During the Half Term break, our A Level geographers enjoyed a fantastic trip to the Isle of Arran off the west coast of Scotland.
The journey itself was an adventure; flying from Southampton to Glasgow, followed by a ferry from Ardrossan to Brodick and finally a bus to the north of the island where the field studies centre was based. Seeing seals bobbing up and down next to where we were walking in the area of Lochranza was a bonus on our first day.
As blue skies welcomed us on day two, we started our main day of geographical studies, focusing on hydrology. The highland rivers were located in a stunning rural setting, set within the backdrop of dramatic glaciated valleys where sheep and red deer were the only inhabitants of the island that we encountered all day.
Our students worked superbly together whilst collecting data on the different river sites and later in the evening they used this data to present their findings. Whilst studying hydrology was the focus of the day, students also gained a lot of additional knowledge on rocks and weathering, a second key physical topic within the first year of A Level Geography. Students being able to crumble a hard rock such as granite in their hands due to the process of hydrolysis allowed the textbook Geography to really come alive.
Day three, and again another spectacular day of weather ahead of us. After breakfast, and a glimpse of a stag which encapsulated the grandeur and majesty of Scotland’s highlands and wildlife, we set off on our next field trip on coastal geomorphology. One of the areas we studied along the coastline, ‘The King’s Cave’, was a particular highlight. The cave, famous for the legend of Robert the Bruce and the spider, later going on to defeat the English at the battle of Bannockburn, also has a geographical importance.
Being able to see relic caves, abandoned sea stacks and raised beaches allowed students to appreciate that geographical land forms can take thousands of years to form and are still changing to this day. Seeing first-hand the geography they study in class will last with them a lifetime.
Throughout the trip, students also gained an appreciation of island life, invaluable for their understanding of human geography and the issues associated with population, migration, settlement, rural and tourism studies. Being able to ask local residents questions, together with discussing various topics with the field studies staff, the field trip has really helped the students to understand the many challenges an island community can face, creating an interesting and thought-provoking case study.
I must congratulate the group on their splendid attitude throughout the trip. They worked well as a team, studied willingly and jovially in the evenings, and showed great interest in what they were studying. They were a delight to take away and contributed massively to the success of the trip. It was wonderful to hear how much they enjoyed the trip with one student exclaiming that it was the best trip he has ever been on. Thank you to the Isle of Arran for being such a wonderful location to study Geography, and thank you to the current Year 12 and 13 students for being such fantastic Geography role models.
Natasha Spurr, Head of Geography