Primary school pupils in part of Cumbria have been connecting with the landscape around them through a virtual creative writing project during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The North Pennines AONB Partnership has offered the project through its Fellfoot Forward Landscape Partnership Scheme, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
Pupils have been working on ways to record their outdoor experiences of their local area throughout the lockdown restrictions. Eden Valley-based poet and novelist, Katie Hale has worked with the pupils through online workshops and creative prompts. Schools already taking part are Hallbankgate Village School, Kirkoswald C of E Primary School, Castle Carrock School and Hayton C of E Primary School.
The project encourages those involved to produce a poem or piece of creative prose, exploring their immediate environment, while keeping within government guidelines on social distancing. The Fellfoot scheme includes the fellside and valley landscapes between Hallbankgate and Melmerby and a large section of the Cumbrian part of the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and UNESCO Global Geopark.
The AONB Partnership was been awarded over £2million of National Lottery funding to support the £3.4million Fellfoot Forward Landscape Partnership Scheme. It will bring together management and restoration of habitats such as woodland, peatland and grasslands, with community archaeology, conservation of historic buildings, community arts and education. Work will be delivered by the North Pennines AONB Partnership alongside partner organisations in the local area.
Samantha Tranter, Community Engagement Officer at the North Pennines AONB Partnership, said: “This is an exciting first creative project for the Fellfoot Forward scheme. It’s an opportunity to hear directly from young people and our Fellfoot communities during a unique moment in time. We want to share their experiences and collect a creative record of this rich and varied landscape. This special part of Cumbria offers an inspiring backdrop, so we hope we’ll collect visual artwork such as video and drawings as well as the writing Katie is encouraging.”
Katie Hale, who is delivering the online workshops said: “Fellfoot Fables is a great chance for young people and members of the community to engage with the landscape around them, through writing. It’s fascinating to explore how the land has altered during lockdown, and to see people’s relationships to where they live emerging during this time of social and environmental change.”
Video workshops and work sheets created by Katie, are available on the North Pennines AONB Partnership website. Children and parents can take part in sessions whilst home schooling. With some children returning to school, teachers are being encouraged to use the material to support arts engagement in the summer term and in the summer holidays as the effects of social distancing and the Covid-19 Pandemic continue to be felt. The resources are also being adapted for use by individuals in the local community.
As I walked with the river
I started to shiver
Feeling the cold air touch me
And the birds calling with glee
I smell the river
I smell the trees
I see the stones
And feel the cool breeze
I was running with the rabbits
Swimming with the fish
Listening to the birds
And watching the flowers flourish
Since lockdown has happened
We’ve stayed inside
Not looking what changed
To the world outside.
Y6 Pupil, Castle Carrock Primary School.