outdoors. From spotting wolves in the woodland to spying the rare sheep they might have fed on, there are lots of experiences to be had. In the six months following the July 2013 launch, the new attraction saw over 30,000 visitors. The Wild Place Project offers a range of outdoor learning sessions tailored to the school curriculum. These give children the chance to get into the wild, get to grips with the natural world and enjoy learning through hands-on exploration. The classrooms are the woods and meadows, and it’s clear from Kate’s own experience that there is a huge need for it. She shakes her head as she tells me that in the first few months they had to put up signs saying it was ok to play on the fallen logs. I was impressed: visiting children are encouraged to get their hands (and feet) dirty, with as much emphasis on woodland play as seeing the animals.
The tented Discovery Camp in the ancient woodland is a base from which children hunt for mini beasts, learn about trees and flowers and discover the importance of forests as both habitats and resources. In the Wild Place Project’s outdoor Madagascan classroom, children learn about conservation and wildlife in
Madagascar before getting up close and personal with pygmy goats and those irresistible baby lemurs. Tania Dorrity, an education officer at the Wild Place Project, says: “Outdoor learning is recognised as developing self-esteem, improving health through exercise, enhancing sensory awareness and also developing personal control. In addition, children finding out about local wildlife environments right on their doorstep encourages early engagement with, and an appreciation for, the natural world. “There is normally a connection between children’s experiences and their later lives and attitudes. It is only natural to care for what you know and love. Learning about nature and climate change via the internet or books is one thing, but to come to know and love the natural world first-hand from an early age gives you much more of a motive to preserve and conserve it.” ■
Ticket Prices Adult - £7.50 Child - £6.00 Child under two - free Carer for disabled - free or you can get an annual pass! £17.00 for children and £26.00 for adults. It’s well worth going more than once! www.wildplace.org.uk