Year 11 Iceland Geography Adventure – February 2019

Holly Creevy writes about the recent Geography trip to Iceland.

Thursday 14th to Monday 18th February 2019, such an amazing few days where everyone made memories that will last forever. A once in a lifetime experience and I think everyone will agree that these memories were made in one of the most naturalistic and beautiful environments in the world.

Our trip to Iceland began early on Thursday morning where we all met bright and early 9 am at terminal 1 departures for our flight at 12 o clock. We got through security, had breakfast and then it was soon time to board the flight. Just over 2 hours later we landed in Iceland, the views on the way down to land were just spectacular and everyone already knew that this would be a trip we wouldn’t forget easily. We quickly passed through the airport in Iceland, although we already had a lost suitcase and two mislaid passports and put on our thermals ready for the cold Icelandic air to hit us. When we got on the coach it didn’t take us long to get to our first location which was Reykjanes Peninsula Geopark which is the only place in the World where the Mid-Atlantic Ridge is visible above sea level. This location is known as ‘the bridge between two continents’ as it lies on major plate boundaries- the Eurasian and North American along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Finally we went to the Gunnihver hot springs before setting off to Reykjavik and checking into hotel cabin.

Later that night we had a pleasant stroll down to the Hamburger Factory, where we all had dinner- the Hamburger Factory is a location whereby they track the population of Iceland and ring a bell every time someone is born. Following this we went back to the hotel for an early night ready to be up and straight out for day 2.

The next morning was breakfast and straight out. We drove to Pingvellir national park which was a spectacular destination for pictures, we could see for miles. We then had a slippery walk down and round the park to where the coach met us back and we carried on the beautiful golden circle tour. We then continued onto the geysers which are a series of a springs characterised by intermittent discharges of water that are accompanied by steam. The geysers erupted every 8 minutes and so we waited in anticipation to get the perfect series of videos and pictures. We spent till around 2pm at the geysers and the then the final point of call on the golden circle tour begun when we arrived at Gulfoss waterfall, which is an amazing example of how the forces of beauty and untouched surroundings can shape the physical landscape. After our amazing day in a well renowned rural area of Iceland we headed to our second hotel, an even more remote part of the Island, Hotel Husid, where we were met on the coach by a very welcoming family and a dog, who relieved itself on poor Mollie’s suitcase! We had some free time and then it was down for dinner where just before dessert we tried some rather… unique Iceland delicacies consisting of fried fish and a sheep’s brain and eyes… or some of us did! Then it was chill time and off to bed ready for the start of day 3.

Another early start for day 3, breakfast and sandwich making for the day ahead was at 8 for our departure at 9 to Black sands beach on the south coast of the island. We arrived and nearly got blown away the wind was that strong, however the beautiful views made up for the fact that we couldn’t feel our hands. We stayed at the beach for around an hour while we did some work on coasts preparing for the GCSE paper! From there, we travelled to Seljalandfoss and the very spectacular hidden waterfall that was situated in a cave. To get to the hidden waterfall, we had to carefully tread on rocks and hope that no one fell into the water, no one did, however a few people fell on the slippy ice on the way out. From here it was onto the Solheimajokull glacial walk where we got kitted up with crampons, helmets, ice picks and goggles to protect our eyes from the harsh cold wind that was beginning to pick up. The eye-catching surroundings were marked by majestic geology that had been formed by the glacier over thousands of years. Each individual teacher group had a tour guide who told us all about the history of the area and how much the glacier had retreated- even just in the past 10 years due to global warming. The last stop of the day was Skogafoss, another famous waterfall which was breath taking! Some of us even climbed up the hundreds of stairs to the top where we could see for what seemed like thousands of miles. This concluded the end of day 3 and it was back to Hotel Husid for dinner, followed by a chilled night of board games and packing for another early departure.

The final day in Iceland had come about so quickly and we were on our way to Reykjavik via the Lava Centre before we knew it. The Lava Centre was an exhibition about volcanic activity, earthquakes and the creation of Iceland over millions of years which links well into the GCSE specification on the topic of Tectonic Hazards. After this, we went via Hveragerdi, a greenhouse settlement famous for its geothermal heat and then went on to the largest power plant in Iceland- which in conjunction with one other power station – produces 60% of Iceland’s water. The afternoon was then spent around Reykjavik shopping, visiting Hallgrímskirkja, an iconic parish church and a national sanctuary in Iceland and looking at the beautiful coastline of the island, before going to check in at the third and final hotel for our last night, Hotel Vogar. What better way than to end our very last night in arguably, one of the most spectacular places on earth than to go to the Blue Lagoon. We arrived at around 8PM and got a group photo outside before rushing up the path to the entrance -the anticipation getting the better of us! The experience even from the outside was utterly surreal as the spot lights lit up the steaming water. We had a very relaxing two hours in the Blue Lagoon before making our way back to the hotel, very content. We were just getting ready to all get to sleep when something spectacular happened. The teachers started running down the corridors saying the northern lights are out. No one could believe it as we all thought we had missed all opportunity to see them. The lights were utterly breath taking and seeing them topped off the whole experience!

The next day we were home before we knew it as we landed back in Manchester at 10:30AM- we were all very sad that the experience had ended and couldn’t believe how fast it had gone. I think I can speak on behalf of all of us and say that this trip couldn’t have gone ahead without the staff who accompanied us, big thankyou to Mr Douglas for organising the trip and Mrs Macfarlane, Mrs Elphick and Mr Leach, these memories will last forever…

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