Hosting Royalty

Well, kind of.

Yesterday saw the return of The Learning Curve ( and the current team enrolled on it’s Princes Trust programme who have been working towards their John Muir Award in conjunction with a number of partners from across and around the New Forest National Park coordinated by NPA Ranger Craig Daters as part of a Youth Action Project.

This is the fourth time that the Salisbury based Princes Trust team have visited Blashford Lakes now and although the objectives and end goals have remained the same each visit has been a little different; in part because each group is a little different and in part because of course the reserve changes so much from one time of the year to the next.

Usually a pond invertebrate survey (aka pond dipping!) is a highlight, but that just wasn’t an option with a frozen surface yesterday! A trip down to the river was a possibility, but I was not going to tempt fate by heading down there too soon and risking someone getting cold with yesterdays top temperature of 5C so we kept that as a back up activity for later in the day if we needed it and instead we headed out for an extended walk around the reserve instead. And extended it was! I think everyone (including the participants themselves!) were surprised by just how much they enjoyed bird watching!

171201PrincesTrust2 by Jim Day

171201PrincesTrust1 by Jim Day

In the Woodland Hide

After visiting the Woodland Hide, Ivy South Hide and Tern Hide (seeing nothing remarkable, but more than enough to engage our novice bird watchers!) we retreated to the centre for lunch and a hot drink before heading out again and preparing a campfire and a delicious “surprise soup ” from the random collection of vegetables which individuals had bought with them on the day. Craig arrived just in time to tuck in to that and our flatbreads… funny that 😉 !… and together they reviewed their week of engaging with not just ourselves, but staff and volunteers from the Forestry Commission, National Trust and Hampshire County Council Countryside teams (a lot of Cotoneaster, rhododendron, pine seedlings and gorse has been despatched from the Forest this week!).


We never did make it to the river, but that was probably for the best…

171201PrincesTrust1 by Nigel Owen

Josh lights the fire (with lots of helpful suggestions from John and Aidan…)


171201PrincesTrust2 by Nigel Owen

Checking the soup while the Princes Trust team write up their project evaluation.


A cold but lovely day at a lovely place with some lovely people! Thank you!


It’s the first Sunday of the month so don’t forget that the Pop Up Café is open in the classroom again. I don’t think “Surprise Soup” is on the menu but I know there will be a delicious selection of home-baked sweet and savoury snacks, along with tea and coffee!

Nigel and Christine will be selling Trust merchandise too (calendars, Christmas Cards, a range of books and FSC identification guides and Geoff’s expertly made “bug boxes”) if you are looking for Christmas present ideas…!


1 thought on “Hosting Royalty

  1. Reblogged this on New Forest Education and commented:

    The New Forest National Park Authority co-ordinates a team of organisations across the Forest to offer amazing opportunities to groups of young adults. You can read about one such visit here:

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