The first year module Appraising Landscapes comprises a number of class and laboratory sessions as well as field visits. These trips are intended to give the students first-hand experience of a variety of local landscapes as well as underpinning what they have learnt in class. The first trip was an urban walkabout which took us to Pittville Park and the Pump Room, original home of the landscape course in 1961. From there we followed the Honeybourne path to the River Chelt at the Waitrose supermarket site. Along the way we observed the urban fabric: street pattern, house styles, public open space, panoramic views, tree species and landscape character.
Pittville Pump Room, original home of the Landscape course
Our second trip was a rural walk along part of the Cotswold Way from Severn Springs to Wistley and Ravensgate Hills on the Cotswold escarpment which offered excellent views over Cheltenham and the Vale of Gloucester beyond. An earlier posting on the blog describes this in more detail.
Wistley Hill: appreciating the influence of geology on landform and vegetation
Learning the basics of land surveying is also covered in the module. We believe that a knowledge of the principles and techniques is worthwhile on the grounds of both training in precise measurement and calculation but also greater site knowledge (‘learning through the soles of one’s feet’). Practising line and level survey took place in the campus grounds.
Accurate levels are essential for baseline data
Two weeks ago we continued our unfinished urban walk in Cheltenham, this time following the course of the River Chelt upstream through the town and concentrating on problems of flooding and the mitigation measures that have been put in place by the Environment Agency. Of particular note is Cox’s Meadow Flood Alleviation scheme where the Chelt floodwaters can be temporarily stored in a landscaped basin. It is also worth remembering that this and other stream courses passing through Cheltenham are valuable greenways that should be maintained for ecological as well as visual benefit.
Cox’s Meadow Flood Alleviation
Last week we made a more detailed site visit to Pittville Park which forms the context for the main module assignment: Cheltenham Borough Council is considering the needs of a growing population in respect of the current sporting activities provided for in the complex known as Leisure@Cheltenham, just down from Pittville Park. Students are asked to appraise the existing landscape, including the part originally designed by Geoffrey Jellicoe in the 1960s, and propose a design integrating a new layout within an enhanced environment.
Discussing Jellicoe’s original 1960s design for Pittville Park