Learning while having fun at the same time is the holy grail of anyone involved in education. These three destinations welcome groups of younger people to do just that.
One of the key points of any school trip is to enable pupils to experience sights and activities that would be impossible or difficult in a classroom environment. Eureka! The National Children’s Museum in Yorkshire is an interactive learning museum and educational charity, with all galleries and programmes linked to the National Curriculum. Aimed at ages 0 to 11, all the hands-on exhibits are designed to encourage learning in a fun environment; opened in 1992, Eureka! is based on the North American model of children’s museums. Sections include ‘All About Me’, ‘Living and Working Together’ and ‘SoundSpace’ as well as outdoor areas such as the ‘Wonder Walk’ sensory trail. One of the best things about Eureka! is that it is designed and run by experts, who are also available to give workshops to school groups.
For a day out that also covers lots of National Curriculum modules while encouraging groups to get outdoors and experience something different, Crich Tramway Village in Derbyshire is a unique visitor attraction with wide appeal. Beautifully restored trams run to and fro down a cobbled street past the former Derby Assembly rooms before passing under the Bowes-Lyon Bridge. The track then climbs for a mile and a half, providing passengers with breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside and Derwent Valley. For those who wish, getting off the tram at this point gives a chance to experience the fascinating Woodland Walk & Sculpture Trail which winds its way back to the village. Young people will learn all about heritage engineering and restoration with a visit to the Workshop Viewing Gallery where they can watch current restoration projects. Groups can be catered for with pre-booked guided tours, special discounted admission, group catering arrangements and free coach parking.
The world-renowned Cheddar Gorge, one of the UK’s most spectacular natural locations, is a brilliant place to take school groups or groups of young visitors. There are no less than seven great attractions for groups to explore, and the area includes stunning stalactite caverns and dramatic cliff-top views, as well as rare bats, dormice, water voles and falcons.
At almost 400 feet deep and three miles long, Cheddar Gorge is England’s largest gorge. The gorge began forming about one million years ago during the last Ice Age, when water from melting glaciers formed a river, which over time carved into the limestone rock creating the steep cliffs seen today. The Cheddar Yeo River gradually made its way underground, creating the famous Cheddar Caves.
The seven attractions include the spectacular Gough’s Cave, full of stalactites. In 1903, the skeletal remains of ‘Cheddar Man’ were unearthed, and today the story of ancient man is brought to life in the Museum of Prehistory. Alternatively, a journey through the gorge takes visitors to Cox’s Cave, a brilliantly coloured crystalline grotto with fantastic calcite sculptures, dancing fountains, mirror pools and evocative music and lighting.
Groups of youngsters looking for something active and adventurous can try out ‘Adventure Caving’, a caving expedition deep inside the Mendip Hills with climbs, crawls and squeezes. Other options include rock climbing, where groups will start with an easy climb and quickly progress to a 50ft cliff face in this world-class centre for climbers, or cave abseiling, which is a truly unique experience where groups are led to the Black Cat Chamber with a 25ft free hanging abseil through a hole in the roof.