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It was a lot, but our lecturers made sure that they were entertaining and useful as to keep us, well me, awake. First we went to Llangollen for the scree slopes found there, where we measured: the slope profile; clast size; vegetation (if any); and the lichen (which is a really interesting method of testing the age and stability of a landscape).  Testing with this variety of methods meant we could gather loads of data for our assessments, but it was also a great hands-on way to fully understand the importance of conducting research in the field. Having different cohorts of students take the same data from the same site year after year means we can study the landscape and compare our current findings to previous ones. Oh, how scientific!

The weather was on and off with rain, but we were supplied with waterproofs (if we forgot to bring our own) and hard hats, because of the mobile landscape. The hats kind of worked like mini umbrellas too. With this being our first real piece of data collection in the field since COVID, it was surprising to see just how much data it is possible to collect in a one-day trip. Also, the landscape was epic, almost picturesque, and that was definitely proven by our slope profile.  As shown in the graph, it increased by nearly 50m vertically. Imagine being 1.5m tall and stood at point zero looking up at that!

The second field trip was to Harlech Beach, where we gathered data to look at the characteristics of sand dunes. We collected: a profile of the area; vegetation data; microclimate data; and soil samples for lab work.

Most of this were tasks we had done before, but the microclimate data collection was new for us as we had to use new technology to measure the sunlight, wind and temperature. These are the main influencers on climate, no matter the scale.

On this trip those of us who had been on the Llangollen trip were able to take the lead and help the rest of the team in their understanding of the methods we were using. This shows just one of the ways that university helps you develop your CV with skills like communication and teamwork. See, field trips are pretty useful, they’re more than just a fun day out!

Harlech felt like a completely different experience to Llangollen as we were by the sea and wading through long marram grass, compared with scrambling up rocky scree slopes and sitting over 400 meters above sea level. The highest we would have got on this second trip was maybe 30 meters, which just goes to show how varied landscapes can be and how they can change all within one country.

We covered a wide range of research methods whilst in the field. This shows how much you can learn whilst participating in active learning such as field work.  Taking students on field trips, whether locally, nationally or internationally, creates better engagement and stronger understanding.  It allows us to develop a range of skills, from technical data collection techniques to teamwork and leadership. 

Stephanie Raxter,

L5 Single Hons Geography student

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