Charting the Shores: A Four-Day Geography Field Trip to Leeson House

By Taylor Smithers, Year 12, College House

Last month from the 18th April to the 21st April, Year 12 geography students ventured South West to Swanage in Dorset with the main aim of completing data collection to help construct our coursework.

Here’s a run down of what our week entailed:

Day 1 — Tuesday:

A gruelling 6:15 am meet at Mote Park Leisure Centre came as a shock for most as we prepared for the long journey to begin soon after at 6:30. The coach journey was slightly relieved by an hour break at a services before it resumed as we made our way to our first destination – Boscombe beach. At Boscombe we met with the Leeson House staff and began to gather an insight of how the following days would pan out. Initially we got the opportunity to enjoy the picturesque beach enlightened by the positive weather, eventually we trekked towards the seemingly lifeless high-street where we began to conduct some human geography data collection. After wandering around Boscombe by our guide and main tutor, Matt, we returned to the coach to complete our journey to Leeson House, taking just under an hour as we passed the impressive properties that inhabit Sandbanks before passing Poole Harbour on a small ferry. Once we had arrived at Leeson House we started to settle in going through the tedious process of unloading luggage and being directed into rooms. It was from there where we got a formal introduction and welcoming to the premises, where we were soon shown to one of the classrooms situated on site to learn more about our objectives of the week and how things would be structured. This was to be followed by dinner in the evening, which for sake of trying to put a good image on Leeson House I’m not going to comment any further…

Day 2 — Wednesday:

Our first full day at Swanage began with another early start, which was soon to be the norm for us all. Breakfast was consumed and it was soon time to make our way to Studland Bay so we could learn about how to use the data collection equipment appropriately to measure sand dune profiles. Our next stop was to Swanage Bay where contrastingly there are no sand dunes present, but we conducted practice on measuring the beach profiles in between different groynes taking a stratified approach to sampling. After completion, we headed back to Leeson House for the remainder of our evening, in which we had to make some important decisions about how we would structure our coursework and what data we were planning to collect from either Swanage or Studland. Myself, as well as the majority of the group opted for Swanage, and more specifically, the physical data collection concerning beach profiles, groyne measurements and measurements of longshore drift. This preparation in the evening enabled us to plan out the most important day of the trip; the following day which concerned the construction of the essential basis of our coursework.

Day 3 — Thursday:

As previously mentioned this day was extremely important for us all to capitalise on, to ensure we could gather a variety of data to perform analysis on within our coursework. We wasted no time hanging around in the morning as we headed straight to our desired location to gather the required data. The weather was vibrant and the vast bay of Swanage was impacted upon aggressive waves contrasting to its usual conditions expected, due to its geographical positioning. Aware of the challenge ahead of us we all began to start our data collection focusing on a range of different measurements (mentioned previously) which unsurprisingly ended up taking a long period of time. However, despite this task at hand we all managed to accumulate valid results after enduring the rigorous process involved in collecting some of these measurements — especially when reviewing the North and South side of multiple groynes, whilst battling against the incoming tide. A well earned rest was needed as we headed back to Leeson House to review the data we had collected and later write it up into table formats, or other appropriate research displays. Onwards into the evening, we all ensured some  relaxation and went on to enjoy our last night at the residence, prepared for a slightly more chilled day to follow.

Day 4 — Friday:

Our final day in Dorset had arrived quicker than we imagined, but we made no rush to hit the road back home to Maidstone. Our experiences weren’t finished just yet as we travelled towards Durdle Door, gradually descending down the steep gradient to get a better view of the geographical arch and pristine beach below us. Soon after witnessing the sites Durdle Door had to offer, we advanced to Lulworth Cove where many more geological features were present, surrounding the tiny West Lulworth village. We took the time to enjoy the local village and the holy triple scoop ice cream they had to offer (which we were all desperately flocking towards). Unfortunately, time creeped upon us and and we made our way to the coach to embark on our journey home to Mote Park, rounding off a remarkable week in Dorset.