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Viking Longhouse moves a step closer 30 January 2007

IT is a busy period at the Youth Service Outdoor Education Centre.

A small group of students from Ramsey Grammar School, as part of a project week last week, created a permanent mountain bike skills course under the guidance of Paul Melling, the Outdoor Education Worker.

Students planned and built the course, which will form an integral part of the development of mountain biking at the centre. They constructed runs using split wooden poles to form bridges, which have been extended to form challenging runs. They excavated a track and filled it with gravel, constructed a sea-saw and tested the course to ascertain how challenging it is.

Groups of young people on mountain bike training at Ardwhallan will learn new skills using the course. Funding for the course came from the Amanda Lowe Memorial Fund, set up in memory of former Castle Rushen High School student and Cambridge University graduate Amanda, who died in the Asian tsunami aged 32.

The Outdoor Education Programme begins with a mountain bike course based at Ardwhallan on the weekend of March 10 and 11. The course is targeted at students who are in Year 9 and above and covers all aspects of mountain biking, such as repairs, learning new riding techniques and a ride-out. There are still places available. To book, contact Paul Melling on 407549.

The Outdoor Education Programme also has courses on sailing, climbing, kayaking and sea kayaking. The latter takes place on the Isle of Skye in August. For more information, visit

From next Monday, February 5th to Friday February 9th, students will visit the centre’s Viking Longhouse site to plant trees, under the supervision of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, and construct willow fences.

Students from the Isle of Man College, Queen Elizabeth II High School, Scoill Phurt-le-Moirrey, the Bunscoill, Kewaigue School and Ashley Hill School will be planting trees and shrubs that were indigenous to the Isle of Man 1,000 years ago and carrying out willow fence-making.

This week, King William’s College students, who have been to Dorset to learn how to make willow fences, are visiting schools to show pupils and staff the techniques needed. It is planned to build a life-size Viking Longhouse, complete with artefacts of life on a small homestead 1,000 years ago.

Young people will be involved in the construction. All the stone, trees and turf are to be found near Ardwhallan and the construction process will follow Viking methods where possible. The laying the first stone of the Viking Longhouse takes place on Saturday, March 17 at 11am. Carrying out the role will be Education Minister Anne Craine MHK.

All who have helped in the project are invited to the ceremonial stone-laying, including representatives from the above schools and colleges and sponsors the Gough Ritchie Trust, the Public Lottery Trust and Scottish Provident (SPILA).

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