Latest News - last updated 30 MAY 2013
- New bushcraft area is completed. After a lot of demolition, followed by some serious construction work, our new bushcraft shelter and store is now ready for use. This will link in well with the woodland area we have been developing over the past 18 months, to provide an excellent base for groups doing bushcraft on our site. It may even be suitable for some groups to consider an overnight bivvi?
Clearance work . . . .
During construction . . . .
The finished product . . . . waiting for you to try it out!
- Spring finally arrives in the woodland glade. After a particularly cold winter we finally saw the results of all the hard work by our schools that were doing the John Muir award back in September. Many Spring flowers were planted which have now popped their heads out, and it makes our woodland area really attractive. Thanks to everyone who helped with the clearing and planting - we hope to do some more planting this September to make an even bigger impact next year!
- Brand new low ropes course a big hit. After a lot of designing, digging and building we finally opened our new low ropes course and traversing wall for our groups to use. The new course combines a small part of the old with many new elements, giving us 16 linked elements in total. So far the feedback has been very positive and we are looking forward to more groups enjoying it throughout the summer.
Low ropes course Traversing and peg wall
- Lab redecorated and revamped. During our quiet period over Christmas we took some time to redecorate the laboratory. We stripped out many of the old benches, gas taps and sink and have given it a fresher look, repainting and carpeting it. We have also installed an interactive white board for our groups to use which, combined with our new wi-fi, should give a great new classroom facility. All we need now is a few pictures on the wall and a new name for the room - all suggestions welcome!
The SMART board gets its first use with A Level students from Southam College.
- Staff gain more qualifications
Congratulations to Will and Helena for passing the first stage of their underground mine leader award. This means that even more of our staff will soon be qualified to take groups on underground adventures which is an ever more popular activity and a really exciting and different environment to explore.
After two years of commitment, hard work, two cancelled assessments and many weeks battling through the snow, ice and winds of Scottish winters, Simon has now passed his Mountain Instructors Certificate. This is a very high level award and allows him to instruct snow and ice climbing, run winter skills courses and give top quality technical advice to others. An outstanding achievement and one which all of us at Marle Hall are proud. Well done Simon! . . . . and look out for Scottish winter courses advertised next year!
Simon emerging through a cornice in Scotland
Just before Christmas three of our staff - Will, Jess and Duncan braved the freezing water for a week in order to gain a canoeing and kayaking award that will help them move up the qualification ladder. Despite the cold they all passed with flying colours and can now look forward to using their newly gained knowledge and skills to improve the experience for our clients. And for Duncan, it was a well earned break from answering all your queries in the office!
John Muir Award work continues. Now that we are well into the Autumn term we have had several of our regular Primary Schools visit us. A few have been participating in the John Muir Award. Last year we began work on a neglected area of our grounds which we are turning into a wildlife area. It is beginning to look great but there is still planty of work to be done! Thank you to everyone who has helped so far.
- New trainee instructors. A few weeks ago we welcomed two more trainee instructors to the Marle Hall team. Jess Print is from Warwickshire and was first here with her school a few years ago. She was also a regular student on our summer advanced courses. Frances Galbraith is our sixth student from Chichester University. They are both very keen to get out and haven't stopped since they arrived!
Jess having fun underground... Frances out climbing...
- Major developments at the centre. During May half term we had some major work undertaken around the building. Our drying room has been redesigned and is now much better for everyone. This follows on from the customer feedback and proves that we really do listen to your comments! We have also redesigned our top car park which now accommodates all four of our trailers and the two minibuses with ease. I wonder who will be the first instructor to reverse a trailer into the new wall??
Top car park before..... And after.....
The "new look" drying room...
- Marle Hall's longest serving employee, Grace Ryland, has retired. On Friday 27 April, Grace, the creator of our nationally famous flap jacks and resident bushcraft expert, left us. Grace joined the Marle hall team in way back in 1981 and since then has been a highly valued member of the gang. We had a small team gathering for her to wish her well in the future. She promises to return occasionally so, you never know, Grace might be helping out on your bushcraft activity next time you are here! She does make exceedingly good damper bread!
- John Muir Project News... The latest school to help out on our big project was Tysoe Primary School. Once again, we had several different projects running here and also at some important conservation areas around Conwy. Over the past few months, several schools have been busy landscaping our river and wooded area. With the help of Tysoe pupils it is really taking shape. A huge thank you to all the staff and pupils of Tysoe Primary School for another brilliant week.
The river bed getting some much needed attention....
- John Muir Project News. Newbold Riverside Primary School visitied us recently. During the week the pupils made a huge contribution to our big JMU conservation project. A huge thank you to everyone at the school for all of the hard work.
The team who made fat balls for our wild birds. The team landscaping our stream bed.
- Scottish Winter Action. Will and Steve went to Scotland with Simon during half term. We spent the week learning about the skills required to work and climb on Scotland's biggest mountains in winter. We had several day's climbing on Ben Nevis, a day in Glencoe and a day on Aonach Mor. There was plenty of snow and steep ice to climb and it was a very busy week!
The world from the summit of Ben Nevis......
Will on steep ice... Steve in wild weather on No 3 Gully Buttress
- More celebrations and cake. St Gregory's Primary School stayed with us this week. The Headmaster, Mr Michael Caveney, who has been coming for twenty years is retiring this year. We wish him well in his future plans. We were also delighted to share a mile stone birthday with, Mrs Marguerite Kirby, a teacher at the school. The Marle Hall team wish everyone at the school well and hopefully we will see St Gregory's Primary School for another amazing week in two years. Grace Ryland, our fantastic morning cook, baked and decorated some amazing cakes to help us celebrate.
Mr Caveney looking very happy... The amazing roses Grace created for Marguerite's cake...
- Staffroom renovations. In January, we gutted the old staffroom to improve the facilities for our customers. Helena and Liz have created a very tranquil and peaceful room, just what Teachers need after a busy day out in the mountains. We think it looks great and we hope you enjoy it when you visit us. Be careful, you may not want to leave!
Martin having a chat with some visiting staff...
- Marle Hall OEC is 40 years old! In December we celebrated our 40th birthday. Warwickshire County Council purchased the building way back in 1971! The building itself is a lot older - 400 yrs!! We organised a big party and invited instructors, teaching staff, WCC staff and Councillors to dance the night away to a local Ceilidh band. Thank you to everyone who helped organise the party and thank you to everyone who attended.
Our old trainees looking cool.... Simon and his wife, Crystal.
Some serious moves on the dance floor.....................................................
- Staff Training news. Will, Steve and Simon went kayaking for a day recently on Afon Llugwy. Will and Steve are working towards their 3 star kayak which we are planning to complete before Christmas.
- John Muir Award work continues. At the end of November, we had an amazing team of pupils from St Benedict's Primary School staying at the centre. During an extremely busy and adventurous week, we had lots of conservation work happening. Another great big thank you to the super staff and pupils from the Marle Hall team.
- John Muir Award news. Coten End Primary School stayed with us recently. During the week we had six conservation projects running!! We had pupils doing tree surveys, log piles, bug piles, bat boxes and bird boxes. Another amazing week. A great big thank you to Coten End for all of your help. Photos below....
- Chetwynd PS 25 yrs. In November, Chetwynd visited us for the 25th year in a row! They are one of our most valued customers and we are very grateful for their continued support. A very big thank you to the dedicated staff and super pupils of Chetwynd Primary School from the Marle Hall team.
- Voluntary Instructor training day. During half term, we spent three days coaching our new VI's, Will and Steve. Helena was navigating with them on Wednesday on Tal y Fan in preparation for ML courses. Simon and the VI's went into the Glyders on Thursday, scrambling and short roping around Idwal slabs area, Cneifion Arete and an adventure onto Glyder Fach via Chasm Face. On Friday, they went climbing on Holyhead Mountain looking at safe rock climbing techniques, gear placement and rope work in preparation for SPA courses.
- Staff training day. Martin, Helena, Liz, Simon, Will, Steve and Rowan went for some underground staff training on Tuesday. We visited a local metal mine for some great adventures in the dark. We use these days to keep up with current safe practice and chat about what we should do when underground with our customers. The day was a great success, we even managed to get Helena underground!!!
- New High Ropes Activity. We have just had an amazing crate stacking activity installed with the BLT. The instructors tried it on Monday and had a great time. We hope you find it as challenging as we did! We managed 17 crates, how high can you go?
Will and Steve going for the record... but Liz and Helena's great design won!
- Work continues... Brookhurst Primary School joined us recently to help with our big conservation projects. We had some pupils helping us on our partnership project with the Woodland Trust, some continuing to develop our wildlife meadow and finally, a team getting stuck into the major work on our pond. However the pond work was rudely interupted by a wasps nest which has already been removed! A big "Marle Hall" thank you to all of the amazing pupils of Brookhurst.
The pupils of Brookhurst Primary School on the John Muir Award conservation task....
- John Muir Award Conservation Project - Our new John Muir Award conservation project is underway! We are creating a large pond below our high ropes course and a nature garden by our zipline. A couple of weeks ago Woodside Primary School created some toad homes and fat balls for feeding the birds who will visit our garden.
Woodside PS toad homes doing well!
Our project leapt into action recently with the help of pupils from St John's Primary School, Banbury. The very enthusiastic team of pioneers helped us to design and name our new projects, experiment with ideas for our willow fence, clear vast oceans of ivy from our pond area discovering another natural spring in the process and find out lots of information to help us along the way. An amazing start to our new development. A huge thank you to everyone involved.
A few photos of our pioneers from St John's.....
- Fire Warden Training. Some of the Marle Hall team completed the Fire Warden training course today. This course covers all relevant fire safety regulations helping us to protect you, our customers. We also get the opportunity to extinguish small controlled fires with fire extinguishers which was good fun!
Gary having a go on CO2... Duncan blasting away... and Grace trying to escape the chaos...
- Our New Staff Team. Our team has changed a lot over the last couple of months. Our new Centre Administrator is Duncan de Silva and he is a keen rock climber. Our new groundsman/storeperson is Gary Mason who goes scuba diving all over the world. We have two new trainee instructors who will be with us for one year. Will Adams is from Leicestershire and has worked for Kingsbury Water Park OEC as a sailing instructor. Steven Daniels is our fifth student from Chichester University and he is also a keen climber. Click here for photos
- Marle Hall continues to improve its service. Over the last few months we have been improving the service we provide for our customers. A full salad bar is now available for everyone and a choice of evening meals during your stay! These recent developments have been very popular with both staff and children.
- Charlie Trotman, our famous storeman, has retired. We have reached the end of an era as Charlie turned 65 recently. We had a great retirement gathering for him. Many of our freelance instructors and permanent staff, past and present, turned up to walk over The Great Orme on Saturday 9th April. We finished the day off with a visit to Charlie's favourite cafe and plenty of scones and cakes. Charlie is keeping himself busy by volunteering at our local hospital, the theatre - Venue Cymru, plenty of mountain walking and popping in to see us occasionally.
The team at The Greenery cafe...
We currently have some blank or partially filled weeks still available for this academic year. Dates available from January until the end of the summer 2012 can be seen by clicking here.