May half term is all about maps! Families looking for some fun over half-term should go no further than Dartmoor National Park.
The National Park has teamed up with local businesses to host some free family events and the theme is focused all on maps. From navigation and simple mapping skills to safety skills and treasure hunts, there’s something for everyone, whatever the ability.
And with the Moor Otters Arts Trail happening from 28th May, what better time to get planning and get mapping?
Saturday, 29th – Monday 31st May, 12pm – 4pm: Join the Dartmoor Search and Rescue Group for their ‘Moor’ safety drop-in sessions at Princetown Visitor Centre (www.dartmoor.gov.uk/enjoy-dartmoor/planning-your-visit/virtual-visitor-centre/princetown-visitor-centre). Learn about the essential equipment and navigation skills you need to become a Dartmoor explorer.
Tuesday, 1st June, 9.30 – noon: Emma Cunis of Dartmoor’s Daughter is leading a map reading made fun event at Haytor Visitor Centre. Suitable for all ages, this easy two-mile walk will include stops in one of Dartmoor’s most iconic locations. Book online for Map Reading Made Fun (www.dartmoorsdaughter.com/public-walks/map-reading-dnpa) .
Thursday, 3rd June, 10.30am: Dartmoor National Park Authority are leading a ‘discovery trail’ tailor made for children. The trail will explore Haytor Down, the Quarry and the Granite Tramway. Book in advance by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. It starts at Haytor Visitor Centre.
Friday, 4th June, 10am – 1pm or 2pm – 5pm: Crag 2 Mountain are hosting family navigation sessions from Haytor Visitor Centre. Venture onto Dartmoor to learn map reading and compass skills, discover its history and explore the environment all on a stunning walk. Book ahead for Crag2Mountain Family Navigation sessions (https://form.jotform.com/crag2mountain/dnpa-family-navigation-course). Advance booking is required for the events to help keep people safe and socially distanced.
From Thursday, 3rd – Sunday, 6th June: The RSPB are offering citizen science sessions on mapping swifts, the last summer migrant to the UK and the first to leave. People can learn about the RSPB’s Swift Mapper; a tool people can use to record swift sightings and help the RSPB build a picture of nesting sites that need protecting. Find their stand outside Haytor Visitor Centre.
If people prefer to do their own thing, they can pick up a History Hunter map from Postbridge Visitor Centre to explore the Bronze Age archaeology just a stone’s throw away. Rebecca Martin, Dartmoor National Park Authority’s Visitor Services Manager, said: “We want to give people some great free events that would encourage them to explore this special landscape and understand more about its fascinating past.
‘Our National Park visitor centres are open daily and sell a wide range of local products, gifts, maps and books. Our friendly Information Advisers can give people advice on where to go and what to see too.
‘Our thanks go to Dartmoor’s Daughter, Crag 2 Mountain, Dartmoor Search and Rescue, DNPA volunteers and the RSPB for hosting these fantastic free events. They’ll be brilliant for helping people build confidence with their mapping skills in superb surroundings. With our second fundraising Moor Otters Arts Trail on the horizon what better time to get involved?”
Friday, 28th May sees Moor Otters Arts Trail 2021 officially get underway. Moor Otters Arts Trail is a joyful public arts initiative which helps people explore Dartmoor to find 81 decorated sculptures, learn about the landscape and raise funds for conservation work.
Every sculpture is different because they’ve been designed by talented local and national artists and valued charitable causes. They’re hosted at local businesses and organisations spread across the National Park and further afield.
Keen otter spotters might want to organise their sculpture sightings around other activities like visiting a tourist attraction or grabbing a bite to eat somewhere while considering the latest public health guidance.
To help people plan ahead, an interactive Moor Otters map (www.dartmoor.gov.uk/enjoy-dartmoor/moor-otters/moor-otters-trails) shows all five trails alongside the name of the otter, links to the host organisation and sculpture sponsor.
Moor Otters Arts Trail aims to raise £60,000 to conserve and protect Dartmoor National Park. The first sculpture trail in 2017 provided funds for access repairs, invasive plant management and opportunities for young people to connect with the National Park.