By Ellie Bartram and Amy Sandilands (L5H)
On Friday 21st June the L5th Geographers set out on the coach to The Lakes, where we stayed at the specialist Field Studies Council centre on the slopes of Blencathra near Keswick. On the four hour journey we passed multiple wind farms, a lot of farmland and literally thousands of sheep! When we reached the centre (the coach eventually made it up the practically vertical final hill) we got straight on with some rural fieldwork, involving us looking around the delightful village of Threlkeld. It was quite a difference to the city as there weren’t many things to do for teenagers. One thing that stood out was the fact that the buses in the area were expensive – to get to the nearest large town you had to pay £6! We then walked through the fields and interviewed a local farmer named Willie Tyson, who explained to us what is was like to be a farmer in the uplands, and the pros and cons of his job (and life) there. He owned around 600 sheep and one very cute sheepdog!
Our two middle days involved plenty of Physical Geography: a day studying river environments on the Sunday, but first it was Saturday by the seaside (Coastal Environments!). Once we had eaten our traditional English breakfast and made our packed lunches, we headed off to Drigg in West Cumbria, where there were sand dunes to climb up, study and occasionally fall down. Different measurements were recorded using specialist equipment along sand dune transects – we had to record, for example, the height and shape of the dunes by measuring the gradient of slopes, record the air temperature and humidity at ground level, and measure the percentage coverage of different vegetation species. After visiting Drigg, we went to the small coastal town of St. Bee’s to analyse the beach characteristics and study the management of coastal erosion and flooding. Despite the strong winds this was lots of fun, and it was really interesting to see how the coastline was being managed, and how it had changed over time. On the Sunday, our rivers study took us in to the heart of the Lake District: using more equipment we examined the gradient, depth, wet width, pH and velocity of the upper course of a river at different sites. It was interesting to see how the river characteristics changed as we moved further downstream – all of the theoretical work we had studied in class was brought to life!
Dinner time was a highlight every night, and the food throughout our stay was delicious and plentiful! There was also a tuck shop available, and cake or cookies were made fresh every day for us, which were great! The evenings were filled with competitions of ping pong and table football.
The last morning saw us visiting Keswick, where severe river flooding had happened as recently as 2009. We visited 8 different sites where flooding had affected the town and examined many different management strategies against future flooding. We gathered that Keswick was now (hopefully!) well prepared for flooding, as the 2009 event had affected tourism and their economy massively.
We all agreed that this trip was really helpful – it was a great to collect data first hand and see things in real life. It gave us a lot of extra knowledge, and it was wonderful to do all this in the picturesque Lake District National Park!