Aiming high at the RockBlok – day two! Shelters – Dens – Paddles and Boats

Up before the alarm once again, with a hot cup of tea to awaken and several items of essential equipment loaded into the rucksacks me and my family head for the RockBlok for day two.

Today’s adventure journey will take us into Blue Bell Woods on the beautiful North Shore of Rutland Water, just a short walk from our centre. Here we will build dens and shelters from both equipment stowed in our rucksacks and from the natural recourse that will be abundant below the canopy of the woods, before going onto Whitwell Creek where we will board canoes and head onto the water for a paddle.

In preparation before our group arrive we recce the woods making sure our chosen location is suitable to find that over the past few days a tree has come down and is laying along the forest floor just perfect for our intended tasks to come. We head back to the centre to await our groups arrival, for them this is their big day, an awaited adventure has finally arrived. Some of the group were with us on day one; others are new to our centre so we take time to introduce our team to our newcomers before heading away from the centre and head for the woods.

Before we left the centre we issued our adventurers our nature quest sheets with pictures of things to locate and collect such as leaves and other objects along the way, as we head for Blue Bell Woods which now stands in front of us as we approach with its tall trees standing proud, branches full with lush green foliage fed by the constant downpours of summer rain. But today let it rain as our aim is to build shelters to, keep us dry protecting us from the damp and wet.

We walk further into the depths of the forest to locate the clearing that will be our building plot, here we will work together to build dens and shelters. First we need to locate a suitable tree to form our shelter around, once complete the shelter will take the form of a wigwam.

We set to the task of searching the forest floor for our building components; ideally we need to find as many long branches as possible to pile one on top of another laying lengthways, upright resting against the main trunk of the tree that we had chosen earlier. By now all of the group are busy, eager to collect as many branches as possible. As we search for more our senses take on board our surroundings, noses picking out the damp smell of the earthy surroundings of decaying branches, leaves and moss, interrupted by the fresher, sharp smell of ferns, our sight senses locate and direct us towards what we see as suitable branches, we grab out grasping the chosen branch ready to transport it away from the ground to our almost now completed shelter, but disappointingly the branch deteriorates as we try to persuade it away from its resting place, too rotten to use

we search on with the sense of urgency that comes with building a structure that will keep us safe and comfortable from the outside weather.

This is what being outdoors, adventuring and exploring new places is all about; with each branch lifted our adventurers find lots of interesting things to draw their attention, as I am approached by one of our group, his arm extended towards me, his fist clenched but slowly released open, reveals a very large slug, the young man eager to show me his trophy find, proud to show me his bravery in capturing and retaining such a beast, carefully he returns the miniature monster back to its leafy home.

With our shelters almost complete all we need to do is add a few finishing touches, we collect fresh leaved branches from the fallen tree felled by previous heavy winds and rain, before carefully placing these around the outside of the shelter creating a thatched roof of leaves, this will keep the wet out. Finally we collect fresh ferns and moss to carpet the floor preventing the damp from creeping up from our shelter floor.

Now water tight with a comfortable carpet of ferns and moss to sit on we celebrate our achievement and new gained skills, all happy to have played a part in creating something together.

Time now to make our way back to the centre, a little tired and hungry from our effort’s it’s time for a well-earned rest and some lunch before heading out to Whitwell Creek for an afternoon on or possibly in the water!

Rested and all fuelled up for more fun and exploration we head for the creek just a few hundred yards from the Rockblok. With buoyancy aids fitted and paddles issued we board our craft in the form of open Canadian canoes along with a very sturdy catacanoe (two canoes attached together for stability).

We paddle into open water before racing with each canoe team in a point to point race between bright buoyant markers. With everyone cheering, shouting and splashing one another the excitement builds, our challenge now is to paddle backwards, trying to keep in a straight line so as to reach the shoreline only we seem to be going around in circles, the laughter continues along with a little frustration that comes with unintentionally heading in the wrong direction. With the fun only just beginning we are now challenged even further, tasked now with having to stand upright and paddle to the shore, if this is something you have been fortunate enough not to try then my advice is don’t, you may get rather wet! Our final challenge is the fun and speedy water polo game, each canoe team are tasked with collecting a ball from the water by scooping this up with their paddles then lobbing the ball into a static boat, if successful with the ball hitting the target and landing in the boat, before opposing canoe teams manage block the ball you will have scored a goal, this is great fun even though a little competitive.

With everyone now extremely wet we head back to shore where several members of the group take up the opportunity to take a dip from the jetty before the days adventures are complete.

We’ve had great fun over the past two days together, all learning new skills together but most of all we’ve had fun in the outdoors, “SUPER STUFF”.

To find out more about our group activities including what we can offer to disability groups please give us a call on 01780 460060.
We look forward chatting with you.


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