Learning on North Coast

Dune discovery at Portstewart Strand © Rod Edwards

Dune discovery at Portstewart Strand

National Trust places around the North Coast can offer some of the finest field locations in the country. When young people are given the chance to use their built, natural and cultural environments as learning tools it can significantly enhance not only their academic achievement, but also their environmental understanding.

KS1 and KS2

Subject: The World Around Us

Discovering Downhill - wildlife and woodlands
Using the woodland area in Downhill, pupils investigate thoroughly this wonderful habitat through hands on activities and decision making exercises. For example, they investigate the trees, using blindfolds and bark rubbings. They also take part in mini-beast studies and examine the other creatures that live at Downhill. The history of Downhill is also considered through funny stories about the crazy Earl Bishop who once lived here.

Barmouth Bonanza - birds and biodiversity
Children get the unique opportunity for some outstanding bird watching from a hide ideally located at the Barmouth estuary. Pupils will consider the habitats present in this area and explore through an interactive programme, bird adaptation, relationships and interactions in the environment with migration and conservation issues.

Wicked White Park Bay - fossils and first men
This is an interactive examination of this wild seashore environment. Children consider the use of this location in the past, present and future. They even have the opportunity to stand on top of a tumulus! They take part in fossil hunts and scavenger hunts, look at the caves and investigate the dune environment. The biodiversity found in the dunes, the beach and on the magnificent surrounding cliffs and headlands are all investigated.

Hezlett House - a home from the past
Children come dressed in Victorian costume to experience what life was really like for a Victorian child working and living at Hezlett House. They arrive and have to survive the hiring fair, followed by a tour of the house with their new master to find out their duties and where they will sleep. They listen to real stories from this era, play some Victorian games, make a craft and plant their own seed to bring home with them.

Portstewart Strand - dune discovery
Pupils investigate the stunning and extensive dune system found at Portstewart Strand. They begin with a scavenger hunt in teams with tasks to complete as they make their way up the beach to the sand ladder. They look at the beach and tides and will discover how such an environment is formed, without getting their feet too wet! They then go for a trek through the dune system where wild flowers are examined and butterfly and moth hunts take place. The children consider in a simple way the use of this location in the past, present and future, and tackle questions concerning conservation.

Carrick-a-Rede - the salmon story
Pupils are led on the journey of a salmon – who will live until the end? They look at the life cycle of the salmon, the different parts of a fish and the fishing industry that occurred at Carrick-a-Rede in the past. Geared up with binoculars they have clues to solve as they make their way to the bridge and one of the highlights of course is crossing over it! Other activities also include bird watching and bird identification from the island. The quarry industry is also explained through sorting activities and by exploring and looking at the different type of rocks which make up the cliffs, the old kilns and buildings that still can be found on site.

Further information: contact Lisa McCaughan 028 2073 3327 or email