There are many activities that can be arranged at Whitwell Hall Country Centre, those structured and led by Centre staff with predetermined learning outcomes, to informal fun activities that allow groups to enjoy the freedom of our wonderful surroundings.
Due to our ethos and the nature of the environment here at Whitwell, we specialise in informative activities based around the wildlife and habitats of our countryside estate. We also have a craft studio in which we can provide several arts and craft-based activities led by Whitwell Staff.
Canoeing, Air Rifles and Archery are available with fully qualified, professional tuition, delivered by Mark Green of MG Archery (see details below for booking).
We provide risk assessments for all the activities that we offer on site to groups. All our own risk assessments are downloadable here.
Please Note – Many of the activities are free to groups staying on the Full Package option. Some activities may, depending on your choices or if you would prefer can be self-led.
Timings for these activities are provided but are to be used as an approximate guide only. Activities can be made available to self catering groups with a price on request.
With Ray Mears being the Patron of Whitwell Hall, we strive to run our activities with his principles in mind. The nature of Whitwell Hall’s estate means that our activities fit in well with his principles. Completing a task within our activities is important and rewarding following the concept of trying new things and learning from personal experiences both positive and negative. The staff at Whitwell embrace this philosophy and realise that every person is different; some flourish academically while others use more practical skills. Whitwell Hall’s estate and the wildlife and nature within it, gives visiting groups, led through our activities such as river dipping or nature walks, an excellent chance to study the natural world. Our Bushcraft activities such as fire lighting, liberates and empowers individuals, showing us how to be in tune with and live alongside our local environments. Most of Whitwell Halls activities orientate around questioning, not to find right or wrong answers but to challenge ourselves, conventional ways of thinking and the practices many of us work with daily.
- Air Rifles (1 ½ hours )* – Learn to shoot a bull’s-eye with expert tuition from a professional instructor. All equipment is provided and instructors hold relevant safety certificates. Sessions take place on our archery range.
- Archery (1 ½ hours )* – Learn to be a toxophilite with some expert tuition from a professional instructor. All equipment supplied. Sessions take place on our archery range, in a quiet corner of the Whitwell estate.
- Bat Walk (1-2 hours) – This walk is concentrated on finding the bats that live and hunt on the estate. Groups have the opportunity to use and experience an electronic bat detector and the biology of these fascinating mammals is explained in a fun and digestible manner. Other nocturnal and diurnal animals and birds may also be encountered. With lots of questions and group participation.
- Boat Building with a boat race (1 ½ hours + 1 ½ hour for the race [£1 per boat]) – Construct your own boat/mini raft using hammer and nails then decorate it. All materials, tools and instructions provided by a member of Centre Staff. This activity begins in the craft studio and culminates in The Quick Race and Grand Regatta along the Blackwater Stream at the bottom of the estate, in order to find the champion of boats! The boat race is a fun end to the hard work of making them with Centre Staff having as much fun as the participants. Achieving a finishing position in the race shows a successful boat build with luck and river conditions taking over from water entry. Participants will be encouraged to show good sportsmanship to each other throughout the races.
- Campfire – £6.00 per camp fire – Groups also have the option to have a campfire on a campsite (if available) or in one of our woodlands close to the Hall. We will build the fire for you; all you need to do is light it when you are ready! Marshmallows and sticks will be provided.
- Canoeing (1 ½ hours )* – Receive expert tuition from a fully qualified instructor on our own fleet of boats. The lake is a placid water, ideal for beginners. The canoeing lake is now situated on the Whitwell Hall estate making the activity easier when it comes to changing and time delay after the activity. All safety equipment supplied
- Fire Lighting (varies on group size) – This activity introduces participants to the principles of successfully creating a small cooking fire. We explore all principles of how to prepare, set and light a fire successfully. By following set guidelines, groups will learn self discipline, awareness, cooperation, safety aspects and works to build confidence. This activity follows the principles of our patron Ray Mears.
- Geocaching (1 ½ hours or longer) – Find the Geo-Caches by working out the grid references on the map to get to certain areas on the estate where the caches will be found. Cache’s can be anything from micro (being a film canister) to large (being a large box) and an unknown size with some slightly more difficult hiding places. Make sure you sign the log book found in the cache with your school and team name. Groups will develop skills in orientating a map to the ground, understanding the scales on a map and the maps key as well as working as a team to complete the task. Route selection and map reading ability will be focused upon.
- Heartstart (Life saving 1st aid, FP 2 – 2 ½ hours) – An invaluable activity, Heartstart is a program designed to teach emergency lifesaving skills to as many people as possible. Overseen by the British Heart Foundation, the course, run by Heart Start trained staff at Whitwell Hall, will help individuals recognise a heart and a cardiac arrest, how to help an unconscious person, perform CPR amongst other lifesaving skills. This session is all about fun and games, not just sitting and listening along with getting the group to participate and leave with a life lesson. Can be tailored to your groups age. Activity is supported by DVD use.
- Leonardo Da Vinci’s bridge (FP) (1 ½ hours) – Is it possible to build a self-supporting bridge over a river? Can it be walked over without falling in to the water or collapsing? No ropes, screws, nails, glue or cutting involved. This method of construction explores the use of friction and gravity to hold everything together. Although lead, this activity is primarily left to the group to see how well the group works together, following instructions and completing the task. Groups will learn to work in a team, the effects of force, communicate well and develop ideas and strategies to successfully cross the ‘stream’.
- Natural Art (1 – 1 ½ hours) – Whitwell Hall Country Centre’s Estate lends itself to being a canvas for this activity. Using only what you can find around the estate, create a piece of artwork in groups or individually that will blend in and bio-degrade when you have gone. This activity works upon building a team, working together and utilising the teams varying skills to achieve the end goal.
- Nature Walk (2 hours can be longer with prior arrangement) – Walk around Whitwell Estate to discover some of the wildlife that is living there. This activity can be based around any part of the natural environment that your group wishes to concentrate on. Some suggested themes are 1. Trees, 2. Birds, 3. Green Plants, 4. Invertebrates and 5. Mammals. We also have a red squirrel captive breeding enclosure that can effectively illustrate an endangered species theme. A general nature walk can touch briefly on all these subjects. The emphasis of the walk is on groups interacting with the countryside and increasing their knowledge of the natural world around them looking at topics such as species, the way certain animals hunt and the usable items that nature can offer us. With lots of questions and group participation.
- Norfolk Wildlife Encounters – Norfolk Wild Encounters is a local organisation to Whitwell Hall, specialising in close encounters with raptors and reptiles. Norfolk Wild Encounters, run by Simon Rouse, can tailor a session to fit with the group or the study topic at the time of your visit to Whitwell Hall. They are able to fly many types of birds of prey for the group to watch and experience their skill in flight. Some of the raptors have been hand-reared making them happy to be held by the children. Sessions can also be tailored to include a selection of reptiles. The Norfolk Wild Encounters team are very knowledgeable so each session can have as much or as little information about the raptors and reptiles as you and your groups wishes.
- Orienteering (1 ½ hours) – Whitwell Hall Country Centre is a perfect and safe environment for two Orienteering courses of varying difficulty. Centre Staff will help to guide participants with the basics of map reading, Orienteering, and the use of a compass and team work. Focusing on good communication and route planning, can the team make it around the estate and find all the controls.
- Paper Planes (1 – 1 ½ hours) – Make and fly your very own paper plane! Use your imagination to fold and fly a plane in a competition against your class mates. How can you improve your performance? Follow a set design. Improving your folding skills and adding individual artistic elements to make your plane stand out from the others. Can you overcome nature’s gravity; improve your plane’s aerodynamics to land in the marked area or on the aircraft carrier? This activity focuses on individuals working to design their planes, creative art and design in decorating their planes and good sportsmanship during the competition.
- Paracord Craft (FP 1 ½ hours) Price TBA – Paracord is useful stuff! Learn how to make a wrist band/bracelet from paracord and take the finished product home. One of Whitwell Hall’s staff will lead the group through the simple process, helping where needed. This activity will help with personal resilience and dexterity while being fun, informative and having a wrist band/bracelet to take away at the end.
- People Art (1 – 1 ½ hours) – Using only your group members, can you make your school logo, a goldfish blowing bubbles, a tree in the wind? A fun activity which works to build a team, develop trust while learning about the art found in the natural environment. Make sure you bring a camera to see the final piece.
- Pioneering (1 ½ hours) – Pioneering is the art of creating usable structures using rope and wooden spars. Groups will learn how to tie knots and lashings and will compete against each other to see who can construct the best project that works to fulfil the task. All the equipment is provided and this activity can be tailored to suit individual groups needs. Centre staff will teach basic knot skills that will be informally assessed depending if the structure stands. Small groups will learn to communicate to increase performance and achieve the goal as well as having to discuss and change their design to counteract nature’s boundaries.
- Pond Dipping (1 ½ hours) – This activity takes place at our safe, purpose built wildlife pond. All equipment is supplied and identification sheets provided. All levels are catered for, from simple discovery to building food chains and predator prey relationships. Pond ecology and pond importance is discussed informally with the groups. Can you successfully catch and identify the invertebrates within the pond working in small groups?Maximum of 20 people per session.
- Pottery (1 ½ hours) – This activity takes place in our fully equipped Craft Studio using Earthenware Clay. All clay, tuition and equipment supplied. A member of Centre Staff will guide you through the process of creating a “unique” clay memento of your visit to Whitwell. As you tailor your design to a predetermined topic, let your artistic flair and imagination take over. Clay items will be ready for collection once fired.
- River Dipping (1 ½ hours) – This activity takes place in the stream that runs across the bottom of the estate and introduces participants to the inhabitants of the water. All equipment is provided for kick testing and for identification. The stream is shallow and slow moving with steps leading into the stream. This is something a little different as it takes place in the water and can be combined with pond dipping to provide a comparison of still and moving water and adaptations of life within each. Can you successfully catch and identify the invertebrates within the river working in small groups? This activity works upon small group work, identifying and experiencing aquatic life and the natural world around us.
- Scavenger Hunt (1 hour) – Search the Whitwell Estate for a list of natural objects. Can you find something straight, something dead and something that reminds you of yourself? This activity will develop observational skills and team working of small groups to bring back the list of correct items.
- Shelter Building (1 ½ hours) – This activity introduces participants to the principles of living and surviving in a wild environment. There are many components that can be explored depending on age and ability. Groups can develop knowledge of types of shelters, design and use of materials, working in smaller groups to develop their ideas into the real thing. Following construction, but before the waterproof test, each group are given the opportunity to discuss their shelter. By following set guidelines, groups will learn self discipline, awareness, cooperation and works to build confidence. This activity follows the principles of our patron Ray Mears.
- Team Building (1 ½ hours) – This activity is good at bringing new groups together or bonding an existing team or class. All equipment supplied with a selection of fun and active games developing participants balance, coordination and communication to achieve the goals, learning from each task to the next whilst improving upon their performance. The team building tasks vary in physical and mental challenges for all abilities developing trust between members.
- Tracking (1 hour) – Learn the signs and symbols that can be made from natural materials to leave a trail for others to follow through the woods at Whitwell. Participants will learn the most common symbols and then follow a trail designed by centre staff and will be encouraged to develop their own knowledge and set their own trails. Groups will learn to communicate to achieve goals, learning from each task to improve performance on the next, helping to build trust and confidence. This activity follows the principles of our patron Ray Mears.
- T-Shirts (1 ½ hours [£2 per t-shirt]) – White T-Shirt, materials and tuition supplied. This activity takes place in fully equipped studio where a member of Centre Staff will assist groups throughout the process. Groups can create their own unique design on a T-shirt (various sizes available) using fabric crayons and pens. Students may draw freehand or use templates depicting local wildlife found on the estate. This activity can be themed. T Shirts can be worn immediately after the activity or taken home.
Those activities marked with * are run by MG Archery and have to be booked directly with them.
Groups need to book Norfolk Wild Encounters direct and then the activity can be fitted into the week’s itinerary. Contact Simon Rouse on 07928412344
We have a comprehensive teachers pack available to groups with guidance on a whole range of site specific activities from backwoods cooking to den building. £12 per pack.
There are off site visits that we can help to arrange such as a Historic trail around the town of Reepham or a visit to the National Trusts’ Blickling Hall near Aylsham. If you have any requests for an activity not listed we would be happy to discuss it with you.
Any specific learning outcomes including personal and social development can be agreed prior to the activity.