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Geography Field Trip to Juniper Hall

In October first year Geography students went on a four day residential field trip. The main purpose was to help us to get a chance to see Geography in action, both physical and human.  We commenced on a cold Monday morning at dawn and by 7:00am we were sleepily loading our baggage onto the coaches and began on the journey; which was annoyingly lengthened by the excessive traffic on the motorway.  On the plus side though, we got more time to sleep, which is a real gift at 7:00am in the morning!  Eventually we arrived at Mole Valley, where Juniper hall was situated.

Juniper Hall was an amazing place, housing its own mini-farm, with a couple of goats, a bunny hutch, a bat cave and very  green spacious grounds, all overlooked by a folly mounted on a nearby slope.  The house is a former gentleman’s residence but the common room and kitchen had the usual modern amenities.  The accommodation was pleasant, each bedroom contained a bunk bed and a single bed.    

On the day of arrival, we were assigned our groups, an instructor and a work class.  Not wasting a single second we went off to our classes to learn about the town we were going to investigate: Leatherhead.  We then went into Leatherhead to gather data about regeneration and on our return to Juniper Hall we started to analyse it.

After a good night’s rest, we went back into our classes, where we discussed our plans for the day. Then we set off on an hour’s journey to the coast starting at Newhaven. Newhaven has a cliffed coastline with a shingle beach. In groups we took measurements at different parts of the beach. The data we collected enabled us to produce a cross profile of it.  Then we left for Seaford, which is located 4 miles to the east of Newhaven and home to the renowned Seven Sisters chalk cliffs which run from Seaford Head to Eastbourne.  At this location we assessed the area adjacent to the beach in terms of land usage and its flood risk.

On the third day, we went to a salt marsh located at Pagham Harbour. This was the muddiest part of our trip so accordingly we were well equipped with wellies!  Timing was crucial on this day, as we could only walk on the marsh at low tide. On the salt marsh we collected data, including soil temperature, air temperature and humidity as well as the different varieties of a plant using metal quadrats.

The evenings at Juniper Hall were enjoyable.  Away from the pollution in London we saw some spectacular night skies.  The many stars and the vastness of the sky at night was a completely different realm for me!  And this on top of exploring and going places where many of us had never been before!

Finally on the last day, we went back to Leatherhead to ask research questions we had devised ourselves to find out more about the town.  In the afternoon we returned to Juniper Hall to convey our regards to all the staff, who had taken really good care of us.  And that, sadly, concluded our trip.  We got back on our coaches back to London - it had been great fun!

On behalf of the first year Geography students, I would like to say a massive thank you all the St Dominic’s staff who helped make the trip possible and to say that it was a huge success! 

Some photographs of the trip can be found in the Gallery here.

Rinaldo Mahimairaj, Student