5 Facts About Exmoor
Here at Calvert Trust Exmoor, we’re lucky enough to be surrounded by stretches of Exmoor’s stunning landscape. Our accessible site is set amongst beautiful rolling hills, putting you in a prime position to enjoy peaceful views spanning across moorland, water and woods.
As a local charity in Devon, we love to make the most of our surroundings – Exmoor National Park is a renowned area of natural beauty and makes an excellent location for exciting adventure breaks with lots of outdoor activities!
Here, we share some of our favourite Exmoor facts to help you get to know the place a little better.
Exmoor is Home to Unique Plants
Exmoor is teeming with flora and fauna, making it a great place to visit for those that love wildlife and celebrating the natural world. In fact, Exmoor is home to unique plants that don’t grow anywhere else.
These Exmoor-exclusive plants include various species of the whitebeam tree. The National Park is also home to a plethora of various nationally rare plants, including lichens which have only been found on one specific Exmoor tree!
There are Herds of Roaming Ponies
When visiting Exmoor, you’ll see many awe-inspiring sights – if you’re lucky, one of these sights will be a herd of roaming Exmoor ponies!
These native ponies are free to roam the moors, with twenty different herds grazing across various commons. There is nothing more exciting than crossing paths with these lovely creatures during a walk or drive through the moors.
Exmoor Boasts England’s Highest Cliffs
The first thing you think about when considering Exmoor is probably the expansive moorland, but Exmoor is also home to the highest coastline on the British mainland.
The highest cliff named Great Hangman has a spectacular 800ft cliff face looming over the roaring waves below.
As well as having the highest cliffs, Exmoor can also claim one of the most isolated stretches of coastline as the cliff’s extreme heights make the shoreline extremely remote.
Exmoor has Inspired Generations of Writers
Countless writers and poets have been inspired by the stunning views and natural beauty found at Exmoor.
Early Romantic poets William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge are among just some of the most notable examples. The origins of their seminal work ‘Lyrical Ballads’, which transformed 18th century English poetry, has often been attributed to their shared love of Exmoor’s coastal walks.
Calvert Trust Exmoor itself has a connection to Wordsworth too as our name ‘Calvert’ comes from his friend Raisley Calvert, who he dedicated a poem to upon his death.
There are Rumours of a Mysterious Exmoor Beast
With such a rugged and isolated landscape, it comes as no surprise that Exmoor has birthed a couple of mysteries. One of the biggest mysteries to come out of the moors is the popular tale of the supposed ‘Beast of Exmoor’.
Eyewitnesses have described seeing a large, black cat-like creature roaming various locations, with the first sighting being reported in the 1970s.
Since then, there have been numerous alleged sightings of the Beast despite no real concrete evidence that big cats are roaming the wilds of Exmoor!
Exmoor has countless wonders just waiting to be explored! Why not get a taste of what it has to offer by visiting us at Calvert Trust Exmoor? Exmoor is the perfect backdrop for our exciting and inclusive adventure activities.
The rest of North Devon is full of some great sights and attractions too – you can discover more in our blog below!
To find out more about our site and the kinds of activities we offer, you can get in touch by calling 01598 763221 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Looking after your mental and physical wellbeing is essential as a carer. It may feel challenging because much of your time is devoted to caring for a loved one. However, it is beneficial for both you and the person you are looking after to treat yourself with appreciation.
Here at Calvert Trust Exmoor, we provide outdoor adventure activities in Devon for people of all ages and abilities. We support and encourage all our guests in a safe environment in trying new experiences. In our blog, we offer our advice on the importance of taking the time to support your mental health.
Being Appreciative and Understanding Of Yourself
Understanding that you are only human is important in accepting that you can only do so much as one individual.
Acknowledge the things you can do to care for your loved one and try to identify areas where you could use some support.
It is also essential to not compare your responsibilities and feelings to other carers in a similar position. They are not you, and each circumstance will be different. Each situation will have its challenges that people outside of it may not know about or understand.
Finding Someone to Talk To
Having a listening ear that you genuinely trust can help significantly if you feel like you are struggling as a carer. The person you share your thoughts with might be another family member, a friend, or you may prefer to discuss your feelings with someone who is not familiar with your circumstances, such as a counsellor.
There is no right or wrong person to speak to, as long as you feel like you can open up to them. Talking through how you feel can help you to work out how to manage any difficult emotions. Sharing how much you do as a carer can also help others understand how they could offer additional support.
Talking might also relieve any feelings of isolation. With the responsibility of care on your shoulders, it can help you to change your perspective. If things feel like they are too much, you should try and speak to someone as soon as possible.
Making Time For Yourself
This can be hard if you feel overwhelmed by responsibilities as a carer, but it shouldn’t be overlooked. If you find that you don’t have sufficient time for yourself, working out how you can should be a priority.
One or two hours a day might help you to maintain your mental health at a healthy level. It can give you time to do something for yourself, such as exercising, socialising, or simply taking a relaxing bath. Small and consistent things to look forward to can be very uplifting as well as motivational.
Prioritising the Basics
Keeping on top of the basics is an essential part of managing your mental wellbeing. Ensuring you are getting the required amount of sleep, a healthy diet and enough exercise can all positively contribute.
Family time is an integral part of anyone’s life, and enjoying an activity holiday altogether can be just what you need. Here at Calvert Trust Exmoor, we provide accessible holidays for everyone to enjoy and ensure that all our guests are supported in our activities. Why not browse our site to discover more about the holidays we provide or speak to one of our team today for more information calling 01598 763221. You can also email email@example.com
An adventure activity break is a fantastic way to learn more about yourself and challenge yourself with attainable goals while surrounded by a supportive and encouraging environment.
If you are apprehensive about new experiences, booking your adventure holiday can feel like the first big step conquered. However, once you arrive at your adventure break, and you are about to try something new, anxiety can find a way to creep up on you once again.
For some, you may feel excited up until the point you are about to do the activity and then suddenly feel consumed by a feeling of nervousness that you haven’t experienced before or weren’t expecting.
How can you manage this sudden feeling, and what should you do if you are about to attempt your activity?
Here at Calvert Trust, we encourage people of all age groups and abilities to strive for their dreams during our accessible Devon activity breaks. We have plenty of experience with coaching guests through feelings of anxiety and want to share our top tips if you get caught out at the last minute!
For more information about anxiety and the signs, take a look at our blog below:
Accept Your Feelings
The first step is to accept the feeling. It may sound relatively simple, but acknowledging the unsettling feeling is constructive to help you manage it. It is important to remember that your feelings are entirely valid, and you shouldn’t feel embarrassed or ashamed of them.
When you feel secure enough to continue the activity, it will feel like an even more significant achievement for you to be proud of.
Let Someone Know How You Feel
Next, tell someone you trust how you are genuinely feeling. ‘A problem shared is a problem halved’, and being honest about your feelings can help you accept them. You might want to tell a family member enjoying your activity break with you, a friend or an activity instructor.
All of our activity instructors are here to support you; they’ll want to know how you feel so they know the best ways to help you during your stay.
Visualise a Positive Experience
If you can, take some time to visualise what you want to do. This will help you build a positive picture in your brain and encourage you to try the activity you may feel apprehensive about.
Try Breathing Exercises
If you feel incredibly overwhelmed, the NHS website recommends trying breathing exercises when you feel onset anxiety.
This will change your focus from the activity at hand and also help you to regulate your breathing. For more advice on breathing exercises to try, take a look at the NHS advice on their website.
Remind Yourself of the Importance of Being Active
A fundamental way to combat anxiety, in general, is to do physical activity. When you don’t feel like doing the activity at hand, this might not feel easy but trying to remind yourself that it will help lift your feelings can help motivate you to give the activity a go.
If your child is attending an activity break and needs extra encouragement before the trip, our advice on how to get your child excited for a residential trip may help!
We ensure each of our guests has a wonderful time during our activity breaks. We also encourage everyone to conquer their fears with the support of our friendly and qualified activity instructors.
If you are interested in finding out more about the adventure breaks we provide, why not contact us today? We would love to hear from you! Feel free to speak to one of our team by calling 01598 763221 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
It is undeniable that the past year has been challenging for everybody. While seeing friends and family again is something to look forward to, returning to life after lockdown is a daunting prospect for many.
After a year of self-isolation, closed shops and limited activities, getting back to the new normal of life after lockdown can pose a challenging time for some, especially if confidence has been lost over the past year.
Calvert Trust Exmoor is dedicated to helping those of all ages develop skills, build confidence and gain independence through accessible outdoor activities, exciting workshops and adventure breaks.
As we emerge from lockdown, we hope that these activities can once again help people to rebuild confidence and develop new skills. After an extended time of being encouraged to stay at home, our fun adventure activities offer an exciting way of making the most of outdoor spaces.
Read on to discover why accessible holidays in Devon are ideal for both individuals and families in the time after lockdown ends.
Rebuilding Confidence With Others
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we were encouraged to keep our socialisation to a minimum, often limited to interactions with parents and carers. While many of us were able to chat with friends via Zoom, the lack of physical contact with others has had an impact on some.
After a long time without regular interactions with our extended friendship groups or even strangers, the idea of returning to “normality” can bring up feelings of anxiety or concern.
Those who experience social anxiety or have difficulties communicating with others may feel like their confidence has been knocked after this time apart. Here at Calvert Trust Exmoor, our goal is to bring people from all walks of life together and work to not only develop confidence, but to forge lasting friendships!
What better way to reacquaint yourself with others than while working together on exciting challenges?!
At Calvert Trust Exmoor, our unique experiences are fully accessible and can be tailored to suit your specific needs and concerns. Offering accessible accommodation for longer stays, our adventure breaks can help you to rebuild your self-esteem in talking and interacting with others in an environment that is supportive of your needs.
The Benefits of Nature
Calvert Trust Exmoor is based in the countryside near Exmoor National Park. The tranquil environment where our outdoor activities are based is quiet and away from the hustle and bustle of city life. The natural environment adds a calming air to our adventure breaks and helps to keep things relaxed and anxieties lowered.
Whether you’ve been self-isolating, shielding or working on the front line, we think every single person deserves a break after 2020! It’s always nice to get a change of scenery, but we are also aware of the challenges that finding an accessible holiday can bring.
Here at Calvert Trust Exmoor, we offer a wide range of activities, both indoor and outdoor, suited to all abilities. Activities such as archery, canoeing, horse riding and bushcraft are led by our skilled and specially trained instructors, who can tailor these adventures to your abilities.
Calvert Trust Exmoor is accredited by the National Access Scheme, deeming it suitable for older and less mobile guests, wheelchair users, visually impaired guests and hearing impaired guests.
Reconnect With Friends and Family
An exciting aspect of life after lockdown will be the freedom to reconnect with friends and family again. There may be some loved ones that you haven’t seen this past year that you can’t wait to visit again!
A group holiday can be a fantastic way to reconnect with your friends or family and enjoy time together as a group. As an accessible activity centre, Calvert Trust Exmoor is able to cater to the requirements of any group – no matter the size or individual needs.
We’re all about having fun together, which means that age and ability don’t matter! We love to see groups with young and old, disabled or non-disabled members enjoying adventures together.
We welcome groups to stay for three, four or seven-night breaks, offering an exciting mix of outdoor activities that can be tailored to your group’s specific needs and wishes. After a busy day of fun, you can continue to enjoy each other’s company in a more relaxing way, by socialising in the communal areas, taking a dip in the swimming pool or spending time in the sensory room together.
Looking to the Future
Calvert Trust Exmoor will be reopening on the 25th of June 2021. If you would like to make a booking to reserve an activity break for once lockdown has been lifted, then please email email@example.com.
If you have any questions about the centre, the activities we offer and queries about specific accessibility needs, then please do not hesitate to get in touch. You can contact us by calling 01598 763221 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Encouraging Your Child to Make Friends on an Activity Trip
There are many benefits of visiting an activity centre like ours, such as helping with anxiety or improving mental health. An activity break can also give your child a chance to make new friends, helping to improve their confidence in making friends elsewhere.
Talking to new people can be scary whatever your age, yet for many children connecting with others can be difficult or frightening, especially if they have disabilities. To help, here is our guide to encouraging your child to make friends on an activity trip…
Encourage them before travelling
It can often be beneficial to prepare your children for their trip, from helping them pack to talking about the exciting activities and fun games they’ll be doing.
You could also mention that other children will be there too, possibly doing activities in your group or sitting near you during meals.
You could then suggest that your child talks to the other children, or give them a positive goal, like to find out other people’s names.
Some children may be anxious about this idea, some may not understand the point, whilst others will look forward to it. Whatever your child’s reaction, listen to their response and give them gentle encouragement to interact with others.
Doing this before your arrival gives them time to process the information and be more prepared to communicate with others.
Work out some ‘opening lines’ together
It may be a good idea to practice saying hello in various ways, especially if you predict your child will need extra encouragement to make friends. To assist them further, try to create some opening lines or questions your child could use to start a conversation.
Examples could be ‘My name is- what is yours?’ or ‘I like your jumper’ or ‘What did you enjoy about today?‘
Practising and rehearsing social skills in a safe and warm environment will support your child by teaching social cues. Planning out what they could say can make them feel that bit more prepared to meet new people.
Lead by example and encourage them to follow
Once you have arrived for your activity break, strive to speak to others in a friendly manner so that your children can pick up on it and possibly follow your example.
You could even use the opening lines you created to show them how they can progress and add prompts for your children to contribute or carry on the conversation.
By modelling positive, friendly behaviours, you can guide your children to do the same.
Talk to them about feelings and encourage empathy
Parents can help children develop social skills during a short activity break by focusing on feelings and empathy, which will help build friendships.
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the thoughts and feelings of others. Developing feelings and empathy is a complex process that starts from birth and continues throughout our lives, but it is a key factor in making friends.
- Identify feelings, both positive and negative – It’s important to put a name to what your child might be feeling whenever you can. Saying something as simple as, ‘You seem happy/excited/joyful/upset/angry/scared‘ helps a child identify what they are feeling in themselves and can be all they to hear to express their emotions
- Identify feelings in others – In the same way, saying ‘That person seems happy/angry‘ helps children see emotions in others and allows them to identify with them. This can be developed further by using them as conversation starters.
Use feelings to start conversations
During an activity break, giving children prompts increases empathy and provides an opportunity to start a conversation, laying the groundwork for friendship.
For example: ‘They seem happy they did the activity, why don’t you say well done and ask them what they enjoyed the most?’ or ‘That child looks upset, perhaps they are scared of doing the activity. What would you say to them?‘
Likewise, questions related to negative feelings could also allow them to start a chat and connect.
If these prompts lead nowhere, that’s fine. It’s best to not force the situation further, instead make suggestions and allow the children to connect in their own way if they wish to.
Notice and praise caring behaviour
Whether with your prompts or not, make a point of praising your child when they show empathy and engage in a caring way.
You could say how proud you are when you see them being kind and thoughtful to others. State why it was positive behaviour and talk about how it might have made the other person feel.
Positive reinforcement will give them belief in themselves and motivate them to do it again, hopefully increasing the bond between children.
Other issues that children often struggle with are sharing and taking turns. Or they may have difficulty being in a team. When they get these things right, however, it will increase their social skills.
Adventure activities can often be a combination of group work and solo participation. So an activity break is a perfect opportunity to practise their sharing skills and general communication with others.
Here at Calvert Trust Exmoor, we have groups no bigger than 10 people, meaning it’s easy for children to talk to others and participate in group activities.
Highlight when and how they shared correctly or gave help to others. They may not have realised they’ve done something positive, so nice comments on how they behaved will support their future interactions.
Experts recommend providing immediate positive feedback, that’s kept brief and simple.
Encouraging your child to make friends on an activity trip – Summary
- Prepare them before the trip so they have time to process the fact other children will be there to talk to
- Practise greeting others and prepare some opening lines
- Lead by example and start conversations, aim to include your child
- Identify positive and negative feelings in other children
- Guide your child to relate to other people’s feelings and to use empathy to prompt them to start a conversation
- When you see your children exhibiting friendly or caring behaviours, such as sharing and taking turns, praise them – this encourages children to repeat the positive behaviours
Finally, parents shouldn’t place social expectations on children and force friendships to emerge from nowhere. They could make one or two good friends during their stay with no need to worry about them being the most popular kid on site.
With over 25 years of adventure breaks at Calvert Trust Exmoor, many children have come out of their shell and made new friends during their stay. Sometimes with help from the ideas above, and sometimes all on their own.
However your children make new friends on an activity trip, it is a magical moment that makes the stay even more worthwhile.
We welcome many families time and time again, on weekend and midweek breaks. They come for the activities and facilities, and also for the chance to meet new people. See more about our family breaks in Devon for additional information.
Residential trips are an opportunity for children to learn, grow, and have fun. Yet for a parent, watching your child leave for a residential can be a daunting or worrying experience. Many parents wonder how their child will behave and will they be safe?
In this news piece, we hope to ease your worries with guidance on how to keep your child safe on a residential trip, even if you will not be by their side…
Learn about the residential
It’s essential to carefully plan for a residential, which starts with knowing all the details. Teachers or group leaders will be arranging the trip but parents, guardians or carers should be involved in several ways.
You could talk to the people planning the residential. Schools commonly hold pre-trip meetings to inform and take questions. If not, consider contacting them directly.
It can seem scary entrusting your children in someone else’s care. So knowing timings, travelling plans, locations and sleeping arrangements will settle your nerves. You can also inform the residential leaders of important information about your child to keep them safe and well.
Talk with your child about their trip
When you have all the details about the residential, you can pass it on to your child in a way they will understand. This helps them get excited whilst also contributing to their safety on the trip as they will be better prepared.
Talk them through where they are going, what they will be doing, and how days will be structured. Listen to any concerns they may have and add reassurance.
Perhaps your child is nervous or unsure about going? The more your child talks about it, the better they will feel. We have compiled some extra tips on how to get them excited for a residential trip.
Discuss safety and boundaries
Another area of discussion is what they must do to keep safe.
Talk to your child about the importance of staying with the group – close to their teacher, group leader or other authority figures, such as activity instructors.
It can be helpful to explain that a residential is fun and thrilling but that they still need to follow the same rules they follow when at home, at school or walking on the pavement.
It’s often beneficial to add extra boundaries unique to their residential. Examples could be emphasising that they must stay in the centre, or that they can’t use the activity facilities until told to by an instructor.
The more conversations you have, the better children will understand the rules, even though you won’t be there to supervise them.
Check out the location
If you know where the residential is taking place, why not spend time with your child looking at it online? Search for the location and see what comes up. There may be galleries on their website or good images on the search engine to go through.
If brochures or itineraries are available, you could go through them together to help get your child excited. Plus it gives you extra opportunities to establish the rules of the trip. If there are maps or plans of the grounds and accommodation, use them to set boundaries, showing where they can and cannot go.
Pack their bags as a team
Get your child involved in the packing of their bags. Since you both know what the residential involves, you can ensure they have everything needed for a good time whilst looking after themselves.
Depending on their age and abilities, kids can contribute in different ways. Let younger ones see what you are packing and explain why each item and piece of clothing is essential. They could then add fun and comforting extras, such as a toy, book or accessories.
Older children could pack their bags themselves, with supervision and guidance if needed. This teaches them to plan ahead, increases independence, and makes them think of their own wellbeing and safety.
Packing together reassures them, and you, that they have everything needed to feel prepared, safe and secure.
See our guide on things to pack for a residential trip.
Make them stand out
One more point about packing is to dress your children in brightly coloured clothes that stand out and avoid dark colours that will blend into surroundings. This will make them easy to see and remember in a crowd or against a natural backdrop.
The colour of their clothing is unlikely to be an issue during a Calvert Trust Exmoor visit, as activity groups are small and supervised by the same instructor throughout. But elsewhere on other residentials, it may be beneficial for their safety.
Make sure contact details are up to date
Confirm that the group leaders have your correct contact details before the residential. Provide one or two additional emergency numbers if you may not be reachable – just in case.
Have faith in risk assessments
Schools and residential leaders will have your child’s safety as their highest priority. They will conduct rigorous risk assessments for every activity and location, whether it be a day out or week away.
A risk assessment must be carried out for each residential, which will help teachers identify and remove any of the potential risks. Schools must adhere to set staffing to child ratios and will keep individual physical, medical, social and behavioural needs in mind before and during a residential.
Schools must also have an emergency response plan to follow if an accident or incident occurs during a trip.
Plus, residential centres have their unique risk assessments and safety procedures with trained staff and instructors who also have everyone’s safety as their highest priority.
Many sites are also audited or inspected by independent boards. For instance, here at Calvert Trust Exmoor we have…
- The Learning Outside the Classroom Quality Badge
- Five-star activity accommodation status awarded by Visit England
- Been certified by activity bodies such as British Canoeing, the British Horse Society, and more
Residential breaks at Calvert Trust Exmoor
At our activity centre we welcome children of all ages and specialise in accessible breaks for people with physical, learning, sensory or behavioural disabilities. Our residential breaks are based at our remote centre in North Devon, meaning the group stays safely inside the grounds away from busy roads.
The stay will include activities throughout the day, then access to group swimming sessions, the sensory room, and social areas in the evening. Activities, accommodation, meals and facilities are all on-site and included in the costs.
Wherever they are visiting, keeping your child safe on a residential break starts with good communication and ensuring children understand what they should and should not do to keep themselves safe. The residential leaders and centre staff will take it from there to make sure everyone has a wonderful break.
Can outdoor activities help a child with anxiety? Here at Calvert Trust Exmoor we truly believe that the answer is yes!
Read on as we explain why adventure breaks and outdoor activities help with anxiety in children of all ages.
What is anxiety?
Anxiety is an emotion that is perfectly normal to experience. It can be described as a feeling of tension alongside worried or negative thoughts. Which is something we all go through occasionally.
However, anxiety can become more than an emotion and start to influence our lives. For example, people with anxiety may avoid situations they worry about. Others may constantly find their emotions hard to control so it affects their lives more dramatically, leading to many anxiety-based disorders of varying degrees.
Those with anxiety disorders frequently worry about and fear everyday situations at intense, excessive, and persistent levels.
Anxiety disorders and mental health are closely related and often influence each other.
Why would a child have anxiety?
There are many reasons why children could be feeling anxious. Key causes of anxiety include…
Separation – younger children tend to experience separation anxiety from parents or loved ones and do not want to be away from them.
Phobias – irrational fears such as heights, bugs etc.
Life experiences – remembering past events that they believe went badly or reflecting on negative feelings can cause anxiety in similar situations.
Social settings – being shy and not confident when meeting new people, or expecting to feel embarrassed, silly, or rejected by others.
Life changes – anxiety can be brought on by changes to the everyday routine, new settings, unfamiliar situations, moving to a new house and school, or the loss of a close relative or friend.
What are the signs of anxiety in children?
Each child displays their anxiety differently, but common signs include…
- Becoming irritable
- Having difficulty sleeping or having bad dreams
- Finding it hard to concentrate
- Losing appetite or not eating properly
- Constantly worrying or having negative thoughts
- Asking lots of questions or needing reassurance
- Feeling tense and fidgety
- Complaining of tummy aches and feeling unwell
- Lack of confidence to do everyday things
- Avoiding activities they previously enjoyed, such as seeing friends, going out or going to school
How can disability contribute to anxiety?
Anxiety can affect any child or adult, but children with a disability may be extra prone to feeling anxiety.
Depending on the disability or condition, a child may have additional difficulties in social settings and may face further struggles with change.
It’s also likely that their life experiences are unique to them and different to those without disabilities; they may feel that no-one else understands what they have gone through and that they can’t do what others can. Many people with disabilities feel social isolation and loneliness.
Therefore, their anxiety rates are high, leading to additional disorders.
It can be difficult for children with learning disabilities to express their feelings of anxiety. They may not understand their feelings and what is causing them, so cannot easily talk about them. Trying to express anxious feelings with limited communication skills can lead to misunderstandings, causing anxiety to intensify.
10 ways outdoor activities can help a child with anxiety…
1 – An improved sense of wellbeing
Outdoor activities usually take place in quiet places, away from the hustle of everyday life, especially at adventure centres like Calvert Trust Exmoor located in the countryside next to a national park.
Just by being in an environment surrounded by nature brings on an improved sense of wellbeing and is relaxing, reducing anxiety in general. Fresh air, trees and pretty views put the mind at ease even at a young age.
2 – An acceptance of new experiences
Structured outdoor activities can encourage an openness to new experiences. Doing new activities helps children learn that they can do things they didn’t think possible. Which reduces fears, worries and anxieties.
The support and encouragement of those around them improves their experience and helps them overcome phobias, improve social confidence, and build positive memories.
3 – A new way of thinking
By going through new experiences, children can develop a new way of thinking.
For example – a child abseiling for the first time has probably never thought about how to abseil before. In the build-up, they may nervous and worried about falling. Yet with the help of Activity Instructors and those around them, the child will learn about the equipment, how the ropes work, and will take on important information. This makes them focus on how to abseil rather than worrying about whether they can or not, reducing anxiety.
Also, overcoming outdoor activity fears can develop resilience and mental toughness whilst creating positive memories, reducing anxiety in the future.
4 – An increase in confidence and independence
There is often a huge sense of accomplishment and excitement during outdoor activities which improves confidence and self-belief.
Completing an activity teaches a child that they are competent and good enough to do it, acting as an inspiration to attempt other goals. Feelings of self-doubt are overcome and replaced with perseverance – improving confidence and lowing levels of anxiety.
Many children also feel a sense of independence. This could be because they become open to doing activities and exercises that we may not regularly do. An effect of this is a freshly engaged mind and fresh determination.
5 – Different stimulation
Being outdoors doing activates provides different and new stimuli. By embracing them, children can increase their ability to be in unfamiliar places. Seeing, smelling, hearing and doing new things becomes less overwhelming, and the idea of somewhere ‘new’ doesn’t seem as daunting.
6 – A connection with others
A sense of belonging and community can form between children when in an unfamiliar environment. The process of doing new activities together connects children, especially when several of the group are anxious.
This shared feeling of anxiety is what bonds children who have just met, and they can quickly form a team or friendship.
7 – Acquiring new skills
By doing outdoor activities, children can learn skills whilst improving general coordination and motor skills. In the long run, this improves self-confidence and allows them to see themselves in a positive light.
Anxiety reduces as they build confidence and experience different ways to learn and succeed.
8 – Reduced stress
It is well documented that stress and fatigue, caused by any number of things, can contribute to anxiety. A stressed child could struggle to deal with their feelings, so anxiety grows.
Outdoor activities help overcome phobias such as heights, encourage socialising and offer positive life experiences, reducing stress and lowing anxiety levels.
9 – A feeling of responsibility and control
As listed above, children can have anxiety because of what they are going through at that moment in time. Giving them the responsibility and control over the situation helps reduce fears.
During outdoor activity sessions, the children always feel in control of their own actions. A child may be encouraged to take part, but it is ultimately their decision if they do or not. Subconsciously this reduces anxiety as they always feel in control and make their own decisions.
10 – An improvement in mental health
As previously mentioned, anxiety can have an impact on mental health and vice versa. We have another news piece focusing on how breaks at an adventure centre can improve mental health and therefore help with anxiety.
At the Calvert Trust Exmoor centre, we often meet anxious children who do not think they will enjoy their stay or are worried about doing certain outdoor activities.
Then they have a wonderful time and love every activity. The children conquer their fears and leave with a positive mindset.
If nothing else, children spending time with family or friends causes them to relax and enjoy the experience, helping them to understand anxiety and developing their skills to get past their worries in other settings.
We provide outdoor activities in a safe environment, with trained instructors who really get to know the children, which also helps with anxiety.
There is an abundance of things to do in North Devon, throughout the year.
Whether you are in the area for a day, are looking for holiday inspiration, or are planning on staying at the Calvert Trust Exmoor centre for a residential activity break, browse our guide about what to do in North Devon and Exmoor.
Exmoor National Park
Exmoor National Park is a stunning place to spend time. The picturesque landscape consists of rolling moorland and wooded areas, home of roaming ponies, Red Deer and postcard-worthy beauty spots.
Exmoor is one of the smallest national parks in the UK, so the area is easy to explore in a short time on foot and by car.
Whilst exploring, it is likely Exmoor ponies will make an appearance. These adorable and distinctive animals are endangered, so they are well looked after despite roaming free. Ponies can be seen on the moors, often crossing the roads as they please.
We recommend visiting these places to experience what Exmoor has to offer…
Right beside the Calvert Trust Exmoor centre, Wistlandpound Reservoir may be just outside the national park, but it is a popular attraction for those who enjoy walking through nature. The accessible paths zig-zag their way around the water and through woods. Whatever the time of year or weather, this is a beautiful place to escape the real world for a few hours.
In the middle of a valley, lies a historic clapper bridge – made of large stone slabs and boulders. At 55 meters long, Tarr Steps is the longest bridge of its type in Britain, possibly dating back to the Bronze Age. The bridge forms a part of a short circular walk through the wooded valley and along the riverbanks. It’s a popular location and walking across the bridge is a must-do. Technically Tarr Steps is in Somerset, but it’s not far from North Devon so we’ll include in our list of things to do.
Similar to Tarr Steps, Watersmeet is a place to see rapid rivers at the bottom of a valley. Named due to its location where two rivers meet, there are waterfalls and paths along the sides of the river, plus routes around the surrounding area. The river is home to otters and salmon, or look inland for Red Deer, herons, wood warblers and jays. There is also a National Trust tearoom, providing a place to relax amongst the surrounding nature.
Valley of Rocks
Found near the village of Lynton along the Exmoor coastline, the Valley of Rocks is a well-known tourist destination for families and walkers who enjoy the stunning views. The dry valley is home of feral goats that roam the steep hills and the stone towers that rise sharply into the sky. Paths loop around the area, providing views of the sea and cliffs that make for stunning photographs.
Great Hangman – England’s highest cliff
Found near Combe Martin in North Devon, the highest cliff in England is in Exmoor. Combe Martin is a good place to park (just 10 minutes from Calvert Trust Exmoor) before walking along the coast and up to the height of 1,044 feet. The views of the surrounding moors and cliffs are worth the hike up the sometimes tricky incline.
The highest point on Exmoor and the second-highest point in southern England, Dunkery Beacon is 1,704 feet above sea level. On a sunny day, it’s possible to see the Bristol and English Channels, the Brecon Beacons in Wales, Bodmin Moor in Cornwall, Dartmoor in Devon and even Cleeve Hill which is nearly 90 miles away in Gloucestershire. The beacon is found in the remote heart of Exmoor, surrounded by barren but beautiful moors – luckily the car park is just half a mile away from the peak.
Popular North Devon Tourist Attractions
North Devon is home to many family-friendly attractions, which are perfect for quick visits or complete days out.
Here are some top North Devon places that are worth a visit…
Quince Honey Farm
The home of honey and bees, Quince Honey Farm is 20 minutes from the Calvert Trust Exmoor centre, in South Molton. This small and quaint family attraction provides beekeeping courses and experiences, guide tours, honey tasting, candle rolling, critter encounters for children and more. There’s also a play area and a restaurant to round your visit off.
This conservation zoo is home to a range of animals such as wolves, cheetahs, African wild dogs, bugs and snakes, monkeys, kangaroos, and many varieties of cats including the famous ‘Exmoor Beast’ – black leopards!
Combe Martin Wildlife and Dinosaur Park
Another family-friendly zoo, with the added twist of electronic dinosaurs. There is also an indoor soft play area for younger children. Animals include lions, penguins, sea lions (who do daily shows), wolves, monkeys, Amur Leopards and more.
Arlington Court is a National Trust property with a historic house, formal gardens, a carriage museum and acres of land to explore. The grounds are open all year round for walkers, with paths that go through forests, past lakes, and around fields where deer are known to forage.
The Big Sheep and The Milky Way Adventure Parks
These two theme-park type attractions are each a day out for all ages. They both have indoor and outdoor play areas, rides, live shows, games, and all-round family entertainment.
A visit to The Big Sheep includes cuddly animals and fun sheep racing!
Whilst The Milky Way has a space theme with bumper cars and a new ninja family area.
The village of Clovelly is unique, as it’s a working fishing village with no cars and historic cobbled streets that tumble down the hill to the harbour. A trip here starts at the visitor centre, before walking through time down the main path, past old houses, shops and museums to the sea below. Donkeys once pulled carts up the hill, but these days the donkeys enjoy the easy life, living in the stables and meeting passers-by.
Marwood Hill Garden – Tucked away in a quiet valley near Barnstaple, the 20-acre garden at Marwood is made up of three ponds surrounded by a collection of plants and trees, a lovely haven to relax and enjoy nature.
RHS Rosemoor – Just outside Torrington is the RHS Garden Rosemoor, a year-round attraction for the whole family. There are beautiful formal and informal flowerbeds and plantings, separated into many different gardens, alongside woodlands and meadows.
Castle Hill Gardens – Home to the 15th generation of the same family, Castle Hill is a grand building that dominates the hill it sits on. The 50 acres of gardens and parklands that surround it are open to the public, made up of woodland and formal gardens brought together by the family since 1730.
Towns and Villages to Explore and Shop
From small and quaint villages to large bustling towns, you’ll find a friendly place to spend time wherever you go in North Devon. We’ve listed just a few of the most popular here, but there are many more to be found, and some hidden gems tucked away…
Lynton and Lynmouth – Lynton is perched at the top of a hill whilst Lynmouth sits below at the bottom, connected by a 130-year-old Cliff Railway – the world’s highest and steepest water-powered railway. Lynmouth has a stone beach with a dramatic coastline and seaside town feel.
South Molton – known as the gateway to Exmoor, South Molton is a small and historic market town.
Barnstaple – the unofficial ‘capital’ of North Devon, Barnstaple is the place to shop popular high-street brands and independent retailers.
Ilfracombe and Verity – the seaside town of Ilfracombe has a little bit of everything; shops and restaurants, family attractions, striking coastal views, rock pools and beaches. The picturesque harbour is the focal point of the town, where a historical chapel overlooks the modern statue of Verity by Damien Hurst – the second tallest statue in the UK.
The North Devon beaches are always worth a visit, at whatever time of year. They are popular because of good surf, long golden sandy beaches and the stunning surrounding countryside. Some dominate the landscape. Whilst others are small, secret and hidden away.
Looking for a long sunny day on the beach? Or want to blow the cobwebs away with a walk by the sea during the winter months? These are some of the beaches you could visit…
Saunton Sands is a classic beach, with three and a half miles of sand that disappear into the distance, blue seas and dramatic dunes. Facilities include a large car park, café and beach shop for a full day out. Lifeguards are on duty for most of the year, making it a safe place to swim, surf or play on the beach.
Woolacombe beach is multi-award winning. Like Saunton Sands, there is a long expanse of sand and sea, with lifeguards, shops and facilities. The beach is backed by the village of Woolacombe, which has additional shops and restaurants.
Again, Croyde is a sandy beach, popular with surfers and sunbathers alike. This beach is perfect for rock-pooling as it’s set in a small bay, with rocks on either side of the sand. Facilities are on site, with lifeguards in summer. Croyde village is nearby, with coastal walks to the village and around the bay.
Now for something different. Broad Sands is not a large and well-known beach, it’s a secret gem that many locals wish to keep to themselves. Broad Sands is a small cove hidden on the coast of Exmoor, and it’s an adventure to get to. It’s not reachable by road, but by parking at the top of the cliff and taking a path and 200 steps down to the sand. The path goes through woods and offers spectacular views. Once at the sand, the beach is quiet, remote, picturesque, and perfect for a swim.
Ilfracombe Tunnels Beaches
Found in the town of Ilfracombe, the Tunnels Beaches are unique. Originally a historic Victoria bathing bath, the shingle beach has a ringed rock formation that creates a natural swimming pool, with the rocks separating the still water from the sea. To get to the beach requires walking through the cliff, using the large hand-carved tunnel. The pool is a calm place to swim. Tunnels Beaches has Blue Flag beach status and the Quality Coast Award. There is also a lifeguard on duty, and it’s been listed as the safest beach in North Devon.
We’ve summarised just some of the many things to do in North Devon, there are plenty more places and attractions to be discovered.
If you would like to visit and need accessible accommodation in North Devon, enjoy an activity break at Calvert Trust Exmoor. Stay for a weekend, Monday to Friday, or for seven days and you’ll have time to visit some of the places we’ve mentioned, in between doing exciting activities.
Phone 01598 763221 for more details and to book. We look forward to welcoming you in for a North Devon break soon.
‘A Special School’ is a BBC documentary series that stars the students and teachers of Ysgol Y Deri, the UK’s largest special education school.
Included in episode 1 of this series is the school’s visit to Calvert Trust Exmoor, which is available to watch on iPlayer.
59 students and teachers from Ysgol Y Deri, near Cardiff, visited between 30th September and 4th October 2019 to enjoy a residential break.
With them came a production company, filming the observational documentary series about the school. Slam Media were commissioned by BBC Wales to make the series, ‘A Special School’ and they were eager to include the annual visit to the Calvert Trust Exmoor centre.
The television series captures the reality of life in Britain’s biggest special needs school and is an experience that will leave viewers smiling, laughing and crying.
During their stay, the staff and pupils took part in canoeing, biking, horse riding, archery, crate stacking, abseiling and zip wiring. These fun and exciting activities helped to improve physical and mental wellbeing, created wonderful memories and helped the Ysgol Y Deri students accomplish far more than they ever knew possible. By taking on personal challenges with help and encouragement, the pupils developed new skills, built self-confidence and gained greater independence.
The school were also filmed enjoying the on-site facilities including accommodation, swimming pool, dining room and social areas.
The programme is a joy to watch and it is an honour to be included in their lives, even for just a short period. We wish everyone at the school all the best for the future.
A question often asked during the booking process is “can we really do activities like abseiling, even with disabilities?” – and the answer is always a big YES. We’ve seen time and time again that a disability doesn’t stop anyone from doing accessible abseiling.
Abseiling may traditionally be seen as a ‘daredevil’ stunt down tall buildings or cliffs, but in reality it’s a fun outdoor activity that can be enjoyed by everyone.
The Calvert Trust Exmoor facilities
We have a wide range of exciting accessible activities, and abseiling is one of the most popular.
Abseiling takes place outside on a specially designed outdoor wall, whatever the weather.
We use and maintain our rope and safety equipment every day, and the expert instructors provide a safe activity for everyone to experience, adapting to all disabilities.
Anyone can do abseiling
Instructors will work with each individual to find a way for them to have a go, using harnesses, safety equipment and ropes to walk down the wall – or a manual wheelchair can be used if needed.
Any doubts and worries quickly disappear as the group cheer each other on and the instructors provide advice, guidance, and reassurance throughout.
How accessible abseiling sessions work
At the start of a session, the activity instructor will lead the group to be fitted out with harnesses and helmets and any other equipment needed. They will then go to the viewing area at the top of the wall for a full safety briefing, before taking it in turns abseiling.
Instructors ensure each person is secure and that they understand how to travel down the wall. Two people can abseil side by side, or individuals can go down on their own.
There are several variations on how the activity can be adapted for disabilities. We haven’t listed disabilities here but aim to provide some information on what you can expect in most circumstances.
Abseiling support for wheelchair users
We use the term “abseiling wall” but describing it as a steep “ramp” is also appropriate. The ground at the start is a level surface, then the top and the bottom are curved to allow a wheelchair to easily roll over it.
We have a specialist wheelchair that is designed for abseiling, and most guests choose to transfer into it manually or with a hoist. Other manual wheelchairs may be suitable depending on a decision from the instructor. Sadly, electric wheelchairs cannot be used for accessible abseiling. Instead, participants will be hoisted into our abseiling chair.
Guests in a wheelchair can control their speed down the wall with their hands, using the rope system. Anyone unable to hold or use the ropes will be controlled by the instructor.
Anyone using a wheelchair to abseil will have someone beside them throughout for additional encouragement.
Abseiling support for those with sensory disabilities
For those who are deaf or have a hearing impairment, instructors can create a system which encompasses rope tugs as a means of communication. The instructor will be in sight of the guest at all times for constant visual cues.
Guests who are blind or have a visual impairment will be guided down by the voices of the instructor and the person abseiling beside them.
Abseiling support for those with learning or behavioural disabilities
We understand that it can be difficult for people with learning or behavioural disabilities to concentrate and focus on the task at hand or to fully understand what they are being asked to do.
With abseiling, we find the process of putting on harnesses and helmets before going to the top of the wall breaks the session into several stages, so not to overwhelm. This gives guests time to adapt and allows instructors to constantly talk and repeat what will happen.
The group will see the wall from the bottom before walking to the top, so everyone has time to process what is taking place. Instructors will patiently repeat what needs to be done as many times as needed to see the whole group abseiling successfully. Children or adults with learning or behavioural disabilities can also abseil first if they wish before focus is lost.
What are the benefits of abseiling?
Abseiling is excellent for developing problem-solving skills, motor skills and coordination – due to the process of travelling backwards whilst using the hands to control speed.
It gives the feeling of accomplishment and boosts confidence
There is often a huge sense of accomplishment and excitement after guests have achieved something they may not have thought possible. This improves confidence and self-belief. Here at Calvert Trust Exmoor, our expert team is always on hand to make sure everyone feels their best, especially when abseiling for the first time.
It helps build trust and communication
Guests will be with their group and their instructor throughout their stay. Everyone bonds to ensure that individuals are comfortable and that each person knows what they are doing in activities. So guests will inevitably build up a good rapport with those around them.
When abseiling individually, the group will watch and provide support. Or if abseiling in pairs, talking to each other is essential to abseil side by side. The activity encourages friendships and builds relationships, whether abseiling with friends, family or other members of the group.
Having a disability should never hold anyone back from doing accessible abseiling, or any outdoor adventure activities – which is why Calvert Trust Exmoor is a fully accessible site where everyone can enjoy themselves during a stay and do a full range of fun activities.