Beyond The Walls is an outdoor nursery that is very close to my heart. My eldest, Matilda now 7, went there before she started at school, and my youngest, Corben, is currently there until he starts school this coming September. I first heard about this ‘new’ kind of nursery when Matilda was about 6 months old from other parents whose older children had just started there. Based up in Tockholes, near Darwen they run from Tuesday to Thursday 8am to 5pm. Children must be 3 before they can start at Beyond the Walls and it’s a great experience to either run alongside a standard nursery setting or on its own. The children get dropped off and picked up at their base camp, the lovely little Old School building in the church yard.
Of course this type of nursery isn’t completely new, Beyond The Walls follows the long established philosophies of the Scandinavian and German Forest Kindergartens. However, the nursery was the first in the North West to offer this kind of care. Diane, one of the owners, described why they think this type of environment is so important ‘We felt strongly that children should be free to express, explore, be excited and inspired by the wonders of the great outdoors. We also knew that the magical place that is our natural world, would harness and enhance children’s innate curiosity and limitless imaginations. Giving children the opportunity to have a holistic approach it is our hope that they will return throughout their life to nature and let its peaceful, tranquility work its magic for them.’
The nursery was set up as a joint venture by Diane and Naomi in 2011, both have a great deal of experience in childcare and met twenty years ago at the traditional nursery Diane then ran. Diane said of starting up ‘When I approached Naomi about opening an outdoor setting we knew that we would need some one to join us and Louise was our first choice as not only did she love being around children she had a passion for the natural environment just like us. The perfect team!’.
It sounded amazing and I knew I’d be signing my children up for sure. Out in all weathers enjoying all nature has to offer and learning not to be afraid of a little rain, wind, or snow. As well as spending time at their main camps up in Roddlesworth Woods, Tockholes, they also take the children out on trips to different locations such as Witton Park in Blackburn, Townley Park in Burnley, and Barton Grange Garden Centre in Preston. On these trips they get to learn or watch different skills like making charcoal or learning to use money to buy things. When I joined Naomi and Louise one morning to take some pictures for this blog I even got a little lesson myself! There was some very interesting looking fungus growing on a fallen tree in the camp, whilst we were chatting Naomi told me it was turkeytail fungus and also about all it’s various benefits and applications. It was a very educational, if like me you haven’t come across it before you can see a picture below!
You can clearly tell that Diane, Louise, and Naomi not only have a huge passion for their work, they truly care for your child’s well-being and are friendly and approachable. When they are out in the woods they take a hands off approach as much as possible to allow the children to interact naturally, but they are right there when needed. The children get the experience of storytime and playing with the toys in the base camp but they get the added experience of the adventures they can make up themselves in the woods, turning found objects such as sticks and pine cones into toys and props. What a fantastic way to ignite their imaginations! I know when I drop Corben off in the morning he’s going to have a day full of fun and I love hearing about what they’ve been up to when I pick him up.
There is generally a waiting list for Beyond the Walls and I would definitely recommend you sign up as soon as possible if your child is currently under 3 (I had Corben’s name down from 6 weeks old just to be sure!). If your child is 3 or older then you may be in luck, they currently have a couple of spaces free. Get in touch with them as soon as possible via their email firstname.lastname@example.org as I can’t imagine they’ll be available for long. You can also find their website here: https://beyondthewalls.co.uk/ and FB page here: https://www.facebook.com/beyondthewallsoutdoornursery/