This residential is fully booked. See our other October opportunities

Spend a week on the spectacular Slapton Ley National Nature Reserve, immersing yourself in nature, making new friends and learning new skills. This is an amazing opportunity to work with the Nature Reserve and Education staff at Slapton Ley Field Centre, surveying the variety of wildlife found on the reserve and engaging in vital conservation work to help protect and enhance it. This course is suitable for your Duke of Edinburgh Gold Residential (always check with your DofE Leader before booking); but is open to anyone looking to get first-hand experience of conservation in action.

Tutor: Chloe Toorneini

This course will be led by Chloe an experienced and enthusiastic tutor at Slapton. Who will have lots of tall tales and new skills to show you.

Example Timetable

Monday Afternoon: Lunch, Welcome and Introductions

Familiarise yourself with your surroundings and get to know your team.

  • Explore the stunning Slapton Ley National Nature reserve
  • Discuss personal aims and objectives for the week
  • Team building games

Monday Evening: Mammal trapping

An introduction to the use of Longworth traps and small mammal surveys.

Tuesday Morning/Afternoon: Practical Conservation with the Nature Reserve Team

A day with our nature reserve staff, carrying out practical conservation projects around the reserve. Help us improve the mosaic of habitats in the reserve or improve access for the general public.

Tasks may include:

  • Removing non-native species in our woodlands
  • Cutting scrub, to stop encroachment into grassland
  • Constructing steps or stiles and clearing paths

Tuesday Evening: Pellets and poo!

Have a go at owl pellet dissection and learn how to analyse the contents.

Wednesday Morning: Exploring Slapton Ley

A morning based around the focal point of our nature reserve, Slapton Ley, the largest natural freshwater lake in the South West. You will have a unique opportunity to explore the lake by canoe and conduct freshwater invertebrate surveys – used as indicators of water quality.

Wednesday Afternoon: Ancient Woodland

A rare opportunity to enter ancient Slapton Woods, one of our restricted access sanctuary areas. What makes this area so special? You’ll look for tracks and signs of wildlife, including making your own small mammal footprint traps.

Wednesday Evening: Use our microscopes to take a closer look at some of the invertebrates from the ley. You’ll also set a moth trap up to see what species we can collect overnight.

Thursday Morning/Afternoon: Paignton Zoo

A day Paignton Zoo which, like Slapton Ley NNR, is owned by Wild Planet Trust. You’ll learn all about the conservation and research work of the zoo and have time have to have a good look around at creatures great and small.

Thursday Evening: Beach fire

Relax around the fire – a chance to reflect on your experiences of the week and maybe toast a marshmallow or two.
Friday Morning/Afternoon: Rocky Shore

Head to Gorah Rocks for some rockpooling! You will explore the diversity of life in this amazing ecosystem, and collect data to contribute to a national survey programme documenting the state of our rocky shore ecosystems, particularly thinking about the impact of invasive species and climate change.

Course finishes at 16:00

Please note the following programme is designed to give an overview of the types of activity involved in the residential but may be subject to change, for example due to weather or tide times.

What's Included

  • Expert guidance by fully trained FSC staff
  • Rigorous health and safety procedures including 24-hour emergency cover
  • Full board and accommodation including a cooked breakfast, picnic lunch, home-made cakes and an evening meal
  • All activities during the course

Before You Attend

Start and Finish Times

Participants are requested to arrive for registration by 12:00 on Day 1. A train station pick-up is offered at 11.00 from Totnes train station (£20 return). Lunch will be provided on arrival. Supper is usually at 18:30. Breakfast will be from 08:00 in the morning. The course will end at approximately 16.00 on the final day.  Please vacate your room by 09:00 on day of departure. Storage is provided for your luggage. A train station departure will leave from the centre at 16.15. Please allow 50 minutes for the journey.

What to Bring

  • Boots with good tread and ankle support
  • Waterproof jacket and waterproof over trousers *
  • Wellies *
  • Personal medication
  • Warm hat and gloves
  • Wash kit and towel
  • Warm clothing, plenty of layers and changes of clothes
  • Small day rucksack
  • Head torch (or other torch)
  • Water bottle and lunch box

* These items can be hired from the field centre.


Sorry this course has ended