In May 2015, as the highlight of a social project for the Werner-von-Siemens School in Bochum, Germany, 45 7th grade children, 12 students and 5 teachers undertook a Jurassic Coast hike along Britain’s South West Coast Path from Swanage to Exeter.
After six months of weekly lessons learning about England (in English!), fitness preparation in sports lessons, and fitting everyone out with proper equipment, we set out for England and our hike along the Jurassic Coast!
After a sleepless night in a coach and on the ferry, we arrived in Studland at 10am, and set off for Acton, near Swanage. As it started to rain and everyone was tired, the mood was not very enthusiastic! But as we came closer to Old Harry Rocks, the sun came out and the mood started to improve! During the rest of the day and over the next ten days we were able to really appreciate the beauty of the British coast.
The kids hated Richard (the head organizer) when path led uphill, but they loved him when they saw the stunning views from the top. After hiking up to seven hours each day, we camped, and even slept in churches and town halls!
Some of the highlights from the trip were Durdle Door, Portland, the walk from Lyme Regis to Seaton, and the hilly track from Seaton to Sidmouth. On our last day, we took the X53 bus from Sidmouth to Exeter to spend some time in that old English city.
During the days (when we weren’t walking!) we were able to spend some time at the fantastic beaches and taking in the views from the hilltops – and we were very lucky with the weather.
The project really helped the children learn teamwork and group building skills. They reached their goals and really went beyond themselves. They spoke in English to the people who hosted us and the local people we met along the way. They became self-reliant, helped to raise money by making waffles, sang in the streets, wrote letters to possible donators and lived without the modern online world. Just nature and a big group for 12 days!
When we arrived back in Germany, everyone was so happy about our unconventional hiking project. So the question everyone asked was ‘What will be next?’
For some impressions (in German) go to England-projekt.tumblr.com
Or visit ‘Englandprojekt 2015’ on Facebook.
Thanks to Joachim-Herz-Stiftung, Deutsche Bank, Volksbank Witten/Bochum and many others for helping to fund the project, and to the students from Witten/Herdecke University, without whom this project would not have been possible.