Shire kids start John Muir Award up Scafell

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs 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

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 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAexciting 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 and


4 Responses to “Shire kids start John Muir Award up Scafell”
  1. Jessica Casey says:

    Well done and congratulations. I met a few of you at the Play England workshop and what an inspiration you all were. So pleased all your hard work has paid off. Keep up the good work.

  2. johnmuir2013 says:

    Janet, great to see you are on your John Muir Award journey and have started in the Lake District!Looking forward to future blogs as you explore more. We are also blogging about our 1000 mile walk in celebration of John Muir!

  3. Mick Conway says:

    Superb – well done to the heroes of Shiremoor. The toughest sheep in England must have been a scary sight!

  4. janeplayengland says:

    From Team Exploring Nature Play SW to Team Exploring Nature Play NE …. what superstars .. John Muir would have been as proud of you as all your family and friends are .. and what an amazing way to show how much you love not just outdoor play, but the big wide huge outdoors itself … Can’t wait to hear about the next exploration!

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