Shire kids start John Muir Award up Scafell
As dawn broke over North Tyneside on Sunday 2 June, 16 sleepy young people, volunteers and staff set out from Shiremoor Adventure Playground on an adventure to climb the highest peak in England and start their John Muir Discovery Award.
They had been building up to this day over the previous few months after completing climbs up CatBells and Blencathra. Training had taken place over a few weeks to improve fitness by running up and down the steps on North Shields fish quay. Today provided another challenge, as they aimed to climb 3,208 feet to the highest point in England- Scafell Pike.
The day would see the young people start their John Muir Discovery Award, which encourages awareness and responsibility for the natural environment, in a spirit of fun, adventure and exploration www.jmt.org/jmaward-home.asp.
Why would anybody want to brave the Cumbrian weather, risk painful blisters and battle against the toughest sheep in England to walk up Scafell Pike? Because it’s there! Not only is it challenging, it’s exhilarating, beautiful and breathtaking.
After negotiating the treacherous, narrow roadway, and narrowly missing pensive sheep and subterranean potholes, we arrived at the start of our walk at Wasdale Head. Nothing could prepare us for the glorious and spectacular scenery we would encounter over the next six hours. We marvelled as the top of Scafell Pike came into view, struggling to display it’s grandeur against the descending mist which spread a wispy layer around its lofty crags.
John Muir asks us to discover a wild place, explore it, conserve it and share the learning. Around each corner we discovered new scenery and views, explored crags and streams, bagged our litter and shared singing and storytelling.
We also discovered: the sun casts shadows on the mountains, the mountain streams taste delicious, that lambs don’t have five legs (one of them is their tail), that snow collects in hidden north facing crevices and that cheap walking boots don’t stand up to challenging mountain walks. We saw a mountain rescue helicopter picking up a stranded walker (was it for real or just a practice?), the crew found time to give us a wave as they put on an exciting display whilst we ate our lunch though.
We laughed, we cried, we slipped, we fell over, we got stuck in bogs, we explored new emotions, we walked in the clouds and learnt that a pile of stones at the top of a mountain is called a cairn.
We also despaired at the number of discarded banana skins and litter strewn across the mountain and we failed to find the geocache hidden at the top.
Plans are coming together to climb the highest mountain in Scotland next, which will put us in a good place to complete the three peaks challenge!
Thanks to the Co-operative Community Fund for the grant to buy walking boots and socks to make the walking that little bit more bearable!
Check out more pictures and learn about our adventures at www.facebook.com/jo.natureplay?ref=tn_tnmn and www.facebook.com/shiremoor.adventureplayground?fref=ts