The Wild Area
In September 2021 a long forgotten and unloved corner of our school grounds began to be transformed; by July 2022 it had become a magical and inspirational area! It is a world which is constantly evolving and is already loved by everyone at Belle Vue. Please read on to discover more about the wonderful journey this corner of our school is on....
On entering the Wild Area there was no doubt about it... it was wild! Not only that it was unruly and impossible to navigate, unless you were content to be prickled and torn by the unrelenting brambles. These brambles had, over the course of several years, grown rampant and there was just a small clearing in the centre to attempt to imagine what it could become!
At the beginning of October, Ralph (Ralph Hedley Landscaping and Building Services Ltd) arrived with his machinery. Within the day the forest of brambles had disappeared... we discovered a tamer but slightly larger area than we had previously imagined! What hit us all when we first went in was how tranquil it was and how removed from the hustle and bustle of the school it seemed to be. We all felt the whisper of how it could be when it was finished...
Willowpool Designs came at the start of the month and working with groups of children from Year 6 they constructed our Willow Dome and tunnel!
Without a doubt, May was a something of an epic month for the Wild Area. By the end of the month the whole area had transformed!
At the beginning of May children from Year 4 took part in Cumbria Wildlife Trust's The Big Plant. This was a county wide project to develop 'B Lines', a highway of routes for pollinators. The plan is to allow areas to be filled with native pollinator friendly plants to help pollinators such as bees, flies and butterflies thrive. We planted over 100 different bee friendly plants and created a mini meadow. We are hoping to add to this over the years to create an area attractive to a wide variety of pollinators.
May also saw one of the most spectacular events so far... One of our trees needed to come down so rather than have it removed from the site we decided to make it into a natural climbing frame. Our children now have the opportunity to explore the joy of clambering, balancing, creating swings and... well anything that they can imagine! Of course, as part of Forest Schools work they are taught do all this in a safe way.
Ralph Hedley also came back, this time with his digger and starting digging out our perimeter pathways and outdoor classroom area. We are all beginning to get very excited... the Wild Area is starting to take shape!
A major new road bypass in Carlisle meant that many trees needed to be felled to make way for it. Luckily, Cumbria County Council, Tyla Tree Services and Morgan Sindall kindly donated Belle Vue some logs and a vast quantity of tree bark. Seeing a tractor and trailer entering the school grounds is not something we will forget in a hurry! This made a massive difference to our project; we suddenly had the means to create a seated outdoor classroom, bark to fill the pathways and spare logs to provide movable seating! We are extremely thankful for their generosity and support.
A team of volunteers from Volker Rail and Stephen Dunn from Cumbria County Council spent the day with us and added some finishing touches to the Wild Area. They made us a bug hotel with a water collection point so that we have water for plants, animals, a muddy puddle or a even mud kitchen! They created us a tippy tap, ready to clean those muddy fingers! Using disused drum reels tables were created for children to stand at when they are working. Finally, in the far corner of the Wild Area they build us a wormery so that the children can learn more about works and how they work underground! It is built into a bank which during 2023 the Eco Council is planning on developing in to a Bee Bank. Thank you to Volker Rail and Stephen, we really appreciate your expertise and vision!
Finally, the children got to come and use the Wild Area!
Autumn Term 2022:
Disappointingly, at the beginning of the month vandals trespassed onto the school grounds and caused considerable damage to our Wild Area. The Willow Dome which had thrived over the summer was pulled down and many of the willow rods were broken; whilst we waiting to be fixed the children have been unable to use it. The perspex on the wormery front was kicked in, causing part of the bank to collapse and the Bug Hotel/water collection point was pulled apart. Over the second half of the Autumn term these areas were fixed and we are hopeful that this was a one off incident.
It snowed! What a stunning winter wonderland our Wild Area makes! This is the end of the Wild Area's transformation, at least for now! We are currently making sure that the children of Belle Vue access the area in a variety of ways. We have Forest Schools sessions each week which the children are gaining so many new skills from and the LOVE! (Please see our Forest Schools page to find out more). We are also busy planning how we can use the Wild Area as an outdoor classroom across our curriculum; watch this space as we develop and grow!