Geography and Biology Cairngorms Field Work

UntitledOn Monday the 28th of April 23 S3 pupils went on a cross curricular residential fieldtrip to the Cairngorms. The trip was open to all of those taking Biology or Geography at National level and aimed to help pupils get an understanding of fieldwork techniques and prepare them for their Added Value Projects later in the year.

Pupils arrived at school for an early start on Monday with the mini buses scheduled to leave at 8.15am. Sometime closer to 9am we set off to Cairngorm Mountain for a visit with the ranger and trip up the funicular. Once there Biology students took a walk from the car park to investigate the biodiversity of the mountain, whilst Geographers remained at the Ptarmigan Centre to take in the fantastic scenery and complete field sketches to be used back in class. At this point the sun was shining and we were pushing towards 20 degrees.

After Cairngorm we headed down to Badaguish to get settled into our lodges and prepare for the afternoon river sessions. Pupils were in charge of all the catering for the two days and signed up for shifts of cooking and cleaning to make sure everyone was well fed.

In the afternoon the Geographers went to Loch Morlich to conduct river fieldwork and a soil transect. By this time the temperature was well into the 20s and the water became a welcome relief from the heat.

The Biology pupils completed a study further upstream and collected data about the invertebrate animal species thriving in the river by carrying out a kick sample, which confirmed that the river was clean and pollution free.

In the evening pupils cooked pasta Bolognese under the careful supervision of master chef Jessica. The military operation saw all pupils and staff well fed.

After dinner pupils prepared for the next days outings to Balliefurth Farm, Aviemore and a super early Capercaillie watch organised by Mr Foster and attended by 3 pupils who did not mind being up and out of the lodges by 6am. Pupils also worked on preparing questions to ask the farmer and developing some ideas for Research Questions that were relevant to the fieldwork they had carried out.

Breakfast soon followed and pupils were rushing around preparing for their departure making sure that packed lunches were made for all, including teachers and that they had cleaned the lodges to perfection. (That was until someone found Mr MacLeod’s shoes.) Sun still shining we were ready to leave at 9am to make our way towards Feshy Bridge having survived a night of self sufficiency.

We were greeted by Alastair the farmer and taken for a walk around his cattle and dairy farm. Pupils were introduced to the finer points of farming and the detailed management schemes that are required to keep farmers in business. The biologists were also treated to several areas of the farm that cater to the areas natural biodiversity and aim to restore native woodlands. Pupils were given the opportunity to practise their interview techniques and were encouraged to explore the farm.

After the farm our afternoon session for the Geographers meant a trip to Aviemore where pupils conducted several gathering techniques including: traffic counts, questionnaires, land use surveys and environmental quality surveys. The Biologists headed to Rothiemurcus estate to complete some quadrat studies and identify species diversity within a native and managed pine forest.

At 3pm we all headed back to the minibuses and made our way back to school. Pupils and staff had a great but tiring time.

Many thanks to all who helped with the trip including Maggie Wormald of RHET, Alastair Maclennan of Balliefurth Farm, Nick Bullivant of Cairngorm Mountain and all the staff and pupils who made it such an enjoyable trip.


Miss Sali Massey, Geography Department

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