This year’s Challenge Event took place at YHA Patterdale in the Lake District 3-6 April.
The stunning scenery was full of interest for the Water-WISER group as staff from the West Cumbria Rivers Trust took the group on a tour of Natural Flood Management (NFM) solutions in the Cocker catchment – descending the west side of Whinlatter Pass. Infrastructure included tree planting, small to giant leaky dams, ponds, and creation of meanders, all to slow water flow down to Cockermouth which was hit by major floods in 2015. The co-benefits for biodiversity are huge. Only one student managed to fall in the river!
The following day, based at Glenridding village hall, was led by Ken Caplan of Partnerships in Practice (Water-WISER Advisory Board), and focused on facilitation – an important skill for Water-WISER students collaborating with stakeholders and communities during fieldwork overseas. Water-WISER students learned how to use the fabric of the room and the format of an event to ensure productive outcomes. A memorable exercise was the ‘Empty Chair’ – a great lesson in figuring out how to devolve leadership in rapidly unfolding complex situations.
A very different activity that afternoon involved getting in the water itself – kayaking and cliff jumping! Hardy students braved the icy water and a 5m high cliff.
The setting in the Youth Hostel meant that formal and informal discussions were easy to hold in common rooms, as well as providing a great base for exploring the local area in the mornings and evenings before and after the structured events.
Photo credits: Ullswater Outdoor Adventures