HIGH ropes, low ropes, zip wire, quad bikes, paintballing, archery, a climbing wall and more – are all on offer at Barfield School.
Set in 12 acres of grounds in Runfold, Barfield has been home to Three Peaks for almost 30 years, offering a variety of outdoor activities to students as part of the curriculum and to the community.
Three Peaks manager Karl Gibling, instructor Mark Gore and a team of Year 7 students challenged Herald reporter Lettie Buxton to face her fear of heights and take on the leap of faith.
But not before testing her problem-solving skills with a crane cube and spider’s web.
Everyone had to work together to complete the crane cube, as a selected leader guided the team to pick up four different-sized wooden logs and place them upright in height order.
Using a crane attached to ropes surrounding the cube, each person had to pull or loosen their rope depending on the location of the log.
Team work and communication led the group to complete the cube in just six minures 18 seconds – well within the ten-minute time limit.
Up next was the spider’s web, another test of teamwork and communication skills. The challenge was to get from one side of the web to the other – but it was not quite as easy as it sounds.
Each rope was coloured red or green. Touch a green rope, and you are back to the start. But touch a red rope and the whole team has to complete the web all over again.
Working as a group, each person was guided through the web of ropes with help from the rest of the team, calling out different routes and spotting if someone was going to touch a rope.
Eventually, after a very near-miss with a red rope and several members of the team, including Lettie, having to start again, the team did it and made their way to the next challenge – the leap of faith.
The challenge was to complete a double leap of faith, with two people dangling from the trapeze bar at the same time. But only one pair managed to pull it off.
After climbing to the top of what can only be described as a 30ft telegraph pole, each adventurer had to pull themselves up on to the tiny platform, eventually standing up.
With the encouragement of the teams below, it was time to jump. “After the count of three,” they all called, while the team of Year 7 students reassured they had hold of the ropes.
Having made the leap, the youngsters lowered each participant until their feet were firmly back on the ground, although not for long!
Karl and Mark were soon moving the group on to the next challenge – the Quick Jump.
And quick it was too! Having climbed up a tree to a platform 40ft high, everyone was attached to a cord, similar to that used in a bungee jump, and told to simply walk off the platform.
After free-falling for 15-20ft, the Quick Jump device slows down the fall until the person is back on the ground.
Although it was time for the Year 7 students to head back to class, Lettie still had one last challenge to face – archery.
With the help and assistance of the instructors, Lettie was taught how to hold and use the bow and arrow correctly.
At first, a lack of power meant the arrow was neither hitting the board or the target spot.
However, after many attempts and guidance from the instructors, Lettie hit a bullseye, scoring a maximum 1,000 points in the mini competition.
Archery enabled each participant to put into practise the skills they had just learnt, seeing progress in a short time.
Each activity is designed to provide transferable skills to the classroom and sports pitch, such as communication, problem-solving skills, leadership, resilience and a ‘can-do’ attitude.
Each of the Year 7 students challenging Lettie showed confidence in their skills, stepping forward to teach her how to put on a harness and helmet, for example.
Challenge by choice is the Three Peaks motto – pushing participants out of their comfort zone but allowing them to remain in control.
* ThREE Peaks at Barfield School was the brainchild of Ray Taylor, who came up with the idea when he joined the school 29 years ago.
The high ropes were the first to be built, with the purpose of raising money for new sport equipment.
It was originally open to school pupils only, but when Karl Gibling, the manager, joined Three Peaks 19 years ago, the centre opened to the community.
Ray was the head of sport at the time and is now the director of sport, having previously been a physical training instructor in the army. He wanted to bring the positives of his army training to the school.
Karl made Three Peaks Barfield more commercial and it now offers holiday activity camps, birthday parties, a swimming school, sports courses and activity programmes for youth and corporate groups.
When the zip wire was built nine years ago, it was the longest in the south. Since then, all sections of the community have used it, including disabled visitors who have also taken on the leap of faith.
As well as adding variety to the youngsters’ learning, the instructors believe it enhances their education and “lets the children thrive”.
It also enables them to try things they wouldn’t usually do and is all about challenging fears, according to Karl.
To find out more about Three Peaks Barfield or to take on the challenge, head to barfieldschool.com/threepeaks.