Festival of Outdoor Learning 2019

This event has now passed. Details of our next Festival will be released later this  year. 


A great CPD opportunity for outdoor professionals, teachers, youth workers or anyone with an interest in the outdoors. Celebrating 13 years in 2019.

The Festival takes place at Hollowford providing a wide mix of workshops and informal networking that will give you plenty of new ideas both conceptual and practical.

Tickets are now available to purchase:

  • Full festival ticket at £110 each
    Choice of 4 workshops over the weekend (2 on Saturday and 2 on Sunday) Includes complimentary accommodation from Friday evening (arrivals from 5.30pm) and meals from Saturday breakfast through to Sunday lunch. Refreshments available throughout.
  • Saturday only ticket at £65 each
    Choice of 2 workshops on Saturday. Includes complimentary lunch and evening meal. Refreshments available throughout.
  • Sunday only ticket at £55 each
    Choice of 2 workshops on Sunday. Includes complimentary lunch. Refreshments available throughout.

Accommodation is provided for the Full Festival Ticket holders in shared-bunk bedded ensuite rooms. Bedding is provided, however please bring your own towels and toiletries.

Food is not available Friday evening. There are plenty of pubs and restaurants in the village should you like to visit them.  A bar will be available at Hollowford on both Friday and Saturday evenings.

Some of the workshops will be outside. Please ensure you bring appropriate clothing for the time of year and weather.  Workshops on Saturday will start at 10am and on Sunday at 9.15am.

Currently confirmed Workshop providers are listed towards the bottom of this page and will be updated as they book.  Our workshop schedule is now available here.

By attending this event you are also supporting our Bursary Fund as the cost includes a £10 per day contribution.

Refunds should you no longer be able to attend:

By end of Dec 18- 50% refund of ticket price
By end of Jan 19 – 25% refund of ticket price
1st Feb onwards – No refund of ticket price

Event Details


  • Start: 2nd March, 2019 at 9:00am

  • End: 3rd March, 2019 at 4:30pm


Workshops confirmed so far….

Little Children Scare Me – Frances Arnott (PDNPA) & Melany Holmes (National Trust)

Little Children. They’re small, they’re unpredictable, they make random noises (which are often hard to understand), and they can be terrifying to those who aren’t used to them. But once you get to know them, they’re not that scary and are actually quite fun to be with. Honest.

Would you like to run events and activities for young families (children 2-5) but have limited experience with this age group?

This workshop aims to increase your confidence, and give you some hints and tips and practical ideas on working with the littlest of children. Without being too scared.

Bios: Frances has been working with small and not-so-small children for nearly 20 years, and is currently a Learning & Discovery Ranger for the Peak District National Park. For the last 2 years she has run a weekly outdoor playgroup for under 5s.

Melany is a recently retired primary school Head Teacher with extensive experience of working with children from Early Years.  She currently works as Visitor Experience Officer for the National Trust at Longshaw, and runs their monthly Ranger Tots sessions for under 5s.

Mindfulness and Nature Connection Walks-Jo Hanney

To promote the health and well-being benefits of mindfulness and nature connection, within the Peak District National Park’s Guided Walks programme, we have introduced a number of Mindfulness Walks. In addition, we have introduced elements of mindfulness and nature connection to some of our other more general guided walks. In this session, we will go on a short Mindfulness walk within the beautiful Hope Valley.  During the walk, we will cover the following:

  • Introduction to mindfulness
  • Benefits of mindfulness and nature connection
  • Simple techniques for introducing a bit of mindfulness into your sessions and practice

Practical tips and ideas to encourage individuals to slow down and connect to the natural world.

Earth Heart-Chris Townsend

A Grand Smattering of the ‘Best Bits’ gleaned from 30 years of working in the outdoors. A scoop of magic, a dollop of science, a splash of passion, addressing those things about Planet Earth that we both love and worry over.

A tale woven from galactic to molecular. A dozen novel, easy repeat, do soon, things.Great starters, inspiration, poeticy sciencey insights, with the simplest of tricky questions to get you thinking, talking and musing.

Galactic salty starry sprinkles, satsuma/pebble solar system, ping pong moons, annual cycles of celebrations, a provocative puppet, how we link Earth and Heart, vision-quest to find your Creature Teacher, and do you really breathe out your breakfast?

A session that will nudge, suggest or allow choices for us and those we work with, into a more considerate ways of living.

Chris has been playing with outdoor teaching for a long time, mostly in the New Forest Hampshire

The Art of Nearly Wild Exploration-Steve Evison

The Art of Nearly Wild Exploration: a fun, interactive workshop using art (but not as many of us know it!) as a way of observing. It will be outdoor and very ‘real’. This is based on Steve and Irene’s own experiences of engaging many people in understanding the natural world in a different way, some with challenging behaviour, others with no artistic interest and many others. In fact some of the most challenging have got the most from it as it provides a different way of working but still being out doing real, practical stuff. We will be exploring how visual and other approaches which create something can be used to encourage observation and a stronger, deeper exploration of the natural world, even with those who feel they have no artistic ability. This is aimed at anyone, and preferably not just artistic people.

Both Steve and Irene have many years of experience consulting on and advising projects and activities around the world on engagement methods for environmental interventions.

Chilling with Yarn-Tracy Steare

Come along and chill out with yarn related crafts e.g. spinning, weaving, knitting, pom-pom making.  Materials and tools provided.

Tracy uses these craft activities whilst working outdoors as a school counsellor and when working for outdoor activities companies.  Tracy is an active member of the Derbyshire Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers.

Gadget Club: Coaching children to find their own solutions-David Steare

Originally designed as a school lunch time indoor activity and first presented in 2002 as a workshop at the European Brief Therapy Association conference, Gadget Club coaches children to find solutions to problems.

Since working as freelancers my wife Tracy and I have been developing the programme to use with children outdoors, suitable for use at school and in the ‘wild’.

The workshop will include a brief introduction and experiencing several of the ideas & techniques used.  Comprehensive handouts and background documents are available online and for download.

Bio:  Since before retiring in 2014 (48 years working in the Royal Navy, as a buyer, as a psychiatric nurse and social worker) David has been working occasionally as a freelancer in the outdoors, mostly in the corporate sector.  David facilitates the ‘Advocates for ADHD and Autism (Derby)’ group on a voluntary basis (please like our Facebook page!)  David is a member of ‘Systems Consulting in Organisations’.

Aesthetic Approaches to Outdoor Learning-Stu Meese

We often use a narrow definition of aesthetics in the UK which relates to a sense of beauty gained through the arts or nature. Here it is used as a broader concept to encompass feelings, perceptions and understanding that arise from emotional experiences in the outdoors.

With ever tighter government controls over formal education and emphasis on business models and content-based learning, aesthetic approaches have been side-lined. It is now more difficult for young people to have access to art, drama, dance and outdoor education as part of the school curriculum and the closure of many youth services in the UK means that these fields of learning are not always available through non-formal education.

But why are aesthetic approaches important?

We are emotional beings and aesthetics are essential in our personal development and our awareness of others and nature. These experiences can provide different ways of learning and may appeal to participants who struggle with traditional classroom learning. They can motivate, inspire and encourage creativity. There is a complex interplay of emotions and thoughts from being and moving in the outdoors. Sensations arise from fresh air, the wind on our faces, the smell of the earth, birdsong, the sound of running water, our heartbeat, movement of our bodies and the beauty of the landscape. Adventurous activities can further challenge us physically and mentally and lead us through a range of emotions. We become more responsive and can make personal connections to nature which are enjoyable, memorable and reduce stress.

Engaging Today’s Youths Through Experiential Learning-Delane Lim

Learners will participate in a facilitated discussion on How do we prepare our youths and ourselves for the future using experiential and outdoor learning with the rise of technology, data science and gaming.

Application of “C.O.P.E” – Calm Down, Observe Emotions, Positive Thinking, Explore Options) in how to help young individuals, make well-informed life choices, helping to identify and imparting relevant skills, against the backdrop of adventure and outdoors.

Debriefing by identify teaching moments using A-B-C-D (Action, Behaviors, Conversations & Decisions).

This 150-min session will uncover different activities for different learning groups, designing and facilitating a good experiential learning programme to help our youth who may at risk (social risk, behavioural risk or emotional risk) to be “FutuReady”.

At the end of the session, participant will be given activity guide through email.

Delane Lim is the Founder for FutuReady Asia, an international youth development agency that study and implement plans for future. He is also Executive Director of Character & Leadership Academy, a youth leadership development charity that advocates youth suicide prevention and youth mentoring.  He is also the Executive Director for Formwerkz, a leading architectural, design and digitalisation firm in Singapore.

He is also a certified challenge course manager under ACCT and a certified adventure therapist, a youth counsellor and suicide prevention specialist in Asia Pacific.

Learning & Development Magpies – using models and theory as a looking glass-Sean Snow

This ‘quick-fire’ workshop is an introduction to some useful models and theories that can be used in any developmental and experiential work.  It will provide some understanding into the concepts and their possible practical application, particularly working within the outdoor development field. There will be some classics (oldies but goodies), familiar stuff and maybe something new, depending on what you already know…

You should come away from this workshop having a some refreshed (or new) insight into a range of underpinning theory/models when working with groups of young people, adults, teams, etc, or even for yourself.

Science Through Bushcraft – Dave Watson

We will be taking a selection of Bushcraft Skills such as Cordage making, Campfire gadgetry and at least one fire lighting method to highlight a variety of topics in the Science curriculum at levels 3 and 4. Dave Watson who has been teaching and training people in Bushcraft for well over 20 years and Rupert Lock, a Science teacher (as well as a climber, archery instructor….) are both convinced that in order to help people understand real science we need to bring it down to its simplest form.

Living Landscapes-Frag Last

As outdoor practitioners, we spend a lot of time amongst the various landscapes of the UK and beyond.

But what actually is landscape?

How do we feel about and interact with them?

How much do we take for granted and how much are we missing out on?

This workshop will investigate our relationships with landscape, both in the past and in the now.

A sojourn through the realms of prehistory, art, philosophy and archaeology.

We shall explore ways to peel back the layers in order to gain a greater appreciation and understanding of what is all around us.

This should leave folk with a fresh outlook alongside new skills in order to better interpret their own landscapes.

Be prepared for some indoor musing and a little outdoor action!

Outdoor Activities for ADHD-David Steare

Although the outdoors is the most useful environment for young / people with attention and activity needs (my reframe of ADHD), there are specific difficulties like waiting for a turn and finding activities too slow that impede their progress.  This workshop will explore the theoretical implications of ADHD for outdoor activities and we will then experience some of the activities that might be useful to meet attention and activity needs.  This workshop will be a follow on to my workshop presentation at the Derbyshire Association of Family Therapy conference in June 2008.

Bio:  Since before retiring in 2014 (48 years working in the Royal Navy, as a buyer, as a psychiatric nurse and social worker) David has been working occasionally as a freelancer in the outdoors, mostly in the corporate sector.  David facilitates the ‘Advocates for ADHD and Autism (Derby)’ group on a voluntary basis (please like our Facebook page!)  David is a member of ‘Systems Consulting in Organisations’.

You are a Natural Storyteller-Georgiana Keable

To guide you in the telling of a short tale to open emotional engagement with the living world. A story to develop will to assist natural regeneration.

Our indigenous ancestors used stories to pass on knowledge and respect for the outdoors. We are all Natural Storytellers!

Georgiana is a pioneer for storytelling in the UK and Norway. Each year she takes thousands of teenagers on botanical story adventures, prompting 12-year-olds to spontaneously hug trees and learn which species surround them. In the remote Lofoten Islands, collecting stories by day and sleeping in a hammock by night, she discovered that every stranger had a tale of connection between nature and humans. Georgiana founded ‘Fortellerhuset’ (The Storytelling House) and The Norwegian Storytelling Festival.

‘The Natural Storyteller’ won 1st prize on the Purple Dragonfly Awards and was chosen from 1150 books for a gold medal in the Moonbeam Children’s Book awards 2108.

Wild Books and Sudden Movements-Gordon MacLellan

Something for a reflective moment, a chance to pause, gather ideas together and find ways of recording experiences. From quick books to pop-up landscapes, printing to card sculptures, this workshop will combine quick art activities with printing, writing and reflection to allow people to make their own personal records of adventures, discoveries and inspirations

Gordon MacLellan is an environmental educator, storyteller and artist with more than 30 years of experience in the field. As Creeping Toad, he works all over the world, bringing his distinctive brand of casual creativity and enthusiastic imagination to activities.

Working outdoors with autistic inertia – David Steare

When working with young / persons diagnosed on the autistic spectrum it seems inevitable that at some point a virtual ‘brick wall’ will be met.  Inertia in autism can be difficult to manage and when management seems to fail violence can often be the consequence especially when the person also has significant learning needs.  I developed my understanding of this when working with parents attending the ‘Advocates for ADHD and Autism’ support groups.  This workshop will consider the neurological basis of inertia in autism and the theoretical basis of transitional phenomena before trying out some coaching techniques in twos/threes role plays.

Bio:  Since before retiring in 2014 (48 years working in the Royal Navy, as a buyer, as a psychiatric nurse and social worker) David has been working occasionally as a freelancer in the outdoors, mostly in the corporate sector.  David facilitates the ‘Advocates for ADHD and Autism (Derby)’ group on a voluntary basis (please like our Facebook page!)  David is a member of ‘Systems Consulting in Organisations’.

Safety, Survival and Resilience in Outdoor Programmes – Harvey Downey

This workshop will explore the human factors effecting safety in outdoor courses and activities, revisit the concepts of resilience, which may now be hijacked by Education and commerce, consider the trend toward survival and the teaching of skills to young people.

Working with Everyone-Janek Mamino

This workshop will be an interactive  look at Cultural Competency, how it affects our interactions with our clients and colleagues, influences our programs and why we, as educators,  should give thought to this skill.

Janek is an instructor for NOLS, which is an American based school focusing on leadership development for the future. NOLS uses extended wilderness expeditions around the world as a medium to help students understand and develop as leaders for the 21st Century.

Finding Stories-Gordon MacLellan

A lively session spinning new stories, wild tales and improbable characters out of found materials. Working indoors and out, we’ll look at techniques to use with groups to build stories to tell, practical hints and useful themes for ourselves as leaders and additional activities to give ourselves the confidence to weave new stories on the spot

Gordon MacLellan is an environmental educator, storyteller and artist with more than 30 years of experience in the field. As Creeping Toad, he works all over the world, bringing his distinctive brand of casual creativity and enthusiastic imagination to activities

Trainer in a Rucksack-Sam Moore

We’ve all been there, stuck with a broken down minibus, a long lunch break or a few minutes to fill at the end of the day. This workshop is full of ideas to help you entertain and educate groups using only the contents of your rucksack. No expensive equipment required!

Sam Moore is Head of Adventure Education at Dauntsey’s an independent school with an adventurous ethos. He is an APIOL and has worked with young people in the outdoors for more than twenty years.

Mine Exploring with Groups-Dave Baines

Have you ever wondered why people visit old mines?  Surely they can’t be as interesting as caves?

This is your invitation to come and see.  In some parts of the country like North Wales, The Lakes and Sussex there are no caves.  For some outdoor centres and organisations working with young people this is one of the more exciting activities on the programme.  We will visit an old stone mine and see how it worked, see artifacts and perhaps understand hazards.  Find out how Long Wall Mining works and what is a pressure arch.  Come just to see the mine or understand how it can be used for groups.

Level of difficulty:  easy.   All equipment provided by the centre.  Limited to 10 places.

Dave Baines runs cave & mine leader training for the British Caving Association in Wales, Derbyshire and the North Pennines.  He has been a stakeholder in a lead mine project & has explored mines all over Britain.


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