Year 12 Geography Visit to Northern Ireland
The year 12 Geography fieldwork visit to Northern Ireland was definitely one to remember. The students coped well with the early mornings and ice cold weather while conducting their fieldwork investigations. They also had a great time doing a range of activities and meeting interesting people throughout the week.
This article was written by Sheethal Abhay Kumar, the Geography Subject Fellow.
The first day was Monday 8th - a 4:30am start at the airport (ensuring that we all had no energy left by the time 5pm rolled around). After a mad dash to the gate - a re-enactment of Home Alone - we were finally settled onto the plane and ready to head off to Belfast to start our hectic day and trip.
Walking out of Belfast Airport was definitely a wake-up call. Once we arrived at the Business Park and started off our human geography data collection after splitting into our groups, we finally understood the teachers’ demands to bring layers of clothes; which we clearly didn't adhere to for the first day. Finishing off at the Titanic Quarter and Dockyards we were all ready to head off to Bushmills, looking forward to our stop at the service station to grab some hot food and then continue our onward journey to the education centre where we were guaranteed warmth.
The second day was a flash of early morning showers, having breakfast, packing our lunches and discussing our plan for the day to start off our physical geography data collection from Dunluce Castle, heading west towards Portstewart Strand. It consisted of many different methods to help disprove or prove our hypothesis about geology being the most important factor in shaping the coast.
Everyone would agree that the second day was definitely the coldest; with blue fingers and numb faces we all trudged back into the minibuses whenever we could to absorb as much warmth as possible; The highlight of the day definitely had to be Morelli’s, the ice cream cafe, partially because of the warm fireplace that helped to thaw our fingers.
On day 3 we started off at Portballintrae, firstly learning about Mr Sweeney and his swindling ways of buying out everyone along that area of the coast for his hotels and how he was affecting the shape of the coastline. We then moved on from there, leaving Sweeney behind and heading West towards the Giants Causeway. It consisted of a few hours of walking, up and over sand dunes, over a river and along a foggy railway track and then finally we could see the visitors' centre where we stopped to eat our lunch. Walking from there, we reached the Causeway. The crashing waves and fog added to the beauty of the place, making the cold and walking worthwhile.
Day four was focused on human geography. We visited Derry/Londonderry. The city consists of two very distinct areas. Some of the buildings are still covered with large IRA murals with very powerful connotations. It was definitely an area of conflict - both politically and socially - and was a very interesting area to walk around and take a look at to understand, with the help of Mr Mace’s Father-in-Law, Ivan, who acted as our tour guide for the day; teaching us about the history of the town, which we were very thankful for.
The last day consisted of a "walking-talking mock" session in the morning, during which we thanked the drivers and also decided which activity we would like to do before we left: the high ropes or going to Morelli’s again. The sane people decided on Morelli’s whilst the thrill seekers decided on the high ropes and being bashed around by the wind. The drive back to Belfast was fun as we all just enjoyed our last few hours and we were given free time in the shopping centre - when everyone dashed to grab some more food (again).
Arriving back in Heathrow was when everyone said their thank you’s to the teachers for a wonderful trip and goodbyes for the weekend, during which we all planned to sleep in as much as possible. Overall it was a fantastic trip, for both Geography as a subject since we had learned so much, but also for how much we enjoyed ourselves.