On 16th January, a group of keen geographers congregated at 7am rearing to go for a fun-filled weekend in Wales. Despite still being half-asleep and having to wait an extra 45 minutes for one obviously not-so-keen geographer, we set off for a 5-6 hour journey to snowy Snowdonia.
Once we arrived at the centre, we were greeted by Liz, our team helper who would be working with us during our stay who took us round the centre and got us settled into our rooms before we headed out to Llanrwst to do some work. We were split into groups and allocated a zone where we had to observe the properties in the area, do an environmental survey and subtly judge the locals to get a feel for the community. However, some groups didn’t quite grasp the concept of ‘subtly’ and were seen following a man examining him from only a meter behind. Once their stalking had finished and everyone had collected their data, we returned back to the centre for another hour and a half in the classroom, everyone’s ideal Friday evening!
Unfortunately there was no lie-in for us on Saturday as breakfast was at 8am with lessons beginning at 9.15am. With our full English breakfast’s eaten and our sandwiches made, we all bundled into the classroom looking like Eskimos all wearing about 10 layers each, except Michelle who braved it wearing jeans and a cape. Once again we set off in the mini vans where we headed to the river Afon Nant Peris to do a day of field work collecting data for our river studies. In groups we were given a box of equipment and a list of data we needed to collect so with this, we jumped in the river and got working! My team powered through our work on the first site fairly quickly and after a few team selfies were taken, we headed onto the second site..this journey did not go quite as smoothly. Due to the boggy landscape several members lost their legs to the mud disappearing knee-high into the puddles with Jack unfortunately losing both his wellies to it as well. By the time we got to our second site the cold had hit us making us work even faster in order to get our lunch quicker. Unfortunately for Robbie, our eagerness meant that he went too deep into the river and therefore flooded his wellies with the water meaning another member down. Lunch could not have come more quickly!
When we got back to the centre, we wrote up our investigation for a couple of hours and spent our evening doing standard deviation and spearman’s rank, another exhilarating night in Wales! Despite the excitement in the classroom, we all departed at 8pm where we enjoyed another game of cards with the company of Paddy McGuinness on Take Me Out and Johnny Vegas in Benidorm with Gary Lineker joining us later for Match of the Day. However, we all got an early night’s sleep in preparation for our expedition up the mountain the next day.
8am, breakfast as usual, sandwiches packed and the Eskimos were ready, including Michelle who had actually opted for the layers and waterproofs approach! We then made our way to the mountain to try and find some glacial features. Backpacks on and we were off with our new helpers Ellie and Zak who would guide us up the treacherous slopes of North Wales. We started off strong with everyone powering through and soaking up the picturesque landscape made even better by our first sight of snow in 2015! However, as we got further up, the terrain became a bit rockier and steeper but this was not an issue for us mountaineers. We worked our way up over the boulders with the blizzard of snow blowing in our faces but it became too dangerous as there was too much ice the higher up we got. We therefore retreated back to the main path to continue our journey via a different route. Although some layers had been taken off at this point due to the strenuous exercise bringing out a sweat, as we paused for lunch, they were all put back on again as the force was just too cold to handle. But this didn’t faze Michelle! She remained just in a vest-top and jeans fighting the arctic conditions for the remainder of our expedition with the rest of us unsure whether to call her brave or merely idiotic!
We finally got to the Tarn Lake after a long trek and swiftly headed back to the buses where a nice hot shower was the only thing on our minds. Once back, we had our rest time, ate our dinner and then had an hour in the classroom where we used play-dough to demonstrate the glacial processes we had learnt about during the day. With the play-dough then packed away, we all headed into the common room to watch 22 Jump Street, courtesy of Mr Parham and then headed to bed for our final night in Wales.
Up early as usual Monday morning, we headed out one final time to the town of Llandudno to replicate the town survey done in Llanrwst allowing us to compare the data between the two locations. Luckily everyone now understood the term ‘subtly’ meaning no stalking occurred but there were definitely several visits to McDonalds, Costa, Starbucks and Subway to motivate us through our work!
With all the data collected, we returned to the centre, gathered our things and headed off on the road back to England for a five hour journey...or as we so thought. Unfortunately on the bridge connecting the two countries, an accident happened to the cars in front of us, delaying our journey and making us change routes. Then with lots of traffic on the roads, our supposed five hour journey turned into eight hours, not the best end to the trip!
Despite the complications, the Wales trip was thoroughly enjoyable! The weekend brought about exciting activities which made us think while also challenging our abilities but most importantly it made us bond as a geography unit providing a lot of laughs and a lot of memories amongst great company!