Last Wednesday, the Year 12 geographers set off to Magdalen Farm in Somerset for a three-day residential trip to do the coursework element of their A Level. The location of our investigation would be Chesil Beach, down on the Dorset coast, and after we arrived and had lunch, we set out to start our investigations, ranging from the changing sediment size and shape on the beach to public perception of coastal management strategies.

Wrapped up in layer upon layer, we battled the strong winds and bitter cold, which felt like -12°C! After collecting data on the Wednesday afternoon, we arrived at Magdalen Farm where we were staying for the next two nights (or so we thought). The food at the farm was all organic and most was locally sourced (including at the farm itself), and some interesting dishes were served over the course of our stay, most notably a goat curry on the Wednesday evening!

We woke up on Thursday morning with a red weather warning from the Met Office for wind and snow, preventing us from going to Chesil Beach to continue our investigation as planned, meaning we had extra classroom sessions to work on our data analysis and presentation. The snow started falling even more heavily after lunch, but that didn’t stop the head farmer, Giles, taking us on a farm tour, pointing out all the farm’s sustainable features and and introducing us to the animals at the farm. Stepping out into almost a blizzard, we were able to take goats for walks around the farm in the snow and help feed the animals.

By the next morning nearly ten inches of snow had fallen and Mr Abbas broke the news to us that we couldn’t set off for home as planned that lunchtime. A final session in the classroom that morning signalled the end of our work for the trip, so the teachers decided to treat us with a visit to the pub for the afternoon, although unfortunately no alcohol was involved (for the students at least!)

Despite the weather, we found plenty of ways to entertain ourselves during the stay, mainly through lots of games, snowball fights, and even going sledging in a pair of canoes found at the farm! The Friday night got extremely competitive as we all (including the teachers) participated in a brilliant quiz made by Henry and Monty. With a bar of Galaxy chocolate up for grabs the stakes couldn’t be higher, perfectly illustrated by the anguish on the teachers’ faces as they surrendered their lead in the final round.

Thankfully the rain and milder temperatures on Friday night meant that we were able to leave for home on Saturday morning. Despite the delays caused by the snow, it didn’t stop us from having a lot of fun on the trip as well as receiving the vital information required for our coursework. Special thanks must go to Mr Abbas, Mr Bushe, Mr Davies and Mrs Paterson for organising the trip and dealing with the challenging conditions that we faced, as well as to Magdalen Farm for having us.