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Our diverse and educational John Muir 5-day residential course includes a range of activities, focusing on the theme of nature and conservation.

Learn about the wildlife of the nature reserve, experience the flora and fauna on a spectacular walk, take part in a local conservation project, and try out a range of bushcraft skills in the local woodland.

Spend a week on the spectacular Slapton Ley National Nature Reserve, immersing yourself in nature, making new friends and learning new skills. This residential is packed with a range of activities based around the theme of nature and conservation. 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.

It is ideal for any young people looking to get first-hand experience of conservation in action.

This course is perfect for young people with an interest in nature and their environment. No prior experience is required, so why not come along and learn about the nature and conservation of the surrounding area.

Our residentials also give you the chance to develop a range of transferable skills. These types of skills help across many areas of life and are particularly good for including in job or education applications.

Transferable skills that are likely to be covered in this residential:

  • Communicating with others
  • Working as a team
  • Managing your time
  • Taking the lead
  • Resilience
  • Problem solving
  • Decision making

You will be able to achieve the John Muir Award by the end of the week, and if you are doing the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award, this course is also an ideal way to complete the ‘Residential’ section of the award.

The John Muir Award focuses on four key areas: Discover, Explore, Conserve and Share. The four Challenges promote a holistic approach to outdoor experiences.

This course is open to young people aged 16-25. When you book, it is essential that you enter the age and attendees name in the Order Notes at the checkout.  If the attendee is under 18, the booking must be made by a parent/guardian.

If these course dates do not suit you, we run similar courses at many of our other centres. 

Tutor: Centre Staff

This course will be led by our experienced and enthusiastic tutors.
  • conservation biology ecology rocky shore
  • Two young people looking in to an insect net
  • conservation work slapton ley
  • bird box conservation
  • conservation course

Our centres are operated in a fully Covid-secure way and accommodation will be in suitably shared rooms based on the current government guidance.

Example Timetable

Example Timetable

Day 1
Arrive at 12.30pm
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
Night Walk
Head up into the woods for a night time exploration of this magical ancient habitat. There might even be some time to test your survival skills with some fire lighting and shelter building.

Day 2
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
Mammal trapping
An introduction to the use of Longworth traps and small mammal surveys.

Day 3

Rocky Shore
After checking your mammal traps you’ll 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.
Bat walk
Slapton Ley is a great place to see bats: with 14 species recorded on the reserve (there are 18 found in the UK), a high population density of soprano pipistrelles and a large maternity roost of lesser horseshoe bats. You will hopefully get to see and hear (using specialist detectors) some of these species on a dusk bat walk.

Day 4
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.
Beach fire
Relax around the fire – a chance to reflect on your experiences of the week and maybe toast a marshmallow or two.

Day 5
WIldlife Habitats
Reflection and final review of the course.

Depart 1500

Please note: to ensure safe and quality learning experiences for students, the timetable may alter depending on weather conditions and local factors at centres.

What's Included

Where to meet and at what time? 

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.

Before You Attend

What shall I bring?  

  • Boots or wellingtons
  • Waterproof jacket & trousers
  • Hat and Gloves for warm and cold weather
  • Wash kit
  • Suitable clothing for the time of year
  • Small day rucksack
  • Head torch
  • Water bottle and lunch box

This course is open to young people aged 16-25. When you book, it is essential that you enter the age and attendees name in the Order Notes at the checkout.  If the attendee is under 18, the booking must be made by a parent/guardian.

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