Craigvinean :: Chapter 10 - Field Studies

Chapter 10 - Field Studies

The possibilities for specialised Field Studies and projects in the Towford area are so many and varied that space permits only a very brief note on each. Field Studies of the type indicated are mainly for specialist groups but it is anticipated that Outdoor Education staff will be available to help with such courses - if arrangements are made well in advance of a visit. A separate section on possible projects for primary pupils is included. Field Studies notes on a wide variety of topics are available on request, e.g. Small site survey; Birds and their preferred habitats; Mini-beasts, etc.

  1. Physical Characteristics of the Eastern Cheviots
    1. Geology
      1. Collection and identification of specimens.
      2. Examination of local building stone.
      3. Comparison of field exposures with large-scale geological maps of the area.
      4. Study of geological structure of Cheviots.
    2. Geomorphology
      1. Topography - examination and analysis of elevation, slope and aspect characteristics; including practical surveying, map and air photo analysis.
      2. Classification and mapping of topographic features.
      3. Superficial deposits - examination and analysis of superficial deposits, including peat, alluvium, soils, etc.
      4. Classification and mapping of topographic features .
      5. Soils - study of soils in detail - characteristics of different types - depth, drainage, colour, etc.
      6. Classification and mapping of soil types.
      7. Drainage - study and analysis of catchment areas, water-sheds, watertables, streamflow, meander, floods, stream-bed, etc.
      8. Glaciation - study of glacial landforms and features. (Note that this area has few striking glacial features when compared with an area such as the Scottish Highlands).
    3. Climate and Weather
      1. Study of general climatic phenomena, including cloud forms; upland/lowland contrasts; seasonal contrasts; exposure and wind speeds; etc.
      2. Measurement of climatic parameters. (Note that there is no permanent meteorological station at Towford and that there is very little climatic data available. See Appendix for local data.
  2. Ecology of the Eastern Cheviots
    1. Botany
      1. Plant identification and study; use of keys; systematic lists.
      2. Identification and mapping of plant communities or types of vegetation.
      3. Study of botanical ecology - geology, soils grazing regime, etc.
    2. Zoology
      1. Identification of animals; use of keys and field guides; systematic listing of birds, mammals, etc.
      2. Study of animal behaviour in the field.
      3. Study of animal distribution and mapping of same.
      4. Ecology of one particular animal species.
    3. Ecology
      1. Identification, classification and mapping of habitat types.
      2. Census of animals related to habitat type.
      3. Study of ecological relationships in the field, including organism/habitat; interdependence; food-webs; etc.
      4. Study of ecological dynamics/habitat change, effects of man’s activities, etc.
    4. Wildlife Observation, etc.
      1. Introduction to basic observational techniques - including use of hide, camouflage, bin oculars, telescope, etc.
      2. Sound recording techniques.
      3. Photographic techniques for birds, mammals, insects, etc.
      4. Biological recording - introduction to general processes, systematic listing, census work, seasonal diaries, etc.
    5. Wildlife Conservation
      1. Study of incidental effects of man’s activities on wild life habitats and wild life numbers.
      2. Study of effects of deliberate conservation measures on wild life habitats and wild life numbers. (Towford Conservation Area).
      3. Practical conservation work - possible for visiting groups but only under the supervision of Borders Region Outdoor Education staff. Arrangements should be made well in advance of visit.
  3. Land Use and Settlement Studies
    1. Present Land Use
      1. Study of hill farming.
      2. Study of forestry.
      3. Study of recreational land use.
      4. Study of multiple land use; problems and conflicts.
    2. Settlement
      1. Study of existing pattern of settlement; comparison with past; problems of siting; communications; etc.
  4. Archaeology and History
    1. Archaeology
      1. Study of hill forts, cairns, standing stones, etc.
      2. Study of Roman roads, signal stations and camps.
      3. (The area is particularly rich in archaeological features)
    2. History
      1. Study of Cheviot roads and trackways, inc. drove-roads.
      2. Study and mapping of deserted farmsteads, old field systems, cultivation terraces, etc.
      3. Study of field evidence related to local parish history, including Pennymuir Fair, Towford School, Hownam church, churchyard, inn, etc.
  5. Surveying and Mapping
      1. Mapping, including survey techniques, e.g. plane-tabling, theodolite, direct measurement, triangulation, etc.
      2. Levelling and contouring.
      3. Air photographs - interpretation and use in the field.

Further information on any of these topics may be obtained through the Outdoor Education staff. Wherever possible books, maps and other sources of information will be made available at the Centre. A selection of slide/tape programmes on a variety of topics is in preparation and will be available at the Centre in due course.

Possible Topics For Primary Projects

Outline questions: restricted only by available space.

Basic Geography (Location, direction and distance).

Hills and Valleys

  1. Why are these hills here ? How formed ? Are all hills formed in the same way ?
  2. How high is Towford above sea-level? How high are the neighbouring hills compared with (1) the Eildons; (2) Ben Nevis; (3) Mount Everest ?
  3. How do we measure the heights of hills ?
  4. How are the valleys formed ? Examine the main valley and tributary valleys. Note the three ‘dry’ valleys near the Centre.
  5. Where do the streams come from/go to ?
  6. How fast do the streams flow ?
  7. Look at stream-bed features, meanders, etc.
  8. Why does it rain more in the hills than on the low ground ? What happens to the rain ? How does rainfall at Towford compare with other parts of Britain ? Other parts of the world ?

Local People and Land Use

  1. Compare the Towford area with (a) the home area; (b) some suitable town or city. Discuss the density of population.
  2. Local employment? What do the local people do ?
  3. Why do the people live in widely scattered farmsteads ?
  4. Why is there a little hamlet at Hownam ? What essential services did it provide in the past - church, mill, inn, etc.? Compare its past with its present functions.
  5. The population of the Towford area has declined drastically over the past two hundred years. Why? Problems? To where did the people go?
  6. Hill farming - how big are the farms; why so few crops; why livestock; what breeds of sheep and cattle; how many workers; seasonal round; the problems of winter; etc.

Looking at the Past

  1. Who were the first settlers in the area and how did they survive?
  2. What changes took place - new arrivals - Iron Age - Romans - Mediaeval monasteries, etc.
  3. How did people travel in times past? By what routes? Problems of travelling?

Wildlife and Related Topics

  1. Visit different types of habitat - a young wood; and older plantation; open hill ground; marshy ground; a stream. What birds and mammals can you identify in each type of habitat ?
  2. How are these different species adapted to their preferred habitat ? What problems do they have to overcome in that particular habitat ?
  3. Which are the commonest animals in these particular habitats ? Which are least common ?
  4. Residents and migrants - problems for each group ?
  5. Study minibeasts and micro-habitats, as above.
  6. What kinds of vegetation are found in the Towford area ? Are these natural ? Was the vegetation pattern always the same? What changes have taken place ? Why ?
  7. What further changes might take place in this area ?

    Some basic information on most of these topics will be found elsewhere in this booklet and certainly in the material described under “Sources of information” at the ends of certain chapters. Leaders will be well advised to consult reference material before coming to the Centre.