On a cold and frosty morning in late November, five intrepid Primary students dared the cold and risked the Bear to follow the “Gnome Trail” at Newmillerdam.
After a strong start counting steps to the top of the hill, Hayden turned and pointed to a tree and said “that’s a birch” as we all turned and saw the silvery bark of a majestic “Queen of the Forest”, the sound of applause filled the crisp morning air.
At the start of the trail we met the Park Ranger The first of the Gnomes, on our trail. He pointed the way and we followed his directions as we moved deeper into the woods.
Gloves and buckets handed out and then tasks given, the boys split into groups and went searching through the fallen leaves for eight different types, specially tasked to find the leaf a Whitebeam Tree. Big and round, these are the kings of leaves in Britain’s woodland. White on one side, with lines on, they make the perfect outdoor writing page.
As we moved further into the wood, what did we discover but a Dinosaur tree!! A freshly planted Monkey Puzzle, looking deceptively like a Christmas tree to our young explorers, was a rare treat.
A log pile, full of sticks and twigs, leaves and mud, made the perfect setting for a reading of the Gruffalo, voices and all. A quick snack and we held our first outdoor lesson, beneath the gently swaying treetops and a clear blue sky.
Standing in a circle whilst instructions were given, the 5 boys listened carefully. Sent one by one to choose and animal from the blue rug and place it next to the correct name on the red rug. Round and round the boys went until all the pictures were assigned. As a groups they then confirmed their answers and celebrated their joint success.
Sitting down on those rugs the boys could think about their chosen animal. Three things were asked and three things were written on the Whitebeam Leafs. All in a hard day’s work.
Clearing away, the wind rose and the tree tops swayed, until a growling noise was heard, reminding the boys of ever present Bear. Down the path they went, ever closer to the deep dark wood…where silent as a mouse…they crept in. Collecting pine nuts and needles form the carpet beneath their feet, and placing them carefully into their bucket until through the trees, seen towering above them…was the Bear!!
Beautifully carved from a single tree, he stood tall and strong. After a number of cheeky photos we continued on our trail, turning our sights to the nature all around us. The sights, sounds and smells of a woodland in autumn.
At this time of year the squirrels are all busy, burying their nuts away for the winter. And as we strolled along the path, one of our lucky explores got within an arm’s length of one of these woodland critters. 1.8 miles has taken its toll and energy levels are falling. The excitement over, nearing the end of our trail, we took stock of a wonderful morning and our Walk in the Woods.