just before, we came to the edge of the forest, we stopped and sheltered in the trees as the wind was beginning to increase to have some of our lunch and a hot chocolate. Then, we climbed over the style and the top of Barf was insight. It was windy, and the rain had begun as well as the challenge. With lots of support and encouragement from all of group three, we made it to the top. We couldn’t see much as the rain was pouring and the wind was blowing – Skiddaw was no where to be seen or Keswick Town. We didn’t wait around, and Chris led us back down to the Forest – we all breathed a sigh of relief when we saw the sty again. The weather meant we couldn’t take the planned route back and how to go back the way we came. By the time, we reached the Whinlatter Forest Visitors Centre we were very wet and in need of a hot chocolate and a sugary treat however someone did have a solero ice lolly!

Everyone was back to the house by 5pm, where we had some free time before tea. Tea tonight was a variety of burgers, chips and salad followed by an ice cream sundae. The evening activity was supposed to be outside but it had to be modified so that we could have it indoors. Lots of team work skills again tonight with another challenge a bit like the gameshow the cube!

We are all suitably exhausted and looking forward to an early night – lights out and knocking the zzzzz out hopefully by 9pm!

Day 2

A half past 7 wake up call was given, with all dormitories having to be woken up after a sound nights sleep. A hearty breakfast was served, which consisted of sausage, bacon, scrambled egg, beans, hash brown and toast prior to this, we had a choice of cereal. Thomas N, was so pleased he finally got a longed for cup of tea! After breakfast, it was time to, tidy the cloakrooms, collect belongings from the drying room and tidy our dorms. Unfortunately, the year 5 girls dormitory, Blencathra, was the lowest scoring dorm today. Derwent Hill staff ushered the children to the common room where a morning meeting was held and the children were given instructions for the days activities.

Group 1’s instructions were to layer up, collect a packed lunch and then go to the cloakroom to put their waterproofs on and walking boots – today was Mountain day. We took the minibus to just outside of Littletown and stood with a mixture of excitement and anxiety as we looked up towards Causey Pike. Miss Nicholson, led the group to the foot of the mountain and then the instructor James took over. The climb was steep and rocky. We stopped several times, to fuel up and also to catch our breath as well as to rest our tired legs. We were climbing towards the clouds – it was a little wet but this didn’t dampen the mood and the team worked together to help each other and give one another encouragement. It was a little before 12.30pm – we had been walking for 2 and half hours when we began to reach the summit of the mountain – a little scrambling was needed to get to top but well worth it because the view across the valley towards Derwent Water were utterly breath taking as fortunately the cloud had began to lift. The descent began and we arrived back to the Mini Bus around 1.45pm. Back at the house we had time to complete some indoor orienteering before activities finished at 4.30pm and free time was earned.

Group 2 today spent the morning on Derwent Water with Mr Millet and Sue the instructor. Canoes were rafted together and we began to explore the vast water of Derwent Water. From the water, we were able to see the beautiful house were Beatrix Potter wrote the stories of Peter Rabbit. Teamwork got us to 1 tree island, where we had a game of hide and seek. A few more games were played on the lake and we even ducked our faces in the cold water – at least they have been washed today! We then canoed to the café at Nickel End Marina and had a hot chocolate and maybe a sweet treat before we boarded the canoes again to go back to Derwent Marina so we could see Group 3 and have lunch. After fuelling up on sandwiches, crisps, fruit and a piece of cake it was time to wrap up warm as it was our big swing challenge. The majority of the group, swung from the tree and even got a second go because they were so quick however some of us only got to ladder but at least we tried and had a go. Great team work was shown again and encouragement was given by all the children.

Mrs Brabban had the pleasure of working with Group 3 today along with their instructor Chris. They also went canoeing in the morning and worked together to ensure they could get across Derwent Water swifty as it was cold. Once on an island in the middle of the water we disembarked and played some games to loosen up our muscles as they were a bit stiff. On the way back to Derwent Marina we played a ball game and really worked together as a team to try and catch the ball. As we arrived back, at the marina, we unrafted the canoes and then made the short walk back to have lunch at the house. Just after 1.30pm, we met with Chris again and it was time to layer up as it was time to climb Honister Gorge. Water proofs and wellington boots were needed. We climbed waterfalls, scrambled over rocks, slid down waterfalls and crawled through tunnels to say we were soaked  when we returned to the mini bus 2 hours later was an understatement. There was lots of smiles and laughter – all the children loved it!  The team work shone through again and everyone supported each other up and down the gorge.

Once everyone was back, it was shower time to warm up and free time until dinner at 5.30pm – a choice of pasta or jacket potato with bolognaise sauce, carbornara sauce, vegetable curry or tuna and cheese. This was polished off with a choc ice. This evening we have been grouped smaller to complete the team challenge. We have worked together and had lots of fun making up songs, dressing in as many clothes as we can find and making paper hats. Supper tonight is juice or hot chocolate with biscuits or fruit before bed at 9pm. We are all suitably tired so we are expecting to have lights out and be sound by 9.30pm so we are fully energised for another day of adventure and fun!

Day 1

A smooth two hour journey across to the Lake District with a little fog as we came across the Pennines saw us arrive safely at 11.30am. We all helped each other with our luggage up the hill although we did have four escapee’s who thought Derwent Hill was the 4 star hotel next door! We were met at the top of the hill by James our course director who ushered us into the common room for introductions and instructions. Swiftly, we were shown to our rooms for the next four night and given instructions to make our own beds and unpack our suitcases into the trunks under our beds – what a task this was!

The fire alarm went off so it was downstairs into the nipping cold air into our dormitory groups to be counted before we were taken to the dining room for lunch. A choice of sandwiches or just plain bread was given with crisps, sticky toffee banana bread and fruit was our feast for lunch. After lunch it was time for our groups and to meet our instructors for the week as well as get kitted out with our beautiful tomato suits, wellington boots and walking boots. All three groups went out exploring the beautiful surroundings and stretched our legs. Group 1 went exploring to Castle Crag then onto to Castlerigg while both group 2 and 3 took two minibuses half way up Lattrigg to look at the stunning scenery in the Borrowdale Valley. It is remarkable to think that two years ago today the valley was under water and Bassenthwaite Lake and Derwent Water were joined together with a massive rescue operation underway!

All groups arrived back at Derwent Hill for around 4pm where they enjoyed an hour and a bit of free time with their friends in the common room before dining on Pizza, Breaded Cod Fillet or Mince and Dumplings with sides of chips, broccoli, coleslaw, tomato and salad leaves. This was polished off quickly with some children going back for second portions. Dinner was rounded off with a good old retro dessert – the artic roll before heading off on a night walk through the forest and passed Mr McGregor’s garden. Some children were quiet enough to hear an owl in the forest.

Tired children arrived back at the house at around 8pm where they got there pyjamas on and came back downstairs to have hot chocolate, biscuits and fruit before bed and lights out by 9.15pm. All children were sound asleep and dreaming of the adventures tomorrow will bring by 9.45pm – a good day was had by all!