Geographers have a field day in Wales

A level Geography students recently ventured on a field-trip to Snowdonia as part of their course work. Isobel Brodie, previously at Robert May’s School, shared her experience with us. 

'After a very early wake up call, we embarked on our journey to Rhyd-y-creuau in Snowdonia, North Wales. Along the drive we were introduced to the scenic views of rolling Welsh hills which we soon became accustomed to. Upon arrival at the Field Studies Centre, we were introduced to our tutors Bex and Lynn - whose knowledge and enthusiasm inspired us all – and we then separated into two groups for classroom sessions. After a brief introduction we were presented with the hypothesis of the investigation we were going to carry out over our stay. We were told about the wonderful area, including historical facts and the geographical location which helped improve our map reading skills before being introduced to the different skills, investigation techniques and equipment we would be using throughout the visit. Next we planned our pilot study, a small scale study to help identify variables to improve the actual study. This helped us test the equipment for ourselves before the real investigation began.

We then put on our ‘fashionable’ waterproof trousers, wellies and coats and commenced our walk to a river’s source. Lynn and Bex assigned each group a section of the river in which we tested the equipment, including gauge poles, used to measure gradient, and chains which we used to measure wetted perimeter. This experience was very enriching and helped us understand what we would improve before doing the actual investigation in the Afon Conway. 

The next morning we travelled to the source of the Afon Conway, a 27 mile long river within Snowdonia that we were studying to prove/disprove the hypothesis. We applied everything we had discovered during the pilot study to the river, and we investigated variables such as gradient, wetted perimeter, velocity and sediment size in three locations along the river course. On our way back to the Centre our tutors showed us a river that flows through a nearby farmer’s field and we were able to carry out more investigations before having a fun game of skimming pebbles. After our game we returned to the classroom and applied all of the facts and figures we had found out to some newly learnt statistical calculations such as Spearman's Rank. These tricky calculations will be very beneficial next year in our A2 Geography lessons in particular studying geographical skills.

The next day was typical for Wales, it rained, but this didn’t dampen our spirits as we travelled to Llandudno. Once we arrived, we walked up part of the Orme, which gave us a lovely view of the historic town, based on a French Riviera. Our plan for the day included going to two different parts of Llandudno to investigate things such as housing quality, traffic and pollution. Despite the rain, we still enjoyed walking around the town and finding out lots, the locals were all very friendly and helped us find out more information to aid our investigation. 

The next morning was sadly our last and was spent in the classroom using a computer programme to create graphs to put on maps for easier analysis using the figures we had collected over the weekend. These skills will be very useful for our Geography studies next year. 

All students who went on the trip had a wonderful time. We all learnt lots that will be very beneficial for our future studies. Furthermore we all enjoyed the Welsh countryside, the Centre with its facilities and delicious food and applying skills towards our own investigation to prove/disprove the hypothesis. We are very grateful to all the teachers involved in organizing the trip and making everything possible.'

Find our more about stuyding Geography at Alton College here