The weather was very changeable on the way to Botton; the skies blackened as we came through Hutton and so our hearts began to sink a little. Then a miracle happened – we reached the brow of the hill right up on top of the Moors and came out into glorious sunshine – it was like we had driven through a black curtain, out to the other side where we were dazzled by the warm evening sunshine and the most magnificent view….sharp gasps of delight were heard all around – one boy even said – ‘Wow – this is amazing!!!’ I later discovered that this particular boy had never seen the Moors before.
Botton Village itself is small, sheltered and unique. The Boys spilled out of the bus and were quickly loaded up with gear. We then walked up through the forest to our resting place for the night – a secluded forest clearing with a lovely lake and an area cleared for a fire. We split ourselves into small task groups – tent builders, wood gatherers, fire assistants – and really within very little time we had a cosy little woodland community. Mrs Lawson had established a magnificent fire and the tantalising smell of roasted sausages drifted all around us. At that moment, there really could be no better thing!
We all gathered around the fire on log benches at about 8pm and enjoyed a very jovial supper – sausages in rolls, lamb kebabs, chicken wings and drumsticks, juice, tea, coffee…..a veritable feast.
Mr Dawes and Mr Wright then led a contingent of boys (and our 2 girls!) off up the hillside to watch the sun setting from the top – the view was stunning and of course, many picked up a phone signal from the top of the hill –an added reward for those who had made the effort to climb!
Meanwhile, the rest of us cleared up supper and got the milk and hot water heated up on the fire. By the time the main group returned, we were able to gather round the fire once again for hot chocolate and tea – with marshmallows of course. Several boys had whittled down sticks and had great fun toasting their mallows.
By this time, it was about 10.30pm and the boys drifted off to their ‘beds’ full of fresh air and with bellies full of delicious food and warm milk. Mr Dawes went off to his hammock – suspended rather precariously between 2 trees by bungees and strong twine.
As we went to our tents, we could hear the happy chattering of excited boys huddled together in their sleeping bags. There was a lot of torch flashing and storytelling going on. Perhaps not quite as much sleep!
The morning dawned with glorious warm sunlight steaming through the trees. The lake looked beautiful as we gathered around Mrs Lawson’s morning fire for breakfast – porridge, hot chocolate and pains au chocolat.
Once breakfast had been cleared up, boys went off to explore – some went round the other side of the lake to catch bugs, many enjoyed the fishing nets and jars and had endless enjoyment filling the jars with tadpoles, dragonfly larvae, newts and water boatmen. Everyone was involved – from the youngest to the oldest – and not an electronic gadget in sight!!
Then came the lake dipping!! Only a few brave souls at first, but gradually, one by one, more and more boys joined the group jumping off the jetty into the freezing water. Alex Tong watched over us all as Life Guard, armed with his boathook!
The fire was a welcome source of heat after the freezing water so we enjoyed a mid-morning snack together before striking camp. Once the tents were down, Jacob and Rob organised a few games of blocky for everyone. We then loaded up and began our trek back through the forest to the Village.
We didn’t really want the adventure to end! Our final treat was a lunch stop in Pickering where we had pre-ordered 25 portions of freshly cooked fish and chips – with curry sauce and ketchup!! Wonderful!
Our thanks must go to Mr Dawes and Mrs Lawson for giving up their weekend and for giving so much of themselves to make our Botton adventure possible. Thank you too to Mr D’Arcy for providing us with all our food and drink for the weekend – we actually heard the words ‘I am SO full!’ uttered by one of our 4th year boys on Sunday afternoon – a rare thing indeed!!
The boys have already asked whether we can go again next year….how could we possibly refuse?!