Dukes Barn 2020
It’s Year 4’s favourite week of the year; how quickly it comes around.
Monday 10th February
Storm Ciara: can’t you do better than that? Any concerns that the weather may mess with our plans didn’t reckon with Dukes Barn – they’ve seen and dealt with far worse. And so, with the wind at our backs, we set off on time and with almost everyone on board. Sadly, George B had been struck down over the weekend; we’re hoping that a couple of days’ rest will allow him to join us on Wednesday. The journey passed relatively uneventfully and we arrived in Beeley under fairly promising skies. Little did we know…
Familiar faces, and some not so, greeted us and it took no time to settle into this lovely, old place. We became acquainted to the site and then gorged on a much needed lunch, before challenge number 1: getting ready quickly and suitably for our first activity.
The Badgers joined Dan on an Adventure Walk. As if on order, snow began to fall as they set off up Hells Bank. The scenery was stunning, though conditions underfoot made for much sliding and slipping. It always makes for great photos, however.
The Foxes and the Hedgehogs had to cancel their plans to cave – itself a substitute for the planned canoeing. The snow had settled quickly, so they returned for the warmth and safety of the climbing wall.
The Owls were the first to try out a new activity here at the Barn: bush craft. The tasks became harder as the weather worsened, but reports were very favourable.
The Rabbits headed to Miller’s Dale to tackle the dreaded abseiling bridge. Despite the cold, the group returned with many heroic tales to tell; it always feels particularly special when you’re the first group to do it.
Many took the opportunity to have a warm shower, before our first dinner of the week: pizza, chips and salad, followed by a timely chocolate sponge and custard.
We then got wrapped again to head out on our Night Walk, trudging through water and mud, all in the name of becoming a ‘Friend of the Dark’.
The children have impressed greatly on our first day. Can they maintain this high standard as we turn lights out tonight, we wonder?
Tuesday 11th February
The threat of snow remained as we rose this morning, following a rather uneventful night (in a good way). It was time for one of the perennial highlights of trips here: a Dukes Barn breakfast. The children’s appetites almost matched that of the adults and that’s saying something.
The Badgers headed to the abseiling bridge, with a layer of snow not enough to prevent the journey. The children were faultless and Leon the instructor was full of praise.
Foxes and Mr M stayed on site to tackle the ropes course and Bush Craft, both successful despite legitimate claims to being distracted by the cold.
The Owls and Rabbits went to Devonshire Mine with Dan, the walk up the hill proving more challenging than the time spent underground. A lot of knowledge was shared on the history of lead mining in the Peak District!
The Hedgehogs spent the morning walking up Hells Bank. Mrs Bancroft found the underfoot conditions challenging on the calves, after such a hearty breakfast, but much fun was had by all.
Lunch took no time at all, including the infamous DB flap jack, and some warmth was welcomed by everyone.
The Badgers then took on Devonshire Mine. The recent weather made conditions rather tough, but the group took everything in their stride and left with smiles on their faces.
Foxes and Hedgehogs abseiled with Leon and Alan, the snow now cleared. The beauty of two groups together meant that more children were able to encourage the more reluctant, with hugely positive results.
Owls were dropped off above Chatsworth and made their way through the labyrinthine gardens towards the house. The splendour of the area made for great walking conditions and Dan made the route even more enjoyable with his quirky approach.
The Rabbits remained here at the Barn. Despite the cold, they learnt a number of bush craft skills, before chewing the ropes course up as if it held no challenge at all.
Curry and Trifle were on the menu for tea, before the obligatory visit to the shop/cupboard. The day ended with a typically nail-biting Bingo game, James and Lucy coming out victorious after a few false claims.
The forecast for tomorrow is promising and we are ready for our final sessions.
Wednesday 12th February
What a terrific bunch this first group have been. The night went swimmingly and rooms were cleared with minimal fuss. On the subject of fuss, we can’t remember a year where so many of the children enjoyed so much food!
It set us up for our final morning. The Badgers and Hedgehogs enjoyed wonderful weather as they encountered the ropes course and bush craft. The see-saw caused particular hilarity, as every trick in the book was applied, other than the correct one.
The Foxes and Rabbits went on rambles. They enjoyed liaising with the cows in the nearby farm, rolling down the hills, and not missing a single opportunity to crack ice and jump in puddles.
The Owls and Miss Rimington went abseiling. Every child managed the descent and the weather stayed fair.
While all this was happening, the second group arrived and settled in swiftly, accompanied by Mr Willis, Mrs Minta and Mrs Myring. In contrast, the first half left after lunch, with Mrs Bancroft, Miss White and Miss Morley in tow. We thank them for their company.
The new Badgers went up Hells Bank with John. Great fun was had as they experienced every possible terrain, with the roll down the hill back to the village a particular highlight.
The Foxes began at Mouldridge cave, the first group to visit this week. It consists of numerous tight spots, but the group worked together and some proud children returned.
The Owls, joined by Mrs Myring, stayed on site for the Ropes and Bush Craft. A glorious Peaks afternoon was the backdrop as they achieved many individual and group successes.
The Rabbits went abseiling with Mrs Minta. Every member of the group swung down at least three times, in a variety of styles.
The Hedgehogs and Mr Willis yomped up the hill to Devonshire Mine. The cavern was slightly less like a shower unit, following a drier spell of weather.
We all returned to warmth and fish fingers, followed by profiteroles, before wrapping up again for the Night Walk. We are now settling down for a decent sleep…
Thursday 13th February
An uneventful night – in a good way – ensured that we were up in good time and refreshed for the day ahead. Breakfast first, and, as always, reviews were entirely positive.
The weather seemed ok as we all set off on our next adventures.
The Badgers drove over to Miller’s Dale, with the abseiling bridge lying in wait. Some drizzle fell on occasion, but otherwise a great time was had by all. The Random Sours helped as bribes, it must be said.
The Foxes made fire and shelters in their Bush Craft session, followed by some exceptional teamwork on the Ropes Course (plus the odd calamity).
The Owls and Rabbits both went caving and the consensus was that no one missed the originally planned canoeing. It can’t be said often that being 50 foot underground is warmer than at ground level.
Hedgehogs loved their adventure walk, the perfect way to spend a winter’s morning amidst the splendour of the Chatsworth Estate.
Lunch took no time and we were raring to go again for the afternoon. The weather had improved greatly as the Badgers set off with Aidan to Devonshire Mine. Luckily, we were dropped off a bit further up, so the group weren’t faced with such a daunting climb as normal to the entrance.
Foxes and Hedgehogs went to the bridge under blue skies, accompanied by special guest adult, Mr Arnold. The groups proved adept at not only the abseiling, but also the unclipping, a task which can sometimes prove more of a challenge than swinging off a 35-foot high bridge on a single rope.
Owls walked around Chatsworth, looking even more resplendent in the late-afternoon sunshine, whilst the Rabbits stayed on site and loved making fire and shelters, and hanging upside down on rope walls.
The discussion amongst staff resided around whether tonight’s dinner was the best of the week. Judging by the empty pasta plates and sticky toffee pudding and custard bowls, the answer was a resounding yes, much to the chagrin of certain adults hoping for seconds.
Bingo Night came and went, with Lyla Morrow winning both prizes, before the children practically fell into bed.
Last day tomorrow…