MORE than 75 children from across the region left their classrooms behind to learn about farming and rural skills through the centuries in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales.

Youngsters from Austwick, Giggleswick, Bentham and Horton in Ribblesdale primary schools learnt about the different types of food that have been grown and eaten in the Dales through the ages, before trying their hand at milking a model cow, making butter and grinding oats.

The event, which was held at Broadrake in Chapel le Dale, also included a range of activities exploring the richness of the area in terms of its landscape, farming and heritage, including spinning wool and a pottery workshop led by Settle-based ceramicist Rachel Whitfield.

Rachel encouraged the children to explore the character of the area by designing and making their own individual plaques using materials from nearby Dry Rigg quarry.

It is hoped that some of the plaques will be incorporated into new interpretation panels and trail markers in the local area.

The whole range of activities proved to be a big hit with the children, who struggled to pick out just one highlight.

Jo Pedley, Teaching Assistant at Austwick primary school, said: "The children have loved it all. They really benefit from learning through hands-on activities and new experiences."

This event was part of the Schools Out project led by Clapham-based charity Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT), which aims to deliver curriculum-linked outdoor activity and engagement days for primary schools within the Ingleborough area and in urban areas of West Yorkshire and Lancashire.

Anthea Hanson, Schools Out Project Officer at YDMT, said: "I am delighted to see local schools taking advantage of this fantastic opportunity.

"I think it’s really important for children to get out of the classroom and engage with their local area, particularly here in the Yorkshire Dales where farming plays such a key role in shaping the landscape."

Schools Out is supported by a £6,500 donation from the David Brooke Charity, which was established by the late David Brooke, grandson of Arthur Brooke who started Brooke Bond Tea, with the aim of supporting disadvantaged children and young adults.

David Brooke’s son Nigel, who now runs the charity, said: "The David Brooke Charity was delighted to continue supporting Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust by funding the Schools Out project.

"It is important that in this age of computers and electronic games children are able to get out in the magnificent Yorkshire Dales countryside to learn about farming and rural skills."

This work is part of Stories in Stone, a four-year programme of community and heritage projects developed by the Ingleborough Dales Landscape Partnership, which is led by YDMT.

Stories in Stone is mainly funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Thanks to National Lottery players, the programme will enable people from all backgrounds and of all ages to learn about, enjoy and help manage the stunning limestone landscape around Ingleborough, both above and below ground.

The programme will deliver 27 projects, some of which have several sub-projects, making a total of around 90 individual projects.

This includes restoring field barns and wildlife habitats, involving people in archaeological digs, digitising archives, providing a range of training opportunities, offering new learning opportunities for local school children, improving physical and intellectual access, and delivering events and activities.


Picture captions:

1. Pupils from Austwick and Horton-in-Ribblesdale primary schools at the Schools Out event at Broadrake, near Ribblehead Viaduct

2. Horton in Ribblesdale primary school pupils making pottery plaques

3. Pupils from Giggleswick primary school grinding oats with YDMT’s Project Officer Jo Boulter