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Student geographers have a field day

Published: July 22, 2016

Cornwall College St Austell 16-18

A-level students from Cornwall College St Austell have been putting their geographical skills to good use on a field trip exploring the stunning landscape of Pembrokeshire.

The group of students, all currently studying A-level Geography and Geology, visited the Orielton Field Studies Centre in Pembroke, South Wales, gaining valuable practical  experience in a range of geographical activities up and down the Pembrokeshire coastline. The Orielton Centre is a well-established organisation that focuses on the outdoor educational experience for life-long learning, primarily for students in education prior to university.

A-level Geography Lecturer Sarah Thomson, who accompanied the students on the trip, said: “We had a wonderful time and the students had a great experience of applying their classroom learning to reality in the field.  Fine weather helped with sun, a cold wind off the Irish Sea and the promised wet stuff not materialising.”

The varied landscape of rugged cliffs, sandy beaches, wooded estuaries and wild inland hills make Pembrokeshire a popular destination for practicing geographers and the students took the opportunity to get stuck into a number of activities while they were there. These included carrying out fluvial studies and exploring the changing trends of river characteristics along a 10-mile stretch from the source of the Afon Syfynwy in the Preseli Hills.

Another day was spent looking at coastal beach characteristics and coastal defences at Saundersfoot and Amroth, measuring some amazing rock formations, folds and faults as well as coal seams that outcrop in the coastal cliffs. As well as giving the students practical experience of the realities of measuring a range of physical and human geographical features, the trip also provided case-study material for the Rivers and Coastal theory unit of their A-level qualification.

Another important aspect of their field work took place at Freshwater Bay, with the students carrying out a transect across the sand dunes to see the extent of plant succession, taking particular note of the human management strategies of these fragile ecosystems. Freshwater Bay has become well known in recent times as a filming location for Hollywood movies including Dobby’s sad demise in Harry Potter: The Deathly Hallows and as the landing site for Russell Crowe in the most recent Robin Hood film. Unfortunately the presence of the film crews has had a large effect on the sand dunes in the area, the impact of which the students measured and explored closely.

Student Harvey Lanaway from St Austell said: “I thoroughly enjoyed the trip to Wales, being able to take in the amazing views and features of the Pembrokeshire countryside.  It was enjoyable to be able to finally apply my classroom theory work to the outdoors and then be able to go back to the classroom with our tutor to conclude our data from our fieldwork. A warm hearty meal after being in the cold blustery wind on the coast was fantastic to finish off the day. Oh and great cakes!”

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