Our residential visit to Derwent Hill in Portinscale, Cumbria, took place from Monday 27th November until Friday 1st December 2017.
During the week, we carried out many exciting activities. This is our blog to show how we got on. Although the blog shows the sequence of activities for one particular group, by the end of the week we all completed similar challenges but at different times.
We all boarded the bus at the top of the hill beside school at quarter to ten and set off for Derwent Hill. We were all full of excitement (and some apprehension) but soon took the opportunity to chat with our friends. The journey took around two hours but we began asking our teachers if we were nearly there before we had even passed the Durham services!
We travelled through all weathers, with snow on the ground as we crossed the Pennines, bright sunshine shortly afterwards and then a hail shower. However, it was raining heavily as we approached Keswick. Fortunately, it eased once the coach parked at the bottom of the drive at Derwent Hill and we worked together to drag our cases into the building.
After settling into our rooms and having some lunch, we split into our activity groups. We collected some kit from the stores and wrapped up warm before exploring the local area. This involved tasks such as a walk through Whinlatter Forest, exploring its many play areas (and getting muddy too!).
As darkness set in, each group returned to the centre and changed into our indoor clothing, before tucking into a well-earned meal.
Afterwards, we competed in a team challenge, which included a paper hat modelling contest, song writing and even some ballroom dancing!
Following a drink and a biscuit for supper, we went to bed. To make sure that we have enough energy to tackle a full day of activities tomorrow, we are aiming to have a full night's sleep. At least that's the plan...
It turned out to be a calm night and the majority of us awoke feeling refreshed for the day's activities. Despite being cold, the clear skies and gentle breeze meant that conditions were favourable for our plans.
After breakfast, we met with our groups and found out what clothing and equipment would be required. It was our turn to go out on the lake! We put our warm clothes on and some waterproofs before collecting a paddle and heading off for the marina, where our canoes were stored.
At first, we found it tricky to travel in a straight line but we made it to a remote spot, where we moored our canoes and had our lunches. The views were outstanding. Lunch was followed by a quick game of hide and seek. We were determined to improve our rowing on the way back and, by working as a team, were very successful.
Once our time on the lake was over, we headed back to Derwent Hill for some orienteering. Using maps of the site, we followed clues to identify the markers. Both of the day's activities had shown us the value of co-operation.
Following our evening meal, we went on a night walk. For anyone who hasn't worked it out, it is a walk at night. Armed with torches, we set off on the minibus and were dropped off at the end of a small country lane. We followed narrow paths through woodland to return to Derwent Hill. It was quite creepy in places and we often had shivers running down our spines. At one point, we were even terrified when we realised that a sinister character was following us but Mr. Stephenson turned out to be in a good mood after all.
When we returned, we were just in time for a drink and a snack. Everyone was a lot more tired than yesterday, as we had completed our first full day of strenuous activities. We may even need to be woken up in time for tomorrow's breakfast!
There were some tired faces as we ventured downstairs this morning but we had soon woken up by the time we had a lump of porridge and a cooked breakfast in our systems.
It was a very cold morning and we found out that we had a ghyll scramble to complete. We gathered our equipment and boarded the minibus for the journey to Seatoller, in the Honister valley.
The scramble involved negotiating our way up a stream, dodging our way between rocks and pools of FREEZING cold water. The task was made easier because we had to work together in order to ensure that the whole team could move forwards safely.
To complete our challenge, we even crawled through a tiny tunnel beneath the valley road. It was dark and quite scary. After that, we strolled down the road to the minibus so that we could return to Derwent Hill, where warmth, dry clothes and a tasty lunch were waiting for us.
In the afternoon, we had the chance to tackle what many of us had been looking forward to: the infamous 'Death Swing'. After kitting ourselves out with the correct safety equipment, we were ready to face our fears. This involved climbing to a platform, which was positioned high in a tree, and stepping off with a rope swing attached to us, causing us to fly to and fro in a clearing, far above the ground. We even convinced our instructor to use Mr. Pigford as the demonstration of how it all worked. However, to our dismay, he survived to bore us with correct grammatical terminology another day.
Standing on the platform was nerve-wracking and there were several concerned faces but they were soon replaced with beaming smiles as we were filled with the pride of our achievement.
A delicious tea-time meal was followed by the 'Derwent Hill Challenge', involving a carousel of team-building activities, which each of the six groups rotated around. The teachers, including Mr. Burn, who had joined us for the remainder of the week, explained each task and gave us a score out of ten for our efforts. We had a lot of fun and barely noticed the cold, night air. At the end, the scores were totalled and we discovered that group three had won.
We had supper and then headed off to bed for some sleep, ahead of our final full day of activities.
As each day goes by, it seems a little harder to wake up. As usual, breakfast was followed by a group meeting to discuss our plans for the day. We already knew that today it was our turn for an all-day hill walk. It was a bitterly cold morning with a hard frost (but none of the snow that home had been suffering, apparently) so we had to wear all of the warm clothing that we had.
The minibus dropped us off at the base of a hill known as Cat Bells. From there, we began the steep ascent but it wasn't the gradient which was causing us the most difficulty. Instead, a strong, icy wind meant that we needed to help each other as much as possible and pause for rest breaks when we reached more sheltered areas.
However, our ordeal was worth it as the views from the summit were spectacular. Nearby, we had our lunches and hot chocolate before beginning the winding descent to the edge of Derwent Water. Once there, we spent time skimming stones across the surface of the lake and then continued along the path towards Portinscale. On the way, we passed by the walled location which was Beatrix Potter's inspiration for Mr. McGregor's garden in the Peter Rabbit stories. Eventually, our tired legs staggered back to Derwent Hill, just as the light was beginning to fade.
After our evening meal, we did some packing and then had a relaxing time with a movie night on the large screen in the common room. Once it had finished, we made our way to bed for the last time in our busy adventure. The week seems to have flown by but there will still be time in the morning for some final fun activities!
The last day!
Following breakfast, we completed our packing and moved our cases to the pool room so that they could be quickly loaded onto the bus when our departure time came.
To complete our week, we practised lighting fires then collected materials to make a larger fires so that we could toast marshmallows. Yum! We then spent some time discussing the week with our group and identifying where we had improved.
After a short session on the low ropes course, we had some lunch then went into the common room to say our goodbyes. The Derwent Hill staff came to wave us off and we began the journey home. Some people continued to have fun on the bus whilst others caught up on some much needed sleep after a tiring week.
As we arrived back in snowy Newbottle, there were happy faces as everyone was reunited with their families.
The week was demanding at times but a lot of fun. Everyone can be very proud of the way in which they approached challenges and represented the school.
Perhaps some people are already planning their next residential trip!