The Grand Western Canal Country Park and local nature reserve is an excellent site for school visits. The Country Park provides a variety of educational opportunities for groups of all ages and abilities.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update:

Unfortunately, due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) the Ranger Service will not be able to accept any school visits until further notice.  Further updates will be posted as and when these details change.


  • 11 ¼ miles of beautiful, historic canal
  • Two classrooms
  • Information centre
  • A variety of habitats, including three ponds, hedgerows and a wildlife garden
  • Equipment and resources for all activities
  • Toilets
  • Car and coach parking.

When can we visit?

Sessions run Monday to Friday throughout the year. Morning sessions normally start around 10am and last for 2 hours. Afternoon sessions start at 1pm and again last for two hours. Alternatives times can be arranged with the Ranger Service.

What is the cost?

For ranger-led activities/walks:

Half dayFull day
50p per pupil (DCC schools)£1.00 per pupil (DCC schools)
£1 per pupil (schools outside DCC)£1.50 per pupil (schools outside DCC)
1 adult per 8 pupils (required): Free1 adult per 8 pupils (required): Free

What should we bring?

We will provide all the necessary equipment including clipboards and worksheets. Each child should come equipped with:

  • waterproof clothing
  • stout shoes or wellingtons
  • sun hat and sun cream in summer.

Extra information

  • Ideal group size is between 15 – 35 children
  • Schools are responsible for the supervision and discipline of the children at all times
  • Ratio of adults to children should be 1:8, and therefore it would be helpful if extra staff or parents could join the group
  • A risk assessment is available for teachers and parents to read and each activity will start with a brief talk about health and safety
  • The Ranger leading the activities is a qualified first aider and will also be carrying a first aid kit, safety throw line and a mobile phone.

How do I book?

Please call the Rangers Service on 01884 254072 or email


  • Rummage around the wildlife garden and delve into the pond to try and find examples of life cycles occurring within these habitats.

    Key Stage:1 and 2
    This activity is based on:Habitat Comparisons and Life Cycles – KS1 & 2. (NC – Sc2) (QCA – 5B)
    Duration:1 – 1 ½ hours
    This activity is best used in:Late spring or early summer

    Learning objectives

    • Children learn about different habitats and the range of plants and animals that live in these habitats. Experimental and investigative work will be included.
    • Focus on canal habitats – freshwater and grassland/hedgerows.
    • Pond dipping – life cycles of pond creatures, larval and adult stages and habitat comparisons for different stages.
    • Mini beast Study – focus on life cycle of butterfly and comparisons with freshwater creatures.
    • Comparison of the two habitats studied.

  • Discover the mysterious underwater world of the pond. Have a go at pond dipping, and use identification keys to find out what creatures have been caught.

    Key Stage:1 and 2 (Year 2)
    Unit:2B: Plants and animals in the local environment
    Section:2: Looking for plants and animals

    Learning objectives

    • That there are different kinds of plants and animals in the immediate environment.
    • To treat animals and the environment with care and sensitivity.
    • To observe and make a record of animals and plants found.
    • To present results in a table.

  • Take a look at some of the canal’s smaller inhabitants. Find out what mini beasts are creeping and crawling around the country park.

    Key Stage:1 and 2 (Year 2)
    Unit:2B: Plants and animals in the local environment
    Section:2: Looking for plants and animals

    Learning objectives

    • That there are different kinds of plants and animals in the immediate environment.
    • To treat animals and the environment with care and sensitivity.
    • To observe and make a record of animals and plants found.
    • To present results in a table.

  • Discover why the canal was built in Tiverton.

    Key Stage:1 and 2 (Year 3/4)
    Unit:Unit 18: What was it like to live here in the past?

    1: What is our area like today?

    3: What can local buildings or sites tell us about the past?

    7: What was it like to live in our area in the past?

    Learning objectives

    • That a map is a representation of an area.
    • To recognise some features in the local area, and to locate them on a map.
    • That an area may contain a mixture of old and new buildings.
    • That there are different sources of information for their area in the past.
    • To develop skills of accurate observation and recording.
    • To make deductions from physical evidence.
    • To recognise that some questions can be answered by looking at buildings and others cannot.
    • To synthesise what they have found out about the local area.
    • To put their findings into chronological context.
    • To contribute and cooperate as part of a group.
    • To organise information and communicate it in a variety of ways appropriate to the audience.

  • Observe and compare two different habitats found along the canal. Investigate the differences between animals found in both and find out how these animals are adapted to living in their environment.


    Key Stage:1 and 2 (Year 4)
    Unit4B: Habitats

    2: Finding different habitats

    3: Different animals in different habitats

    4: Grouping living things

    5: Using keys to identify plants and animals

    6: Investigating plants and animals

    Learning objectives

    • Introduce children to the word ‘habitat’.
    • To identify different types of habitat.
    • That different animals are found in different habitats.
    • To make predictions of organisms that will be found in a habitat.
    • To observe the conditions in a local habitat and make a record of the animals found.
    • That animals are suited to the environment in which they are found.
    • Make predictions.
    • Describe a habitat in terms of the conditions eg leaf litter is cool, damp and dark.
    • State that animals and plants are found in some places and not in others and explain why.
    • To group organisms according to observable features.
    • Identify similarities and differences between similar organisms.
    • Group animals and explain criteria eg number of legs, wings/no wings on which the groups are based.
    • To use keys to identify local plants or animals.
    • To pose questions about organisms and the habitat in which they live and make predictions.
    • To decide what evidence to collect and to design a fair test.
    • To make reliable observations of organisms.
    • To indicate whether their prediction was valid and to explain findings in scientific terms.
    • Suggest a question which relates to an organism in its natural habitat and say what they think will happen.
    • Recognise what evidence is needed eg woodlice should be able to choose between a damp and a dry place and that a reasonable number of woodlice should be used.
    • Make observations which are relevant to the question under investigation.
    • Draw conclusions which match the observations made and relate these to their prediction and to their knowledge about the habitat.

  • Earthwalk

    The purpose of an Earthwalk is to awaken the group’s senses and enthusiasm for the natural world. By witnessing new sights, touches and sounds the children can develop a respect for the natural world they previously were not aware of. The activities all encourage the sharing of knowledge and experience which builds a sense of community within the group.

    This activity works best in late spring/early summer. It is an ideal activity Reception/Year 1 classes. This sessions takes around 1 – 1 ½ hours.

    Key Stage:1 and 2 (Year 1)
    Unit:1A: Ourselves
    Section:2:The five senses
    Learning Objectives:To learn about senses and how these can be used to explore the world around us.


    Scratch ‘n’ sniff

    • Leader explains about and demonstrates the different smells in nature. She then talks about a magic liquid that enhances each smell.
    • Each child is given a sponge soaked in magic liquid and encouraged to find smells. They then share their favourite smell with a partner.


    • Leader talks about different sensations felt from different objects – show a feather and discuss how it feels.
    • Each child is given an egg box with cards in each compartment.  Each card has a different word on that describes a touch. The children must fill their egg boxes with appropriate touches using materials that were not living. The egg boxes are colour coded, indicating the groups the children will join the share their finds.
    • During this activity the children are encouraged to walk towards a new location.

    Leaf slides

    • Leaf slides moves the group to another location in preparation for the last activity to use sound.
    • The children are told that they have been invited to a slide show and must find an entry ticket (leaf) along the walk route. Once they reach the entrance to the slide show they are told that they are performers in the show and their tickets are the slides.
    • They are given a leaf slide frame made of card and shown how to use the frames, making the best image by holding the leaf and frame up to the light. The viewer can then witness colours and images that would usually go unnoticed.
    • The group is gathered into a circle to watch the slide show. Each child views their leaf, when they hear a clicker; they must pass their slide to the left. This continues until each child has its original slide back.

    Nature’s pizzas

    • Leader explains that we are going to find the colours of nature.
    • Each child is given a piece of card with a layer of double sided tape (artist’s palette). The children must look around for different colours and collect small dabs of colour and place it on their palettes. The dabs of colour should be no bigger than your little fingernail.
    • Share what you have found on your palettes.

    Sound recording

    • Leader makes group aware of the sounds around them.
    • Each child is given a piece of card and a pencil and shown how to map sounds. They are asked to find their favourite quiet spot within sight of the leader and sit down. They are encouraged to map at least 5 sounds.
    • Each child describes the sounds they heard to the group members.


    • The Earthwalk finishes back at Rangers Office.
    • The leader summarises what the group has learnt i.e. we have used our 5 sense.
    • The leader ask the children to identify the five senses and location of the sense organs eg by pointing to them.

  • Other activities

    • Scavenger hunt
    • Nature bingo
    • Hedge poems.

    All the environmental activities are led by our ranger team. Full or half day sessions are available. We can adapt the sessions to suit the requirements of your class, and we are happy to include additional subjects or activities that could link to projects that the schools are currently involved with. Currently activities are designed for key Stage 1 and 2 however secondary schools/colleges are welcome to use our facilities.