Visit to Troopers Hill by Summerhill School year 3 classes
12 October 2011
Today Julian, "our" Community Park Keeper, Carol, another Community Park Keeper and I welcomed year 3 classes (mainly 8 year olds) from Summerhill School to Troopers Hill.
There are 3 year 3 classes and they visited us one at a time for an hour's visit each starting at 9.45am. We were very pleased to see the first class because it was a damp grey day and we did wonder whether the visit would be cancelled.
The children had been well prepared with a slideshow given by Rob last Friday at the school.
Here is the first class arriving at the Summerhill Terrace entrance to Troopers Hill Field. They are all carrying clipboards ready to record what they learn about Troopers Hill.
They were greeted by Julian who immediately drew their attention to the lush grass of the Field so they could compare it to the very different grasses on Troopers Hill.
At the entrance to Troopers Hill Julian pointed out the dogwood bushes that had been planted there and how the berries are white as you enter the Hill but a little further on the berries are pale blue. Could this be due to the acidity of the soil? Some plants produce flowers of different colours dependent on the level of acid in the soil.
Going on to the Hill there were oohs and aahs as the children saw the views across Bristol.
Then it was on to a patchy area of grass where the soil and rock shows through and a brief description of the 300 million year old pennant sandstone that lies under a thin layer of soil on most of Troopers Hill.
The chimney acts as a magnet to all Hill visitors and the children were no exception. After every single child had looked inside the chimney they were given a brief history of the uses of the chimney (first used as a flue to increase temperatures in a copper smelting works in Crews Hole and later to vent fumes from a chemical works).
We set off down into the gully for a view of the different coloured faces of rock in this old quarry.
Julian explained how water makes its way into the rock, freezes and expands making sections of rock fall away leaving new rockfaces exposed which are a dark red/brown. Older exposed rockfaces turn grey and others go green where lichens grow on them. He also pointed out the heather to them, one of the Hill's special plants and some sharp-eyed children found plants that still had purple flowers.
A short distance away we were able to show the children a fly agaric toadstool.
I was very relieved that we found one - Rob had promised the children they would see fly agaric when he gave them their slideshow.
Close to this red and white toadstool there was a mini-forest of other fungi.
Julian led us out of the gully pointing out the heaps of spoil left from quarrying on the hill. Then it was over to an area where the soil is black with spoil left from coal mining and a quick description of the uses of coal and how it used to dug out from the Hill.
We made brief stops to have a closer look at broom, another special plant on Troopers Hill and to sniff the aromatic tansy leaves of tansy, a plant that insects seem to love in summer. You find ladybirds at all stages of their lifecycle on tansy.
The first class were then able to let off some excess energy on the play structures on the Field while we greeted the second class.
The second class were very lucky, the sun came out for them.
They also found a very tired cold bee near a heather plant.
Julian and I walked back with this class for a very good school lunch and then returned with the third class.
All the classes were shown the cherry trees last year's year 3s had planted in Troopers Hill Field as part of the Tree Bristol project. http://www.troopers-hill.org.uk/field.htm#trees They all wanted to know when they could plant some too. We had to explain that the Field now had enough trees.
We had a great time showing the children around the Hill and hope they enjoyed it too.