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Welsh centres hit hard by disease

Outdoor education in Wales has been particularly badly affected by foot and mouth. Bodies such as the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the National Trust and the Youth Hostels Association have had to cancel or postpone many educational courses and activities in the principality.

The Norman Revival castle at Penryn, near Bangor in north Wales, is one property that the National Trust has managed to re-open. Teachers are being encouraged to make use of the castle's revamped, hands-on education programme, which focuses on life "below stairs" more than 100 years ago.

The Youth Hostels Association says most hostels should also be open by the spring bank holiday weekend. any schools use youth hostels as a base for field studies and outdoor adventure activities but, at the height of the crisis, 30 of Wales's 37 hostels were closed.

The RSPB has four sites in Wales, all of which were closed before Easter but are now re-opening. "Schools are only just starting to trickle back," says education officer Claire Fowler. "But we managed to get local schools to fill some of the gaps."

Contacts for up-to-date information on access: National Trust in Wales 01492 860 123. Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. 029 20 353 000.

Youth Hostels Association. 0870 241 2314.

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