On a cold, rainy day at the beginning of February, we joined the Bolsover Nature Explorers on their monthly family friendly nature walk. Set up and run by four local people with a passion for getting children involved in the outdoors the group has been running for three months and is supported by shift Community Builder Nathan.
Despite the dreary weather and thanks to teaming up with popular local initiative Bolsover Rocks the latest event saw 30 families out exploring the local area. There was a lot of mud, bugs and rock hunting but the most noticeable thing was the amount of laughter and the excitement on the children’s faces.
Sarah, Terri, Ellen and Kevin tell their story……
Sarah Bennett is a local mum to two children and is married to husband Kevin who also helps with the practicalities of organising the walks. As a Walking for Health leader, Cub Scout leader and a member of the Bolsover Civic Society Committee she’s passionate about getting young people involved in anything which promotes the local area in a good light. She came up with the idea to combine walking and nature with activities for families.
She said: “It all started from my love of getting out walking with the children at the weekends. I’m really passionate about getting children involved in nature and the outdoors and ultimately about making it fun for them.
“I had an idea to start up some sort of nature walk with activities for children but had no idea how to go about it. I met Nathan from shift at the Community Volunteers Project and he helped us with funding to buy equipment.
“The walks take place monthly with themes ranging from blackberry picking to making stick men and the next one will be around the Gruffalo.
“I’m starting my training to be a forest school practitioner in March so I can take it further, although I’m not sure exactly what I’m going to do with that yet.”
Ellen Mackenzie knew Sarah through their children attending the same school and was keen to be involved. She brings lots of relevant skills to the group from working with the Brownies.
She said: “There’s nothing to do like this in Bolsover. The closest things are a car journey away and a lot of people in Bolsover don’t drive. I really wanted to help give families the opportunity to get out in the fresh air.
“I suffer from ill health and depression and being outdoors really helps with that. I’m also a single mum so the only way I can fit outdoors activity in is through things I can do with my son and daughter.
“My main worry about doing this was whether anyone would come. It started off with us just sharing news through mums at school and my work with the Brownies.
“Joining up with Bolsover Rocks has really helped us to get the word out there and it’s been a great turnout given the weather. It’s given me confidence that we can do it.”
Terri Lawton is a Walking for Health leader and Nursery Nurse and lives in Shirebrook. To help get the walks up and running Sarah and Ellen needed a qualified leader and that’s where Terri stepped in.
Terri said: “I’m a Walking for Health leader in the surrounding areas and when I heard about the idea Sarah and Ellen had I jumped at the chance to be involved.
“The nature reserve around here is a great place for children to explore. A lot of people just see it as a through route to get from A to B but there’s so much more here we want to show people.
“Hopefully it will promote the area to people so they are able to use it independently outside of the organised nature walks too.”
For more information on the Nature Explorers visit their facebook page here