Coastal Geography Fieldtrip

Fourteen Lower Sixth Geography students spent three days on the Yorkshire Coast at the end of October as part of the Compulsory Fieldwork requirement of the A-Level course. We were extremely fortunate to have blue skies and warm sun to dilute the force of the North Sea winds.

Beginning on the Holderness coast, we visited Mappleton, Hornsea and Skipsea to carry out a cost-benefit analysis of the coastal management schemes. To see first-hand the vulnerable boulder clay cliffs slumping down onto narrow sandy beaches meant everyone was better able to understand the scale of the erosion of this coast. The crucial role of groynes, sea walls and gabions brought classroom geography vividly to life as students learnt to assess the sustainability of these schemes. Understanding that much of the land on this coast may have to be sacrificed to the sea with future sea-level rise and more frequent storms was a stark reality.

Our base for this fieldtrip was the Cranedale Field Study Centre tucked away in a small village on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors. Comfortable beds and lovely food sustained us through evening workshops and days studying features of the erosional coast. The white cliffs of Flamborough Head and the stacks and caves of Selwicks bay were perfect examples of features we had studied in the classroom. A hands-on afternoon saw the girls measuring features of a sand dune system at Bridlington to analyse the importance of vegetation succession in the development of the dunes. The evening was spent performing statistical analysis which consolidated understanding of the complexities of the dune profile.

We spent the final day in Scarborough as an introduction to another type of geography: the new qualitative ‘Place Geography’. New-style ‘psycho-geography’ techniques, which aid the understanding of sense of place, provided the structure for the girls to observe and engage with this traditional seaside resort in an entirely new way. The glorious blue skies made all the difference and left us with a very positive impression of this vibrant and elegant seaside resort.

Though the girls were exhausted after all the fresh air and concentrated study days, we could not have asked for a more appreciative group. The resilience of our pupils is impressive and every one of them was wonderful company and made the most of this opportunity to see Geography come alive.

Mrs Julie Buckley, Head of Geography