On a very rainy Monday morning 110 very excited children set off on their three coaches to
Ilam Hall Youth Hostel in the Derbyshire Peak District. Throughout the journey it rained, and
it rained and it rained … but as if by magic, when the coaches pulled up at the youth hostel,
the rain stopped, never to be seen again until the journey back to school on the Friday
afternoon. Despite the downpours and thunderstorms back in Essex the sun shone in
After such a long coach journey, the children seriously needed to burn off some energy –
and what better way than to climb either Thorpe Cloud or Bunster Hill? Being accustomed
to Essex they never really anticipated the steepness of the gradients involved, but all were
determined to succeed. Collapsing at the top they took in the amazing views of the
countryside around and the almost complete lack of human civilisation.
Back at Ilam Hall the children had their first taste of hostel food and were greatly impressed.
What a great choice of delicious food was on offer! It was then time to unpack their luggage
and make their beds – quite an ‘interesting’ experience for some children!
Tuesday began with blue skies and after a hearty cooked breakfast the children left on their
coaches to Castleton. The morning was spent exploring the famous Blue John Caverns, the
only place in the world where the gemstone ‘Blue John’ is found and the afternoon involved
a hike up Mam Tor with a walk along the mountain ridge overlooking the start of the famous
Back at the hostel that evening the children had plenty of time to explore the facilities of the
Games Room and the picturesque play areas outside!
Wednesday was a day of two halves. Half the day was enjoyed visiting Chatsworth House,
the ancestral home of the Dukes of Devonshire, followed by an exploration of the gardens.
Highlights for the children were finding their way in (and then out!) of the maze and then
‘paddling’ in the water cascades! The other half of the day was a cycle along the Tissington
Trail (now a nature trail but once the London to Manchester Railway Line) – the only activity
all week involving level ground and no steep gradients.
By Thursday the week was quickly approaching its end, but a day at Alton Towers ensured
that energy levels remained at 100%. Six hours at the theme park meant that children had
plenty of opportunities to head for their favourite rides. Oblivion, Nemesis, Smiler,
Galactica, Thirteen … these were all popular destinations and were discussed many times
over and in great detail throughout the whole evening!
And finally came Friday. By now the staff needed to shake the children awake. Cases
needed to be packed, beds unmade and rooms emptied before the final hike of the trip. It
had been a fantastic week – exciting activities, delicious food, brilliant weather, amazing
scenery - but most important was that the children were truly good company and
impeccably behaved - a credit to West Leigh and a credit to their parents.
There are a selection of photos below, if you would like to see the full photo gallery from 2016 please click here..... ILAM GALLERY