Thousands get to learn ‘moor’ at UK’s largest annual upland education event

The shooting community and local gamekeepers successfully delivered Let’s Learn Moor 2022, showcasing the benefits of sustainable grouse moor management alongside key partner organisations.

Three thousand children from schools across the North of England have had a chance to ‘rescue’ their teachers with the help of mountain rescue teams, solve rural crimes with the police and learn about the importance of the precious carbon-rich peatlands below their feet when the UK’s largest upland classroom returned last week.

As part of interactive lessons hosted at Let’s Learn Moor 2022, the children and their teachers learned about the wonderful species on our moorlands from spongey sphagnum mosses to the iconic bent beaked curlew. They also got to sample the delicacies of wild food with venison and pigeon on the menu at events hosted at eight locations in the North of England between July 4 – 8th.

Events were hosted across the English uplands, from the Peak District to the North Pennines, taking in National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty along the way.

Each event featured local gamekeepers covering the issues of predator control and wildfire reduction, along with habitat and species conservation. This year’s broad theme was “protection” – the protection of people and communities, carbon, and wildlife and the children got to meet the people and organisations that help to protect our stunning moorland landscapes and species.

More than 9,000 children have now attended Let’s Learn Moor events since the project was launched in 2017. The events are co-ordinated by Countryside Learning and the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) with the support of several other countryside organisations. The Regional Moorland Groups provide the locations and invite and organise the participation of more than 50 partner organisations.

Tina Brough, co-ordinator of the North York Moors Moorland Organisation, said: “We are so proud that Let’s Learn Moor started in the North York Moors back in 2017 and now takes place across multiple sites across England. Our gamekeepers see this as an important chance to meet partner organisations and engage with children from the local schools. We want children to be filled with the same passion that we are for our uplands and the species that live on the moor.”

Tracy Johnson, Nidderdale Moorland Group co-ordinator, said: “This is now our third year taking part in Let’s Learn Moor. Our gamekeepers look forward to seeing the children and sharing this stunning landscape and its diverse wildlife with them.”

Gareth Dockerty, BASC’s head of uplands and Let’s Learn Moor co-ordinator, said: “Let’s Learn Moor is the UK’s largest annual upland education event, providing an opportunity for children across the country to meet the people and organisations that help to protect our stunning moorland landscapes and species.

“The events involve park authorities, local farmers, the emergency services, gamekeepers, water utility companies, conservation groups and many more. After two years of disruptions through the pandemic, events like these are both vital for educational reasons and getting the children engaging with nature.”

Bruce Butler, Year 4 teacher, Killinghall C.E. Primary School, Harrogate, said: “The day fits well with our current geography project and helps the kids learn about the local area and wildlife. Let’s Learn Moor allows children to have new positive experiences on their doorstep.”

Luke Doughty, North York Moors shepherd, said: “The kids love the sheep and dogs, and it is important that they understand how important livestock is for a balanced moorland habitat. My highlight was seeing a young lad from Ukraine smiling at the sheep, his teacher explained that “sheep” was one of the first English words he had learnt since moving to Yorkshire due to the war.”

Bernard Moss, North York Moors gamekeeper, said: “I have been cooking hundreds of game sausages and burgers, the kids have loved the opportunity to try something different. It has also been good to see other venues serving game and lamb or offering a chance to try heather honey, all produced from this stunning landscape.”

A spokesperson for Upper Wharfdale Mountain Rescue said: “It was great to meet the children and explain how to keep yourself and others safe on the moor, it is important that children know what to do if an accident happens. It is also a chance to see their teachers trapped on a stretcher while the kids “rescue” them.”

Gareth Dockerty continued: “I need to say a huge thank you to the moorland groups and gamekeepers that host each Let’s Learn Moor venue, along with the 50 partners who give up their time to give the children an unforgettable day, from the National Parks to conservation organisations.

“I hope the children take home some of the magic of our moorlands and see how important these habitats are for wildlife and in our fight against climate change. It is important that we protect these landscapes and are rightly proud of our beautiful uplands.”

Part-funded by BASC legacy funding, the events were free to all schools involved, ensuring that there were no financial barriers to participation.