Iceland Trip 2019

22 of our geography pupils returned from Iceland early on Tuesday morning after an exciting and jam-packed 5 days. The pupils were a credit to the school throughout trip and it has been a pleasure to share these experiences with them. They behaved excellently and were polite, courteous and great fun; approaching each activity with interest and enthusiasm. Our tour guide and coach driver repeatedly sang their praises.

Mr D Savagar
Head of Geography

A diary of their experiences can be found below:

Thursday 11th April: Morriston – Iceland. Gunnuhver, Reykjanes Peninsula, the ‘bridge between the continents’ and Perlan.

An early 4.30am start, followed by a very smooth journey through to Heathrow. Arrived in plenty time before boarding the flight at 12.40pm.On arriving in Iceland, we met our tour guide Richard and the multi-talented bus driver, Thor. They taught us some basic Icelandic phrases as we drove across the lava fields of the south-west to Gunnuhver. Here we watched steam seep from vents and fissures and mud pools bubble due to sea water infiltrating through the hot rocks of Iceland’s crust.

Our next stop was the Reykjanes Peninsula, a rugged coastline of dark volcanic rock, where huge waves rolled in. Richard taught us about the Great Auk, a flightless sea bird that became extinct in the mid-19th century due to hunters catching the birds and their eggs for food. The wind was super powerful here (around 20m/s), making walking back to the bus a bit of a challenge. Next we drove a short distance to the ‘bridge between the continents’ and crossed the fissure that has opened as the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates have split apart.

Our last stop of day 1 was Perlan, an observation deck and exhibition centre with 360• views of Reykjavík.

We reached Hjardarbol Guesthouse at 8.00pm and were greeted by the resident dogs. Tasty lasagne and salad and some time in the hot tubs before bed.

Fri 12th April: Hellisheidi Geothermal Power Station, Waterfalls of the SW and Hveragerdi earthquake simulator

Our first visit of the day was Hellisheidi Geothermal Power Station, where we were given a tour and shown a video on how Iceland is harnessing heat from a volcanic hotspot to generate electricity and provide hot water.

From here we drove to Seljalandfoss, a 60m waterfall caused by glacial meltwater flowing over a former sea cliff. Everyone took the opportunity to walk behind the waterfall and look up as it plunged down from above. Waterproofs were definitely needed! Walking another 300m along the foot of the cliffs led us to another waterfall, Gljufrabui. Hidden behind a tight rock face, the group had to take turns to carefully plot their route over the stepping stones, to squeeze into the tight gorge that hides the waterfall. Needless to say a few ended up with wet feet.

In the afternoon, we visited a lava tunnel, stopping at one more waterfall, Urridafoss, en route. We were kitted out with helmets and crampons and led 400m through the tunnel created by the lava flows of an eruption that occurred 5,200 years ago. The roof was rich with shades of red and small columns of ice had grown wherever snowmelt could enter through a crack in the roof. When we reached the deepest point the guides asked everyone to switch their head torches off and we were plunged into pitch darkness for a few minutes.

Before returning to the guesthouse we stopped in Hveragerdi at a local shopping and information centre which was destroyed during its construction by a 6.6 earthquake in 2008. The information centre has been rebuilt astride a fissure that opened in the ground during the quake and we were able to peer through the glass into the ruptured rocks below. Monitors on the wall showed CCTV footage of the damage inside local shops. The information centre included an earthquake simulator too which everyone experienced, despite the best attempts of the first group to put the rest off with their screaming.

Spicy chicken wraps and more hot tub time at the guest house in the evening.

Sat 13th April: Reykjadalur Hot Spring Thermal River, the Lava Centre, Gluggafoss and Selfoss Swimming Pool.

We drove through Hveragerdi and parked by a ford in the Reykjadalur River ready for our hike. The path ascended steeply for the first mile and wound through hot springs and mud pools on the flanks of Mt Hengill, an extinct volcano last active 12,000 years ago. Some of the hot pools we passed were 100•c. After the initial ascent the path levelled our and we reached a stretch of warm river where most of the boys had a dip despite the cold, wet, windy weather.

After returning to the bus we drove to the lava centre, where we were shown footage of the volcanoes that have erupted in recent history. Afterwards we explored the exhibitions to learn more about the volcanic hotspot beneath Iceland and actually touch cooled lava and lava bombs. We took a quick visit to Gluggafoss waterfall before driving back to Selfoss for a visit to the swimming pool. Everyone sampled the various hot and cold tubs and the slide before finishing with a long game of water volleyball. We were back at Hjardarbol guesthouse for 6.30 for Spaghetti Bolognese and more hot tub time.

Sunday 14th April: the Secret Lagoon, Gulfoss, Strokkur, Ljossafoss HEP station, Thingvellir National Park.

We set out for the Secret Lagoon first thing and spent an hour bathing in the geothermally heated waters. Parts of it were very, very warm so we had to pick our bathing spots carefully.

Next we drove to Gulfoss, a huge waterfall where thousands of litres tumble over two-tiers into a narrow canyon. In the past British investors planned to divert the river for energy production but were unsuccessful after a protest by a local farmer’s daughter, Sigridur Tomasdottir, who walked to Reykjavík bare foot to draw attention to the issue.

A few miles further we stopped at Geysir, another geothermal area with bubbling springs and geysers. We walked a short distance to Strokkur, a geyser which constantly bubbles away then blasts water 20m in the air every 5 minutes or so. We stayed for 4 steam eruptions, taking it in from each angle.

In the afternoon we stopped at Ljossafoss HEP station and used the interactive exhibition to learn how flowing water can be used to produce electricity. Iceland produce 80% of its electricity this way.

Our last visit was Thingvellir National Park. We walked past another fast-flowing waterfall and then about a mile through the Rift Valley alongside the edge of the North American Plate which towered to our right hand side. Looking east we could see braided streams running into Lake Thingvellirvatn and volcanoes framing the horizon. En route Richard stopped us at Logberg ‘the law rock’. Here Iceland’s Viking leaders formed the world’s first democratic parliament and would meet annually to recite existing laws and resolve judicial matters. The walk ended with a great view over the Rift Valley.

We arrived back at the guest house in the evening where we ate lamb schnitzel and said our farewell to Richard who was leaving early in the morning.

Mon 15th April: Iceland to Morriston

Since our flight was delayed by two hours Thor volunteered to take us to see some more of Iceland. This ended up as a bit of a magical-mystery tour along winding mountain roads and across old lava fields to Grindavík. The last stretch involved Thor veering off the main road on to a sketchy single gravel track dotted with potholes. He took us past two shipwrecks beached on old lava then the fish factories of Grindavík and the blue lagoon before dropping us at the airport.

Year 7 enjoy Bristol Zoo visits!

Year 7 pupils have had fun visiting Bristol Zoo this week for their geography studies. Pupils have been studying tourism in class and the trip provided a valuable opportunity to investigate the impacts of tourism both locally and on the natural world. Pupils also gained an introduction to fieldwork methods used in geography, using questionnaire surveys to gather opinions on zoos and pedestrian counts to measure flows of tourists. They will be presenting and interpreting their findings in class over the next few lessons.

Mr D Savagar
Head of Geography

Platinum eco-schools status re-awarded!

Members of eco club met with Matt Bunt from Keep Wales Tidy on Tuesday morning. They shared examples of their work from the past year, including the school’s eco-code, environmental review as well as their successes carrying out a beach clean at Llangennith, weekly recycling and an ongoing school litter clean-up. Eco-club members also shared their plans for the coming year: raising money for fair trade; increasing biodiversity in the school grounds; and, raising awareness of plastic pollution. Many thanks to Evee, Jack, Connor and Erin for their involvement.

Mr D  Savagar
Head of Geography

When Cwmrhydyceirw and Clase Primary pupils met Javier the Shirwar Indian

On the morning of Monday 26th March, we were thrilled to welcome some year 6 pupils from two of our local primary schools. They listened intently to Phil Williams of Plan-It Eco, along with Javier, who spoke about the damage we are doing to the rain forests and the importance of protecting them for future generations. They had the opportunity to ask Javier about his own life and upbringing, and they had some really interesting thought-provoking questions to ask. Well done !

Mrs. R. Page.

The ‘World Within Your Shoe’ Geography Workshop

phil2 phil1

Year 9 pupils attended a rainforest talk and workshop on Tuesday 28th November. The talk, titled “The world within your shoe”, was delivered by Phil Williams who shared inspiring stories of his experiences working and travelling in Central Africa, Central and South America and Southeast Asia. This included stories of time spent living with Orang Utans in Malaysia and native tribes in Ecuador. Students learnt about the importance of conservation, reducing waste and litter and our role as global citizens. Pupils tasted unrefined chocolate and were shown numerous tribal artefacts including decorative jewellery, musical instruments and hunting tools. Pupils will be exploring the rainforest further in their next geography topic.


Mr. D. Savagar.

More GCSE Geographers help BBC Bitesize!

SmartParty TV, a production company from London, visited school for a second time on Thursday 23rd November to meet a group of our GCSE geography students.

The students took part in a focus group discussion. They were shown a range of design ideas and stories planned for the BBC Bitesize geography website. They discussed the quality of the resources before providing written feedback on which design ideas they believed to be most suitable.

Morriston is the only school to have taken part in the focus groups so our students have played a big part in shaping the revision content to be used by the BBC. This content is scheduled to go live on the BBC Bitesize website in Easter 2018 ready for the summer exams.

Many thanks to the following pupils who took part in the second focus group and  approached the task both maturely and constructively: Jenny Smith, Sophia Melhas, Jack Colman, Jack Lobb, Coby Denton, Lily Stephens, Sophie Henry and Cerys Davies.


Mr. D. Savagar.

GCSE Geographers provide ideas for BBC Bitesize

SmartParty TV, a production company from London, visited school on Thursday 16th November to meet a group of our GCSE geography students.

The students took part in a focus group discussion. They were shown a range of design ideas and stories planned for the BBC Bitesize geography website. They discussed the quality of the resources before providing written feedback on which design ideas they believed to be most suitable. Their thoughts and opinions will now be considered in the final design of the geography web resources. Their input will benefit students across the UK who regularly visit BBC Bitesize for revision purposes.

Many thanks to the following pupils who took part and  approached the task both maturely and constructively: Connor Bailey, Leah Ashton, Chloe Osborne-Walsh, Lucy Francis, Thisary Pinto, Caitlin Richards, Ella James, Harrison Brook, Rhys Cardiff, Ekow Abankwa.

Mr D Savagar

Tenby Trip With Year 10 Geographers

Year 10 geography pupils visited Tenby on Fri 23rd June to research the impacts of tourism.

The class visited 16 sites in total where they conducted pedestrian counts, traffic counts and environment surveys. They also asked local people and tourists to answer questionnaires in order to gauge whether tourism has an overly positive or negative impact on Tenby. Pupils also enjoyed ice cream and a walk on the beach before leaving.

In class they will be presenting the data before analysing and interpreting their results in order to draw conclusions. All are looking forward to their next trip in September which will involve a sand dune survey at Oxwich Bay.

Pleasingly, pupils conducted themselves well for the duration of the trip.

Mr D Savagar

No Pens Day. 05/07/2016.

Key Stage 3 enjoyed a day of activities that did not involve pens!

We feel that oracy is important as the skills we need to be able to communicate effectively with each other are skills that are essential to every walk of life. On No Pens Day students used their oracy skills to work in small groups discussing issues and solving problems, listening to each other and responding appropriately. They also used their oracy skills to present information confidently in front of a class.

Students worked towards a shared success criteria in their lessons and were given speaking frames for support. Activities included taboo, word tennis, battleships, envoy activities, Philosophy for Children (P4C) discussions, persuasive speeches and debates.

Students commented that the day “helped me to have more confidence”; “we had to put our point of view across” and “we had to speak more in front of the class”.
Students and staff were filmed and interviewed during the day by the excellent MCS TV report team. Please take a look at our report. We look forward to the next No Pens Day!


Ms. J. James


Year 12 Geography. River Management Techniques.

On Wednesday 16th March Year 12 geographers visited the river Ilston in Gower to investigate how effective river management techniques are at reducing flooding. They observed a variety of hard engineering techniques including a culvert, gabions, a flood wall and reinforced banks, taking measurements at a total of ten sites along the 1km stretch of the river. Measurements of depth, width and velocity were taken using a hydroprop, tape measure and flotation device.

Steffan Rees won the ‘bravery award’, by sporting a pair of waders in order to take measurements in the deepest parts of the river, which reached above knee height. Unfortunately, a hole in the waders meant Steffan ended up with soggy feet, but Mrs Elliott was on hand to save the day with a spare pair of socks. Students will now analyse their findings in class to establish whether any correlation exists between the level of engineering used and the river discharge.


Mr. D. Savagar.