Four young people apprenticed in countryside management in the Westmorland Dales are finding ways to practise their new skills in their gardens or family farms – and are continuing to be tutored via video conferencing.
Rebekah Allison from Penrith, Billy Capstick from Kendal, Sarah Clarke – who moved to the Dales from Cheshire to take up the apprenticeship – and Abbi Woof, from Sedbergh, spent the first eight months of their work-based courses learning skills such as drystone walling, willow spilling and tool maintenance.
With the onset of the Coronavirus ‘lockdown’ last month, the apprentices have had to turn to more book learning – but have kept their saws, spades and string lines in use. Recent home work has included walling (see main picture), making garden gates, clearing out field drains and surveying flowers and birds.
Next week’s tutorials – to be delivered online – will be about insects. An officer from Cumbria Wildlife Trust will speak about bee monitoring; an Eden Rivers Trust worker will teach about aquatic invertebrates; and an officer from the National Park Authority will demonstrate how moth traps are used during survey work.
Apprentice supervisor, Belinda Lloyd, based in Tebay, said: “The Westmorland Dales Landscape Partnership apprentice team have settled into the new normal, far away from the world they inhabited only a few weeks ago.
“It’s a great opportunity for them to knuckle down to college work, something their usually busy schedule rarely allowed. But this is still an apprenticeship so once a week the team do a practical job in their own gardens or farms such as drystone walling or making bird boxes.
“The glorious spring weather has also provided a fantastic opportunity to learn wildlife identification skills and surveying methods, practising in their local areas. Through a lot of ‘zooming’, online tutorials and self-study they have come far.”
‘Skills for the Future’ will provide eight work-based apprenticeships over the course of the Westmorland Dales Landscape Partnership project, and a further apprenticeship in cultural heritage.
For details of all the other schemes within the project see here.