28 September 2021

If the primary aim of the trip was to bring to 3D reality the coastal unit which the boys in Year 8 have been recently studying, then it was well achieved.

Blessed with glorious weather – ideal for field studies, walking and witnessing this wonderful coastline – the boys could see with their own eyes the features which they had investigated through maps, diagrams and photographs back at school. The first day took in Durdle Door, Stair Hole and Lulworth Cove, where we had lunch on the beach. Unfortunately an impromptu detour to Fossil Forest was stymied by live firing on the Lulworth Ranges, a hazard that no risk assessment would want to accommodate.

Following a short hop by coach to Swanage via Corfe Castle, the boys were then thoroughly briefed on various aspects of oceanography, weather and climate, maritime and coastal hazards, and the network of mostly voluntary organisations that help us to stay safe at and next to the sea. There was nothing that Stuart, our excellent guide from the National Coastwatch, did not know about the surrounding coast and ocean floor. We were very grateful to him for passing on his knowledge outside the Coastwatch Station at Peveril Point, with Old Harry Rocks as an appropriate backdrop.

Our stay at Cumulus Outdoor Centre was comfortable and handy for the entertainments which Swanage has to offer visitors. The next day the group walked along the beaches of Swanage Bay, investigating the various defences designed to protect the town and land behind, before the panoramic vistas across Studland Bay and Bournemouth Bay, right across to the Isle of Wight, came into view as we climbed up and over Ballard Down. This gave the boys ample opportunities to see and enjoy Old Harry Rocks and the Pinnacles up close.

After a well earned picnic lunch at Middle Beach, and a brief study of dune succession across Studland Beach and Nature Reserve, the boys were finally allowed to dip their toes in the English Channel and enjoy some time in the sand before we headed back, glowing with sunshine, good memories and, I hope, enhanced knowledge of a key unit of their AP+ geography curriculum. I know the boys will thank the staff who accompanied them – Anne, Kyle and Liam – for their great support.

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