A great day out – A ‘playwalk’ with Shakespeare Primary School – Y6

The comments below are from staff and children at Shakespeare Primary School in Plymouth following their year 6 visit to Bellever on Dartmoor for a ‘Play walk’; their 3rd ‘Great Day Out’. To book contact me at davidbglenny@gmail.com

Every climbing opportunity is taken

Staff Comments: Leadership: David is highly knowledgeable and experienced both with children and in the moorland setting. Working with him inspires confidence and enthusiasm for getting out of the classroom with large groups of children. His flexibility and willingness to match subject content and opportunities to the needs of the group has led to our annual GREAT DAY OUT with year 6 pupils being a memorable and educationally valuable at the end of an intense year of learning.

The summit is conquered

Relationships with staff and children are excellent: The children relate well to David and he to them, he inspires, motivates and values all individuals. They always have a wonderful time and reflect with positivity on their day out.

1, 2, 3, jump!

All staff have fed back positively following annual walks on Dartmoor, enjoying the time out in the natural environment and learning about the moorland habitat and heritage.

Children’s Comments:

The trip was great especially the blueberries (whortleberries) and wild strawberries!

It was amazing because we saw where bronze age people lived.

The trip was amazing: I loved the view from the tor – I would love to go again.

It was the best trip I’ve ever been on!

Dartmoor was EPIC! I would do it again.

I thought it was fun because we saw prehistoric houses and tombs and found things we could eat!

Bronze age burial site

You can get two of your five a day. The berries tasted amazing!

The best day EVER!

It was a fun filled day with lots of things to learn, do and find.

The trip was tremendous. My favourite part was climbing the tor.

I enjoyed it because I learned new things and had fun,

When we climbed Bellever Tor I was flabbergasted.

                                             Jumping across gaps is good

The best trip EVER. Can we go again?

The best trip we have been on; it was an amazing day.

If you would like to consider a ‘Guided Play Walk’ for your Year 6 post SATs or indeed any kS2 Year group any time. Please get in touch at davidbglenny@gmail.com and I will contact you to discuss details and dates

N.B. Other Moorland, Coast and Woodland venues are available!

Curriculum-based Dartmoor Experience

Dear Reader!

I am currently putting together packages for schools to address specific National Curriculum requirements for Key stage 2 History and Geography. All the below can be brought to life during a day visit to Dartmoor lead by a knowledgeable teacher/guide. (O.k. I mean me!)

History: 2/1.1    Pre-Roman Britain: Pupils should be taught about changes in Britain from the Stone Age to the Iron Age

  1. a.    late Neolithic hunter-gatherers and early farmers
  2. b.    Bronze Age religion, technology and travel
  3. c.    Iron Age hill forts: tribal kingdoms, farming, art and culture


Geography: 2/1.4    Geographical Skills and Fieldwork

  1. Geography 2/1.4b    use the 8 points of a compass, 4 and 6-figure grid references, symbols and key (including the use of Ordnance Survey maps) to build their knowledge of the United Kingdom and the wider world
Elements of local history, human and physical geography can also be included.
Feel free to get in touch for a no obligation discussion – pre-visits to work on map and compass skills in school can be included.
davidbglenny@gmail.com or david@outsideandbeyond.co.uk or 07522 909 066

Forest Child

At a meeting this morning I sat next to Helen Brown from the Forestry Commission based at their Centre on Haldon Hill near Exeter. Thinking about the ‘play walks’ I offer and my previous post relating to children of the Bronze age, it was not long before I was mulling over something similar for Haldon Forest. A chance for children to think about and immerse themselves through free play and role play into the life of a Forest child (including learning important lessons for life and survival).

I regularly lead Walks in the Bellever area on Central Dartmoor which include open moorland and time in the Forest. But Haldon offers the opportunity of more of a forest focus within easy reach of schools from Exeter and much of Devon. Although I am familiar with the area, my plan is to spend time there over the next few weeks to plan routes which can include time for uninterrupted play opportunities as well as learning about the ecology and management of the forest.

Watch this space! (No cliches on this site)

Play like an Egyptian

O.k. I don’t mean Egyptians, but there were people living on Dartmoor building their own monuments while the pyramids were being erected in the valley of the Nile. We are realising that these Dartmoor dwellers, emerging from the neolithic into the bronze age, were a sophisticated people with trade stretching into Europe and maybe beyond.

It is not hard to imagine similarities between us when we have photographic evidence and film of people in, to us, remote parts of the world living hunter gatherer, or pastoral lives without the benefit of the technology advances we enjoy.

But what about the children? All the evidence suggests that play was at the heart of their development, they played to learn. We see it not just in humans but in all the higher order mammals. How did those children learn to to become hunters or farmers or light fires or build a waterproof shelter? How did they learn what they were capable of physically, to run, to jump, to throw?

If you want a glimpse into the lives of those children give your children the opportunity for extended play in wild areas, see how they test themselves, support each other, explore, invent games, develop skills.

Devon Education for Sustainability Conference

I attended this annual conference for the first time on Friday last week. Organised by DESWG (WG=Working Group) of which I recently became a ‘member’. I use the term loosely as I haven’t yet been able to attend a  meeting. However I had a very enjoyable day. Interesting workshops, discussion groups and plenty of time for networking, with the bonus of the legendary Buckfast Abbey conference Centre lunch. There were a good number of schools represented and a large number of organisations providing related services and support to schools.

This link will take you to the DESWG page of the Natural Devon website for more information.


Dartmoor Educators’ Conference

This took place earlier today and, as always, provided an interesting and enjoyable networking opportunity as well as a chance to catch up with various moor-based projects. I’m looking forward to following up some of the contacts made. If you are interested in attending this annual event in future then contact Orlando at the National Park offices at Parke n.r. Bovey Tracey.

Article published

I’m delighted to have my ‘Woodland Playwalk’ article publish in ‘Horizons’ the Spring 2017 edition of the IOL (Institute of Outdoor Learning) members magazine. I sometimes have difficulty explaining succinctly what is unique about my approach, however, although I say so myself I am happy that the article captures the essence of what I do.

St John’s Primary School: Bridgetown, Totnes

My thanks to head teacher Andrew Squire and the staff and children of St John’s Primary School who are allowing me to visit their school each week to observe children at play. I am passionate about the value of free play for all ages and in helping schools to understand what is being missed if play opportunities are undervalued and marginalised. After only two extended visits I have taken many notes and I hope that not only will I learn a great deal but that the school will benefit from discussing my observations. I am creating a new website to focus on play and playful approaches to teaching and learning and will share the details as soon as it is up and running.

Forest skills update

I recently attended a two-day forest skills course run by Chris at ‘Wildwise’ – www.wildwise.co.uk ) at Dartington. While I have some experience of firelighting, foraging and shelter building it was more than just brushing up on skills, I learnt considerably more than I perhaps expected in those areas as well as use of knives etc.

It was a small group and Chris has a very relaxed manner and great expertise. I would thoroughly recommend it. He also works with children and families and hosts other courses such as ‘Environmental Storytelling’ which I hope to attend next year.

Time to update!

Much has happened since my last post – more successful play-based, inclusive, affordable residentials have happened with fantastic feedback from the children. Shakespeare Primary (featured in my previous post) have again had some great days out.

As my days with a local authority inclusion project are reducing to just a couple a month I am looking to develop my out door work further. This is happening alongside an increasing interest in the value of play for children especially across the primary age range. This has lead to a great deal of reading and research. I am looking forward to developing this interest, writing for outdoor publications and running workshops. I aim to continue the good work that others are doing to tackle the risk-averse culture that still pervades some schools when it comes to allowing children the freedom to play on wild areas. within widely drawn boundaries.

I will now try to update this website more often – please visit again!