As two Our Bright Future apprentices based in Fife, Scotland, we had the opportunity to travel to the Yorkshire Dales to meet other young people involved in the wider programme.
We started traveling on Tuesday morning, tents and sleeping bags packed!
After a few hours on the road, we stopped for a break in the Lake District, the breathtaking views of the mountains and crystal blue water was the perfect first impression of the English countryside.
After a night camping and an early alarm call from the dawn chorus we packed up and headed off to meet the Green Futures project run by the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust; which involves volunteers, students and apprentices like us!
First up was riverbank restoration. With our wellies on, we jumped straight in! Removing stones, rocks and old rotten posts, we cleared the edges and made the surface flat before bringing in our willow branches. The two rangers had already cut the willow to size, big and small, with several wooden posts that would secure them to the bank. First, we arranged the posts about a metre apart and used a post driver to sink them into the earth. We then took the larger branches and as small teams helped each other to navigate them into the river and secure them between the posts. Communicating well with our neighbours we managed to continue the line perfectly down the river bank, so everyone had enough wood and was able to secure them comfortably. Having ownership over our space, while pulling together as one giant team let us secure the willow and do a great job! Everyone with the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust was so supportive and friendly it made the job a really fun, positive experience for all of us.
After refuelling at a lovely village café, we were led up the fields on a beautiful walk to Malham Cove, a giant curved limestone cliff with an incredible view of Skipton’s countryside, the perfect ending to a perfect day!
That evening we drove to our campsite, a lovely quiet spot beside a small farm, where we had food over an open fire and shared stories about our day and the different people we’d met. It was really interesting finding out more about people who had come to find the same opportunities as us, but in a different part of the country and from different walks of life. I think it was inspiring to listen to the ambitions of other young people and how they want to change the way we live to support the environment we all love.
The next day, we met Tomorrows Natural Leaders run by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust on a farm, in a quiet village surrounded by acres of beautiful woodlands. They used our visit as an opportunity to bring together projects that are usually too far apart to connect regularly. It was great to meet so many different people (and a few dogs!) in the same situation as us; training or volunteering with organisations that aim to protect nature and provide careers in rural sectors.
We started our day splitting into teams, consisting of people we didn’t know from other projects as a way to get to know each other better and step out of our comfort zones. It was a great idea to really get a sense of who everyone was and as the day went on, we really got a feel of what everyone was passionate about and what their plans for the future were. We made good friendships and still keep in touch!
The Tomorrows Natural Leaders young people hosted a bunch of activities we’d never done before, like butterfly and worm surveys, fence building and recycling old tree guards. It was really interesting and gave us some ideas to take back to Scotland with us!
The whole experience was really eye opening and we felt very privileged to have an opportunity to travel so far and meet so many different people. Thank you, Our Bright Future, for such a great adventure!