Fieldwork in and around Aberystwyth, Wales

Fieldwork is an essential component of Geography.  At St Augustine’s Priory pupils learn early; for example, Upper II’s fieldwork in Amersham is excellent ground work for the expeditions they will participate in further up the school.  On Saturday 8th July fieldwork took centre stage as Priory 6 Geographers travelled to Wales to conduct their work in and around the beautiful coastal town of Aberystwyth.  Serena Gray, Lower VI, reports on their work:

‘Between 8th and 12th July (right at the end of term) the four Lower VI Geographers along with Ms Keep and Mr Chappory set off to Wales to conduct four days of intense data collection so that we can begin our Independent Investigations for Geography over the summer. These investigations are fieldwork write-ups and are worth 20% of the total marks at A Level.

The area where the fieldwork took place was a stretch of the Cambrian coastline stretching from Aberystwyth Harbour along the entire Aberystwyth seafront then beyond into the unprotected cliffs, bays and headlands of Clarach, further on to the new coastal defences at Borth and, finally, on to the spit and sand dune ecosystems at Ynyslas on the Dyfi estuary. We were amazed at the extent of the attempts that are being made to “hold the line” and prevent against coastal erosion along this retreating coastline.’

Eisher Sangha adds, ‘I really enjoyed my time at Aberystwyth and loved rolling (falling) down the sand dunes before Miss Keep almost stepped on a snake and all of us started screaming. For my investigation I would like to compare different forms of engineering across the coastline, such as sea walls and beach nourishment.’

Bhakti Patel says, ‘My favourite part of the whole experience were the sunsets on the beach over the sea which was very calming and something you don’t get to see in London. I would now like to focus my investigation on how effective different types of shoreline management are.’

Nimrut Chatha adds, ‘After all this fieldwork I am focusing my investigation on how hard and soft engineering strategies have changed over a stretch of coast in Aberystwyth. This trip gave me a range of opportunities to explore different aspects of geography and find my own interest within each field.’

Serena continues, ‘Having explored the coastline and surrounding area of Aberystwyth I have become interested in how the coast impacts the human geography of the area such as the economic development of the town and the industries that rely on coastal defences. I have really enjoyed this fieldwork visit and having a taste of what university will be like with arguments over washing up still arising on day two!

But that’s not all. We also, despite the rain on the final day, managed to visit the LLywernog Silver-Lead Mine which is a great case study for rural regeneration and rebranding in the post production countryside.’

Ms Keep, Geography Department says,  ‘Llywernog mine (better known as the Silver Mountain experience) was a working lead and silver mine up until the 1880s. It brought a great deal of economic income to Wales at the time. The mine was left abandoned (and actually used as a council tipping site) up until the 1970s. It was then rebranded into a tourist site with its target audience largely aimed at children. The mine has continued to rebrand and regenerate over the years, the most recent rebranding was between 2012 and now when the newest company took over. They’ve opened up previously unused parts of the mine, branching out its target audience appeal even further. It was an insightful experience.  The students particularly enjoyed the mine’s ‘ghost tour’ thanks to our light-hearted sense of humour.

If all that wasn’t enough, we stayed in halls of residence belonging to Aberystwyth University, cooking for each other and getting our first taste of university life. We also became regulars at the town’s best coffee shop and our mornings were driven on their famous minty hot chocolate!

Despite working incredibly hard and being exhausted, we had a fabulous trip falling down sand dunes, jumping around on the beach and whistling in the mines much to the annoyance of our guide!’

Serena concludes, ‘Thank you Mr Chappory and Miss Keep for such a memorable and fun trip and for still managing to get us to finish all our work!’

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