A week in the life of Castle Head field centre, Cumbria

22nd September 2000 at 01:00
(Photograph) - During the course of a week at this centre, 40 complete strangers aged 17 to 19 get to know each other and learn leadership skills in the wild outdoors of Cumbria. Their aim is to win an international Rotary Young Leaders award. The students come from schools all over the north-west and are sponsored by local Rotary clubs. They spend the first couple of days learning map reading, canoeing, fell walking and other skills needed for survival in the open. Then, to test them, they are sent on an overnight expedition when they have to camp and find their own way back to the centre. Their sponsoring Rotarians come for a dinner and the students give a presentation on what they have done. In the evenings, the youngsters still manage to find the energy to put on musical or dramatic entertainments. The centre is rn by the Field Studies Council, a charity which has about a dozen centres running environmental education courses. The one in Cumbria - which has been running its annual course for 20 years - is about a mile from the Edwardian seaside resort of Grange-over-Sands. It is the former home of the ironmaster John Wilkinson, who in 1779 built the first iron bridge in England.

Snaps by centre warden Joanna Barnett

* On the steps of the house, which dates from 1780

* Stage struck: part of the evening entertain-ment

* Climb every mountain: there are plenty of them in Cumbria

* Walk the plank: an exercise in co-ordinated effort

* Planning a compost heap as part of environmental studies

* Rafting down the Winster river

* Going through the spider's web - without touching the ropes

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