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Sixth Form Iceland Trip 2023

Sixth Form Iceland Trip 2023

Our Sixth Form geographers enjoyed an academic trip to Iceland during half term. 

Upper Sixth pupil Hattie shares her experience:

Studying geographical landforms on a sheet in a classroom compared to watching them pan out right in front of your eyes in an extraordinary country such as Iceland, is a truly incomparable experience, making the trip such a unique and valuable journey. Over the five days spent in Iceland each day brought with it new experiences and adventures; learning about not only the features that make up the country’s complex and geographically rich landscape, but also the more intimate and local level tales that come with them from our tour guide Cathy, who brought the island and all it has to offer completely to life. Beginning in the country’s capital Reykjavik we were able to get a glimpse into what urbanisation has looked like in a country such as Iceland, exploring the remarkable landmarks nearby including the bridge between two continents, where the true impact of tectonic movement was made clear, alongside also walking around the local Gunnuhver mud pools, which despite the rather peculiar smell of sulphur, was incredible to see as the reality of walking over ground with lava hot spots beneath was a rather fascinating concept. The afternoon consisted of strolling up a volcano and having the opportunity to study the effects of lava through walking on the dried Fagradalsjfall volcano magma, the satisfying and profound patterns of lava flow being a highlight as we all secretly snuck small pieces in our coat pockets as a souvenir of one of the most fascinating walks we think is truly possible. Cooling off, or rather heating up with a swim in the Laugardalslaug geothermal swimming pools was a great way to end a day filled with sightseeing and putting the diagrams we had studied into real-life, and despite some interesting Icelandic changing room customs, a relaxing 40 degree bathe was exactly what we all needed before heading to a local restaurant in Reykjavik for dinner.

The following day we moved away from the busy city bustle of Reykjavik and into the more rural area of Hella. We started the day with another refreshing dip in the geothermal Secret Lagoon, a geothermal hotspot surrounded by small geysers and an incredible landscape. Once finished at the Secret Lagoon and most importantly stocking up on all the local delicacies found in the café, we headed to the infamous Gullfoss waterfall, plunging 33m into a mile long gorge which was a surreal experience, and incredibly calming listening to the masses of water crashing onto the rocks below (a noise that will never grow old). Standing next to the Strokkur geyser and waiting for ten minutes, with cameras firmly held on stand by was worth every second for the 30m explosion we witnessed, despite once again the rather questionable smell of sulphur that wafted through the air around a small geyser park. The afternoon diverted away from geographical landforms and instead towards some of the political history of Iceland’s parliament through a walk around Thingvellir national park, making an essential detour beforehand though which consisted of filling up some of the local Icelandic horses with ‘horse candy’. The national park took us on a route through a rift valley and up to where the Icelandic parliament was formed in 930AD, one of the most consistent and stable government systems seen in European history. The absolutely breathtaking viewpoint at the end of the walk allowed us to really appreciate the complexity of the landscape below, observing the correlation between human infrastructure and the mountains and glaciers all in one scene. We ended a wonderful day by relaxing in the hot-tubs and saunas in our hotel, Mr Jeffrey keeping his eyes peeled for any signs of the Aurora.

Our third day in Iceland was filled with exploring the magnificent and truly iconic waterfalls of Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss, truly picturesque scenes which were confirmed by a multitude of wedding photoshoots we may have accidentally photobombed (oops), but nonetheless truly breath-taking. Before dining at a local café for lunch we had the unique and exhilarating experience of hiking up a glacier. Fully equipped with cramp-ons and axes at hand the views at the summit of Solheimajokull where something none of us could have truly prepared for as a sea of white ice completely dominated the landscape around us. Contrasting the white ice surrounding us, visiting the black volcanic beach of Reynisfjara really put into perspective the diversity of Iceland’s landscape and landforms compared to other countries, staying clear of the strong ocean currents we explored the diverse rock formations surrounding the beach before heading back to the hotel for an evening once again filled with relaxing in the hot-tubs and saunas.

Our final full day in Iceland consisted of us exploring the national Lava centre before heading to Hellisheidi power station, then back into Reyjavik for some sightseeing in the afternoon. Being able to really analyse and understand Iceland’s volcanic history in a captivating interactive museum added so much value to the things we had learnt about, alongside a remarkable viewing platform above the centre surrounded by all the mountains, volcanoes and glaciers discussed on the inside which was a perfect photo opportunity and really solidified what we had learnt on the inside. Being a significant case study to the A-level, walking around Hellisheidi power station allowed us to fully appreciate Iceland’s renewable energy systems, and ask questions about the station first hand to people who actually worked there. Heading back into the city after, we spent the afternoon in Reykjavik exploring all the local urban attractions and exploring all the local boutiques and bakeries (incredibly yummy afternoon). Our final meal was spent reflecting on the past few days and saying a huge thank you to our guide Cathy and teachers Mrs Hunter, Mr Jeffrey and Mrs DeBlander for making Iceland such an incredible, fun, safe and memorable experience.

The following day we flew home with heavy-hearts but an absolute tonne of perspective, experiences and memories that will truly last a life time!

Canford_IcelandTrip