A group of teenagers working towards their Duke of Edinburgh awards had a great time learning very new skills on a special course in the Dales recently – and feedback suggests the experience left them ‘buzzing’...

Tim Hof from Inverclyde was one of a group of eight teenagers who spent a week in north Ribblesdale working towards a Duke of Edinburgh gold award.

He’s pictured carrying a clump of bedding (or rush), which he dug in to the side of a new path to make the path blend better in to the surroundings.

He was one of a number of youngsters who tried their hand at conservation activities on the Dales recently as part of their Duke of Edinburgh Award

The Yorkshire Dales Conservation residential – for people aged either 17 or 18 – took place between 19-25 August and was organised by volunteers and staff from the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA).

The teenagers spent four days trying their hand at practical conservation tasks and one day walking in the area.

They also went caving with leaders from the Yorkshire Dales Guides outdoor activity company.

Catering was provided by a team of adult Duke of Edinburgh volunteers who were also assessing a group of ten young people undertaking their expedition for gold Duke of Edinburgh in the same week.

Giggleswick School helped out with group transport during the week.

The four days of practical work saw them involved in real projects to improve the Dales landscape.

On the Monday, they joined a project removing willow and birch scrub from Malham Tarn Moss, which is part of a National Nature Reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest for the National Trust.

On Tuesday, the youngsters tried their hand at dry-stone walling, with experienced YDNPA Dales Volunteers at High Brae, Horton in Ribblesdale, for Natural England.

On tje Wedmesday. they were landscaping a stone-pitched path on the Pennine Way on the upper slopes of Fountains Fell, for the YDNPA.

And their final practical project on the Thursday saw them constructing ‘leaking dams’ across Crook Beck, Otterburn, to reduce silting on the headwaters of the River Aire and so reduce flood risk downstream, for the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust.

Any spare time was spent on John Muir Award record books and preparing for Thursday evening, when expeditioners and those on the residential shared and illustrated their experiences.

Having discovered, explored and done something to conserve part of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, this sharing of their experiences qualified all residential participants for the discovery level of John Muir Award.

After helping tidy and clean the Hornby Laithe bunkhouse, near Stainforth, all the participants set off home on the Friday morning.

The YDNPA’s Education and Events Manager, Catherine Kemp, said: “I spent a fantastic day with the group.

“They worked hard and all said they had chosen this experience because they wanted to make a difference to the natural world and that it was great to be able to work for a different organisation on each day.

“I can’t thank our team of volunteers enough for all their hard work planning and running this amazing week.

“All the young people have gone home in love with the Yorkshire Dales National Park.”

The YDNPA volunteers who helped all week were Rae Lonsdale, Margaret Popham and David Davenport.

One parent said afterwards: ‘“Thank you and all your team for offering this wonderful experience to my daughter and all the other participants.

“She came home buzzing last week from her residential having thoroughly enjoyed all the challenges, comradery and opportunities that she took part in.

“It was great to hear all her stories and to hear that she is still talking to her new friendship group online.

“Thank you all for all your time and enthusiasm that you put into this fabulous opportunity that the young people can attend. Highly recommended!’

Participants said: ‘I thought it was a very entertaining and interesting week, learning about the Dales and the effort needed to conserve the park.’

‘Working towards a John Muir Award was good and it added more purpose and a greater sense of achievement to the week’