The weather so far this autumn and going into winter has been awful. Days, weeks, months of rain have turned our footpaths into mud baths, our fields into swamps and our feet have become webbed (not really!).
The rain is the most challenging of weather conditions for a school that is based outdoors. Everything is saturated, the vehicles smell of damp, the classrooms are covered in mud, the taxi’s are fed up with transporting filthy children around.
We had three cold dry days last week which lifted everyone’s spirits. It may have been -3C but that didn’t matter – the ground was crisp, the sky was blue and that yellow thing in the sky that gives us warmth and life was shining brightly down upon us.
But it didn’t last long. It’s raining again and everyone is hopeful for some more cold dry weather with frosty mornings and clear skies will be with us soon… or even cloudy days with no rain…
There is no doubt that our climate is changing. Our winters are wetter and our springs warmer – although I always remember August being wet even when I was a child which was quite a long time ago now.
Keeping warm with layers
For our staff and students its about wearing layers, waterproofs and good quality walking boots. For our staff its about staying cheerful in the face of adversity and helping our students do the same.
For the school and organisation its about thinking outside the box and finding ways of enabling our staff and students to turn a negative situation such as it’s raining (really hard), into a positive experience such as going puddle jumping! And to do this safely.
The weather on Dartmoor is far more challenging than, for example, in the nearby city of Exeter. Butterdon Wood, the home of Running Deer School is on the north-east edge of Dartmoor with Fingle woods, owned by the Woodland Trust, below us and the small town of Moretonhampstead behind us.
From the top of Butterdon Wood we can see right across the Culm Valley to Exmoor on a clear day. The views are spectacular. But when the weather is blowing in from that direction – we are the first to get it. It has been colder at Butterdon Wood than on the centre of Dartmoor at times!
Everyone who works or attends Running Deer School has that resilience to deal with some pretty challenging weather conditions. That resilience gives strength and determination to our students to keep going despite the rain.
The wet weather is perhaps our greatest challenge as a school that lives and breathes outdoors. Perhaps we need to add flippers to our wet weather gear!