Frequently asked questions

Are you open to the public?
Yes, everyone is welcome!
Please be aware that all activities require pre-booking. Some activities need to be set-up or we may need specialist trainers on the premises, so we need to know in advance who is coming.

How long has Skern been operating?
We first opened in 1976 and moved to our current site in 1982. The owners and managers all work on-site full time.

How late can I book?
In some circumstances we may be able to arrange the following:

  • Bookings made the day before
  • Bookings on the Adventure Days prior to 9am or 1.30pm starts
  • Last minute pool hire
  • Last minute RIB charter

With the exception of the above we require at least 24 hours notice for most activities.

How do you book?
The booking process varies depending on the group size, age, activities, etc. but we do try to make it as simple as possible regardless. Give us a call and we will check availability before explaining the remainder of the process.

Does the cost depend on the activity you do?
No. The costs are based on the type of course rather than your activity choices. If optional extras are available e.g. visits to local attractions, these are listed within the price list.

How safe is it?
There is risk in all we do in life and outdoor activities are no exception. We cannot say there is no risk but careful management reduces this to a very acceptable level. We are regularly inspected by several bodies: Adventure Activities Licensing Authority, BCU, RYA, Health & Safety Executive, many Local Education Authority inspectors, the insurance company, company health and safety departments and several others. Furthermore we have, and regularly risk assess not only all activities but fire safety, kitchen hygiene, bunk beds, security and staircases to name but a few. The BMC have published a booklet 'Young People - Climbing, Hill Walking, Mountaineering - A Parents Guide' which contains a good exploration of the risks associated with activities.

Further information on safety aspects can be found by following the link below:

Young People - Climbing, Hill Walking, Mountaineering - A Parents Guide

What qualifications do the instructors have?
All Instructors are fully trained in the activities they deliver. All hold a first aid qualification, are signed off as competent and are regularly monitored to ensure the highest levels of safety and delivery standards are met. We also follow national governing body guidelines and fully comply with Activity Licensing regulations to ensure the correct staff are delivering the activities for which they are qualified.

Will I be made to do the activities?
Certainly not. Skern is about success and positive outcomes. The programmes are designed to have a variety of activities so that in a stay of a few days you will find, hopefully, all activities fun, some easy and some more challenging. No one will be made to do an activity they do not want to but equally we will encourage you to have a go. Skern is a great place to learn more about yourself and to achieve more than you thought you could.

I have a food allergy; will I still be able to eat?
Of course. The food at Skern is renowned for quality and quantity. We always have vegetarian options and can cater for any dietary requirements but please let us know in advance.

Sample Menu

Dietary Information

Will there be other groups in at the same time?
Almost certainly. We are always very careful with our client mix. However, there are three completely separate accommodation units that are individually secure.

How secure is it for young clients?
Again, this area is risk assessed.
  • Firstly they will never be off-site unsupervised
  • The buildings are locked at night (but they can be easily exited if need be e.g. fire) and all windows have restricted openings
  • There are both Skern staff and group leaders resident on-site
  • The gates are locked at night and the site well lit
  • All staff are carefully checked to ensure they are appropriate to work with children
  • All instructors have DBS (CRB) checks
  • When unaccompanied children visit, a Skern member of staff is allocated as 'house parent'

What about the transport to activities?
Many of the activities are on-site. For those off-site then either a local coach company is used or more normally, one of our minibuses. These are Passenger Carrying Vehicles (PCV) run under an operator’s licence and as such checked very regularly. All drivers have PCV licences and of course working seat belts are provided to each seat.

What about the weather?
What about it? On the whole activities are carried out regardless of the weather. Each morning, and just before starting an activity an assessment is made about the weather. Sometimes strong winds can make kayaking unsafe or winter cold may make surfing unsuitable. In these cases great alternatives will be found. Safety is never compromised.

What is the ratio on activities?
Our ratios vary depending on the activity; most activities have a working ratio of up to 1:10. Allowing younger groups to work in groups of 1:8 with the flexibility of teaching staff being able to join groups and activities as they wish, but we never exceed the ratio advised by the Governing Body of that sport.

What equipment do I need to bring?
Only personal effects - clothes, shoes, towels etc see the kit list to know what to pack. All adventure equipment is provided; it is modern, checked regularly and has quality standards where available. All bedding is provided but once again no towels so you do need to bring these.

Do I need to bring my own bedding?
No. Beds are made up for your arrival with duvets and pillows. The only thing you do need to remember to bring is a towel.

Do I need much extra money?
Very little. Almost everything is included and any extras will have been clearly detailed before you book. We do have a small shop on-site that sells toiletries, sweets and drinks, postcards and t-shirts etc. There is also a small bar for adult clients so some "pocket money" is advisable but not necessary. There are soft drink vending machines on-site.

Photos & Videos used on this site
We would like to thank Framlington School & Bilton Grange School for providing us with many of the images used on the website. We have taken many of the photos ourselves, with kind permission of the many groups visiting the centre. To see more photos, you can visit our flickr webpage.