Welcome! Often the first activity when the group arrive this is a mixture of ‘ice breaker’ activities which gives the instructors and the students a chance to get to know each other, some team challenges, and a local walk to meet the local wildlife and to reflect on how it is different to where the students have come from.
Canoeing and kayaking
Primary groups usually use canoes on the Brecon-Monmouthshire canal for a half day session. During the session students will learn some of the skills required to manoeuvre their canoe before setting off on a journey or taking part in some challenging games.
The canoes (also called open or Canadian canoes) are typically paddled by a team of two people using paddles with a blade on one end.
Kayaks are typically paddled solo with a paddle that has a blade on both ends.
Although stable the students enthusiasm may cause the canoe to capsize. All paddlers, whether they can swim or not, are equipped with safety equipment such as buoyancy aids and other items such as helmets are issued as required. The canal is shallow and the water is fed from the River Usk, one of the cleanest rivers in Britain (as the otters and salmon will testify).
In calm conditions alternatives include venturing onto open water at Keepers Pond, Llangorse lake or one of the larger reservoirs in the National Park, or undertaking a journey on the canal which links in with another activity such as a walk or bushcraft.
Rock climbing and abseiling
Primary groups use the on-site bouldering wall and tower for a half day session. During the climbing session pupils will learn about the equipment they will use to safeguard each other and learn about trust, responsibilities, and how to encourage each other as they attempt to reach the top of the various climbs.
Caving and River Study
Caving with primary groups is incorporated into the river study day:
River Study A popular day for schools due to the variety of activities and the mix of environmental education and adventure. The primary River Study day includes a visit to the cave of Porth yr Ogof. There will be a briefing at Pendarren which includes the water and rock cycles, and then group will investigate the river Mellte to see how it changes as it flows down the mountain. They will see geographical river features they have learned about such as meanders, erosion, tributaries. After lunch they will follow the river into the cave Porth yr Ogof and explore the underground passages, see the fossils of creatures that were alive before the dinosaurs and have an opportunity to experience total darkness. From there they will move downstream to where the river tumbles over a large waterfall and have yet another opportunity to get wet.
As with all studies Pendarren House is open to ideas from visiting teachers if they would like to modify the activity:
- Geography and Science focus – this is the day we have run for many years, bringing the water cycle to life, using theories and predictions then testing them, experiencing real geology and geography.
- Maths focus – using the river environment to collect real data to use back in the classroom at school or Pendarren.
- Adventure focus – experiencing and exploring the cave for longer to develop their adventurous side finishing with the waterfall experience.
Following changes to the National Curriculum some schools have asked to miss out the initial briefing at Pendarren and focus on the adventure. Hence there is a Caving option as well as River Study. The caving option will have a stronger focus on adventure and personal development and students will spend longer in the cave.
The Brecon Beacons National Park was created to protect the mountain scenery, and we are ideally positioned to explore this National Park. Our local hills include Sugarloaf, Table Mountain, Blorenge and Skirrid – the pupils get a great sense of achievement no matter which one they climb.
They will travel through woodland, farmland and over mountain and moorland seeing springs, streams, rivers, wildlife and plenty of sheep (in summer anyway). There are opportunities for simple map reading/ route finding, and learning opportunities in geography (e.g. land use, geology), science (e.g. habitats, rocks) and history (old hill forts and changing ways of life).
Primary students usually undertake a local half day walk, but a full day is an option.
Leaving the footpaths we head off into the forest following the stream wherever it takes us. You will get wet! For primary students the venues used are typically those with shallow water.
Time Travellers – Stone Age to 1066
Bring history back to life! Using a walk from Pendarren , up Table Mountain, through Llanbedr and back to Pendarren to illustrate a Historical Timeline from 12,000 BC through the Stone Age; Bronze Age; Iron Age; Romans; Anglo Saxons; Vikings to 1066 and Edward the Confessor and the Norman Invasion.
This will be delivered using the local environment and historical features, local stories and legends as well as artefacts and role play.
It will allow the students to physically walk through the history curriculum of Key Stages 1 and 2 and feel some of the emotions associated with the time periods.
Use your brain and your legs to navigate your way around the course. We have a variety of courses to suit all abilities: in the garden, the Pendarren Park for those who have mastered the art of navigating, and indoors for the wet evenings. The students can also use GPS units which adds another dimension to the activity, as used in geocaching (we have geocache courses too, both on and off site).
The high ropes tower has six challenges and is used for half day sessions: two Traverses, All Aboard, Leap of Faith, Jacobs Ladder, Crate Stack. Students will take turns to undertake the challenges in small groups whilst their classmates hold the ropes.
Build your own shelter, light a fire without matches, discover wild food, learn how to safely use a knife, toast a marshmallow. A half day session.
Pony trekking/Horse riding
Pony trekking can be arranged through another provider, there is an extra charge for this. Over the 2 hour session students are shown how to care for and prepare their pony, and how to control their pony. The stables has an indoor and outdoor arena where the students can practise before heading out for a short ride on the common.
Pendarren is well resourced to offer a camping experience overnight in the grounds.
ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES and VISITS
Big Pit coal mine museum
This closed as a working deep mine in 1981 and reopened as a tourist attraction. A visit includes an undergound tour led by one of the entertaining miners, an audiovisual simulation of mining techniques and a museum. One hundred meters below ground, visitors equipped with safety helmets and cap-lamps will see what life was really like for generations of South Wales’ miners. Please note that the underground tour is often closed in January for refurbishment, the surface tours however are always open. Free.
Caerleon – the Romans
The Romans colonised Wales extensively from AD74 until AD300. A large garrison was established at Caerleon (Isca). Subsequent archaeological excavation has revealed an amphitheatre, barracks and baths. The visit includes the baths, amphitheatre and the Roman Legionary Museum. There are work sheets available. There may be a charge for some sessions that are only run on certain dates. Please see their website for further information http://museumwales.ac.uk/roman/learning/ks2/
Over the centuries the Welsh and the English built many castles along the border to try and control the region. We offer this as a half day activity and you have two castles to choose from:
- Raglan Castle gives a historical perspective from the early Normans through to the English Civil War. The students explore the castle, role playing different aspects of castle life. The castle allows free educational visits but the visit must be booked by the school, not Pendarren, to take advantage of this.
- Skenfrith Castle offers a chance to try some photo orienteering in a fantastic historical setting, where the students explore the castle looking to match photographs to their maps as a competition.
Welsh Folk Museum – St Fagans
This visit provides a fascinating insight into the customs and life-styles of the people of Wales through the ages. The indoor exhibits include an agricultural section and a magnificent collection of material culture. The external exhibits show the development of housing and crafts in rural Wales, with many buildings including farm houses, watermill, tannery, chapel and school, reconstructed and furnished as they were in their period. It is possible to arrange a “Victorian Lesson” with the children dressed in costume in the school. There are also opportunities for “hands on” experiences in the reconstructed Celtic village, making wattle and daub, spinning etc. Schools wishing to use either of these re-enactments will be sent additional information about the requirements for successful role-play. Entrance is free, as are certain sections of the museum, but some sessions are charged for. For more details click here and also see their website for more information:
The small village of Llangenny provides an excellent area for map-making. The pupils are given a simple base map of the village and its surrounds and are required to complete the map by plotting the location of the houses, church, phone box, old school and other features. They will be asked to make a suitable key and there is an option to measure and calculate the scale. Trundle wheels, tapes etc. are provided by the centre.
Abergavenny Town Trail
This trail takes the pupils around the nearby market town of Abergavenny. Many of the interesting features of the town, its castle, old cattle market, tithe barn and buildings from a variety of architectural periods are included in the trail. The compactness of the town centre shopping area makes for an ideal contrast with the pupils own local environment in Haringey.
A Walk Along the Grwyne
The River Grwyne is the stream on our doorstep. The route follows the river along its wooded valley passing Pendarren and Llangenny and the sites of three watermills. There is a simplified map to enable the students to do the route finding.
A Walk Around Crickhowell
Explore the old town of Hywell’s Castle and its environs. The walk passes an old port, the ruins of a Norman Castle and the old 13 arch bridge across the River Usk. The canal is followed from Gilwern Wharf to Llangattock passing along peaceful wooded areas before returning across the valley to Crickhowell.
A day visit to visit Caswell Bay on the unspoilt Gower Coast. There is usually a short clifftop walk to the sandy beach with the opportunity to observe various coastal landforms and their specialised plant life, and sometimes seals bobbing about in the sea. On the shore the children investigate the wide variety of shore and rock pool life such as crabs and starfish. Weather permitting, there will be opportunity for beach games and a swim/paddle in the sea.
Stream study : Go With The Flow – data collection
This half day activity provides a number of options to study a local stream:- pupils can make predictions and then use tape measures, stop watches, meter rulers to investigate the speed, depth and width of the stream. Pupils can display their results in charts and diagrams.
Stream study: Water mini-beasts – ecology
The stream supports a diverse community of invertebrates which are easily captured. Pupils can collect these invertebrates and use simple dichotomous keys and data sheets to identify their bugs, draw simple food chains and pyramids and identify adaptations to the environment. Half day.