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Adult Learners Find Inspiration at Iconic Cardiff Reservoirs

​News | 15 November 2021

Cardiff Metropolitan University has collaborated with Welsh Water to provide adult learners with a unique backdrop.

Welsh Water, the only not-for-profit water company, organised a visit for a group of adult learners at Lisvane and Llanishen Reservoirs as inspiration for their Writing Landscape at Llanishen Reservoir Course.

The visit was organised by Welsh Water as part of the Welsh Government’s Enabling Natural Resources and Wellbeing (ENRaW) project. As Welsh Water progresses with its plans to create a visitor hub on the reservoir site, the Welsh Government grant is supporting the community engagement programme that is connecting people with the well-loved area creating a future hub for health and wellbeing in the capital.

The learners have been taking part in a five-week course delivered by Cardiff Metropolitan University’s Widening Access team. The course, which was delivered online, introduced participants to nature writing, having the opportunity to discuss place poetry and read non-fiction about local landscapes. Whilst the visit to Llanishen Reservoir allowed participants to connect with nature in a safe environment, encouraging the art of careful observation, write their own pieces inspired by the reservoir, and share their work in a relaxed and supportive environment.

Climate Change Minister Julie James said: "It’s great to see Wales’ budding writers sparking their imaginations by immersing themselves in nature.

"Working together to protect, preserve and extend our natural habitats in urban areas means people and communities can come together to enjoy our green and blue spaces that provide us with a variety of benefits, enrich our lives and support our well-being.

"I am delighted we have been able to support the reopening of Lisvane and Llanishen reservoirs through our Enabling Natural Resources and Well-being Grant, and I’m delighted to see our creative community take advantage of all it has to offer."

Peter Perry, CEO of Welsh Water said: "Working in partnership to enable the community to learn about and connect to this well-loved site is very important to us.

"This course is of particular significance as its nature focus chimes well with our ambitious environmental plans. The visitor centre design incorporates features to improve its green credentials and reduce its carbon footprint whilst enabling future public access by installing footpaths for walking around the reservoir, designed to protect the exceptional ecology of the area.

"We know that nature has a hugely positive impact on our well-being, whilst also recognising that learning is for all ages."

The course tutor, Dr Christina Thatcher, Creative Writing Lecturer and professional poet, regularly runs creative writing projects for schools, art galleries, community centres, and non-profit organisations. 

Dr Thatcher said: "Getting a chance to spend the day writing at the reservoir was just a dream. The wildflowers along the banks, the soaring gulls, the waxcap fungi, and the bright water provided endless inspiration. It was a real treat to get away from screens and teach outdoors again. Throughout the day, we had the chance to experience nature together and find lots of creative ways to write about this beautiful landscape."

Christina used writing prompts throughout the day to support the learners writing, for example writing from a bird’s perspective and a number of excellent personal experience pieces were written.

When asked to think about their first impression one learner, Gerri Blundell, wrote ‘Through the big gate and looking at the wide expanse of water in front of us. Quiet landscape unaware of our presence.’ Going on to write an Ode to the Cardiff Reservoirs ‘What will the future bring? - Will you still be here in hundreds of years to give us joy like now?’.

Whilst another learner, Dave Brown, recalled memories of the past spending time with his father in nature wrote a poem entitles Years Later I Sit writing ‘It’s special…this tiny patch of Cardiff…We protect it, respect it, shield it…Avoid the fungi, watch the birds, hope for snakes.’

A poem written by learner Rob Blundell, entitled The Essence captured the feeling of well-being that nature can have on us; ‘I am mesmerised & transformed, being calmly enhanced with the nourishment from each encounter…. I stroll a changed mortal, invigorated by the good of it.’

The learners were able to take this experience back to the classroom for another four weeks of developing their writing skills inspired by the landscape around them.

Thanks to the Welsh Government ENRaW fund, Welsh Water is able to deliver volunteering and community activities which are being rolled out prior to the site opening to the public. The programme will build community capacity and understanding to continue to care for the area in environmentally appropriate ways whilst individuals are also being given the opportunity to learn new skills and reconnect with others and nature in a safe environment.

Any organisations, community groups or charities which would be interested in finding out more about the partnership opportunities which could be available at the site should contact Welsh Water.