FSC | Field Studies Council

Field Studies Council: Bringing Environmental Understanding to All

1960 Marie Betteridge, Wantage - FSC Flatford Mill and many other centres

After 50 years some memories are still vivid but many are hazy but I do know that a chance find led me to interesting and beautiful places at which I met many inspiring wardens and FSC staff not forgetting like minded fellow course members. An ideal way to spend holidays when gong solo and enhancing ones knowledge and love of the natural world.

The borders had gone home for the Christmas holiday and I was seeing that nothing had been left behind when I found a programme of courses at Flatford Mill.  This chance find led to very good instructive holidays.

I became a Life Member of the FSC in 1962 and having a holiday at Easter and in the summer I was able to visit all the centres which were open before 1970 - Flatford, Juniper, Dale, Malham , Preston Montford, Slapton, Orielton , Rhyd-y-creuau and Nettlecombe Court. Four of them twice and this in the 10 years after joining.

That first week at Flatford Mill, with the warden Mr Bingley, was a Natural History course and the second a few years later was The River Stour from Mouth to Source looking mainly at the past industry. Farming, malting  wool cloth making at Dedham and boat building at Flatford.

At Malham the first week there was Bird Song with John Barrett, which coincided with the official opening of the Pennine Way path which took place before a large crowd in the meadow between the centre and the limestone pavement.  My next visit was Geology taking in Malham Cove, the limestone pavement, Janet's Fosse where the mineral deposits from the water coat the rocks.  Some members of the goup went down a pot hole (not me!). Most surprising was coal deposited on the the top of Pen-y-gent.

Orielton, birds again, but mainly sea birds this time.  With the next visit we looked at the sea shore. From a salt marsh to cliff top flora.  At the beautiful bay at Barafundle we looked at the sand dunes, sandy shore and the inhabitants of rock pools and seaweeds.

Many other memories getting up at 4.30am for the dawn chorus led by Ian Mercer at Slapton, seeing a basking shark close to the boat going from Dale to Skomer and forming the first guided walk with John Barrett on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path.