A school ‘Welly Walk’ has been launched by West Hoathly C of E Primary School. The new walk completes a project between the High Weald Partnership’s Education Officer and the school to plan and develop the route. Following a special Welly Walk-themed assembly each pupil received a copy of the Welly Walk leaflet which has been printed for the school and the local community.
The 4km circular Welly Walk starts and ends at the school gate and passes through wildlife-rich ancient woodland. The walk will make it possible for the school to run outdoor learning activities inspired by the history and wildlife of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the protected medieval landscape which surrounds West Hoathly. Special features of the area which can be found on the school’s doorstep include sandstone outcrops and steep-sided streams (or gills).
Clare Holmes, Year 3/4 teacher, is enthusiastic about the value of the Welly Walk. “It is fantastic for children to understand how history is embedded in the landscape around them. The Welly Walk is invaluable for outdoor learning." A pupil from year 5 who helped to develop the walk said: “It brings everyone together and makes people actually think about nature and wildlife.”
Councillor Christoper Hersey, Mid-Sussex District Council’s representative on the High Weald Partnership, is a keen supporter of the organisation’s Education Programme. “We live in a very special and precious place; outdoor learning provides young people with treasured experiences and memories and encourages care of the area for future generations”.
Rachel Bennington, Education Officer, helps schools develop Welly Walks. “We have a fantastic footpath network and Welly Walks enable schools to make use of it, improving children’s knowledge about their environment as well as their health and well-being”.
The walk is the latest in a series of school Welly Walks that have been developed by the High Weald Partnership working with the area’s primary schools. There are now 56 High Weald Welly Walks across Kent, Sussex and Surrey, many of which are used by schools on a regular basis.