Let’s Learn Moor outdoor classroom hailed a success

The UK’s largest outdoor upland classroom has inspired thousands of children. Here Gareth Dockerty, BASC head of uplands, looks back on the project. This is independent paid for content from the British Association for Shooting and Conservation – headline sponsor of the Yorkshire Post Rural Awards.

Youngsters taking part in the Let's Learn Moor event.  Photograph: Stuart Boulton
Youngsters taking part in the Let's Learn Moor event. Photograph: Stuart Boulton

Let’s Learn Moor, hailed as the UK’s largest outdoor upland classroom, came to an end after its five-day run on Friday, July 8. The culmination of this fantastic event, which is organised by BASC and Countryside Learning alongside more than 50 superb partner organisations, saw us this year reaching a landmark of 3,000 school children visiting their local grouse moor across eight venues.

The Let’s Learn Moor days are organised so that local primary school groups work round a number of stations at each of the venues. These are all run by our partners, which include mountain rescue, the fire service, local farmers, and the moor’s team of gamekeepers.

The glue that holds all of our wonderful coordinators and volunteers together are the seven regional moorland groups. They secured the Let’s Learn Moor locations and the involvement of local gamekeepers while also booking in our partner organisations.

Fun and learning outdoors on the moors. Photograph: Stuart Boulton

As the number people involved in the initiative grows, the need to thank everybody extends also! The broad diversity of organisations involved is one of the key strengths of Let’s Learn Moor, it provides a balanced education experience covering National Parks, AONB’s, Moors for the Future, Yorkshire Water, the emergency services and shooting bodies such as the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation, plus many more.

It is a true indicator that the shooting community is keen to build partnerships by teaming up with these organisations to host each event.

Building the knowledge

Allowing the children to grow their understanding of the uplands is at the heart of Let’s Learn Moor. At the start of each day not every school group I spoke to knew what a curlew, grouse, or even heather was. On arrival they also couldn’t necessarily define exactly what is special about moorland landscapes.

It's a classroom with a difference for these youngsters. Photograph: Stuart Boulton

What was interesting was that all the children were well-versed on climate change and had a clear passion to try to help the future of our world.

It seems vital that countryside organisations like BASC should help to harness this enthusiasm and share knowledge to continue to inform it.

Unlikely climate change champions?

It’s for this very reason that our theme for Let’s Learn Moor 2023 will likely be climate change and how protecting moorland and the peatland below can help reduce carbon emissions.

Pupils had a chance to learn more about the countryside and everyday tasks on the estate. Photograph: Stuart Boulton

It’s fair to say that at first glance an upland gamekeeper, clad head-to-toe in tweed, may not look like an obvious climate change champion.

Contrary to perceptions however, gamekeepers work tirelessness to protect the UK’s largest carbon store. The protection of the precious peat – which holds in this carbon – is intrinsic to the effective management of moorland.

Fingers crossed the children and teachers who visited us this year made for home with their heads full of this stunning landscape.

Young people are the key to protecting our uplands. At this stage, they will have left Let’s Learn Moor feeling more connected to the wild landscape so close to where they live, understanding why taking a picnic and not a BBQ is so important for wildfire prevention and why putting their family dog on a lead helps to protect the peatland and ground-nesting birds.

In the future, they may well take a bigger role in conserving the uplands for future generations, and I hope that Let’s Learn Moor has lit a spark in a few of these along the way.

British Association for Shooting and Conservation is headline sponsor of the Yorkshire Post Rural Awards. There’s still time to enter – click here for more information - closing date Saturday 30th July

Find out more about Let’s Learn Moor by clicking here.