Castle open for schools again

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A north Northumberland castle, which shut its doors as a venue for school trips last year, has started welcoming back schools.

Ford Castle welcomed its first visitors since August 2011 on June 11 this year when schoolchildren from Westfield School in Gosforth and Whittonstall and Broomley First Schools in County Durham visited.

Now a joint venture between Northumberland County Council and Château Beaumont, the beautiful and historic setting is once again providing challenging and fun residential school trips.

As well as learning about the environment in this part of Northumberland, children – and their teachers – have been swinging through the trees across the gorge on the zip wire, and brewing and concocting potions inside the castle, which the teachers have enjoyed to varying degrees.

So far all have lived to tell the tale...apparently, while the budding Harry Potters have learnt about nutrition, even teachers don’t like brussel sprouts with banana, yoghurt and strawberries.

Several schools from the region have already enjoyed a visit to the relaunched Ford Castle, with pupils coming from Bedlington, Newcastle, Hexham, Darlington as well as Brownies from Cramlington.

Bookings continue to grow steadily for the autumn and in 2013, March and July are rapidly filling up with June already full.

Many schools are returning to experience the new activities that have been installed since Château Beaumont took over the management.

The high ropes course is a big favourite, from the crate stack to the leap of faith, via Jacob’s ladder. All users are given safety equipment and are gently lowered to the ground by qualified instructors.

When it created the partnership, the council was aiming to secure Ford Castle as an outdoor centre for at least the next 20 years, helping to create employment opportunities in the area.