Inner Hebrides

We asked a number of celebrities to tell us about their most memorable school trip experiences, from looking for toads, to Scottish adventures.

Kate Humble, TV present and nature enthusiast

“I went to school in Maidenhead; the junior school was a bit smaller than it is now but I’ll say now that I did go to school in a different epoch, it was the seventies.   About quarter of a mile away there was a little park. It was very scruffy and is probably barely a park now. It was a great piece of outdoor space. We used to go down to the park and it cost the school nothing. 

“We would collect things and we had a nature table on which we’d display our findings. It was one of the foundations of my career; I can still remember the joy we felt. We’d go to the park every season; in the spring we’d be looking for nests and discarded egg shells, it was like going on a treasure hunt. 

Kate Humble

Pictured: Kate Humble with STO editor Keeley Rodgers.

“We’d find all sorts, from blackbird’s eggs to abandoned bird’s nests; then in the autumn you’d collect leaves and you would learn why an oak leaf is a certain shape; you’d learn where acorns come from. You’d collect conkers and we would have conker fights because no one had invented health and safety back then. 

“Coming back into the classroom we’d have a treasure table and collages we had made with leaves. There was a connection between being outside, the things on the table and the things we made and learnt; there was a relevance that you don’t get being in the classroom.”

Craige Els, Miss Trunchbull in Matilda the Musical 

Craige Els

Pictured: Craige Els as Miss Trunchbull (photo credit: Manuel Harlan).

“I grew up and went to school in Liverpool, and the one trip that stands out for me is a day out to I remember once we went to Formby. We had to walk across the beach and sand dune to find and draw Natterjack toads. I don’t know why that sticks in my head, I know it was so cold walking across that beach, but it was just such a great day! 

“School travel seems to have really advanced since then – my colleague who plays Mr Wormwood in Matilda the Musical has a son who has just returned from a school trip to Iceland. And the year before that, he went to South America. It’s just amazing considering I used to have to walk on sand dunes and find toads and count blades of grass. I want to go back to school!” 

Chris Leask, Everyone Else, The Comedy About a Bank Robbery

Chris Leask

Pictured: Chris Leask.

“I’m from Amersham originally and I remember my first trip was for Geography and I went to a school in Berkhamsted. I remember being really excited about going on a trip. And it turned out the trip was to this river in Amersham, where I lived, so I was incredibly heartbroken. But at the same time, I remember walking around like I owned the place because I lived nearby. But I learnt about rocks and erosion, so it must have worked!”

Nicholas Owen, Journalist and veteran newsreader 

Nicholas Owen

Pictured: Nicholas Owen.

“My earliest memory of a school trip, and my second trip abroad, was when I was about 11 or 12; we went to France on the ferry. We travelled to Saint Omer which is not far from Calais. I have never forgotten the trip. I remember standing in the main square and it all being quite dusty; it wasn’t too long after the Second World War. It was a great experience. 

“I can remember passing a field of cows in France and having a thought that has remained with me for the rest of my life, we all speak different languages but do cows? Do they speak French in France? I remember thinking, they’re just like the cows at the home but they can’t be the same.”

Abi Elphinstone, Children’s author of books including The Dreamsnatcher trilogy, Winter Magic and Sky Song

Abi Elphinstone

Pictured: Abi Elphinstone.

 “When I was twelve years old, my whole class spent a week at an activity camp on a Scottish island in the Inner Hebrides.

“We canoed in icy waters, foraged for mussels and kelp, camped on a remote beach overnight with nothing but a bivouac, a penknife and an emergency supply of Mars Bars. We zip-wired over peatbogs and then rummaged in the mud for a legendary tin containing a five pound note. 

“My time on the island taught me a great deal about resilience, teamwork and wonder.”