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A grop of teachers are standing in a shallow river, two are holding a tape measure across the river to measure its width. Two are standing by and watching.

Geography fieldwork around water is a great way to develop understanding of physical systems and the links between them. It is a particularly powerful way to explore the issues of pollution and waste and the harm which can be caused to fragile natural systems.

All environments have their own special challenges for managing fieldwork whether that be urban, moor or mountain, or at the margins of rivers, lakes or the sea.

An OEAP guidance document can be found here.

Perhaps the most significant factor in planning is to plan for the likely range of conditions on the day – weather and the state of flow in the river or tides in particular – and make sure you have a plan which can be adapted accordingly.  Be aware that in fieldwork you carry out annually it is likely that you could have several years of benign conditions before you experience a year which presents difficulties.  

A good principle is that while collecting  fieldwork data there should really be no chance of a student being knocked off their feet by water, or that any trip or fall results in being where they might have to swim.

When this is part of an adventure activity such as coasteering or gorge walking, rather than fieldwork,  this would need to be managed by suitably qualified and experienced staff.

This series of video clips below promote the safe running of fieldwork around water, providing you with guidelines and tips for steps you can take before, during and after your visit. 


General guidance

Before you go

The pre-visit

Staffing the group

Preparing your students

Equipment and clothing

Information you need

On the day

Coastal waters


Inland waters

After your visit