Lets all be a ‘Safety Hero’

To celebrate Child Safety Week (June 24th – 30th) we wanted to share with you how you can have superbly safe trip to Ford Castle.

The theme of the week is to be a safety hero and to pledge three simple but effective safety actions to abide by. So, in the spirit of the week here are our pledges to you:

  • To always provide harnesses and helmets for our High Ropes Courses.
  • To always have qualified instructors operating our High Ropes Courses.
  • To always have GNAS (Grand National Archery Society) qualified archery instructors.
  • To provide plastron arm garments for fencing, to protect your’ weapon’ arm.
  • To have BFA (British Academy of fencing and British Fencing Association) qualified fencing instructors.
  • To provide fencing masks which fully protect the face, head and neck.
  • To provide a safety jackets for fencing.
  • To provide helmets and harnesses for our zip wire.

Let’s not forget, perhaps the most important of all; to provide a great adventure in a real Medieval Castle without any safety worries for you.

Remember we aren’t safety heroes, we’re just doing our duty.

Gosforth Central Middle School & Subhadassi


by Rosy Graham

We were looking forward to Gosforth Central Middle School coming to the Castle. Their arrival, oddly enough, heralded some time off after a rather hectic week.  We were afforded these extra breaks because the school had timetabled daily ‘Writing Lessons’, which puzzled me slightly: why would a school group come to a genuine, medieval castle, with brilliant outdoor activities and excursions, to then sit in a classroom to do work?  All became clear however, when Subhadassi, artist, poet and children’s writer, came to stay at the Castle to do some narrative writing workshops with the Gifted and Talented students of Gosforth Central Middle School.

So I was beginning to wonder what precise definition of ‘Gifted and Talented’ Gosforth Middle were using, during the Grail Hunt, as their quests to find the numbers of doors, windows, chairs etc just didn’t tally with what I had written down as the correct answers.  I like to think that I learn fom my mistakes and in the future, I’ll think twice before automatically assuming that the (rather intelligent) children before me are wrong.  Big oops!  I am aware of the saying ‘Common sense is different for each person’ . . . yeah, turns out that’s true.

The following day saw me leading the group in Initiative Exercises, where the group is encouraged to solve the problems set before them as a team.  The Gosforth group were indeed excellent . . . almost too good though.  One exercise involves getting a ‘bomb’ from the ‘danger zone’, across a gravel area that must not be touched and into the ‘safe vault’.  The group is given two lengths of rope which can be used to lift the bomb to safety if crossed in the correct way and some care is used while moving the device.  However, clearly excellent at judging distance and confident in their ability to jump, one of the team took it upon themselves to leap clear across the gravel, without so much as touching a pebble, to the danger zone; pass the bomb to another member of the group and solve the problem.  Not exactly a classic display of teamwork, but I couldn’t fault their initiative.

Later that evening, there was a Medieval Talent Show, followed by a disco.  I have to say that there was more personality on display that evening than I’ve witnessed so far this year: picture if you will, a sketch with a knight fighting a dragon and a wedding with girl playing the ukulele.

The next day Gosforth Central Middle School left us, though I did hear on the grapevine that some of us are included in their stories. So, watch this space for more news on the novelists of tomorrow, coming to a bookshop near you . . . I may even get a mention.

Low Ropes Course


Fear of heights?  No problem

by Crystal Booth

  Low Ropes
It’s not that we don’t have enough outdoor activities already at Ford, but we’ve just installed a new low ropes course for the heck of it and as a fresh challenge for you to explore too, of course.So why have a low ropes course if we already have high ropes I hear you ask. Well, here are just a few reasons:
  • There’s no need for specialist safety equipment as it’s less than half a metre off the ground
  • This type of course suits a variety of abilities and ages
  • It’s a great confidence-building exercise
  • Try Zig and Zag or the Balance Beams for yourself; they’re great fun!

An assault course should also have been in place by now, delayed unfortunately, due to the (somewhat inclement!) weather, but that will be built shortly. So, assuming you need them; there are now two new, and rather exiting reasons to come and visit us.  We hope you continue to enjoy the improvements we are making.

A big thanks to HangFast Adventure Structures for building our new courses in some fairly challenging conditions.




English Tourism Week

Northumberland – A great attraction in itself

By Crystal Booth

Berwick upon Tweed Walls Walk Beamish Museum Alnwick Treehouse Alnwick Harry Potter Bamburgh Castle
To celebrate English Tourism week (March 16th – 24th) we wanted to share with you our brilliant excursions from Ford Castle.

For three years running Beamish Museum has been the North East’s top visitor attraction and if you’re visiting us from the south, the good news is that we recommend you come and experience a bit of time travel and step into Victorian England, on your way up to Ford. Positively dripping with tourism awards, including Best UK Attraction for Group Visits over six times, why not find out why? It can also double up as a lovely rest from your travels.

Another brilliant excursion close by is Bamburgh Castle, originating as far back as 1200BC and famously home to the Kings of Northumbria. Discover the secrets that have lain hidden for centuries such as the Bamburgh Beast and the unique Bamburgh Sword, unearthed as recently as 1960; someone clearly knew how to hide things well. With its historic castle, quaint village and breath-taking coastline, no wonder Bamburgh won Gold in the North East England Tourism Awards 2010, just don’t expect any zip wires at this castle – you can do that when you get back.

If historic museums aren’t what you’re looking for, how about a magical maze of gardens or perhaps taking a step inside a piece of film history? Not only have Alnwick Castle and Gardens been used for the first two Harry Potter films but Elizabeth and Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, to name a few, have taken advantage of this incredible site.

There are, of course, a huge variety of Potter-themed activities throughout the year: broomstick training, potter characters on parade and a battle-axe to broomstick tour, which we’re sure the students will love. This is one excursion not to miss!

It’s easy to see why Northumberland attracts an average of 7.2m visitors a year. With fabulous film locations, great gardens and medieval museums; it’s our privilege to show you around the Region whilst visiting Ford Castle.