Woodland Investigator: Tuesday 2nd August

Posted on 10th August 2016

A second all-day workshop with local 8 year-olds based at the fantastic Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum in Skinningrove.



goosegrass microscope

This time I brought a microscope with me, which most children hadn’t used before, and we looked at a seed from Goosegrass to see why it sticks on your clothes. We also crushed and sniffed herb-Robert and leyland cypress, looked closely at two pink flowers to decide whether they were the same or different, and peered under magnifying glasses at an opening willowherb seed pod.

magnifying glassmagnifying glass 2

Then lunch, followed by the handing out of fluorescent waistcoats, before setting off once more up the lane to cross the busy road into the great outdoors.

Once into Whitecliff Wood, some of the children who were at last week’s workshop remembered the bindweed, had no problem distinguishing between hedge woundwort and nettle, and then promptly remembered the chocolate spread that the nut was used in and, after a pause, the nut itself when we stood in front of the tree. We found a few, but they weren’t ripe when I cracked them.


And off, deeper into the wood until we suddenly ducked onto a narrow path over a hump and down to the footbridge over Whitecliff Beck where we spotted the orange iron-rich water seeping from one of the banks. And then up, up, into the trees on narrow steep, steep, steps (if I’m being honest …a bit too steep for me as I suffer from vertigo) until the top, except it wasn’t the top as we still had the bridge over the railway line to cross.

Once over we walked to the middle of what is called the railway viaduct…there is a viaduct but apparently it was so badly built that they just dumped loads of mine spoil over the top and so now it can be seen and the railway runs on top of a huge pile of spoil bridging the valley sides. At the top Jean saw two buzzards circling in the distance – they apparently eat dead sheep and rabbits.


Anyway, so there we were high above the extraordinarily vast expanse of tree tops that spread far up into the valley, able to see the village of Skinningrove down by the sea, and to the side were the first houses of Loftus on top of the hill, and I asked everyone to draw something.  I drew a quick sketch about how high up we were above the rest of the valley (you can see little stick people sketching, the fence separating us from the railway line, and the VERY steep slope which I was definitely NOT concentrating on).


Some children drew leaves and flowers in front of them. Others drew railway lines, the bridge where we walked over the railway lines and the wood. Interesting how sometimes the different aspects of the landscape are sometimes presented separately.


And then it was time to return. This photo on the way back shows just how amazing Whitecliff Wood was to walk through.


A big thanks to everyone who shepherded, helped, and generally encouraged the children on these two days – Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum have such a great team of people there and it’s well worth a visit to see such an interesting part of our local industrial heritage.