Symington Beavers lend a helping hand on sensory trail at Wiston Lodge

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A Clydesdale charity has received a helping hand from children to improve an educational trail which was badly hit by storms.

Wiston Lodge welcomed the Symington Beavers section of Biggar-Tinto Scouts on Thursday, March 23, for an evening on the Path of the Little People sensory trail.

The youngsters helped with various jobs, counting towards their community badge. They were the first children to have used the path since its rebuild, ahead of an Easter family fun day.

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They made bird feeders and bug hotels and helped to paint a caravan. The evening was led by youth workers from Wiston Lodge, an outdoor centre which specialises in learning development for young people which has been an independent charity since 2007.

The Symington Beavers section of Biggar-Tinto Scouts were a huge help on the trail. (Pics: Alan Jones)The Symington Beavers section of Biggar-Tinto Scouts were a huge help on the trail. (Pics: Alan Jones)
The Symington Beavers section of Biggar-Tinto Scouts were a huge help on the trail. (Pics: Alan Jones)

The Path of the Little People is a funded area, originally supported by BBC Children in Need in 2016 and now by the National Lottery Community Fund. It was laid out with features to aid sensory education – mainly for children with additional learning needs.

Areas such as percussion instruments and drums, a Viking longboat, crannog and mud kitchen allow children to learn through outdoor experiences, which relate directly to parts of the curriculum. History, music, science and the environment are all supported through activity based on story-telling, sound, renewables and nature.

In February 2022, a large part of the western edge of the path was destroyed by storms, wrecking the mud kitchen and cutting off some areas. The projects team at Wiston has spent a year reworking the route. The carved mud kitchen was dismantled, moved and rebuilt into an extended hub. The drums were moved and new tracks laid. The crannog received a new roof and walkways, which link it to the mud kitchen and the newly painted “Wiston Wanderer” caravan, whose decorations now include the Beavers’ handprints.

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Alan Jones, who has co-ordinated the work, said: “My task over the past year has been to rethink the path. Although the rebuild took me away from working with groups of young people, it was vital the path was restored and it was an opportunity to improve on certain features.

The Symington Beavers were kept busy on the trail!The Symington Beavers were kept busy on the trail!
The Symington Beavers were kept busy on the trail!

“We choose our new site near the Wiston Wanderer, where the plan was to create a central hub. I wanted to extend the facility on both sides. To the left, we built a new seating space and water pumping station for the kids to use. On the right, we built a 26ft covered fire pit area which will accommodate our groups under even the worst of the Scottish weather.

“The young Scouts loved adding their handprints to the Wiston Wanderer and their bug hotels and bird feeders will encourage wildlife into this new area, which has been under construction for so long and is now ready to enjoy and be a learning environment again.”

The improvements link the trail better with other areas including the longboat and story-telling hut.

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The team at Wiston have been busy organising the Good Friday event, which will take the form of a treasure hunt of animal clues and chocolate prizes.

There will also be story-telling, toasted marshmallows around the firepit and mud kitchen play. Facepainting, cookie decorating, and archery will be happening elsewhere in the grounds, plus Easter roast wraps and burgers will be on sale at a marquee cafe. Entry including the activities is £10 per child, with under-twos free.

Tickets can be booked at wistonlodge.com/2023/03/07/easter-family-trail-book-now. Otherwise, the path is accessible by prior booking, to protect its funded status for learning.

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