DofE Gold Residentials at YHA Danywenallt

In each of the school holidays this year, YHA Danywenallt is running a number of activity weeks for those participating in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold Award. These will fulfil all of the criteria for the Gold Residential, lasting for 5 days with 4 overnights. Participants need to book these Residentials for themselves, as a big part of this element of the award is to meet and work with new people. As such, part of our weeks will be spent getting to know the other participants, as well as taking part in conservation work with the National Park Rangers, or helping us to run activities for local children. For the conservation Residentials, we’re also going to be working towards the entry level John Muir Award -join us to make a real difference to the countryside that surrounds us! For the children’s activity weeks, you’ll be helping us to run activities that encourage children to get out, explore and enjoy their environment, and teaching them new skills

See the flyer below for details, please use the contact details listed if you need more information.

We are particularly keen to get people onto the May Half Term Residentials: there are still spaces -don’t delay!!! Please share with anyone you know that is currently looking to get their Gold Award. Thank you!


Easter Activities: Nature Detectives at BWHC

Millipede Woodlouse

So, this Easter I’m running a number of ‘Nature Detectives’-style activities at the Blaenavon World Heritage Centre. We’ve already had one on April 1st, and despite a pretty cold day, we still managed to find a few bits and pieces. We searched for mini beasts with the help of pitfall traps, sweep nets and a beating tray (actually just a big white sheet and a stick!), and here are the results:

To see the full spreadsheet in all its glory on one single view, please follow this link: I’ve provided links to pictures and videos of the more unusual things to help you picture what’s what. I should say they are all external links and I’m not responsible for the content.

Hope you find it interesting!? What we’re looking for basically is that spring has sprung in Blaenavon (and on the evidence so far, it hasn’t). When we’ve done day 2 (on the 8th April), I’ll finish it off (fingers crossed for a warmer, drier day). Those sessions will be essentially the same (i.e. still looking at pitfalls and daffodils, but we may not do sweep nets and/or beating trays -it depends how things go on the day).

See either: our Facebook page, or the Visit Blaenavon website for details of what’s going on.

SUPPLEMENTARY: Great weather for day 2 -it couldn’t have been more different! After a bright and sunny Easter Weekend, the gardens at the Heritage Centre have exploded into life. The number of flowering daffs increased by over 5800% -incredible! We also found a greater diversity (i.e. more different kinds) of minibeasts, although the springtails were still the largest population by far.

Holiday Activities at YHA Danywenallt 2015

Now that spring is springing (too early to say sprung I would say!), it’s time to unleash the programme of holiday activities planned for YHA Danywenallt, in the Talybont Valley this year. Those of you in the Beacons who get the CariAds Local Magazine may have seen the recent advert, which is below:

Magazine-AdThe idea is that we’ll have at least one activity running each week throughout the school holidays in 2015, with Bushcraft Days planned for Tuesdays (watch this space for any changes/extra dates). The first day will be March 31st, and we’ll be starting with a fire-lighting session (always a good place to start), which will include natural tinders and flint & steel. Alongside that there’ll be a few games, a bit of cooking (I’m on the look out for new recipes now) and some foraging around the Hostel. The second will be on April 7th, to include more (simple) cooking and some lightweight shelter-building. If they sound interesting, please visit the Facebook page to join the event you’d like to attend and we’ll take it from there, or alternatively phone 01874 676677. Sessions will generally run from 2-4pm at a cost of £5/per child and we’re aiming this at the 7-11 age group (although we are quite flexible). As with all previous Bushcraft Days, a responsible adult will need to be reachable and close by for emergency purposes (even better if they stay and get involved!), and the children need to come prepared for getting dirty, smoky, potentially a bit wet, and ready for whatever the weather has to throw at them (we’ll only call it off for the worst conditions, but be warned, the programme may change at the last minute).

In the Whitsun holidays we’ll do the same (details of the Bushcraft Day to follow), but we’re also holding How to Build Your Dragon Day -2! This year’s event has changed and will be held on the Friday 29th May, to include activities for all ages, with story telling, craft and games for the little-uns (maybe even a bit of magic (TBC)!), and plenty of dragon-related things to make and do for the older ones. We’ll be making dragons of all shapes and sizes using all sorts of materials, and may end up seeing if they’re any good at flying. Watch the Facebook page for further information.

When the summer holidays come around, there’ll be even more going on, including our Bushcraft Week, which this year is from Monday 3rd August until Friday 7th. As in previous years, there’ll be a bit of everything bushcraft-y, allowing more in-depth exploration of the great outdoors. Times, costs and other details to follow soon! Again, get in touch through this site or the Facebook page to find out more.

Newsletter: Issue 1


An open letter to any old customers of Ty’r Morwydd Environmental Study Centre (known to some as Mulberry House) in Abergavenny, and indeed anyone interested in our work here in the Brecon Beacons, from Stephen Tyrrell:

A little over two and a half years since the closure of Ty’r Morwydd, I thought it would be good to review how things have gone and spread the word about how things are developing in this neck of the woods. I think you would call me a portfolio worker now, working to a number of contracts, as well as working on a self employed basis. One benefit of working with so many organisations is that now I have more than doubled the number of contacts I had before, and I can now find ‘a man who can’ for most situations, and equipment for almost any activity.

Field studies are, and will always be, the most important part of what I do, but now I’m also branching out a bit. I have a growing following in bushcraft activities in the central Beacons and spreading, plus I’m involved in heritage interpretation with the Blaenavon World Heritage Centre. I’m also getting involved in the outdoor activities side of things a little more now, and I’m working towards the Climbing Wall Award, doing at bit of volunteering to get my experience up, as well as getting to use my walking qualifications more. Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold Award residentials are also becoming a more important part of my job, and we offer a range of ways that participants can complete their requirements with us.

I’ll explain everything in a bit more detail below. With curriculum changes on their way, I figured now was a good time to get in touch, let you know how things have gone, how they’re progressing, and directions for the future.

Continue reading

October Half Term at YHA Danywenallt

Fire pit
This half term we will be running one of our regular Activity Days over at the YHA Danywenallt. These have been running once a week throughout the school holidays this year and October half term is no exception. So far we’ve experienced cooking over open fires (as well as making our own fires), made a few shelters and egg launchers, tried food for free from the hedgerows and had a go at orienteering and geocaching, as well as playing some team building games, and good fun has been had by all!
By popular request we’ll be doing some cooking again this time, finding out how to bake eggs over a fire, making stick bread, and no doubt a few other bits and bobs too. Besides that, we’re going to go looking for animal tracks and, if we’re successful, make plaster casts of what we find. Plus we’ll play some favourite games and find out whether there’s still some food to be found in the hedgerow.
It’s all going to happen on Monday 27th October between 1 and 4 in the afternoon, and costs £5 per child. Children will need to wear old clothes and be prepared for any weathers, as we’ll definitely do something, whatever happens. It’s mostly for children aged 7-11, but if your child is older or younger, give us a ring and we’ll see what we can do.
We ask that parents either stay on site, or close by such that they can be contacted in case of emergency -there’s no expectation that parents take part, but they’re more than welcome! To book your child’s place, please ring 01874 676677.
To be kept up to date about events like these, please search out  Beacons Field Studies and Bushcraft on Facebook and like our page 🙂

August in the Beacons

Activity Days Poster Summer rgbThis August at YHA Danywenallt

At YHA Danywenallt National Park Study Centre we’ve got a busy start to the month ahead which will get the summer holidays going in style! We’re running a week of Bushcraft activities for children from 4th-8th August, followed by a weekend of music and fun for all for the Brecon Fringe Festival. More details below; please ring 01874 676677 or email: if you want to find out more or make a booking.

Bushcraft Activity Week 4th-8th August

All week we’re putting on a series of outdoor activities that will encourage confidence in the outdoors, develop new skills and forge new friendships. As well as the ‘headline’ activity, there will be teambuilding, problem-solving and creative thinking games. Children can come along to explore, discover and get messy -whatever the weather! All that’s needed are old clothes and an adult.

Open to anyone aged 7 – 11. Cost: £5 per session or £20 for 5 sessions. Booking is essential.

Adults are asked to accompany children but are not required to participate. Please stay close at hand in case of emergencies/difficulties.

Monday 4th –Wayfinding (1-4pm)

An afternoon of wayfinding around the Hostel. We’ll look for geocaches, set trails for others to follow and do some team building. Along the way we’ll look for signs of wildlife and find some food for free.

Tuesday 5th –Shelter Building & Pioneering (all day)

10am-12.45pm: A morning of shelter-building at the Hostel. We’ll build shelters from old camping equipment -you’ve got to decide which bits are going to be most useful and then decide where to put it.

1.15-4pm: An afternoon of pioneering (making stuff from sticks and rope). Having built shelters in the morning, in the afternoon we’ll build a useful gadget or two for camp.

If you’re coming for both sessions, don’t forget your lunch! Bookable as separate sessions.

Wednesday 6th –Fire-lighting (1-4pm)

An afternoon of fire-lighting in the Hostel grounds. We’ll learn to build and light a small fire and how to be safe, then cook some classic camp-fire food.

Thursday 7th –Pioneering & Shelter Building (all day)

10am-12.45pm: A morning of building something to propel an egg through the air, using only rope and sticks -can you get it to land safely?

1.15-4pm: An afternoon of shelter-building with natural materials. Come and build a den in our woods!

If you’re coming for both sessions, don’t forget your lunch! Bookable as separate sessions.

Friday 8th –Backwoods Cooking

An end of the week party, prepare and cook campfire food –you’ll be amazed at what you can do! We’ll also have a few games and celebrate a week well-spent, getting to know the great outdoors.

Brecon Fringe 8th-10th August

Music, food and fun in beautiful surroundings for the Festival Fringe. Free entry to all events, charges apply for food & drink. Contact the Hostel for details: 01874 676677 or email:

Friday 8th from 7pm:

Blind River Scare: Tim Manning, a singer/songwriter playing under the name Blind River Scare and producing original Americana, Alt-Country & Folk tinged bitter-sweet songs

Cefn Junction: a four-piece that play a mixture of Irish tunes and songs plus some Scottish and Welsh tunes that will really get your feet tapping.

Sunday 10th 1-5pm:

How to Build your Dragon: an afternoon of dragon building, along with storytelling, music, face paints, balloons, games and a BBQ.

Sunday 10th from 7pm:

Welsh Tapas & Tales -a celebration of all things Welsh, with music and food throughout the night.

Every Monday from 11th August

We’re also running Activity Days every Monday afternoon from 1-4pm until schools go back on a similar basis to the activities listed above. Those afternoons are a little more unplanned, as it’ll depend of weather and who turns up, but we’ll be doing some of the following: fire-lighting, shelter-building, wayfinding, pioneering, geocaching, foraging, bug hunting, team building and problem solving.

Booking is still required for Monday Activities, call 01874 676677

Check my events page for more going on this summer or follow me on Facebook.

New Directions and Something for Father’s Day

So, this week I started out on a new venture working for SFA-CIC, which is the new organisation responsible for delivering the National Learning Strategy for Forestry Commission England. It means working in a new area for me: the Forest of Dean. It’s somewhere I’ve visited a lot so it’ll be good work there -tons of familiar places. It’s also going to have a slightly different focus, more experiential learning than field studies, but I’m sure there’ll be significant overlap. It won’t affect the rest of what I do, as it’s another freelance contract, but another string to my bow. A very exciting opportunity!

On that note, there will be SFA-CIC events running across the country for Father’s Day (this Sunday, 15th June). There’ll be den building and general outdoorsy-ness at the sites we’re working at. If you’re interested, please visit the Facebook listing.

Fcaebook ad

The Father’s Day Ad for my site, Beechenhurst in the Forest of Dean. Tickets available on Eventbrite.

An Afternoon of Bushcraft…..Tomorrow!

At YHA Danywenallt in Talybont-on-Usk we’re running activity days throughout the school holidays this year, every Thursday from 1-4. There’s one left this Easter, and it’s tomorrow! We’re still taking bookings, so give us a ring if you’re in the area and you’d like you’re child to come along. The number’s 01874 676677. The activities are number- and weather-dependant so no specifics just now, but we’re offering an afternoon of bushcraft, which could mean shelter-building, campfire cooking or tracking with a few teambuilding activities thrown in for good measure. Costs £5 per child, and we ask that accompanying adults stay on site, but they don’t have to be involved (unless they’d like to of course!)…there is a nice warm café at the hostel 🙂

Just remember your child may get a little muddy, and there’s a good chance it’ll rain, so be prepared: old clothes, wellies and waterproofs will be the order of the day!


Activities for the School Holidays

So the school holidays are coming round again -indeed, I realise that for some the Easter holidays have already started. After the success of last summer’s Bushcraft Week, we thought we’d try to build on our experiences. Throughout all school holidays this year (except the Christmas break, although I could be persuaded is there’s a demand) I’m working with YHA England & Wales to put on weekly Activity Days at YHA Danywenallt (beside Talybont Dam in the Brecon Beacons). I’ll be doing something aimed at children aged 7-11 most Thursdays from 1-4, mainly on a bushcraft/environment theme, with a few team building/problem solving challenges for good measure.

The first are on the 17th and 24th April. As yet the programme is to be finalised (it depends a bit on the weather), but it’s likely to involve some firelighting, a bit of foraging and cooking and a few games. If you’re in the area on the 17th or 24th, and you think your child would be interested, please ring 01874 676677 to book a place.

Activity-Days-PosterThey’re open to anyone, just ring the number to make a booking, remembering that we need an accompanying adult and that there’s a good chance the children might get a little mucky. (N.B. adults are asked to stay on site, but aren’t expected to get involved if they don’t want to -there’s a nice warm café at the Hostel!)

Watch this space for more to come later this year.