April 28, 2021, by lzzeb

Virtual Fieldcourse at the Blencathra Centre, Threlkeld, March 2021

A blog by Ian Conway

The Year 1 Geographical Fieldcourse is based at the Field Studies Centre Blencathra in Threlkeld, near Keswick in the northern sector of the Lake District. It is held over 4 days and is run twice (back to back), due to the large number of students attending (approximately 100 per trip), over 8 days immediately prior to the Easter weekend.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic the fieldcourse had to be cancelled in both 2020 and in 2021.

However some staff were able to spend a couple of days in the Lake District at the end of March 2021 in order to film a virtual fieldcourse using locations at the Blencathra Centre, Bowscale Tarn and on the Cumbrian coast for the benefit of students this year and any students in future years who are unable to attend the fieldcourse.

Staff stayed in Lonscale which is a self contained accommodation block on the Blencathra site. This event pre-dated the UK Government’s latest easing of COVID-19 restrictions on 12 April 2021 but both the travel and “staying away from home overnight” elements complied with the government’s guidelines for educational activities.

The Blencathra Centre was therefore rather deserted as it remained in lockdown and the staff furloughed. Instead of the usual ‘buzz’ of 100 students, 12 members of Geography staff and the 20 or so Blencathra personnel on site, there was just our 6 staff and one solitary member of Centre staff acting as ‘caretaker’.

The normal high quality and quantity of catering provided by Centre staff was therefore unavailable so we had to self-cater using the well equipped kitchen located within Lonscale.

We did manage to rustle up the following culinary delights; breakfast was porridge, followed by a bacon/egg sandwich. Lunch was from Greggs in Whitehaven on the coast day (can it get any better than that!) and cheese sandwiches on the Bowscale day. The evening meals on the three nights were chicken or vegetable curry, steak and ale pie or spanakopita and chicken/tofu fajitas.

Fortunately the weather was kind to us and we were able to secure some excellent video recording. The commentary had to be added afterwards in a couple of places due to the excessive wind noise, but overall the quality of the end product was amazing. As such, we hope to have produced a valuable teaching resource that will be of benefit to students in the forthcoming years.


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