This course is now fully booked.

This five day residential is for young people aged 16–25 that have a love of the outdoors, the exciting activities that it can offer and an interest in working to conserve it.

As part of the residential course you will be able to gain the John Muir Discovery Award. The John Muir Award is an environmental award scheme that encourages people to connect with, enjoy, and care for wild places. There are four parts to the award: discover a wild place, explore it, conserve it, and share your experiences.

Throughout the week you will take part in a variety of activities to discover and explore the Lake District, a key day will be the conservation day where you will conduct work to conserve an area, for example by removing invasive species or maintenance of a nature reserve. Your experiences of the week’s happenings can be shared through photos and videos posted on social media.

You will also develop transferable skills including team work, communication and leadership.

This course can be suitable for your Duke of Edinburgh Gold Residential, always check with your DofE Leader before booking; but it is open to anyone looking for adventure! Explore the Lake District National Park, challenge yourself with adventurous activities in a mountain environment, conserve a local habitat, have fun and make new friends.

  • Ghyll Scrambling
  • Canoeing
  • Fell Walk
  • Bushcraft and Survival Skills
  • Conservation Tasks

Tutor: Pippa Cowley

Pippa is one of Blencathra’s experienced Mountain Leaders, lucky enough to count the Lake District fells as her office. She studied Environmental Earth Science as an undergraduate followed by a Masters in Glaciology, both at Aberystwyth University. She has worked as an instructor for Standon Bowers Outdoor Education Centre in Staffordshire County, before joining the FSC team at Blencathra in 2012 where she is able to combine outdoor pursuits with her academic interests in science and geography.

Example Timetable


Daytime: Ice breakers
Get to know the rest of the group in an informal and fun atmosphere, and develop a sense of community essential for the week ahead. Test your navigation skills together on our big orienteering course around the local area.

Evening: Team building games
Test your new friendships with a series of mini challenges – skis, wobble maze, pipe and ball, lava flow... Good communication is key.


Canoeing: learn the skills required and put your teamwork to the test on the picturesque lake Derwent Water.*
Ghyll scrambling: scramble and climb up a Lakeland stream, with plenty of opportunities for jumping in and getting wet! *

*Activities provided by Blencathra Centre staff and external providers are weather dependent and subject to change.

Evening: Blindfold trail
Put your team working skills and trust into practice on our woodland trail, crawl under and step over obstacles with nothing but your sense of touch and your team to guide you.


Daytime: Lakeland fell walk
We will head out to one of the Lake District’s classic fells for a day’s mountain walk; as part of our conservation work we will do a litter pick throughout the day. Location will be weather dependent.

Evening: Mammal trapping
Using humane traps to showcase our diverse environment by finding out what lives in the centre grounds.


Mammal release: identify what small mammals we caught the night before.
Conservation day: Work at one of Cumbria Wildlife Trust’s Nature Reserves, invasive species management for the National Trust or footpath maintenance with Fix the Fells. The specific activity will depend on the weather and suitable tasks available.

Evening: Share session
Collate your photos and videos from the week to create a short film to share your experience of gaining your John Muir Award. This can be shared on our social media.


Daytime: Bushcraft skills
Use bushcraft skills including building shelters and lighting fires the wilderness way to cook your own food and make your own hot drink. We use our leave no trace policy and help with some conservation of the woodland such as brashing, making wood piles for minibeasts and tree sapling maintenance.
Return to the centre to sign Duke of Edinburgh books.

The course finishes at 16:00 on Tuesday. Station drop offs can be arranged to Penrith station for 16:30 at an additional cost of £8.00.

Accrediting Agency

Duke of Edinburgh Award

What's Included

  • Expert Tuition
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Full Board Accommodation
  • Hot and Cold Drinks
  • In Course Transport

Before You Attend

What to Bring

A packed lunch for the day you arrive, all other meals will be provided.

You will need to be prepared for full days outside whatever the weather. In order to stay safe and comfortable you will need:

  • Walking boots with ankle support*
  • Waterproof jacket and over trousers*
  • Lots of warm layers
  • Hat and fleece
  • Suncream and sunglasses
  • Rucksack
  • Towel
  • Wash kit
  • Drinks bottle/flask and lunch box
  • Personal medication
  • Torch
  • Wet shoes or wellies* for canoeing

*These items can be borrowed from the centre.