September 2015

Welcome to the September newsletter
September has seen a fantastic mix of school groups and adventurous activities, from kayaking and shelter-building, to fell running and paramotoring. Read more...

September has been a really beautiful month at the hostel, with lots of sunshine and blackberries. Our guests and staff have been out and about doing all sorts of activities, the most varied of which all happened over one weekend, and now here are the answers to the crossword clues from last month so that you can have a break from puzzling and get out too!

1. Underwater

2. Scramble

3. Tall order

Well done to Frances Wilson for being the first person to send us the correct answers.

Cheerio from all of us here at Derwentwater.

Arrochar Mountain Rescue Team training weekend
The Arrochar Mountain Rescue Team came down from Scotland to stay with us at the beginning of September. They had some great walking and climbing sessions. Read more...

We are familiar with the sights and sounds of our local mountain rescue team Keswick MRT, but on the first weekend of September we were joined by the Arrochar MRT from Scotland, with 11 team members testing their skills across mixed terrain. The Arrochar team covers the Strathclyde region of Scotland, including the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, and they have about 30 members (all volunteers) in total. 

The team did lots of climbing and walking during their stay with us, and this is just one of the great photos that they took. If you want to read more about the Arrochar MRT then you can go to their website:

We are familiar with the sights and sounds of our local mountain rescue team Keswick MRT, but on the first weekend of September we were joined by the Arrochar MRT from Scotland, with 11 team members testing their skills across mixed terrain. The Arrochar team covers the Strathclyde region of Scotland, including the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, and they have about 30 members (all volunteers) in total. 

The team did lots of climbing and walking during their stay with us, and this is just one of the great photos that they took. If you want to read more about the Arrochar MRT then you can go to their website:

Water management, extreme weather, and tales of adventure with Oughterside Foundation School.
We were delighted to welcome back Class 2 from Oughterside, for another 360 Education + Adventure residential, delivered by Plattyplus and DIH Education Officer Katy Moore. Read more...

On 18th September 18 pupils from Class 2 (Years 3 – 6) of Oughterside Foundation School (Aspatria, Cumbria) came to stay with us for a one night 360u00b0 Education + Adventure residential, focusing on water management and extreme weather. It was lovely to see some familiar faces from last year, as well as the new Year 3 pupils. 

The pupils were full of enthusiasm, and we set off for the first activity (canoeing on Derwent Water with Plattyplus) in beautiful sunshine, talking about water and tales of adventure along the way. Class 2 are reading Kensuke’s Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo, and so we compared our preparations and activities with those in the book. It so happened that, at the same time, the Fleetwood Nautical and Maritime students were staying with us, doing activities with Plattyplus as well, and so we talked about different kinds of voyages, journeys, and training for adventure.

In Kensuke’s Kingdom Michael and his family keep a log book of their sailing adventures, and the Oughterside pupils used the same template (beautifully illustrated in the book by Michael Foreman) for their own log of the residential, including observational sketches and rough maps.

It poured with rain in the night-time but the following morning was bright and sunny, with fantastic visibility. This was an ideal time to go and look at Barrow Cascade, the waterfall which tumbles through our grounds, and so we went over the stone bridge to the hydro-electric plant shed, where we talked about water and extreme weather. We could see evidence of the damage that a tornado did to the woodland in January 2012, and we discussed the effects of drought during the years that Barrow House was dependent on the beck for its water supply and electricity.

So where does our drinking water come from now? For Keswick and Borrowdale, mains water comes from Thirlmere Reservoir, our destination for Day 2. The pupils looked at Ordnance Survey maps of Thirlmere, and they also found St John’s Beck, which flows out of Thirlmere, down St John’s in the Vale, and through the grounds of Low Bridge End Farm. Then they found the footpaths for our walking route to Low Bridge End Farm.

After a refreshing drink of water, we drove to Thirlmere Dam and walked along the lakeshore path, until a good view of the dam appeared behind us. We talked about the construction of the dam and the reservoir, and the proposal to build a new pipeline to West Cumbria. Then each pupil took a water droplet ‘Fact and Feeling’ card and we shared some facts about Thirlmere and extreme weather in Cumbria. The pupils also tried to think of feelings that might be connected with each fact: for instance, during the construction of the dam, there were about 1000 extra people living in the Thirlmere area and the Manchester Corporation built an encampment of 15 huts for the workers and their families. There were about 33 people in each hut, with very basic facilities. The construction of the dam took 4 years, from 1890 to 1894: lots of feelings to think about during that time!

We then walked from Legburthwaite to Low Bridge End Farm, along a pretty footpath which runs along the west side of St John’s in the Vale. Low Bridge End Farm is part of the Higher Level Stewardship Scheme, providing free group visits, and it has lots of different resources for a wide range of topics. Two of the family farmers, Will and Jamie Chaplin-Brice, were brilliant at tailoring the tour for Oughterside: they showed us some pictures of the farm during the 2009 floods (there is a bridge at the farm which was badly affected by the floods, and which indicates the height that the water reached), and talked about other effects of extreme weather, such as the mini avalanches which come down the steep valley sides of St John’s in the Vale. We also discussed the effect of drought on a busy farm that depends on local springs for its water supply: one of the ways to use less water is to have a compost toilet, and all of the pupils used this with great interest!

We did not have time to do the full woodland trail, but Will and Jamie gave us a good introduction to woodland management, and we had a really interesting tour through some of the different trees and viewpoints. We could have spent ages in the woods, particularly when we came across a big den that some university ‘bush craft’ students had made, but we learnt a lot in a short space of time. It was also very interesting to compare Low Bridge End Farm (an upland sheep and mixed stock farm, with diversification such as accommodation and teas) with the farm that one of the pupils lives on (a lowland arable farm).

Thank you to everyone, and the sunshine (!), for a great two days. Oh, and one of the pupils spotted a beautiful frog near Thirlmere Dam: it even stayed still for a photograph! Some comments from Oughterside:

'We've had fantastic fun in one of the most magnificent outdoor classrooms you'd find anywhere - The Lake District!'
'Great memories for the staff as well as the kids!'

An action-packed weekend!
In the middle of September we had a really entertaining weekend, with so many guests doing different activities and sharing their own tales of adventure. Read more...

On a sunny weekend in the middle of September the hostel was a wonderful hub of preparation and recovery from all sorts of activities. People were coming and going in lots of different types of clothing, equipment, and states of excitement and exhaustion!

A group from York Triathlon Club were doing lots of swimming, cycling, and running, and some of them took part in the High Terrain Buttermere Triathlon and Open Water Swim events, as well as the local Keswick Parkrun.

Then there were some people who decided on a whim to do the Scafell Pike fell race, and then the Borrowdale Show Dale Head fell race, and somewhere in the comings and goings some fell shoes appeared in the drying room that had supported a fair section of the Bob Graham Round. Oh, and three brave people completed the 73-mile Cumbria Way Ultra Run, arriving back to the hostel at about 6 on Sunday morning (having started the race at 6am on Saturday morning...).

Then a new sight appeared in the hostel grounds: a wind sock and a large motorised rucksack, which turned into a graceful paramotor, lifting Michael Beadle high above Derwent Water. Luckily Michael landed safely back on our grass, but some people on the double decker bus might have got a shock! Michael and his friend Ian also did the 5km Buttermere Swim and a good mountain walk: a triathlon of air, land, and water! 

Add to that lots of walkers, some beautifully attired wedding guests, and a clip-clopping cleated cyclist doing Lands End to John O' Groats, and you have fair idea of the spectacle passing through reception all weekend. It was also good to see ex-staff member Tim Roberts on his Coast to Coast (and back) cycle. We just looked on at everyone in admiration and kept topping up the mini-croissants!

West Lakes Academy round-the-lake challenges
Thanks to a generous grant from the Hadfield Trust, and support from the school, all 230 of the West Lakes Academy Year 7 pupils were able to come to the hostel for a one-night residential. They did lots of fun team-building and nature-based challenges on their walk around Derwent Water. Read more...

Towards the end of September we welcomed all of the West Lakes Year 7 pupils to Derwentwater - all 230 of them (but not everyone at once)! This residential was generously subsidised by the Hadfield Trust and, with extra support from the school, the trip was completely free of charge for every one of the pupils.

West Lakes Academy is in Egremont (Cumbria) and the purpose of the residential was to help the new Year 7 students 'get to know each other and explore a beautiful location'. During their one-night stay, each form group walked around Derwent Water, completing team-building and nature-based challenges along the way. These included the following: making dens and sculptures from natural materials, drawing maps and writing survival tips for the next group to follow, asking other people where they have come from, discussing how to act in a responsible manner towards the environment, and creating an all-important team name and marching chant.

In the evening they reported back on their tasks, and did some more team activities. The following day they returned to school to do follow-up work connected to the Derwent Water challenges.

Ms Brown, Head of Year 7, commented, ‘The Derwentwater trip was a huge success!  We were (mostly!) lucky with the weather and enjoyed the beautiful Lake District views.  We took a trip on the ferry across the lake, built dens in the woods, and created our own marching chants.  We hold the trip this early on in the school year because we believe it is really important for our new students to have the chance to bond away from the classroom, and to make new friends from other tutor groups.’

There is a report and more photos on their website:

Cumbernauld Athletics Club training (and pirate party) weekend
Around 70 young athletes from Cumbernauld Athletics Club came to us for a fun weekend of running, team building games, and fancy dress. Read more...

At the end of September a very colourful extension was added to the hostel: a huge bouncy castle! This was just one of the exciting things that Cumbernauld Athletics Club organised for their young club members. Travelling down from Scotland on Friday, the young athletes were treated to a fantastic array of team building games and fun activities: orienteering in our grounds, treasure hunts, dragon boat racing with Plattyplus, and a fancy dress pirate party.

They also did lots of running, starting with Keswick Parkrun on Saturday morning. 71 club members (almost all under 18) took part, and this swelled the field to a record attendance. It was also a record for Cumbernauld, for the most club members taking part in one event at the same time. Thank you to everyone for a very lively weekend!

Derwentwater Independent Hostel
Barrow House
CA12 5UR
Telephone: 017687 77246

Thank you to Geoff Williams, Rebecca Laff, Fiona McCarthy, John and Sam Snyder, and KTA for generously providing inspiring photographs.
Thank you to Lisa Bamford at Stoats and Weasels for designing our website, and to Sam Snyder for building it.
© 2013 Derwentwater Independent Hostel. All rights reserved. Registered charity: 1145368