Thurston Outdoor Education Centre

About the centre

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We would love to hear any thoughts, ideas and feedback that may help us improve what we do to make your next experience with us better.

Customer Feedback Form

At Thurston Outdoor Education Centre (OEC), we offer:

  • fully-catered residential outdoor education courses
  • self-catering accommodation
  • camping for organised groups 

The centre has been providing residential outdoor education courses for over 50 years.


The centre is situated on the shores of Coniston Water in the stunning Lake District, with the majestic "Old Man" as a backdrop and Grizedale Forest close by.

For more information, see contact and directions.

Sustainable energy

Thurston was recently awarded a Sport England grant to implement sustainable and environmental energy measures.

Solar panels and a ground source heat pump have been installed and a small hydro plant is planned for the near future.

Owned by South Tyneside Council

Thurston Outdoor Education Centre is owned and operated by South Tyneside Council.

Residential courses

We have been providing adventurous activity and educational courses for over 50 years.

Organising a residential trip

See information and forms for organising a residential trip

About the courses

Our courses allow students to develop, in a real setting, the concepts of responsibility, adventure, awareness, trust, co-operation, community and an understanding of safety and risk.

A course at the centre is not a holiday, but a rich and varied learning experience with the emphasis on fun, adventure and learning.

Courses involve:

  • tailored outdoor adventurous activities
  • helping with the day to day running of the centre, such as making beds and keeping the place clean and tidy

Benefits for young people

We believe that outdoor adventure and residential courses are powerful experiences for developing young people, especially in:

  • motivation
  • self-confidence
  • self-esteem
  • resilience
  • decision-making
  • communication
  • teamwork
  • leadership
  • problem solving
  • time management
  • goal / target setting
  • prioritising
  • self-evaluation and review
  • compromise and negotiation
  • communal living


Student accommodation is in small dormitories with bunk beds.

Showers and toilets are in the main building.

See full details of rooms and floor plans.


For fully catered courses, all meals are provided. Read about meals and an example menu.

What to bring with you

See what to bring with you for a residential course

Find out more

If you have any questions about our residential courses, please contact us.

Room with en-suite
Boot store
Dining room
Kit store
Middle floor lounge
Thurston Outdoor Education Centre



Activities we provide at Thurston Outdoor Education Centre:

  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Sailing
  • Rock climbing
  • Abseiling
  • Gorge scrambling
  • Improvised rafting
  • Hill walking and mountaineering
  • Sea level traversing
  • Mine exploration
  • Orienteering
  • Paddleboarding
  • Rowing

Qualified instructors

All our activities are run by qualified and experienced instructors. Details of our staff qualifications are available on request.

Thurston is inspected and approved to run these activities by the Adventure Activities Licensing Authority (AALA). Our AALA licence reference is R0572. To confirm our licence details, call the Adventure Activities Licensing Authority on (029) 2075 5715.


We hold these awards:

  • LoTC Quality Badge
  • AHOEC Gold Standard Award
  • AAIAC Adventure Mark
  • RYA Training Centre Status


We have self-catering, hostel-style accommodation available to hire.

We have been assessed by Quality in Tourism and we have a VisitEngland 3-star rating for activity accommodation.


  • Accommodation for up to 58 people in a mix of en-suite and dormitory style rooms
  • Ample private parking
  • External games room with wood burner
  • Spacious dining and lounge areas
  • Large professionally equipped kitchen
  • Extensive grounds with lake access

See full details of rooms and floor plans.

Boot store
Dining room
Kit store
Middle floor lounge
Room with en-suite
Thurston Outdoor Education Centre


For information about costs, please contact the centre directly.

Find out more

For more information about our self-catering facilities, please contact us.

Camping for groups

Our camping facilities are totally separate from the main building.

They are exclusive for organised groups such as:

  • Scouts
  • Guides
  • Duke of Edinburgh's Award
  • Community groups 
  • Extended families


  • Secure and sheltered victorian walled garden camp site, suitable for about 20 people
  • Male and female toilets, showers and washrooms
  • Camping barn that sleeps 12 (two bunk dorms sleeping six people each) with a group room and camp kitchen
  • Two camping pods (each pod sleeps three people)
  • Drying room
  • Parking space close by
Camping barn and pod
Camping barn dorms
Camping barn kitchen
Camping barn lounge
Camping pod
Campsite showers


For information about costs, please contact the centre directly.


We only take group bookings of at least eight people. We do not take individual bookings.

To book, for availability information or further details, contact us.

Safety policies and procedures

At Thurston Outdoor Education Centre, safety is our top priority.

Thurston holds an AALA Licence (Provider Reference R0572), LOTC Quality Badge, Adventuremark, and AHOEC Gold Standard. All staff are highly qualified and hold relevant outdoor qualifications

If you have any questions about our policies or procedures, please get in touch.

Emergencies and planning

Emergency procedures

First aid arrangements

Fire policy

Planning for extreme situations

Maintenance and repairs

Maintenance policy

Repairs and breakages procedure


Internet use policy

Guidelines for group leaders - acceptable group behaviour

Behaviour policy

Child protection

Child protection policy


Administration of medication policy

Activity policies

Bushcraft and wilderness skills

Blast Off

Camping, huts, bothies and bivouacking

Climbing wall

Climbing and abseiling - Thurston Trees

Climbing, abseiling - outdoors policy

Low ropes course

Mine exploration

Mountain walking

Mountain biking


Problem solving

Unaccompanied activities

Blue green algae (HABs)

Drascombe Longboats

Ghyll scrambling



Raft building policy

Sea level traversing

Whaler rowing

The Dell (bush and fire craft)

Night Line

Risk assessments

We carry out detailed risk assessments for all our activities and buildings.

Risk assessment summary

Generic outdoor activity risk assessment

Drinks room risk assessment

Minibus risk assessment

Main house risk assessment

Dining room risk assessment

Barn risk assessment

Grounds risk assessment

Norovirus risk assessment

Ticks risk assessment

Tractor risk assessment

Kitchen risk assessment

Maintenance risk assessment

Housekeeping risk assessment

Blast Off risk assessment

Bushcraft and wilderness skills risk assessment

Camping, bothies, bivouacking risk assessment

Climbing wall risk assessment

Climbing and abseiling (Thurston Trees) risk assessment

Climbing and abseiling (outdoors) risk assessment

Low ropes course risk assessment

Mine exploration risk assessment

Winter mountain walking risk assessment

Mountain walking risk assessment

Mountain biking risk assessment

Orienteering risk assessment

Problem solving risk assessment

Unaccompanied activities risk assessment

Nightline risk assessment

The Dell risk assessment

Blue green algae (HABs) risk assessment

Dinghy sailing risk assessment

Drascombe longboats risk assessment

Ghyll scrambling risk assessment

Stand up paddleboarding risk assessment

Paddlesport (no moving water) risk assessment

Paddlesport (moving water) risk assessment

Paddlesport (estuary) risk assessment

Jetty jumping and swimming risk assessment

Raft building risk assessment

Sea level traversing risk assessment

Whaler rowing risk assessment

Friends of Thurston

Friends of Thurston (FOT) is a charitable community group.

The group fundraises to:

  • enhance centre resources
  • organise working weekends
  • advertise the centre
  • improve access for all

For more information about the Friends of Thurston group, visit Facebook: Friends of Thurston.

Contact and directions


0153 944 1218


Social media

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Where to find us

Address: Thurston Outdoor Education Centre, Coniston, Cumbria, LA21 8AB


Due to past flooding and road closures, we advise you to follow the route below for ease and safety.

From South Tyneside

(136 miles, approximately 3 hours)

  1. Join the A1(M) heading south to Scotch Corner
  2. At Scotch Corner join the A66 heading west to Brough
  3. From Brough head to the M6 South bound, two options depending on your vehicle are;
    • follow signs for Kirby Stephen and M6 Junction 37 via the A685, or 
    • continue on the A66 to Penrith Junction 40
  4. Join the M6 South bound, follow it down to Junction 36

From the M6 (junction 36)

  1. At M6 junction 36, follow the A590 sign posted Barrow-in-Furness
  2. Continue on the A590 to Greenodd
  3. At the Greenodd junction there is a roundabout, take the second exit (right) A5092
  4. Follow the A5092 through to Lowick Green and bear left onto the A5084 sign posted Coniston
  5. Continue following the Coniston sign posts and the A5084 to Torver
  6. At the T-junction turn right onto the A593, sign posted Coniston
  7. As you enter Coniston Village there will be a BP garage on the right hand side, at the junction immediately after this take the road on the right, this is the B5285 sign posted Hawkshead, (brown, tourist information, sign posts for Brantwood)
  8. Continue following this road out of the village, the lake will appear on your right hand side, follow this to the head of the lake and take the road on the right (tourist information signs point to Brantwood). This road becomes narrow in places and services another outdoor education centre, please be conscious you may meet another coach or associated traffic
  9. Follow this road round the head of the lake, away from the lake briefly and up a short but steep incline
  10. At the top of the incline the road bears right at a junction, continue round to the right eventually becoming parallel with the lake again
  11. You will pass a 'Swallows and Amazons' tea shop signposted along the road and an outdoor centre called Low Bank Ground 
  12. After Low Bank Ground the road descends through some woods - the centre is immediately at the end of these - it is signposted on the right hand side


Coaches are advised to reverse down the drive.

All other vehicles are advised to park in the car park on the right.