During the October half term, a group of excited geographers set off for an adventure to the land of ice and fire: Iceland. Year 11 pupil, Grace has written a trip diary with all the details of their activities and experiences.
Sunday 28th October
An early start of 4:00am set us up for a long and exciting first day in Iceland, and once we finally got on to the plane we were well and truly on our way. After meeting our tour guide Gudni we jumped straight into the trip with a wander around the only city in Iceland – Reykjavik, where 122,853 of the 337,780 inhabitants of Iceland live. We visited the town hall and the parliament building and then were let loose to explore the city ourselves (we got as far as exploring the crepe shop!). We then walked up to the magnificent church looking over the city and took a bus to the Landbridge, created by the movement of the Eurasian and North-American plates. We then discovered the geothermal plant and mud pots that stank of rotting eggs as the gas escaped the ground. To finish the day, we enjoyed fish and chips and a comfy bed in our hotel.
Monday 29th October
We started off the day with a brisk walk to the oldest lighthouse in Iceland and then drove to the Pingvellir National Park to see the rifting between the Eurasian and American plates. This marked the first snowball fight of the trip, backdropped with the stunning views. After our walk, we drove to the secret lagoon at Laugarvatan called Fontana Spa, where we relaxed in the baths heated by the geo-thermal energy and took quick dips into the freezing cold glacial lakes beside it. Feeling refreshed we moved onto the geyser and waited and waited for the perfect photograph, many of us gave up as it was too good to waste by looking through a phone. The largest geysers was “Too big for its own good” as Gudni said, as there was too much water to heat up to the perfect temperature, but the adjacent geyser was no disappointment as it shot water up to 40m into the air. The day ended with a walk up to waterfall, Gullfoss, and up the gorge created by the fault line, it was covered in snow and a perfect end to a perfect day.
Tuesday 30th October
We were up bright and early to visit Seljandafoss, a 60m high waterfall that you can walk behind, and Skogarfoss, another huge 63m waterfall. Afterwards, we travelled to Solheimajokus glacier, on arriving we were kitted up with helmets, crampons (metal shoe attachments that griped into the ice) and harnesses and set off to find the beginning of the glacier. A glacier is formed over millions of years as snow is compressed, a glacier needs lot of snow to maintain its glacial status, but due to global warming, this isn’t happening, and we were shocked to learn that the glacier retreats between 60-200 metres a year. This is particularly bad in Iceland as some of the most dangerous volcanoes are under the glaciers, without this “lid” they may erupt, causing devastation. When we were on the glacier we took in the amazing views and even explored inside glacier, and Mrs Bourne still says her highlight of the trip was her and Theo sending a snapchat inside the glacier! Upon descending the glacier, we travelled to the coastal area of Reynishverfi, which is home to the Black Beach and huge black basalt columns – like a small scale giant’s causeway. After chasing the huge waves and getting very wet, we climbed the columns and performed James Bond style jumps and rolls from the ledges to bring a great day to a close.
Wednesday 31st October
Our penultimate day set off to a brisk start as we walked through the beautiful snow covered Dverghamrar National Park up to the towering waterfall. We were there for over two hours and for those hours we walked either throwing snowballs or checking over our shoulders for anyone who might throw them back. As we walked layers started to disappear as we burned up a sweat running up and down the hill which all paid off as we perfectly timed a flurry of snowballs at the teachers as they posed for a photo! Now very cold and wet, we drove up to the Jokulsarlon Ice lagoon which was up to 140m deep created by the melting glacier, the lagoon wasn’t there 100 years ago which showed us just how rapid the glacier melt was. We were very lucky to take a boat trip around the huge icebergs and we saw the seals swimming around them. Then, when we stopped suddenly in the middle of the lagoon, we were extremely shocked as another boat pulled up beside and our guide on the boat was handed a huge piece of ice that was taken from an iceberg. We all got a chunk of ice to taste, and it was better than any tap water here in the UK that’s for sure! As the cold started to seep in, we decided the only thing to do was to dance the heat into our bodies and so with Mrs Bourne taking the lead we danced all the way back to shore!
Paddy wrote an Iceland Quiz for us all and we presented gifts to Gudni and finally, having waited all week for the perfect conditions, on the last night we were lucky enough to see the Northern lights. The sky was black with a white band across the tops of the mountains and every so often it tinged green and blue, it was the perfect ending to a fantastic day.
Thursday 1st November
The final day was the trek back home and although we were all sad to be leaving such a beautiful and amazing place, we were all excited to tell everyone at home about the amazing trip we had had.